ITV’s coverage of Doha was too negative.
I talked to a mate yesterday and he agreed. He said it was “over the top.” In fact, the whole media reaction was too negative.
Brazil beat England Reserves 1-0 on a very warm evening on the Persian Gulf. And all our press said it proved Fabio Capello has no depth in his squad.
I can’t really go along with that. Yes, we all know our technical limitations are immense, several players had nightmares, and we lacked composure, rhythm and invention. But we qualified with two games to spare because we have some good players, like Ashley Cole, Joe Cole, Lampard and Stevie G, and an inspirational captain in John Terry. When everyone, or almost everyone, is fit, we can give anybody a game.
In November 2010, after Dunga’s Brazil have won the World Cup, the critics will look back on Doha and say : We did OK in that game, we only had Rooney and Barry of our first eleven and we played well without the ball.
Mainly, what I noticed was something I’ve pointed out before : If the players have three days with Capello, they are patchy. If they have a week, England look much more solid.
First half, Brazil cruised but stuttered, England were using a 4-4-2 with no real playmaker but they competed well. Wes Brown’s flank looked weak and Dunga was bound to notice that and attack our right back after the interval.
Second half, Brazil raised their tempo and scored after 47. Elano clipped a wonderful diagonal ball inside Brown, Nilmar floated in behind him and scored with a sweetly-aimed header. World class pass, world class finish, a goal Robinho could never score. England’s organisation kept them in the game, even though they were outplayed by skilful opponents who dominated the second half. Wes Brown tried to chest a ball back to Foster, got it wrong, and the keeper brought down Nilmar. Then Luis Fabiano hit the penalty over the bar. Overall, Lescott and Upson stood up well against Fabiano and Kaka.
The heat led to more mistakes by both sides. As you would expect, Darren Bent was very one-dimensional, and when Jermain Defoe replaced him, he was Bent but a foot smaller. Crouch came on late enough to persuade me that Capello already has him on the plane. I hope that is the case because Crouch is resourceful and has scored 18 goals in 35 apps for England. Heskey is the right partner for Rooney and Gerrard, but Crouch always linked well with Gerrard at Liverpool.
For me, Rooney had the same problem with England that he now has for Manchester United since Tevez and Cristiano left : he has nobody to play with.
We all realise that England have no keeper and no centre forward. They need Dave Seaman and Les Ferdinand but Dave is 47 and Les is 42.
Brazil will win the 2010 World Cup because they have the best-organised defence. Their defending of corners and set-pieces was outstanding.
As Dunga fine-tunes his team over the next six months, Villarreal’s Nilmar might replace Robinho because he is a better foil for Luis Fabiano and Kaka. Nilmar is very clever off the ball and a more clinical finisher than Robinho, who is more of a dribbler. A bantamweight, Nilmar is a touch player like Bebeto, the hummingbird of USA 94.
Like Fabio Capello, I think Brazil are superior to Spain.
After his 21st game as England coach, Capello said, “It is the first time we have played against a team who was so physically strong, and fast, good technically. Spain are really good technically but not as strong. Brazil defend very well.”
Where once the bionic Roberto Carlos broke forward and delivered a rubbish final ball or a wild shot, Maicon does that on the other flank and sets up a lot of goals. Powerhouse overlappers rarely provide as many assists as Maicon.
Dunga doesn’t have hundreds of great players. He doesn’t have five Kakas, four Lucios and three Maicons. He only has Maicon, Lucio and Kaka but I’m convinced that they can beat Spain, Ivory Coast, Argentina or anybody else.
Even so, I’d like to see England play them again. Contrary to what most people are saying, England gave Brazil a game in Doha. We did OK without our back five, without nine regulars. Sure, we never looked like winning but we did OK against the best team in the world.
Also, this will be a winter World Cup and I’m looking forward to conditions that give us a chance. My life is measured out in England mangers and Fabio Capello is the best we’ve ever had. It’s just a shame he doesn’t have Les Ferdinand and Dave Seaman.