The same woes

Eng­land v France: Five things we learned.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FOOTBALL -

THERE were times when this game com­pletely passed the Sun­der­land young­ster by, ex­posed as he was in a nom­i­nal de­fen­sive mid­field brief but with dis­or­gan­i­sa­tion be­hind him and scant sup­port from the ex­pe­ri­enced yet one-paced Gareth Barry at his side from the start. Samir Nasri and Florent Malouda rev­elled in the space they could ex­ploit in front of Eng­land’s oc­ca­sion­ally ramshackle back-line, with Hen­der­son pow­er­less to stop them. The 20year-old is a box-to-box mid­fielder whose dis­play at Stam­ford Bridge at the week­end, al­beit against a strangely lack­lus­tre Chelsea side, had served no­tice of his un­doubted qual­ity. Yet he ex­celled in that con­test along­side the com­bat­ive Lee Cat­ter­mole. Barry is more se­date, his ap­proach more about po­si­tion­ing than fe­ro­cious tack­ling, and his down­beat tempo rather rubbed off on the debu­tant. Steven Ger­rard’s re­treat into a deeper po­si­tion af­ter the break should have of­fered timely sup­port, but there was no track­ing back from ei­ther “de­fen­sive” mid­fielder when Mathieu Val­buena ghosted in to vol­ley the French side’s sec­ond be­fore the hour. For Hen­der­son, it felt as if this op­por­tu­nity may have come too soon. 2. Andy Car­roll can make his mark at this level

The New­cas­tle for­ward’s worka­holic dis­play had pro­vided the only real en­cour­age­ment for the home side as the boos rang out. Iso­lated up front, his prepa­ra­tions ham­pered by a mi­nor groin com­plaint, he still un­set­tled Philippe Mexès and Adil Rami with his power and pres­ence. The for­mer con­ceded a foul af­ter 32 sec­onds, with Car­roll con­sis­tently threat­en­ing in the air – whether around the penalty area or, as more of­ten than not, col­lect­ing punts down­field mid­way in the French half – and aware of what lit­tle sup­port was com­ing his way. The flicks into team-mates were im­pres­sive. Yet one of Eng­land’s prin­ci­pal frus­tra­tions was their in­abil­ity to pro­vide him with the ball deep so that he could turn and run at back-track­ing de­fend­ers, one of his key strengths in the Premier League cam­paign to date. On the one oc­ca­sion he did spin and charge, Mexès was flum­moxed. His club will be re­lieved that there was no sign of the groin in­jury that had threat­ened to deny him his chance. Eng­land will be en­cour­aged that he is an in­ter­na­tional foot­baller in the mak­ing. 3. Kieran Gibbs needs more games un­der his belt

That may be stat­ing the ob­vi­ous, but a player with four ap­pear­ances for his club this sea­son – and only 10 Premier League starts in his ca­reer to date – sim­ply has to glean more game-time if he is to be ex­pected to fill in for the ab­sent Ashley Cole at this level. To ex­pect oth­er­wise is un­fair. Gaël Clichy, the man who keeps Gibbs out of the Arse­nal side, started this match on the op­po­nents’ bench with his club-mate labour­ing to keep tabs on the slip­pery Val­buena and just as un­nerved by the anx­i­ety ex­uded by Joleon Lescott and Rio Fer­di­nand at his side. There was a rusti­ness in the young­ster’s de­fen­sive play when­ever Val­buena glided for­ward. The odd slid­ing tackle on Bacary Sagna, an­other Arse­nal team­mate, might have pepped his con­fi­dence, though the French­man seared away from the left-back 55 min­utes in to de­liver the cross for Val­buena’s smartly-taken sec­ond. What flashes of qual­ity that were pro­vided by Gibbs failed to il­lu­mi­nate the gloom and it must re­main a con­cern that a player con­sid­ered one of the bright­est prospects in the English game at present ap­pears so ir­reg­u­larly for his club in the Premier League. 4. France aren’t as bad as they had made out

Con­sid­er­ing the sense of pes­simism that had ac­com­pa­nied Lau­rent Blanc’s team across La Manche, the French should be re­joic­ing now. This is a na­tional side who had en­dured an even more trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence in South Africa over the sum­mer than the English, and re­turned with ruc­tions and in-fight­ing aplenty to leave the FFF in despair and the team in open re­volt. Yet, re­vamped and re­born un­der a bright new head coach, they rev­elled in Eng­land’s de­fi­cien­cies here. In fact, they pro­voked them. Nasri and Val­buena were out­stand­ing, and Gour­cuff just as im­pres­sive at their back. Florent Malouda looked the player he was at the start of the Premier League sea­son, rather than the rather out-of­sorts winger he has be­come in re­cent weeks at Chelsea. They mo­nop­o­lised pos­ses­sion for long pe­ri­ods, pinged passes around at will, and clev­erly ex­ploited the ar­eas where Eng­land were weak, of which there were plenty. Even a side only re­cently thrown to­gether seemed fa­mil­iar with their sys­tem of play and com­fort­able with each other. What en­cour­age­ment there re­ally was to be had last night was all French. 5. Fabio Capello can’t excel against the top teams

The cur­rent FIFA rank­ings have Eng­land in sixth po­si­tion, baf­flingly some 15 places above Les Bleus, yet this was enough to demon­strate which nation boasts the real strength in depth. The harsh re­al­ity of Capello’s reign to date is that, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of the vic­tory against a re-mod­elled Ger­many side in Ber­lin al­most ex­actly two years ago, this team runs aground when­ever it col­lides with a side who are truly tech­ni­cally and tac­ti­cally pro­fi­cient. There have now been two de­feats to France, losses to Spain and Brazil, and that hu­mil­i­a­tion to the Ger­mans in Bloemfontein. The come­back from 2-0 down against the Dutch stands out as an ex­cep­tional re­sult, and it is that re­al­ity that should – and, in­deed, does – pur­sue Eng­land to ev­ery ma­jor fi­nals for the fore­see­able fu­ture. Capello had preached pa­tience in the build-up to this fix­ture, and here was ev­i­dence why. The man­ager will be anx­ious to say good rid­dance to 2010, with all the mis­ery it has brought him, but coach­ing this side ap­pears a painfully long-term project. – Guardian News & Me­dia 2010

Glim­mer of hope: Eng­land will be en­cour­aged that Andy Car­roll is an in­ter­na­tional foot­baller in the mak­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.