Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Six blues play in England win

Records were broken last night, as at one point six MCFC players were on the pitch in England's 3-1 win over Switzerland in Basle.

Four started, Adam Johnson came on in the first half - and when Shaun Wright-Phillips replaced Wayne Rooney with 11 minutes left there were more City players on the England team than those that weren't. It's certainly something worth reflecting on. It's one of the best examples yet of the near-unique richness and depth of our squad. It also shows, I think, how low the bar is of England squad entry: simply having a contract with a top half Premier League side seems to be enough. Although not, for some reason, for Tom Huddlestone.

The four starters were Joe Hart, James Milner and Gareth Barry - who started against Bulgaria - and then Joleon Lescott, replacing Michael Dawson. Lescott was a surprise. Not only because it was Gary Cahill who came on last Friday, but because Lescott had not started a competitive game at centre-back since March 14. He did well enough on his return to the side, winning a few important headers.

In the midfield, Barry and Milner both had good games. This was England's best midfield performance for at least one year, and the passing and movement was crisp and imaginative. Barry did particularly well cleaning up in front of the back four (so much so that I think he could perform Nigel de Jong's role successfully), and Milner played intelligently - staying wide when necessary but sometimes coming inside to help out.

The headlines, though, are Adam Johnson's, again. He came on early in the first half for the injured Theo Walcott, again playing off the right. With his first touch he darted down Reto Ziegler's outside, and crossed low with his right to Jermain Defoe. Johnson is open to accusations of predictability and so his having this Plan B to call upon is of immense value. Soon later he shot just over from distance, but his goal was to come in the second half.

England were counter-attacking and he drifted inside, ran off one of the centre backs and was found by Steven Gerrard's through ball. Facing down the 'keeper, he swerved left, took the ball past him and finished into an empty net. Two competitive international appearances - both off the bench - and two goals.

Joe Hart could not replicate his Friday night heroics, letting in a swerving shot from Xherdan Shaqiri and making two or three uncharacteristic handling errors. He was better, though, than Shaun Wright-Phillips who was twice in dream positions behind the left back but sent two woeful final balls across.

3 comments:

Thunderand1bolt said...

Wow at the end 6 City players and 0 United! How times have changed. Happy days!

Wienerwald said...

I was at the game on Tuesday in Basle - and cannot understand the crticism of SWP. He was brought on to stretch the Swiss right-wing as Shaqiri in particular was getting some joy out of A Cole (who was booked)- this he did and they caused us no more threat for the last 10 mins or so. Job done.

ChrisR said...

Wienerwald- I fully agree. I'm not sure which second 'dream position' JPB is talking about unless he means the cross aimed at Milner from the corner flag, I personally think JPB was intoxicated and simply caught a replay of the Bent pass. I felt SWP did a great job at relieving pressure through counterattacks and did exactly as requested of him. Sadly, that one horrific lazy pass to Bent undid any good work as far as the media cares, and so he's back to square one. Naturally, Capello recognises the good work missed by the media (being bright n all), and re-selects SWP, to calls of being a donkey and not up to the England job. Sadly, I am left to presume all future pressure on Capello is purely down to Shaunny. (but I still love him)