Often Partisan

Black Mountain

One thing you learn from being a fan of Birmingham City Football Club is that success wasn’t meant for you. Playing nice football and winning trophies is for other teams; you have to make do with the occasional brilliant moment in a game and maybe the odd run to a decent finish. It prepares you well for following England, to be fair. I’d say England are always the bridesmaid but the way things have been recently we’ve barely been at the wedding.

I watched the entirety of the match tonight against the men from Crna Gora, and it reminded me so much of recent matches at St Andrews it was painful. You had the decent goalie who was rarely troubled. The attacking right back who isn’t much cop at defending at the mo, and the left back who seemingly everybody hates or has hated, although he does a good job. The creaky midfield made up of a truly decent player and another who’s so slow it’s like running in quicksand. The lanky striker who is supposed to be a target man but was struggling to win headers, and the main striker who used to score a fair few but is off the boil right now. It’s quite frightening really, especially as I’ve just compared Ashley Cole (one of the the truly world class players England does have) with Liam Ridgewell.

Sure, there was a lot of huffing and puffing, but how many chances did we actually fashion? I know people complain about the wingers being on the wrong sides, but I don’t think that was actually the problem insomuch as Ashley Young is just over rated. Adam Johnson looks decent on either side, clearly can put a cross in from either side and isn’t scared to have a pop. However, we don’t have another winger as good as Johnson; SWP is over rated and ball-greedy, Milner isn’t really a winger and Stewart Downing plays for the V*lla. We’re missing a Beckham really; an inspirational player who can make something from nothing and fashion a chance for someone to bury it.

I saw a lot of criticism of Gareth Barry, and I think it was justified; he’s slower than me running (and that’s pretty slow, I can tell you). He didn’t really offer us the balance that he has in the midfield, and at times was a virtual passenger. He gave away the ball more often than he played a decent pass, and he couldn’t burst forwards in the way someone like Frank Lampard could. Gerrard tried his hardest, and admittedly played two or three absolutely top quality balls… but it’s all he ever tries to play. I wish for once he’d play things a bit more simply than the Hollywood forty yard diagonal ball; sometimes the simple pass is the better option.

At the back, we looked for the most part reassured; Joleon Lescott and his fourth different centre back partner in four games Rio Ferdinand didn’t look too flustered by the Montenegrins, and I think the two of them can come out of the game with a fair amount of credit. We’re a bit flush with decent centre backs – well, we must be if Roger Johnson still can’t get a look in despite a spate of injuries, and I don’t think it will be a problem going forwards.

No doubt the papers will be slagging off the team for not beating “lowly” Montenegro – this is a team that is currently unbeaten in the qualifying group (and also yet to concede a goal). They came to shut up shop, to maybe nick a win and they did what they set out to do. Yes, it’s negative but you can’t blame a team for stringing five across the middle against England at Wembley – like Birmingham City, England seem to have problems breaking down well-organised teams and I think it was the right thing for them.

Barring a friendly against France in November, this closes out the internationals for this year, and I can’t say I’ll miss them. I’ve always maintained I’m a club man first, and an England fan a very distant second. Games like tonight only reinforce my apathy for the national side.

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2 Responses to “Black Mountain”

  • MrMustard says:

    While the commentary team did point out that the Montenegro players were, ‘technically very good’, they failed to point out the screamingly obvious fact that they, like the players of virtually every other country in the world were, ‘technically better than England’. I lost count of the number of misplaced passes and miss-controlled balls that the England players were responsible for. Until we can get the basics right, England won’t be going anywhere, and that’s not going to happen any time soon.

  • gavin says:

    England have so few players to pick from that you can never rip it up and start again. Players put club ahead of country too. Basically we need to look at coaching standards here. I do feel over here we try to teach natural athletes how to play football where as in Spain they teach natural footballers to be more athletic.
    The top 2 sides in Spain can provide the whole national side and subs. Infact it practically does. In England the top 2 have 3 each plus a retired Scholes and wank Wes Brown.
    England need less foreign players end of !

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