England In The Red Again
Was it just me or did you think that England played with only 3 men last night against Montenegro?
In the thunderstorm proportion rain in a town you can't pronounce you would have thought thatlistening to the Sky commentators only Rooney, Young and Jones had bothered to put on the three lions jerseys last night. The brown-nosers of red-nose's finest eulogising relentlessly over these 'fine young players' who have given Stretford 'an astonishing start to the season'.
But the comments ceased to take shape as one after another they relinquished their duties and ultimately contributed to costing England 2 points from a match in which they were easing to victory.
First of all Jones. It is little secret that the best Englaish right back, performance wise so far this season does not wear a red shirt for a living. He is a player who over the last 10 monmths has finally started to understand his deficiencies and put them right as other people threaten his postion. He wears sky-blue for a living. He has more strength than Jones and for me is more of a threat going forward.
Regular readers of my columns will know that last season I criticised him relentlessly and had him down for a January exit, but Micah Richards proved me and half the Etihad wrong with his second half of the season work. He should have been in the team last night.
Was it not Jones who was caught upfield with the Red Card, and within 10 seconds the short handed defence was caught out with a deflected shot that left a gallant Joe Hart wrong-footed facing his first shot of the half as it moved into stoppage time?
Was it not Jones looking anxiously at the referee as he needlessly fouled an opponent in the first half which should have brought Montenegro a penalty?
Next we have Young - a breath of fresh air to the Premier League. Did he not play in the Premier League for Aston Villa? Yes he scored a reasonable goal and set one up on a plate for Bent to make it 2-0. But what then? Didn't do much else and got replaced. Or was that the Fergie rules for this match?
Young might be quick and may have added new dimensions to his game since migrating to Stretford, but England needed him to press on last night and in the end got pressed back, or actually not shielding Cole, and causing one or two problems there as Montenegro sensed they could get something out of the game.
And finally Rooney. The talisman. He played the first half as if he was in control of the total match, making telling passes and getting involved in the build up play to the goals. But were darker forces being deployed when he unforgiveably booted Dzudovic right in front of the referee inviting the card out of the ref's top pocket?
What is it with Rooney? I suppose the world will say that there was a reaction from the prospect of family members ending up in the slammer, although everything is alleged at this point in time, but when England needed a full complement of footballers on the field, once again they became short-handed in a key match and now loses a key player for possibly two matches in the finals. It will be at least two matches because it is a UEFA competition and Mr Platini will be doing his unlevel best to ensure that English interests are dented as much as possible.
As fast as the commentators eulogised, they suddenly shut up. No monetion of the hard graft carried out by Parker and Barry doing the untidy jobs or Walcott or Bent for that matter.
There has to be question marks over the left hand side of the defence where Chelsea's finest were out of sorts. Terry looks a shadow of his former self, dropping too deep for the first goal and deflecting it out of Joe Hart's reach despite a valiant effort from the City man to get back. Cole looks a bit suspect in a system that doesn't position a midfielder right in front of him. Barry and Parker were to play narrow in the central shield and it needed the many times absent Young to provide the cover.
Initially I thought Joe should have done better for the goals. However the frist really did deflect in the opposite direction to which Joe heading to pick up a routine effort and the second should have been cut off at source and there should have been a challenge at the far post either from Cahill or Jones. A more experienced defender would have got into that position with a cute nudge to put off the opposing attacker.
Montenegro served notice of their resilience upon us at Wembley. They also showed last night that they are no mugs. They changed their game plan to their best effect, scoring in the last minute of each half, as England clocked-off. However England did qualify as group winners so we should be thankful for that..but aren't Germany looking good again?