Friday, 16 August 2013

England vs Scotland

It had certainly been a long time in coming this fixture.  The two sides, which form the oldest of footballing rivalries have not met since 1999.  The rivalry itself dates back to 1870 and the first match officially played between the countries was in 1872.  Though a friendly it was much more, the tie means a great deal to players and fans alike.  The Tartan Army as usual took plentiful support.  Descending upon London in their kilts, tam o'shanter hats and armed with fairy liquid in some cases!  The match at Wembley kicked off at 8pm and the starting lineups were as follows:-

Hart; Walker, Cahill, Jagileka, Baines; Gerrard, Wilshere; Walcott, Cleverley; Welbeck, Rooney

McGregor; Hutton, Hanley, Martin, Whittaker; Forrest, Morrison, Brown; Maloney, Snodgrass, Miller

As a whole the game didn't feel like an early season friendly at all. The booing over the anthems set a precedent and neither team was afraid of putting a foot in. Referee had a good game, allowed it to flow and there were surprisingly few bookings. The English could feel a bit aggrieved at a wrong offside call from Rooney's shot but that was the linesman's miss. Match played at an impressive pace and tempo. Kenny Miller was, without a doubt the best player for Scotland.  He has been in very good form in the MLS, for The Vancouver Whitecaps.  The 33 year old netted the goal that put Scotland 2 up.  A great one it was too, fantastic turn and shot by Miller.  Scott Brown in his usual harrying role was effective and picked the ball up in good positions, pressing the English midfield well.  It was just a shame that his passing let him down a little.  Scotland had the air knocked out of them after conceding just four minutes from their second.  They sat deep and England dominated from then on.  Lambert was busy when he came on and could easily have had a hat-trick.  What a dream debut.  It is a marvellous story his and how he has risen through the leagues.  What a great moment if you are English- though even being on the opposite side can appreciate what it meant to him.  

England looked good, some players stood out more than others  Thought it would have made sense for Gerrard and Cleverley to switch positions as Gerrard thrives being the most advanced and isn't really a central midfielder.  He looked good though and i was his free kick that got Welbeck's equalising goal.   Wilshere was not as influential as you are used to seeing him, understandable as he is just coming back from injury (as usual).  Lampard made a good impact and his arrival in the team meant that Scotland had less space to operate.  Welbeck stood out, couldn't help but notice him.  Such a classy, hard working player with so much potential- just hope he improves composure and confidence in front of goal as he'll be some player.  He always scores for England mind you as the other night showed!  Cleverley played well also, he and Wilshere often look the part alongside and really compliment each other.  Walcott with his pace, really put Scotland to the sword a number of times.  Following a good season last, could see him being even better this.  It can be a bit forgotten, considering how long he has been about that he is still a pretty young player.  With no surprise given his lack of football, Rooney looked poor and rusty as hell.  Seemed to be on the receiving end of some boos.  Another who didn't fare too well was Hart who should have done much better on Scotland's first goal.  Cahill, following a stop start season for Chelsea gave Scotland too much space in the box.

Thoroughly enjoyed the game, despite Scotland losing.  Scotland team gave their all and a good account of themselves.  Was disappointing how the goals were conceded.  Going into the game I didn't have a great deal of hope with regard to how good it would be- this match.  Played so close to the opening game of the Premier League, it being a friendly and some of the players not yet at peak fitness.  But it was very entertaining and the players contributed to make it a good match.  Teams positive and the game had a good tempo.  Though did Scotland err on defensive in the latter part of the second half which was understandable.  Reading around, it was a much enjoyed game and comments from England fans saying they've not enjoyed an England match so much in ages.  Better that than the usual meaningless friendly against some minnow side in the arse end of nowhere.  Just hope that there isn't such a long a wait as last time for a re-match.
National pride does not come out so much in me as it does with the football.  You can certainly say that in recent years there is not so much to be proud about.  However, it is what it is and better to support than blindly and forever criticise.  The better thing about being a bit crap, is that it makes the good moments great and gives you low expectations.  And there have been those good moments, they are cherished more as they are so few!  One thing about the team that cannot be denied as they really get up for the big games and perform well in them.  Thinking about the low expectation factor, think that this benefits our fans.  It is a different thing with England National team which undoubtedly has talent but so much is expected of them and the media fuels that fire.  It can't be all too enjoyable, I don't think watching from afar- that hype and pressure the media puts their team under.  Do hope though, that radical shake ups are made with regard to improving Scottish football across the board and particularly at grassroots level.  The country is not producing talent to a standard it should and has fallen very, very far behind other countries in the world and arguably some that do not have the development and resources our nation has.  Pleasing that most of the players are playing down south in the Premier League and Championship which provide more of a challenge than the SPL.  But gone are the days when you'd have a couple of Scots playing for the top four sides in England.