Against Arsene Wenger’s wishes, but with the backing of Fabio Capello (no one messes with Capello), Stuart Pearce took Theo Walcott to Sweden for the U21 Euros. So you’d think Psycho would play Walcott form the start for England’s key group game against Spain, even though the Arsenal youngster had a disappointing game against Finland. After all, Pearce is an English manager and that’s what English managers do: they play the big names, no matter what form they’re in.
But, in a chilling twist, Pearce dropped Walcott to the bench – an encouraging sign that the England U21 manager has already learned a great deal from working closely with Capello. The decision paid off, as Walcott made a brilliant assist to set up James Milner (who had a first-half penalty brilliantly saved by Spain’s keeper) for England’s second goal. Props too to Fraizer Campbell, who also came off the bench and finished very coolly for England’s opener.
A win against Spain at any level is worth a lot, but in fairness, Spain’s team last night was a long, long way off the U21 team they might have fielded (England were at virtual full strength) -Â any player born after 1986 is eligible to play in this championship, so the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Sergi Busquets, Gerard PiquÃ©, David Silva and Sergio Ramos (!!!!!) could have turned out for Spain.
I think that information puts Engand’s win in a more sobering perspective: Fabregas and Busquets v Lee Cattermole and Fabrice Muamba?
Still, very well done to Pearce and his team. They play Germany next – it’s a rare dead rubber against the old enemy, so I expect Psycho will rest a few players ahead of the semis.
By the way, I heard Pearce lived up to his old nickname when celebrating England’s goals. Anyone see what he got up to?
More info at the tournament’s official website