Thursday, February 07, 2008

Jenas scores but should he have been on the pitch?

I was fortunate enough to be at Wembley last night to witness Fabio Capello's first game in charge, although it was hardly a classic. I'm sure performances under Fab will improve once he has more time with the players, so I wasn't overly bothered by the lacklustre performance.

However, what did concern me was the formation he picked. I had expected England to play 4-4-2 and I think had we done so we'd have looked a lot stronger and attacked more effectively. Regularly readers of this blog will know I'm not a fan of 4-5-1. It does have its place, but not at home against weaker opposition in your first game in charge. It's just too negative.

There were a number of moments (in the first half especially) when Rooney looked isolated and kept looking around trying to see if any of his team mates were near him. The midfield didn't act like a cohesive unit - they were either too bunched together or not clear who was responsible for what. There just didn't seem to be any real fluency.

Before I analyse things from the Spurs perspective, I just have to point out three quick observations. Firstly, it was the shortest minute's silence I've ever witnessed before the match started (presumably cut short due to a few idiots in the crowd). Secondly, Ashley Cole had a shocker and I genuinely can't remember the last time someone played so badly in an England shirt (other than Scott Carson against Croatia). And thirdly, I wonder how many other teams get jeered and whistled at after just 37 minutes of a new manager's tenure?

As for the Tottenham angle, the 4-5-1 formation gave Jenas his starting berth. If Capello had opted for 4-4-2 it would have surely been Gerrard and Barry chosen as the two central midfielders. I was having a pre-match beer when I first heard the team and was surprised to hear that JJ would be starting. Not because he didn't deserve to, but because he hasn't tended to get much of a look in internationally so far. He's a squad regular but rarely makes it onto the pitch. After his performances in the last few months he fully deserved to start and I was delighted that Capello is making his selections based on merit rather than routine.

I thought Jenas played well. He obviously scored, but he also looked good going forward generally and was involved in virtually all of England's attacking moves before he was surprisingly substituted. I'm sure the match will give him plenty of confidence that can be carried through to his future Spurs performances and it is good that he got to play at Wembley ahead of the Carling Cup final.

A final thought from me - I wasn't impressed with Bentley on the right flank. If Capello is building a team that doesn't need Beckham, then the battle for the right midfielder slot should be between Wright-Phillips (who looked good when he came on) and our very own Lennon. I can't understand why Lennon was effectively demoted to the Under 21s, as like Jenas, he too is in a rich vein of form at present.


howzay2k said...

have to disagree with you on the bentley front, he was the only player on the park who could pass a ball accurately more than 5 yards. in fact, he was very beckham-esq in how he went about his job. agree little lennon should have been in the squad though. what a shame hutton and bale were born the wrong side of their respective borders, they would walk into the current england team, ashley cole and wes brown were terrible!

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that Lennon had gone to the u21s to bolster them in an important match.

It wouldn't be a permenant thing apparently.

Jakarta said...

I tend to agree I watched the under 21's match at Southampton on Tuesday and Lennon was constantly beating his man to get to the line and was also delivering a quality ball into the area. He was the best player on the park. Although Bentley played ok last night I don't think he ever got to the line he also doesn't have the pace of Lennon. He did well but not as well as Hanson was going on about. When Lennon played for England in the World Cup there was a buzz when he was on the ball, England miss that.

With regards to JJ I believe that he is a little lost in a 451. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to get from box to box. I'm not sure he is the creative player to sit behind the front man. I would have like to have seen him in the centre with Gerrard holding with a 442.

EL said...


There was a degree of concern prior to the game about whether Fabby's Ingerland would play a la italian football; slow cautious build-up etc.
The players nervous start gave that impression so the fans, during a particularly 'patient' approach to goal, started to boo a little to show how they felt about the style of play apparently being employed. It was just an example of fans communicating their concerns in a simplistic way. They're hardly going to shout in unison; "We're becoming a little concerned about the style of football you appear to be employing lads", are they. They're paying customers and can shout what they want barring racist, homophobic or violent threats.

Jenas had one of his better(not great) days but it'll be a while yet before I'm convinced by him.

I wish him luck though.(In becoming a great player, not in convincing me).

john said...

lennons passing has improved a little