By Ollie Irish
For a while there it looked like England were about to lose on their own patch against a team with a goalkeeper wearing tracksuit bottoms. Holy shit, that would have been embarrassing. Happily for Capello and England, captain Steven Gerrard stepped up to the plate, scoring two goals – the first was good, the second was world-class, the sort of phone-booth finish Kaka might have pulled off in his prime:
I was at Wembley to watch the match (many thanks to our friends at Umbro for that), and I thought it was an enjoyable match, made all the more enjoyable by some panto booing from England’s most ‘special’ fans. Our World Cup flops were booed as their names boomed out over the PA, then there were boos at half-time after no goals were scored, then their were boos when Hungary took the lead (totally against the run of play, by the way). Then Wayne Rooney was booed when he was taken off, prompting Wazza to respond with some very sarcastic applause to all corners of Wembley; strangely, the sarcastic applause put a stop to the boos. Did fans think he was being sincere?
Overall, there were distinct positives for Capello to take away before the Euro 2012 qualifiers kick off next month. Of the new kids, Kieran Gibbs looks a natural international player, while Jack Wilshere was not overawed either. Others who missed out on South Africa really made an effort to show up Capello’s conservative selection: Adam Johnson played without fear, Bobby Zamora gave the Hungarian defenders headaches and almost scored with a sizzling shot, Ashley Young was also lively down the left. Gareth Barry played the full 90 minutes and looked much more like his old self. Ain’t fitness a wonderful thing.
The only players who didn’t convince were Rooney, who needs a break from England (he’s out of love with international football), Phil Jagielka (Jags is not quite international class in my book; I’d rather have seen Gary Cahill) and Frank Lampard; England looked so much better without Lampard slowing things down in the middle of the pitch. If he’s still around for the Euro 2012 finals – and no, I’m not assuming England will qualify – then I will eat several of my own hats. He’s great for Chelsea, yes, but for England he’s simply awful – it’s time to ditch Lampard and bring on youngsters like Jack Rodwell and Tom Huddlestone. Unlike Lampsy, Gerrard proved he has the heart for a fight and he’s welcome to stay for a few years yet.