Thursday, 1 March 2012

England busking it all the way to Euro 2012

 Robben's strike: our statues get a great view of it.
England fans will breathe a collective sigh of relief as caretaker boss Stuart Pearce has declared, "I'm short term" after masterminding England's latest gulf in class.

Because a 3-2 friendly defeat to Holland leaves us nowhere in particular ahead of a big date in the diary.

With Euro 2012 three months away, Pearce mooted he was Plan B before kick-off. He explained he was there if Harry Redknapp (or anyone else) wasn't going to succeed Fabio Capello permanently.

Now he's incentivising the FA powerbrokers to get a replacement in as soon as possible. The Under-21 boss is committing to the senior job for however long it takes, so let's hope that's not too long.

Because at Wembley, England were busking it. After the Capello years, there was new thinking at the helm but with little commitment to it. We've just chucked an eye-watering £24m at Fabio's four-year plan: our reward for it? we're fifth favourites going into a major tournament.

Scott Parker was captain instead of stand-out Stevie and there was no room for Theo Walcott and Ashley Cole who's experience might've been regarded more highly considering the quality of the opposition.

Arjen Robben's opening goal showed the huge lack of experience we had against the truly world-class. His darting dribble and run cut a slice through our defence with almost no resistance, and as Robben's second goal confirmed deep into injury time, he posed a potent threat throughout.
Now this'll never happen. Nice pic though!
Then again there were some positives: no one was afraid to play, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Johnson and Danny Welbeck all dribbled there way into creating chances and Parker wore the armband with aplomb and responsibilty.

But after the England fight back, the Dutch deserved their winner. The composure of the Orange was greater - as was their sheer ability.

So a 3-2 defeat with the order of the goals falling in exactly the same way as England's darkest night at New Wembley - that defeat to Croatia which snatched defeat from the jaws of victory to deny us a Euro 2008 place.

Pearce is not cut out for the England job and doesn't rouse his troops as a boss. That's a strange thing to say about a man who inspired such passion and leadership among fans and teammates alike as a player.

Roll on Redknapp's arrival. He may not be the master tactician a la Mourinho, but as Tottenham's Roman Pavlyuchenko will testify, he will get his charges to "run around a bit" in pursuit of glory.

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