What We Learned From Switzerland vs Engerland (1-3)

OK So Switzerland Aren’t Going To Be The Bogey Team

Sadly all the Swiss fans were going to go home unhappy

They might have been the only team aside from the USA (and now Argentina) to have beaten the Spaniards in something like a hundred years, and they might have one of the most impressive international defensive records known to man (accompanied only by an inexplicable inability to actually score at the other end), but the Swiss team that turned out here was a pale shade of their World Cup counterparts. In fact they were so abject that we can only conclude that Montenegro is going to be the bogey team in this group.

The team that once seemed incapable of conceding a goal now seemed unable to actually defend. Sure Engerland were actually good, replicating all the positives of last week’s match with group no hopers Bulgaria, but they were admirably aided by a team that looked beaten even before the kick off. As with the World Cup qualifying campaign, Engerland looked superior in comparison to tawdry opposition, the new shape (Hart, Jags, Gerrard, Rhino, Miliner plus three attacking midfielders/forwards) looks imposing enough for qualification and may, with time, gel to become a dangerous tournament team. Sure they were more tested against a team that has, itself, actually qualified for a tournament, they conceded a goal and found it harder to make genuine chances, but they never looked like they would be useless enough to throw it all away even if Darren Bent eventually got both a run out and a goal.

Are Engerland Actually Developing Strength In Depth?

I say this not because we have suddenly unearthed a new minesworth of brand new English football talent (although the Under 21 side did scrape through to the play offs for the Euro 2011 Under 21 Championships and does contain quite a few interesting players), but because it’s looking like we may have a bit more competition for places. However, it’s a toss up between the strength and poise of, say,  Jagielka and Lescott being an indication of the depth of quality in the squad and it being simply the death knell for Titface and Rio. Personally I favour the latter as that can’t come quickly enough. With Rio basically as fit as Ledley King (and we all know how well that turned out) and trotting on to 32 in November and with Titface slowing down like he’s stuck in one of those ‘running away but marooned in custard’ dreams, I’m hoping Not-Quite-As-Crapello-As-We-Thought will have the strength to tell them that they’re not going to automatically walk straight back into the side. Of much more interest is the growing strength of our wide players, Wallchart, Adam Johnson, Lennon, Miliner and potential new boys like Mark Albrighton. Suddenly friendlies have a purpose again, to allow Crapello to test out new partnerships in a meaningful way rather than just go through the motions. If only we could actually develop some real forwards to challenge Defoe that would be progress.

Boasting Nearly Half The Team Doesn’t Give You The Credit

Much was made of the point at which almost half the Engerland team comprised Man City players (Hart, Lescott, Barry, Miliner, Adam Johnson, with Shaun the Sheep on the bench). How proud Man City must be to have brought along such players. Actually bought along would be more appropriate. Hart and Shaun aside, these players have been purchased not developed by Man City. The credit should go to Everton, Aston Villa, Leeds and Middlesborough. Now if all these players are demonstrably better in 12 months time, then Man City will have something to crow about.

Rob Green Save Of The Day

Poor Spooner Bob. He really isn’t going to live down that World Cup fuck up. However, he might spare a few moments of his time to post this video of Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina playing his first game for Spain for ages against a now Maradonnaless Argentina. It’s better than anything howled up by Green, Carson or even Robinson. No wonder the boy has been kept out of the proper Spain side by Castillas. If Reina was English he’d never play for his club, let alone the national team again. It’s also worth noting the truly cowardly defending that leads up to the hospital pass back to Reina. Sometimes a good hoof is the best policy.

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