So another England defeat which, even though it was a friendly, again prompted the usual navel gazing regarding the state of the national game.
This time I thought statements regarding lack of youth development coming through didn’t have a great deal of clout as that is precisely what Fabio Capello did on Wednesday. Take out Gerrard, Ferdinand, Barry and a few others and you are looking at very young team. Critics can’t have it both ways i.e. expect England to win but also want youth to have their chance and gain experience which often includes learning from mistakes. I guess it is something we should remember if, in the future, we are to place more emphasis on youth? Anyway no doubt the inquests will go on until the next victory when it will all been forgotten again, until the next defeat!
Sadly “take out Gerrard” is what we must do after Wednesday’s game. Reports suggest he will be out for around a month with what the BBC website calls a “grade two hamstring tear”. Grade two? Do the medics need to get special planning permission before they work on it? HRH however, is in no mood to make light of this…
“Anything I say – other than I am disappointed and even a little bit angry about it would be dishonest. But I know Steven, as an important player for club and country, is keen to put a tin lid on the matter. He is disappointed and sad too but he is going to do everything he can to get back to fitness as quickly as possible.”
I guess there is no point bleating on about international friendlies and their meaningless. They won’t go away so long as the national team needs practice and if Liverpool are the side we want them to be then that means having internationals which means there is always a risk of then coming back injured? Nonetheless there needs to be respect and understanding between club and national team. Did Capello overstep the mark by playing Gerrard for longer than he promised to and will, as result, we so be accommodating in terms of making our players available for the next friendly? Yes and probably no.
And so to West Ham and the arrival of Avram Grant, football’s knock about, cheery, cheeky, chappy – those gags and merry quips just keep coming!
On paper this looks a doddle. We are at home and the opposition are bottom of the league and haven’t won at Anfield for nearly fifty years. Nonetheless would anyone put their life savings on us to win with the utmost confidence?
The injury to Gerrard is just one set back. Jay Spearing did his ankle in training yesterday and looks to be out for six weeks and Lucas pays the price for being a naughty boy against Stoke. However HRH can at least take some comfort from the fact that he has a choice of full backs to pick from as Johnson and Aurelio are back. With Gerrard and Spearing out perhaps HRH will try Johnson in midfield or maybe it is too early after his injury?
Prediction? West Ham are a curate’s egg, quite good on the offensive and atrocious in defence. Hopefully HRH will seize on this and instruct the team to go out and attack and not be cautious simply because we need the win due to stalling in the last two games. I’m sure HRH has faith in his players but many could be forgiven for thinking he doesn’t given the way he sets the side up? He needs the side to play to its strengths and if that means occasionally taking a gamble as a result then so be it. Hopefully we will see something more expansive than we did at Stoke last week? I take us to do just that 2-0 and the Avram’s side splitters can wait for another day!
By the way this blog now has an index of match reports since it started in October 2006 so for machinations of previous games, against West Ham since this date click here.