Welcome back! What have you missed…..
Steve(Holland) and I were given tickets to watch The Community Shield @Wembley on Sunday 6th August. I nearly told Steve to take the wife as I had the cars to wash. But he told me that with it being the curtain raiser for the season that it would be better to be seen at Wembley rather than Halfords buying a new chamois leather to buff up the car. So the cars still need washing. As we spent most of the match watching the English players warming up rather than playing on the pitch.
“Note to self about Chelsea, Gary Cahill played well, Callum Hudson-Odol is not good enough yet for 1st team football And Dujon Sterling should be considered for the under 19’s.”
“Note to self again, but this time Arsenal, Danny Welbeck played 51 minutes and didn’t break in to pieces, Reiss Nelson has cool hair I must find out where he got the wig, he also played well for the time he was on the pitch. Nketiah and Holding won’t get very far just playing 2 minutes of game time.”
My notes were brief but there is little to say when the two teams are barely fielding English players.
We then jetted out to Macedonia for the UEFA Super cup between Manchester United and Real Madrid. Man Utd played Ashley Young at Left back (not bad), Chris Smalling at CB (he played very well on the left hand side of the central defence). And Jesse Lingard, who played at RM and excelled. He created 2 clear chances, played 4 key passes and provided the assist to the Lukaku goal that won the match. So the trip to the east was worth it after seeing Lingard light up the stage.
Friday 11th August, And the opening match of the new EPL season kicks off. Old Trafford welcomes Everton. Steve and I have prawn sandwiches in Bobby Charlton’s box. The game was very one sided seeing Manchester United win 1-0 the guys that excelled earlier in the week against Real, struggle to light up the match. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford plays well despite conceding. Phil Jagielka was colossus in his performance, putting his body on the line for the majority of the match. This was more down to Man Utd’s ability to stretch the Everton’s defence rather than Everton playing like headless chickens.
Over the course of the four day weekend we travelled to St Mary’s on the Saturday to watch Southampton VS Chelsea. Chelsea won, Cahill played ok. Jack Stephens looked good for the Saints. Forster was crap and so was Redmond.
On the Sunday we travelled to Vicarage Road The Hornets were beaten 2-1 by Spurs. I say Spurs, Harry Kane. Harry scored two goals and nearly claimed the Watford goal too, but for the fact he was 30 yards away from the ball in the opposite direction didn’t stop him from talking to the goal scoring panel. In the end they gave the goal to Richarlyson.
The Monday Night Match saw us travel to Brighton for fish, chips, a stick of rock and a football match that waited until the 80th minute to become exciting. At this point most Sky Sports viewers would have turned on the Speedway racing and the poor sods in the AMEX were left feeling bemused over what they had seen. Brighton won 2-1 and scored all three goals. Leicester were decent but came with a plan to do nothing all night. And Brighton, well they surprised mw with their spirit. The downside to the entertainment was I missed the last train home. So I had to shell out for some funky B’n’B near the pier.
What did I learn from the opening fixtures?
Not a lot. Most of the EPL teams that I scouted didn’t play their English players opting for other nationalities. Harry Kane scores goals. Jordan Pickford is taller than he looks, Phil Jagielka has a twitch caused by being yelled at by Neil Warnock. And the last train out of Brighton on a Monday night leaves town at 21:40 which means the FA have to have a word to get the games put on earlier in that place! Or I must not go to Brighton on a Monday!
A few games in to the EPL and I was told that we need to pick a squad to play against Slovenia and Slovakia. So after looking over my notes with Pat Rice and Steve Holland we came up with the following list of twenty three players.
No great shocks for the media to report. Leon Bailey has been called up for the first time. There was no room for Joe Hart, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, or any other Tom, Dick or Harry. Well apart from Harry Kane. The other notable inclusion is Jonjo Shelvey. who we hope will show us why we are right to select him.