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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"We had enough chances to win this game. In fact, we did win."

TDH only managed to take in the first 25 minutes of England v Hungary. Eventually Sven's intelligent setup was vindicated - at least the Stevie G part that your grandmother could have put together - but TDH will air plenty of gripes.

First off, there was clearly plenty of ambition in the side. Carragher charged forward majestically, and JT and Rio were up front for every corner. Owen was challenging every ball at the back, and Gerrard seemed to be loving his new (if you can call it that) forward role.

There were problems, though. The last pass always seemed to be lacking, and so many spirited runs ended with a fairly easy dispossession by the Magyars. It seemed like the squad simply hadn't played together enough - undoubtedly an infirmity bred by Sven's constant chopping and changing. Hopefully, by the time they make it to Germany, they will have had more time on the pitch as a unit.

Also, the Spice Boy seemed eager to occupy the space left by Owen, who likes to operate on the left, and Stevie G, who was coming in behind. So he ran deep into the box from the right, leaving 'Tache to take the crosses. That is not what England need. Becks has scored from inside the box for the Merengues several times this season, but England have plenty of threats there. What they need are his crosses, since those supplied by 'Tache were frankly (and somewhat unusually) abysmal.

Young Joe, sad to say, seemed to be falling into his old habit of dribbling against three defenders and then falling over or losing the ball. What has saved him from this at Chelsea has been having a big target or a corresponding winger across the pitch who can receive a pass. He won't always have this with England, and he needs to figure out an alternative. TDH's vote is a looping pass to Gerrard, who is unbeatable on the volley.

Finally, as TDH had feared, the system with Carragher in the holding role didn't exactly gel. He moved to the right with Hargreaves coming on for out-of-sorts 'Tache. To judge by the scoreline, it settled the team. But please, Hargreaves? Where's Carrick?

Clearly, England could have won 4-1 or 5-1. But still, Sven, it's getting late! Sort it out!


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