Welcome back. I was going to watch England’s game in San Marino today, but then I remembered I’d rather go to a back-street dentist for some molar extractions, before settling down to watch the Chelsea season-review DVD dressed in a Spurs kit, so I gave it a miss and vacuumed my car instead.
England’s consistent selection of James Milner in midfield and a Wayne Rooney who’s about as mobile as a mountain as a lone front man irks me enough, but to then see them send balls straight out for a throw with their ‘first touch’, whilst playing amateurish opposition on a Sunday league-level pitch is just too much for the footballing purist in me to put up with I’m afraid.
One day, I hope there will be an England manager who picks a side based on which players are compatible with others to create a coherent ‘team’, rather than select ‘names’ because of their profile, but until then, actual tournament football remains the only time I’m inclined to give the Three Lions a watch.
Anyway, a quick check online tells me Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the right of the England attack and Theo Walcott bagged a brace as a second-half substitute. The goals will obviously be a boost for Theo’s confidence, even if they did come against the traditional whipping boys of the European game, and hopefully he can add to his England tally against Switzerland next week before returning to Arsenal reinvigorated in front of goal and primed to put four past Jack Butland when we host Stoke.
And speaking of Premier League football, Nacho Monreal, who overcame a slightly indifferent start to his career in north London after moving from Malaga to establish himself as first pick at left-back ahead of Kieran Gibbs, has been speaking to the official site about the English top-flight differing from La Liga and also how he’s changed as a player as a result. He said:
I’ve always said that it’s a different type of football here. In Spain there is more of a focus on tactics, technique and positioning, whereas in England it is more physical. The fans like seeing box-to-box play and lots of direct runs, so I think on a physical level I’ve improved because you have to get used to English football. I’ve certainly got better in that regard. The Premier League is one of the most popular leagues in the world and in Spain virtually everyone follows the Premier League as it’s very entertaining for the viewer. There are lots of staff working for the Spanish national team who watch lots of English matches and come here to watch us, so I don’t think it has much of an effect on my chances of being selected.
Nothing to argue with from Monreal there because everything he says is true; the Spanish game is more cultured and calculated whereas the Premier League is your go-to division for break-neck speed football, well, most of the time anyway.
And he’s certainly improved his physicality in the challenge. Initially, he seemed a bit stand-offish when it came to attacking the ball but ever since he was forced into a stint at centre half last season, I think the Spaniard has improved his overall defensive game immeasurably, whilst maintaining his naturally composed distribution at both ends of the pitch.
I suppose my only gripes with his game would be his crossing could be more consistent and he could get on the scoresheet a little more often, as he showed he’s quite capable of doing at Old Trafford in the Cup last season, but other than that, he’s probably the best left back we’ve had since a certain turncoat nearly crashed his car and defected to the dark side.
And I have to say, I like the fact both our current first-choice fullbacks are so comfortable in possession because I think it has a massive effect on our overall ball-dominating desires. I mean, for all of Bacary Sagna’s defensive solidity at right back and Gibbs’ lung-bursting efforts on the opposite side for instance, neither of them are in the same class with the ball at their feet.
Of course Sagna’s departed the club but I think the same deficiencies hamper Carl Jenkinson and Calum Chambers if i’m honest, and given the amount of possession our fullbacks often enjoy because of the way we build from the back, having two players like Monreal and Bellerin (or Debuchy) aids our particular style of play TremendArsely.