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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Call off the search and return the helicopters back to base. The England team, missing since the summer of 2004, have been found alive and well in Zagreb. After what had seemed like an eternity of dour, artless whimpering, the three lions found their voice and roared back into life against Croatia. With a result that matched the magnificence of the 4-1 victory over Holland in 1996 and rivalled the unexpectedness of the 5-1 defeat of Germany in 2001, England smashed their way to top spot in their World Cup qualifying group and, if they continue to play like this, they will stay there until their passage to South Africa is secured.

This was not, whatever you may read elsewhere, a case of Capello 'arriving' as England manager. This was the England players finally catching up with Capello. From the start of his reign, the Italian boss has desperately tried to install some composure and maturity into his under-performing squad. Last night, that hard work paid off. England played at a relentless tempo, weathering the early dominance of the home side, taking their chances and eventually settling into the kind of football that must have made Capello glow.

In the interests of objectivity, credit should go to Croatia on two counts. Firstly to Slaven Bilic for defying the Gods of football and tempting fate so brazenly. Bilic had openly mocked the English game this week, claiming that his opponents played predictable football and were doomed to failure. He didn't predict this. His insults rendered Capello's team-talk redundant. No-one has managed to motivate this England team for years, but Bilic delivered.

Secondly, England's victory was, in some part, the result of a spectacular self-destruction on their hosts part. Croatia were taken aback by the stern refereeing. They argued every decision, they lost their temper and, eventually, they collapsed upon themselves. Robert Kovac's attempt to turn Joe Cole's head inside-out was justly rewarded with a red card and, in truth, there could have been more dismissals.

Let no-one take anything away from England though. So often the victims of merciless criticism, this was their night to answer back. Emile Heskey held the line like a Spartan, Wayne Rooney eventually remembered that he was supposed to be in attack and created a flurry of chances, but what can be said of little Theo Walcott? The Arsenal front-man, after a nervous start, burst into life. A glorious hat-trick of three wonderfully calm finishes have surely cemented his place in the England starting line-up. Walcott terrified the Croatian defenders and, though his final product is not always perfect, his courage in front of goal most certainly was.

England are not in South Africa yet, but professional performances in the rest of their campaign will be enough. Unlike in the McClaren era, they will not now be waiting for the mistakes of others. Unlike in the McClaren era, they have humiliated one of Europe's top teams in their own back yard. Unlike in the McClaren era, these players have finally proven themselves worthy of the shirts they wear. England, the old England, are back in business.
 

Harold Bishop Killer

Got bummed around Aus
Joined
May 7, 2008
Messages
4,600
Location
Hullbridge/Southend
It was a fantastic performance from the lads helped in parts by Croatia but I have supported England enough not to be shouting from the roof tops and to bring out the marching band. Many times before we have had a one-off fantastic performance before once again being made to look ordinary by average teams. I will not be doing merry jigs until we are consistent in our performances.

But if this performance is the start of something great then I will be doing the jig all the way to South Africa.
 

MK Shrimper

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
Messages
52,348
One swallow doesn't make a summer Slip - no doubt all the red tops will be harking on how we're now going to walk the group and win the World Cup. This is England remember, but until they put a string of performances like this together and smash 6 or 7 past teams like Andorra then I'll consider falling back in love with the national team. And if Capello is strong enough to leave Gerrard on the bench then even better, but a step in the right direction definitely.
 

steveo

mine to stay the same please
Joined
Aug 30, 2005
Messages
7,545
And if Capello is strong enough to leave Gerrard on the bench then even better,
This is the key point for me. Most people accept Gerard and Lampard do the same thing so we should not play them both just because of their reputations. Sven and McLaren couldnt work this out, or didnt have the bottle to leave one of them out.
Lets hope the Italian doesnt follow the same way. Surely, fitness permitting, we should be playing an unchanged team in October.
 

Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
One swallow doesn't make a summer Slip - no doubt all the red tops will be harking on how we're now going to walk the group and win the World Cup. This is England remember, but until they put a string of performances like this together and smash 6 or 7 past teams like Andorra then I'll consider falling back in love with the national team. And if Capello is strong enough to leave Gerrard on the bench then even better, but a step in the right direction definitely.

You'll never be a tabloid journalist if you keep being sensible and looking at the long game, MK. Rejoice in the moment, despair in the moment. This is how it works. All Hail Lord Capello. Until he ****s it all up against Belarus.
 

