I reckon Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard will have big games tonight.
If the Montenegro qualifier pans out as I expect, Adam Johnson and Ashley Young will test them more with diagonal passes than with dribbles, and Stevie G will have three or four good shots.
I’m expecting Gerrard and Rooney to spray balls wide to England’s attacking full backs,who might be the key to the game. They can help Stevie G to get into scoring positions. Also, Crouch plays quite neatly with Gerrard, a midfielder he knows very well.
I’m up for it. I can’t wait for 8.p.m.
For a change, I’m building up to kick-off, rather than building down to it.
Before South Africa I had expectations, even knowing the limitations of every England player and our dim, tabloid-driven culture. I thought Fabio Capello took the right players and believed that he would manage boldly and trust his instincts. Instead, his team selections were negative, fearful, too Italian, too political, and too obviously affected by media pressure. Rooney was by far our worst player. He was playing like a plank but Capello didn’t have the bottle to drop him.
For six years before South Africa, I turned on England games to see how good Wayne Rooney would be.
Since South Africa, I wonder how bad he’ll be.
Even so, I’m prepared to say this : England v Montenegro at Wembley should a formality, whoever the manager is. And even with Joleon Lescott at centreback.
Stylistically and tactically, Montenegro might be a lot like Romania were against France on Saturday : compact, technical, able to absorb pressure, making you work hard to get late goals after substitutions.
Vucinic will play just behind Djalovic, the main striker, in a 4-4-1-1, so he can pick up the ball and run at England in his silky way. Skipper Rio Ferdinand says, “I’ve played against him before.” I’m reassured that Rio looks fit, fast and solid, and also reassured that he’s previously played against the Roma striker.
Right winger Simon Vukcevic isn’t really a wide man, more of a skilful third striker who can scoot into scoring positions and finish. Vukcevic is pretty good at that but he won’t be good at marking Cole.
Ashley Cole wins his 86th cap tonight, equalling Kenny Sansom’s record for an England full-back.
Cole contributed prodigiously to the left-sided raids of Wenger’s glory years and gave a helluva lot to Henry and Pires , who scored the goals and got the headlines.
He was undervalued by Wenger, who lost him to Chelsea. Big mistake. Ashley Cole, 29, is the best footballer Arsenal has produced since Liam Brady and he’s still twice as good as Gael Clichy.
Kenny Sansom was England-minded. When an England game was coming up, Kenny made sure he didn’t get hurt playing for Arsenal. A generous guy who would always give his brothers £20 to have a bet.
Last night I was thinking about Tom Hicks and the trapped miners in Chile.
Tom Hicks, like Donald Trump, is a great bullshitter. American bullshit is an incomparable brand, always has been. Nobody does it better.
The main component of the American personality is salesmanship, while the main component of the Latin personality is pride.
That’s why I smiled when I saw The Evening Standard headline last night: Chile miners squabble over who should be the last man to see daylight.
The 33 men have been trapped 2,300 feet underground in the copper mine since August 5th. They’ll be brought up one by one in a steel cylinder that’s 21 inches wide. Each ascent will take 20 minutes and the last man up will be the proudest.