Well there you go! I always had confidence in England and never doubted them for a moment! The World Cup in South Africa is surely just a formality! As the man on Setanta said “Did anyone really ever doubt Fabio Capello?” Cue a loud, unrehearsed, but perfectly coordinated, response of “YES!” from the fifty or so punters in the club where I was watching the game!
Nonetheless a surprising and, above all, convincing win that confounded all expectations, especially mine! Because of the opposition the press were given a ready made excuse to go hysterical and boy they did. I guess the question one has to ask amongst all this ballyhoo is if England can play so well in this game, what was the problem before and can they maintain it? Surely the change of manager is one factor? Under Capello no one seems guaranteed a place anymore, which is healthy and would for example McClaren have the courage to play Walcott in such a high profile game and the tactical nous to make the best use of him? They are also keeping hold of the ball, in one move I counted over 40 consecutive passes.
Meanwhile it seems to be good news on the Steven Gerrard injury front. Despite his assertion over the weekend that he probably won’t be ready for Saturday’s game, things have gone well. It seems full training will be, or has been, resumed this week. Nonetheless Rafa is still exercising a characteristic note of caution.
“You never know, he is still progressing. The key is the fitness of the player – it makes a massive difference if he has confidence. That is the main thing for him.”
Critics will say we are nothing without Gerrard and Torres (the latter is definitely out) however Rafa, understandably, doesn’t share that view.
“….it is important to remember that we have enough quality in the squad whatever happens. Sometimes other players can give you more than the big names because they feel they have something to prove. Obviously, though, it would be better for us if Stevie and Fernando are available to play”
Nice words Rafa but we need to give ourselves every chance on Saturday. I guess the danger is taking a gamble on Gerrard for this game and seeing him break down again which would presumably require a longer recovery time?
Meanwhile The Daily Mirror as resurrected the old Arab takeover chestnut
Apparently Sheikh Mohammed is leaving DIC and going solo (musically differences?) and will use his own wealth to prise out football’s poorest billionaires from what must now be considered as their bolt hole.
The reason for this says The Mirror is that basically the Sheikh (can we call him Shaky?) can throw as much money as he likes at the club and not worry about profit.
“DIC’s charter states the government company must “maximise long-term shareholder value”, which in effect means it should turn over a big profit as soon as possible.”
Of course this could all be nonsense, a space filler, between Andy Cap and “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Theo Walcott”, playing on fans wishes rather than the reality of the situation? However DIC have been hovering around for the club for some time so who knows? Perhaps there is also an issue of personal pride here? Having seen the Abu Dhabi owners get involved down the road, does Sheikh Mohammed now sees taking us over as a more enticing attraction, a challenge to try and out do them?
Either way it goes without saying that the Americans will, as ever, be looking after number one and will try to hold out for the largest amount of profit possible. Perhaps their hand will be forced if the credit crunch accelerates? As mentioned in the last blog the moment of truth could be the new year when their stadium debt has to be refinanced. If the Americans foresee problems with this then maybe the Arab takeover will give them the opportunity to bail out before this without losing face or credibility.
Mind you when it comes to Star Spangled Duo the phrase “without losing face or credibility” ceased to be a relevant or achievable objective a long time ago!