Blink­ered Fergie can­not see what’s best for Eng­land team

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPASTIMES -

SIR ALEX FER­GU­SON has again moaned his head off about hav­ing some of his best play­ers be­ing dragged half­way across the world for what he re­gards as a mean­ing­less mid-sea­son match.

But Fer­gu­son re­veals only his self­ish­ness and small world by his words.

The truth about Eng­land’s friendly against Brazil in Doha this evening is that it is a cru­cial part of their prepa­ra­tions for next year’s World Cup fi­nals in South Africa.

Fer­gu­son crit­i­cised the match in the Mid­dle East and the 10,400km round trip as “a coach’s night­mare”.

He’s so blink­ered that he can’t see the in­trin­sic value to Eng­land.

But as Eng­land coach Fabio Capello rightly pointed out “most other coun­tries are play­ing two games but we are only play­ing one match and re­turn­ing the play­ers on Sun­day, four days ear­lier than the other coun­tries.

“We did this out of re­spect to the play­ers and their clubs at such a busy time in the fix­ture cal­en­dar.”

The fix­ture was ar­ranged as part of a re­cip­ro­cal agree­ment whereby Brazil opened the new Wem­b­ley sta­dium more than two years ago.

Of course, play­ing in Doha will guar­an­tee a big fi­nan­cial pay out for both coun­tries, es­ti­mated at around £4 mil­lion (R48m) each, in Eng­land’s case most of that from sell­ing the UK TV rights.

But much more than money is at stake here. Eng­land badly needs the ex­po­sure to South Amer­i­can styles that a game like this will give them. They might have stayed at home and asked Colom­bia or Venezuela to come to Wem­b­ley. But how much more will they learn from play­ing Brazil, to­gether with Spain, one of the favourites for next year’s World Cup fi­nals.

Brazil­ian teams, with their in­nate flair and high skill fac­tor, are al­ways a very dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion com­pared to Euro­pean op­po­nents. The way they can con­trol the pace of a game, slow­ing it down and then speed­ing it up in a trice, is some­thing good op­po­nents need to study at close hand. Watch­ing how a great player like Kaka op­er­ates close up has to be ben­e­fi­cial for Eng­land’s own World Cup hopes.

I sus­pect that Capello will learn more about his play­ers from a sin­gle friendly match against Brazil than he may have done from their last three qual­i­fy­ing ties.

Cru­cial lit­tle facts are to be gleaned here; can a player match the speed of thought of the clever Brazil­ians, is he suf­fi­ciently tac­ti­cally smart to op­er­ate at this level ?

Who in the Eng­land team has the skills to keep the ball the way the Brazil­ians do as they seek an open­ing in the op­po­si­tion rear­guard?

All th­ese is­sues will be cru­cial in de­ter­min­ing the 23 names who will be Capello’s even­tual choice for his World Cup squad.

Capello has im­pressed every­one by the pro­fes­sional man­ner in which he has re­vi­talised Eng­land.

It’s just a shame that you still get peo­ple like Fer­gu­son bleat­ing be­cause they can’t see be­yond their own back­yard.

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