Posts Tagged ‘England’
“A raw squad and a low level of pre-tournament expectation means that [Roy] Hodgson has largely been spared the media savaging visited on some of his predecessors, but at present there are few other consolations. Despite preparations that Hodgson described as “excellent” and a squad packed with in-form players from the country’s biggest clubs, England were simply not good enough. Even more worryingly, for Hodgson, [Greg] Dyke, and everyone else with England’s interests close at heart, it is beginning to seem like the country’s elite players have a chronic inability — emotionally and tactically — to manage the demands of tournament football.”
My final thoughts on England’s sorry World Cup campaign can be read here.
“England dominated possession against Uruguay and saw plenty of the ball against Italy, but too often technical deficiencies and unnecessary haste betrayed them. With a team geared exclusively towards attacking at pace, England lacked players capable of drawing the sting from the match by putting a foot on the ball and slowing the pace. At 1-1 against Uruguay, England’s inability to control the game’s tempo proved their undoing. “I just thought when we got the equaliser, we just needed to be a bit more clever, a bit more cute, and a bit more difficult to beat,” admitted Steven Gerrard. “Maybe we should have accepted that going for a point might have been the best option.””
My take for AFP on the reasons behind England’s chastening group-phase exit at the 2014 World Cup can be read here.
Related link: England exit leaves Gerrard heartbroken again
“Manaus (Brazil) (AFP) – Mario Balotelli’s second-half header earned Italy a 2-1 victory over an enterprising England side in an engaging World Cup Group D opener in Manaus on Saturday.”
My first World Cup match report for AFP on a captivating encounter at the Amazonia Arena can be read here.
“Rooney was one of few United players to find form during a disastrous 2013-14 season and he feels that a pre-season pep talk with former manager David Moyes helped him rediscover some of his famous fire. ‘He felt I had lost a bit of aggression out of my game -- which I was asked to do, by the way. He said he wanted me to find that aggression back,’ Rooney said of Moyes, who was sacked by United in April. ‘I thought about it a lot. It wasn’t really me. Maybe there are times when you have to try and lift the crowd with a tackle — obviously not a stupid one, but a run back and tackle can lift the fans and even turn a game round.’”
My first AFP dispatch from the 2014 World Cup, on Wayne Rooney’s eagerness not to let another major international tournament pass him by, can be read here.
“London — Germany procured a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory over England in a friendly at Wembley on Tuesday, consigning their old rivals to successive home defeats for the first time since 1977.”
My AFP match report on England’s final game of 2013 can be found here.
“London — England’s World Cup preparations began with a whimper on Friday as Alexis Sánchez scored twice to give Chile a 2-0 victory in a low-key friendly game at Wembley Stadium.”
My AFP report on a chastening night for Roy Hodgson’s experimental England side can be read here.
“London (AFP) – England survived a night of tension to qualify for the World Cup after Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard secured a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.”
My AFP match report on the night England booked their ticket to Brazil can be read here.
“London — Tottenham Hotspur’s Andros Townsend crowned his international debut with a fine goal as England beat Montenegro 4-1 on Friday to close on a place at next year’s World Cup.”
My AFP match report on a night of English breakthroughs at Wembley can be read here.
“KIEV — England inched closer to qualifying for next year’s World Cup after surviving a number of scares to record a potentially crucial 0-0 draw against Ukraine in Kiev on Tuesday.”
My AFP match report on England’s laborious goalless draw in Ukraine can be read here.
“LONDON — Rickie Lambert scored with his first touch as an England player to earn a 3-2 win over old enemies Scotland in a gripping friendly game at Wembley on Wednesday.”
My AFP match report on an unexpectedly thrilling evening at Wembley can be read here.
The French may not have a direct equivalent to the word ‘teenager’ (there being no numerical suffix akin to ‘-teen’ in the language of Molière), but that doesn’t stop them remarking on the novelty when a player under the age of 20 is called up by the national team.
It happened twice earlier this month, when 19-year-olds Raphaël Varane and Paul Pogba were both included in Didier Deschamps’ squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain. Pogba rather spoilt the symmetry by turning 20 the following day, but it was such a rarity that L’Équipe marked the occasion with a photographic slideshow of the players to have graced the blue jersey while still awaiting the end of their second decade.
Varane and Pogba are exceptions. The expectation, in France, is that players will earn their spurs in the junior versions of the national team before eventually graduating to the senior side. France’s under-21 squad – known as les Espoirs (literally, ‘the hopes’) – brims with exciting players such as Milan striker M’Baye Niang and the Lyon pair of Clément Grenier and Alexandre Lacazette, but although they play for some of the biggest clubs in Europe, there is no clamour for them to be promoted to the senior squad before they are ready. That is partly down to the depth of talent already at Deschamps’ disposal, but it is also, partly, cultural.
Exceptional indeed is the player who is excused an apprenticeship in France’s representative youth teams. Despite Pogba’s widely acclaimed performances for Juventus this season, Deschamps has admitted to reluctance about allowing him to stroll straight into the first-team set-up. As recently as January, the former Marseille manager said the midfielder still needed “some carrot and stick” before he could be considered for selection. Both Pogba and Varane impressed on their debuts against Georgia on Friday, but afterwards the word on Deschamps’ lips was “potential”.
“LONDON: When Michael Owen comes to reflect on his career, he may have cause to remember New Year’s Eve 2005 with particular regret. After an underwhelming season at Real Madrid, Owen was back in England with Newcastle United. He had missed the start of the season with a thigh injury, but since making his debut in September, he had scored seven goals in nine league games, including a hat-trick at West Ham United a week before Christmas. Aged 26, he still looked like the lean, livewire striker who had scored 158 goals in 297 games for Liverpool, but in first-half injury time of a league game at White Hart Lane, disaster struck.”
My AFP profile of Michael Owen, who announced his retirement from football on Tuesday, can be read here.
“LONDON — England beat Brazil 2-1 on Wednesday to end a 23-year wait for victory over the five-time world champions and consign Luiz Felipe Scolari to defeat in the first game of his second spell as Brazil coach.”
My match report on England’s unexpectedly assured victory over Brazil at Wembley can be read here. There’s also a reaction piece here: Hodgson encouraged by England’s young lions.
“LONDON – Joe Cole’s return to his roots at West Ham United is his latest bid to revive a career that has been flat-lining ever since he left Chelsea for Liverpool in 2010. One of his generation’s stand-out players, Cole has been a household name in England for the best part of a decade but as he returns to Upton Park after a 10-year absence, there is a feeling that his talent remains unfulfilled.”
My profile of Joe Cole for AFP can be read here.
I’ve been fortunate to report on some fantastic games of football since starting my new role at AFP in London four weeks ago. Here are some of the match reports from my first month in the job: