For those of you who didn’t manage to stay awake through the internationals at the weekend, here’s a crash course on events
1. England’s best eleven?
We are still miles away from knowing this. Bent struggled on his own up front. Lampard is about as mobile as a broken shopping trolley. Apparently Walcott played 45 minutes. Joe Hart can’t play the ball short. As usual, England spent most of the time chasing the ball against a proper football side and, this time, got lucky. On the plus side Parker was excellent. He has the technique that is sadly lacking in most of the rest of the squad. Rodwell and Welbeck played well when they came on, further advocating the idea that England should start selecting a younger team. As predicted by Soccersweep before the weekend, England offered stoic defending and little else.
2. Will Fabio be Bold?
I couldn’t let the first point go without further elaboration. Was I the only one who thought Rodwell made a difference when he came on? I don’t think that Spain liked playing against him. He was attack minded, mobile and fearless. He wasn’t bothered about reputations and went for Spain’s jugular from the moment he came on. If Fabio is leaving in the summer anyway, why doesn’t he just be bold and play the youngsters at Euro 2012? Worst case, the colts fail, he gets slated but is leaving anyway. Best case, he is credited with starting a shining legacy – a new breed who really will become a ‘Golden Generation’. A midfield with Rodwell, Wilshere and Parker excites me much more than an Engine room with the terminally confused combination of Gerrard, Lampard and Barry.
3. Why has Scott Parker not had a glittering career for England?
The 31 year old was the only player in the England team who looked comfortable on the ball at the weekend – the best antidote we had to Spain’s midfield maestros. Parker was neat and tidy, tough in the challenge and progressive. But most importantly, he had the confidence to hold onto the ball instead of just lumping it up the park when in possession, like every other player in the team. What an unexpected bonus going into Euro 2012. With Wilshere alongside him, England might actually do OK.
4. Will The Republic of Ireland simply be making up the numbers at Euro 2012?
They have a vastly experienced manager and a workmanlike side with a good team ethic. Everyone in Britain will be supporting them at Euro 2012 but, against the top sides, one doubts whether they will have enough class to cause any problems. Congratulations to them anyway.
5. Are Wales having a rennaissance? Or should that just be a ‘naissance’ ?
4-1 against Norway is the most impressive Wales result that I can think of since the tenure of Mark Hughes. Hughes couldn’t get his team qualified for a major tournament so will Gary Speed succeed with Wales? It’s really unfortunate for him and the team that they will have to wait for a year before World Cup qualifying starts, but this is a youngish side with great potential. While Bale, Ramsey and Craig Bellamy are around they will have their best chance of qualifying for a major tournament since 1958 – their only previous success in qualification. It’s a shame that their upward trajectory started as late in qualifying as it did, because they would probably have caused more problems at Euro 2012 than Ireland.