To use an old footballing clichÃ©, England’s match against the Netherlands last night was a game of two halves. The first disappointing, as careless mistakes gave the Dutch a 2-0 lead; the second inspiring, as England fought back and took the game to a draw. I came away from the match with a couple of thoughts: that the team is heading in the right direction, and that the introduction of younger players has given the side a new dynamic.
Over recent years, there’s been an inconsistency to the play of the English national team. In some games they ably demonstrate why so many of the players are amongst the highest paid in the world, in others they are lacklustre and dispirited. I get the feeling that has changed. The England who came out for the second half were more confident, ready put right their mistakes, and Fabio Capello’s substitutions were inspired. Those substitutions were particularly impressive because they were not the same old faces.
It was refreshing to see young talent getting a chance to play first team football at national level. For too long selections have consisted of the same old names who, although extremely talented, could sometimes be accused of resting on their laurels. It can only be a good thing to have competitors snapping at the heels of stalwarts such as; Beckham, Gerrard and Rooney.