Denmark 1 – England 2: a cause for optimism?
|February 11, 2011||Posted by Liam Morgan under sport|
Watching England of late is, more often than not, a painful affair. It is a pain all too familiar for any remaining England fans, and this more than anything will have occupied Fabio Capello’s mind when preparing for his latest international match in charge. For a boss whose days are numbered (Capello will step down after Euro 2012) every game now counts toward his currently failing legacy. Wednesday witnessed Capello strive to amend this fate and pray that it is not, as it appears, accompli.
Whilst technically a friendly, the fan response was poised to be anything but if England were to fail to impress once again. A certain heaviness has hung over England games since the team’s abysmal summer campaign, an emotional remnant perhaps of a nation crushed under the eventual realisation (one we as a public have been delaying for 10 years) that their team simply cannot compete among the upper echelons of international football.
It is with this heaviness that the night begun, with the stifling atmosphere intensifying as Denmark cleaved through a hapless England defence to score within the first 8 minutes. The sight of sprightly Great Dane Daniel Agger heading home with relative ease was sure to confirm the viewing public’s already low expectations. A disinterested sigh from a million British households could almost be heard above the celebrating Danish fans.
An immediate response was needed from England and this is exactly what they managed to achieve. It was the newly christened Aston Villa man that kick-started England’s fight back and much of the night’s entertainment, admittedly owing a lot to Walcott’s tenacious work on the right wing. Bent showed a genuine thirst for goals, with the man-of-the-moment showcasing his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time for his 11th minute tap in.
Where the England side should turn to next in search of success seems like a no-brainer based on Wednesday’s game, as the ideas and new-found vitality on show came almost exclusively from the promising youth talent present within the side. The likes of vivacious youngster Jack Wilshere, incidentally making his full England debut, provide a fleeting yet tantalising glimpse into what the future of English football could look like. Fabregas’ influence as captain of Arsenal and therefore Wilshere really shows through, providing England’s newest player with invaluable experience of playing amongst the best, complete with a predisposed open mindset when it comes to forming an attack. Indeed, it was from another of England’s increasingly strong youth contingent that the second and winning goal came midway through the second half: Ashley Young – again of Aston Villa roots. His 68th minute strike sealed the deal for England in a wonderfully flowing, pacy move finished with a real calmness that stretched beyond his years.
Dare we invest our hopes in another generation of English talent? Or have they been dashed one too many times already – is the now infamous 2010 world cup campaign to become the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back?
Any optimism obtained from Wednesday’s performance will be comforting but short lived. To say that there is a long way to go yet in England’s development would be an understatement; the nurturing of a talented younger side will seem like the least of Capello’s problems at the moment, especially when faced with the near impossible task of winning back the hearts and minds of the (at present) hostile English public. All in all, an encouraging night for the England team, but one which can only serve as the very starting block for the much harder rebuilding tasks which lie ahead.