Daily Archives: June 26, 2012

England Licks its Wounds and Jack Wilshere the new ‘Pirlo’

Unless your line of sight is no different from Ashley Young or Ashley Cole when they took penalties for the Three Lions, you must have noticed that I’ve tweaked things a bit in the blog and I hope you like it. 😀

With a gaping net looking at both players from 12 yards out, Young preferred to kiss the bar while Cole handed his effort on a platter to Gigi Buffon. This meant that the penalty curse of England continued and the nation will have to wait till the World Cup in 2014 for another shot at glory.

At least, they “prepared for immortality” but they had some life in them after all.

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott was tipped to do great things in the Euros after enjoying a successful club campaign by his standards.

Walcott’s English shenanigans and escapades can be starred as a Hollywood movie; from booking a flight to Germany in 2006 as a kid without making any appearance to watching the 2008 Euros at home with his fellow teammates after the nation’s failure to qualify. From missing out entirely on a World Cup berth in 2010 for having “no football brain” to making it to the 2012 Euros only to play second fiddle to James Milner throughout the tournament.

Walcott was given the same jersey number the legendary David Beckham donned in this tournament but I was bewildered and perplexed when he was brought on for Welbeck in the 89th minute or so against France. He made a great cameo appearance against Sweden, making the difference for his country with a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque goal and supplying a brilliant assist for the Danny Welbeck winner.

However, caution was thrown to the wind in the final group stage game against Ukraine, as it was believed that he had picked up a niggling hamstring injury.

Against Italy, Walcott and Andy Carroll were meant to offer a new lease of life to the English attack but Scotty Parker kept feeding the winger with awkward balls that he could never reach.

I have a hunch that the Spurs man wanted the Gunner to “suffer” a bit in the name of chasing a through ball. However, he was replaced by a peripheral Jordan Henderson that offered no dimension for England in his cameo appearance.

I’m no Woy Hodgson but I would have called Michael Carrick up after Frank Lampback of  Notre Dame picked up a thigh injury. That’s another argument for another day.

Walcott told some media Vultures that England’s exit from the tournament was cruel but he’s confident that his country has a very bright future ahead.

He also backed the Ashley duo that gaffed from 12 yards, labelling them as one of the most experienced lot in the dressing room and he believes that they’ll bounce back to become even stronger for England.

In a tournament where Lukas Podolski and Xabi Alonso joined the 100 mile-high club for their nations, players like Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Philip Lahm came close to a century of appearances for their nation.

Walcott also stated that lessons have been learned from the quarterfinal exit and his nation is looking forward to their 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

As expected, England’s manager, Woy Hodgson, has taken some positives from his team’s Euro 2012 performance. For the first time in centuries, there were no high expectations on this English outfit and eyebrows were not raised when they bowed out in the quarterfinals.

They were expected to scale through from a group that had France, Sweden and co-hosts, Ukraine but getting pole position in that group was a success in my opinion.

It was unfortunate that the English side had to lock horns with a great nation like Italy, but if you want to win any tournament, you have to play the best teams and win as well.

I’m not going to delve too deep into tactical analysis but England was piss poor in some games in the tournament. Their performance in the quarterfinal against a team of the same ‘calibre’ like Italy was an aberration and I was glued to my television as I witnessed wave after wave of Italian attacking play all game long.

Some players like Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and the legendary ex-girlfriend shagger John Terry (annoyingly) made a very good account of themselves while the likes of Ashley Young and James Milner failed to stand up to the occasion despite given countless opportunities.

Managers get some right while they get some wrong but leaving Adam Johnson at home was a poor piece of judgment in my opinion. Like the Michael Carrick exclusion, that’s an argument for another day.

Hodgson’s optimism for this England side has been fueled by the emergence of some promising young players. The likes of Kyle Walker, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jack Wilshere missed out through injuries but their potentials are very massive. Others like Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got a shot of top flight elite international football and they’ve certainly be hungry for more in the near future.

Like my nation Nigeria, the English football team is going through a rebuilding phase and I believe that Woy still remains the best man for the job.

Speaking of men and jobs, Twitchy Ol’ ‘Arry Redknapp has been in the news recently and it had nothing to do with the England job, tax evasion or a new twitch on his face.

Sir Twitchy has highlighted the importance of producing “an Andrea Pirlo of our own” if England are to truly compete on the world stage, and has stated his belief that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is exactly the type of player who can fill such a role.

Redknapp said,

We must learn a lesson from this and do our utmost to produce an Andrea Pirlo of our own.

“Look at Pirlo against England – he had no pace, strength and he’s ancient. But what a fabulous display.

What we have got to do is bring through kids who as defenders will be happy to bring the ball out and forwards who want to receive the ball in tight areas surrounded by the opposition because they are comfortable in possession.

 “Strangely it was the absence of Jack Wilshere which was felt most keenly. He can be our Pirlo, he’s the type of player I’m talking about who doesn’t rely on strength or speed – he’s a genuine footballer.

This is the best thing I’ve heard Redknapp say in a very long while.

Taking it into perspective, Wilshere is a player that can emulate the legendary Andrea Pirlo because he possesses the vision to make that killer pass, he likes to dwell on the ball, dictate tempo and reads the game magnificently.

He showcased his eagle eye for a pass with that brilliant assist for Nicklas Bendtner against Ipswich in the Carling (now Capitol One) Cup semifinal second leg. Wilshere is indispensable to Arsenal and he was duly missed last season.

I can’t wait to see him strut his stuff this season alongside Mikel Arteta and Alex Song. Who knows if a Yann M’Vila will be added into the fray.

The semifinals wont take place today, so I’m in for a serious dose of Football Manager 2012. I might upload a couple of great strikes from van Persie and Marek Hamsik (Unlike Wenger, I bought him) in my YouTube page.

Despite being a proud Nigerian, I’ll always love my Arsenal as well as the nation that has won,

Two world wars and One World Cup, England all the way.


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