Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Brazil 2-0 Wales

Dear John,
I know that you read this blog. That doesn't surprise me. I have long been an influential voice in Welsh football, ever since I stood chanting for TerryYorath on the Bob Bank, and made you resign the first time around. But I am a little surprised that you followed my advice to the letter without even a nod of recognition.

You picked Earnsaw like I said, and dropped Giggs into midfield. Out went Fletcher, leaving Carl Robinson to carry the water. But John, it didn't really work. For that, I can only apologise.

On paper, there is nothing wrong with the Gigs-Bellamy combination up front. Plenty of teams play without a target man these days. It's the way they play that is the problem. They both like to play into space, and that usually means away from goal. The thing about the target man is that he will often take up the central patch that nobody wants. He will pull defenders away from the areas that Earnshaw and Bellamy need to exploit.

It's almost always a bluff. Nobody plays the obvious ball to the middle where the big lumbering centre forward is waiting to crash the ball home like Hot Shot Hamish. But that centre forward needs to be there to allow space for the pull back, the whipped ball, the far post lob.

And I don't want to labour the point, but all those short corners didn't work either. I realise that you didn't have much option, but you need to try something else.

Still, it wasn't a bad workout against a largely disinterested Brazil team. We passed well and looked a lot more creative without Carl Fletcher facing his own goal. Gareth Bale got his nervy game out of the way, and Duff seemed to enjoy himself. ( Is it true that Ronaldinho was desperate to play because Duff is the only international right back who makes him look handsome?)

I thought that Robinson justified his selection over Fletcher. But I'd still like to see Savage in that role. And James Collins. I used to watch him regularly when he was a gangly Ginger playing youth football. I simply can't believe that this is the same player. And have you seen him play up front ? He got five minutes in Teplice, so at least you've got that up your sleeve.

But John, what about that leisurewear ? What were you thinking ? It was like a late eighties shell suit. triangles of blue and green, along with navy and red. Yeeuch.

I have to admit that I didn't watch the second half. It was liberating to turn it off. I'm not a footieholic. I can live without it. There is plenty enough football without having to suffer practice matches to pump money into the Brazilian FA.

But not everyone is like me. And if you are going to play a match in London, you could at least give the Welsh fans some decent tickets. While everyone rattled around a half empty ground, the loyal Welsh followers were squeezed into the corner with the worst view in White Hart Lane.

There were plenty of Welsh rugby shirts on display last night. I'm not one of those who gets apoplectic about this, but it does suggest that a lot of those watching weren't exactly diehards.
Mind you, there were a lot there who will watch Wales in any match. I bet that a good percentage of them were at the Leyton Orient v Wales game a few years ago. The rest of the 20,000 were just football tourists.

And finally John, a question. A man called Brian told me that he used to play football with you in Victoria Park after school. He says that if the Canton lads were too rough, you would take your ball home. Is that true John?

1 comment:

John Toshack said...

No Eric thats's not true. I couldn't afford a ball in those days.

Thanks for the advice. I'll see that you get a mention in the next match programme as Chief Football Consultant.