EastStandBlue

Life President
Joined
May 29, 2005
Messages
15,481
The only thing i'm slightly worried about is the effect that this giame has on the rest of the group. People will look at this set of games and see that Andorra turned up with the ideal of having 10 men behind the ball at all times and frustrating into making mistakes... We limped to a 2-0 victory.

Croatia, who could now be considered one of the top teams in Europe, especially at home, looked to play their own game against us and inflict another embarassing defeat. England produced a confident display and romped to a 4-1 victory that really could've been more, and probably should've been more if it weren't for Simunic going down like he'd been shot in the lead up to Lampard's goal.

If I was manager of a no-mark country like Kazakhstan or Belarus, I'd know exactly what I'd be doing... especially at Wembley with the hundreds of idiots who boo if we're not 4-0 up inside the first 15 minutes.
 

HUTTON

Guest
One swallow doesn't make a summer Slip - no doubt all the red tops will be harking on how we're now going to walk the group and win the World Cup. This is England remember, but until they put a string of performances like this together and smash 6 or 7 past teams like Andorra then I'll consider falling back in love with the national team. And if Capello is strong enough to leave Gerrard on the bench then even better, but a step in the right direction definitely.

But wasn't Gerrard injured? :unsure:
 

Reg Martin

No Relation
Joined
Apr 2, 2007
Messages
2,516
a great result, never doubted the lads:whistling:
just hope this isn't another false dawn
would dearly love us to breakout of the vicious circle of inflated expectations followed by the inevitable bitter backlash when those expectations aren't fulfilled.
 

sufcintheprem

This is a modified caption
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
10,185
Location
Putney
One swallow doesn't make a summer Slip - no doubt all the red tops will be harking on how we're now going to walk the group and win the World Cup. This is England remember, but until they put a string of performances like this together and smash 6 or 7 past teams like Andorra then I'll consider falling back in love with the national team. And if Capello is strong enough to leave Gerrard on the bench then even better, but a step in the right direction definitely.

This is true and I would normally consider myself as staunch a cynic as possible. My post-match drunken texts weren't about world domination but about flattering scorelines (another parallel with Munich).

But, this had several hallmarks of a team finally starting to catch up mentally with the International footballing top table. When it didn't work, we just started building patiently and were not afraid to go back (except Ferdinand's frequent flyer point accumulation). When we had the chances, we scored. All players kept their heads barring a few Joe Cole lunges and we professionally dominated them as soon as they were foolish enough to lose their discipline.

I think you're being a little unrealistic if you're after a 6/7 goal win against anyone. We would need a certain number of breaks to go in our favour as any team does against these teams. Worth bearing in mind that Brazil and Argentina have identical W3 D4 L1 records in qualification yet no-one will doubt their credentials when the World Cup comes around.

The only goal in qualification is to do exactly what it says on the tin. Once you're ahead in a game, then you can think about trying to entertain more and play better football as shown last night.

Sven was always very good at qualifying and hugely underrated in this respect. Capello couldn't be off to a better start.
 

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator⭐
Staff member
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
36,172
Location
London
This is true and I would normally consider myself as staunch a cynic as possible. My post-match drunken texts weren't about world domination but about flattering scorelines (another parallel with Munich).

But, this had several hallmarks of a team finally starting to catch up mentally with the International footballing top table. When it didn't work, we just started building patiently and were not afraid to go back (except Ferdinand's frequent flyer point accumulation). When we had the chances, we scored. All players kept their heads barring a few Joe Cole lunges and we professionally dominated them as soon as they were foolish enough to lose their discipline.

I think you're being a little unrealistic if you're after a 6/7 goal win against anyone. We would need a certain number of breaks to go in our favour as any team does against these teams. Worth bearing in mind that Brazil and Argentina have identical W3 D4 L1 records in qualification yet no-one will doubt their credentials when the World Cup comes around.

The only goal in qualification is to do exactly what it says on the tin. Once you're ahead in a game, then you can think about trying to entertain more and play better football as shown last night.

Sven was always very good at qualifying and hugely underrated in this respect. Capello couldn't be off to a better start.

Excellent post.

I'm not so sure it was Sven who was brilliant in qualification as Becks. Becks never pulled out of trips injured, unless it was a medical impossibility to play and repeatedly lead from the front. England's qualification success under Sven was built on going to places like Macedonia, Belarus and winning, invariably from a goal scored or set up from Becks. He repeatedly rescued England. Legend.
 
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