Wednesday, 29 February 2012

International week - 3 things we have learned

England – They could lose Gerrard just as they did with Scholes

As Stuart Pearce handed the captaincy to Scott Parker it left a lot in the game more than confused.

Steven Gerrard is England’s vice captain and therefore has to be the man for the job. He has been there and done it at club level and has one so many occasions turned the game for Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard 
There cannot be any argument about age both men are 31 years old, and importantly tonight Gerrard won his 90th cap for country as Parker picked up only his 10th.

Over the last twelve months Parker has become an integral part of the team and the makeup of the midfield but he really doesn’t offer that much to the team apart from his tough tackling.

If you compare their career’s Gerrard has led Liverpool to everything (apart from the obvious) Parker has on the other has struggled. Mid table mediocrity at Charlton was followed by failures at Chelsea and Newcastle. His West Ham side were relegated and now he does a job for Tottenham.

The big risk for England is that it is likely that after the European Championships Gerrard will turn his back on his country just as Paul Scholes did and it would be far too early.

He has been rushed back into action by Liverpool and at times has looked tired but has shone with a match winning performance against Newcastle being the most memorable.  

He would be 33 if England qualify for Brazil and what a stage it would be for him to bow out on, the FA need to sort the managerial mess out and install Gerrard as captain for the campaign.

Wales – Craig Bellamy needs to give the fans one more campaign

On an emotional night in Cardiff, Craig Bellamy lead out his nation at Gary Speed’s memorial game and he provides new manager Chris Coleman with his first challenge.

He needs to ensure that Bellamy is part of the team ahead of the qualifying campaign that kicks off against Belgium in September.

Craig Bellamy
Since his summer move back to Liverpool he has been reborn and is now seen as an integral part of Kenny Dalglish’s side. With injuries a constant worry for Bellamy it would perhaps be easy for him to call it a day on his international career to ensure the longevity of his club career.

Coleman will over the next couple of weeks have to sit down with Bellamy and outline a plan ahead of the qualifying campaign. It is key that the issue is resolved relatively quickly as Wales need to carry on the momentum from the end of their last qualifying campaign.

Far too many campaigns have come to a premature end as a result of poor starts and let’s be honest if Coleman does not have all of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Bellamy in his first competitive XI they will struggle. Bellamy is integral and certainly has one more campaign left in him. 

Other business – England’s group opponents gear up for the Euros.

Right around Europe England’s group opponents were in action and as England has no manager and no permanent captain they all impress with memorable victories on the road.

Laurent Blanc’s France recorded a famous victory over Germany in Bremen. Goals from Olivier Giroud and Chelsea’s Flourent Molouda getting the goals to continue their impressive run.

Sebastian Larsson
No one expects much from the French at the tournament but for me they must now be considered as dark horses and will pose a tough start for England come June.

Sweden recorded a 3-1 win over Croatia in Zagreb as Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson grabbed two goals after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first half strike as they dismantled Slaven Bilic’s side. It is a result that will encourage the Republic of Ireland who tackle the Croats in their opening game of the tournament on June the 10th.

England’s tournament may well be over by the time they take on hosts Ukraine in their final group game as they beat Israel 3-2  in Petach Tikva. Goals from Oleh Gusev and Yevhen Konoplyanka gave the visitors a two-goal lead at the break before substitute Tomer Hemed reduced the deficit from the penalty spot ten minutes into the second half. Andriy Yarmolenko's close-range finish made it 3-1 just past the hour and although Ben Sahar pulled one back for the hosts, Ukraine held on to ensure their preparations for the summer continued.

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