That’s pretty much what Graham Taylor said after last night’s England friendly against Sweden – old England managers never die they just live in a TV/radio studio somewhere. – he was right about one thing.
It wasn’t a good match, those that didn’t occupy the empty upper tier of Wembley made the right choice. But what purpose did it serve?
Did it serve any purpose playing Terry and Cahill in defence, while again Jones was stationed in midfield? Did it serve any purpose starting either Downing and Walcott, playing Gareth Barry for the full 90 minutes or bringing Milner on while Johnson sat on the bench the whole match and Sturridge for nearly an hour?
Did it serve any purpose bringing Darren bent on at all, especially when it meant Sturridge was shifted either wide right or wide left?
Other than play another game and sell some tickets, though obviously far fewer than had originally been hoped, to help pay off the debt still owed on the stadium, it served no purpose at all.
Well apart from highlighting that even against a decidedly limited opposition England are decidedly limited and that the players who should be playing will be overlooked by Fabio when he goes back to the usual suspects. It also highlights Fabio’s ineptness – all that talk of youth and he starts Zamora, the selection though does explain why row Z was empty.
Fabio should have gone with the kids for this one especially. Players fighting for caps, not those in the comfort zone. No coincidence that Walker, Baines, Rodwell did OK. They know that they’ve got to impress, even though they also know chances are they’ll be replaced as soon as Fabio finds possible. Walker should pretty much have consigned Glen Johnson’s England career to the bin but we all know Fabio will give the starting role back to the very limited Liverpool player. Same with Baines and Ashley Cole.
So how fitting was it in this highly forgettable match that England’s 2000th goal came from a Swedish player. Barry’s header, going for a throw-in? Certainly not going anywhere near goal, before Majstorovic’s intervention for the Citeh player to claim it.
And after 43 years of trying finally a victory over England’s ultimate bogey team – Sweden. Maybe ultimately that was the purpose it served. In those last four and a bit decades is this the worst England side to take on the Swedes? Well maybe Graham Taylor should have the last word on that back in 1992, it was bad enough having Carlton Palmer, Andy Sinton and Tony Daley in there but when he took off Gary Lineker for Alan Smith that might have tipped the balance Taylor’s way.
England 1 – 0 Sweden