Wednesday, May 31, 2006


England 3-1 Hungary

Theo Walcott got his first cap and became the youngest ever England international during England's 3-1 friendly defeat of Hungary.

The young lad did have his moments, although I don't see what he's offering that other strikers don't. It's a big load for such young shoulders in a squad with only three fit strikers - four if you include Gerrard.

The formation early on was 4-1-4-1, with Carragher in the holding position and Owen up front on his own. Gerrard was nominally working off Owen although he tended to play his normal role as roaming midfielder more than support striker.

Carragher - for the quality player he is - added nothing to the squad, particularly in the first half when he played within a tight zone just in front of the two centre backs. Here he did not really break up any Hungarian attacks, and acted mostly as a resting place for the ball when England were in possession. Whether Eriksson ordered this or not, it just didn't work and I'd rather see Carrick or even King there.

Owen looked lonely up front in the first half, through no fault of his own. Those long balls were somehow reaching him but even if he managed to win the ball, what was he to do with nobody to give it to? Later, when the midfield started pushing up (and particularly as Gerrard moved into more of a striker's role) England looked far more balanced.

Player Ratings

Robinson 6 - Nothing to do.
Neville 7 - Surprisingly (for me) did most things well, although the quality of his crossing could do with improvement.
Ferdinand 7 - Read the game and broke up many attacks.
Terry 8 - Reliable in defence, and got a goal.
A. Cole 5 - Barely got forward, and found too many dead ends. Average defending.
Carragher 6 - Immobile in midfield, although his skill and experienced helped him retain possession. Adequate at right back.
J. Cole 8 - Found lots of space in the first half but had no end product. Strangely enough, in the second half when Hungary started to pressure him a little more, he seemed to really enjoy the game and became a real danger.
Lampard 7 - Did his usual job.
Beckham 7 - Plenty of good crosses and dead ball work.
Gerrard 7 - Worked hard, and looked better up front than in midfield. A nice header for his goal.
Owen 6 - Could barely get involved, and somewhat out of sorts when he did. But given little opportunity to prove himself.

Hargreaves 5 - For a while I thought he was Dailly in disguise. But that's harsh on Dailly.
Campbell 6 - Don't remember much about him playing.
Crouch 7 - Good awareness and finish for the goal.
Walcott 6 - Made a couple of good runs and seemed to have a good sense of positioning, but will need more time with the team before it all clicks.

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