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England show signs of improvement against inert opposition

November 27th, 2011 by · No Comments · Features

Beating what was surely the worst most inert Swedish team ever to come to Wembley

– and they have been coming since that glorious Swedish team which under the aegis of little Yorkshireman George Raynor won the 1948 Olympic Gold with the Nordahls, Nils Liedholm and Gunnar Gren – England at least made serious efforts to score. By contrast with the massed defence deployed against a Spanish team which hardly deserved to lose.

It would probably be unfair to judge this England team that beat Sweden any more than the side which somehow or other defeated Spain – who subsequently didn’t look too good in San Jose against Costa Rica. Too many key men were missing: Jack Wilshere, our solitary schemer, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney who could perfectly well have been deployed in these two friendlies had Capello wished to.

Against a Sweden team in which the much renowned but ever erratic Zoltan Ibrahimovic gave himself the evening off, the England defence strolled through the game. Both wingers played electrically well. Given the service that he got just once late in the first half against Spain, Theo Walcott used his splendid speed to great effect in the first half against Sweden. Can we please place a moratorium on all the silly prattle about his not having a football brain, whatever that is? What he does he does splendidly well and what he can do at his best as he showed to such effect once in Zagreb is to play havoc with the opposing defence. Downing was splendidly effective on either win. But where was the central striker?

Capello’s one man up obsession gave poor Bobby Zamora on his uneasy debut as hard a time as had Darren Bent against Spain. Zamora should surely have taken that good chance in the second half and is arguably short of international calibre but then, what English striker is not?

Much praise again for young Phil Jones, but it is surely plain enough as it certainly has been after a single such experiment to Alex Ferguson that central midfield is not his position. When, thanks to a shocking error by Kim Kjelstrom, he suddenly broke quite free through the centre of the Swedish defence, his final attempt to score with only the keeper to beat was a hasty disaster. Centre back surely remains his ideal role. Meanwhile, the ineffable Sepp Blatter has put his foot in his mouth again, this time over racism on the pitch. Should we be at all surprised?

Let us not forget that Russia, no doubt after the disbursement of large sums of money in the right or wrong places, has the 2018 World Cup, despite the endemic racism in its football. That FIFA Kick Out Racism Campaign was always a meaningless charade. So to what might be called the latest Blatterism.

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