Hello, this part will close the international calendar for 2017.
You’ve not seen what happened before! Oh well to recap you can jump into the following links of the story so far…This is England This is England… Pt2 This is England – Pt3 This is England …..When September comes. This is England – Octoberfest
Now as we progressed through October and into November I could see that the up coming fixtures for the main and under 19’s squads were friendlies. With the Under 21’s having the more important fixtures of the qualification round for Euro 2019 (under 21’s). With this in mind I looked to bring in a few more fresh faces to the main squad that had not been trialled at full honours before under my leadership. To give myself a greater understanding of who could kick it at the World Cup in 2018. I also sort to use the national pool of players at my disposal for the younger groups.
Das Hokey Kokey – The movement of something towards or away from the inner circle.
The players that were left out, Er….I’ll pass on producing that list. But for those who were in I can throw in a few screenshots for you.
The Under 19 Squad.
With seeing a number of players become no longer eligible for this age group, extensive scouting has become the norm. Whilst some if not all of the kids in midfield and up front may be familiar names. It’s the defenders and Goal-Keepers available for this age group that I have had to become more “researched” to know whether I can not only select them but also whether they’re any good, and are showing good form at their respective clubs and competition level.
The Under 21’s
An easier age category to research at club level. Notable inclusions of Kyle Walker-Peters, Leon Bailey (who has played well at club level but failed to impress in his three previous “main squad” games.) Lewis Cook and Scott McTominay. All had played well at club level for either their clubs 1st team or under 23’s.
John Stones’ impact at club level after a chat with the boy had clearly made an impression on him. John was recalled along with Ryan Bertrand and Leighton Baines. First call ups for Demarai Gray and Will Hughes. Gray had played that well over the last month he had been awarded Young Player of the Month, so I rewarded the kid with his first call up. Hughes had also played very well for Watford, establishing himself as a regular starter for their 1st team over the last month. You may also notice a wee Harry Winks in the squad. The Under 21’s captain has impressed me in the last few Under 21 camps so I thought I would bring him in to see if he was ready for the step up.
How did we get on?
The opening fixture of the Autumn Internationals was England Vs Ecuador at Wembley. Needless to say the Lithuania result was still on the minds of many of the lads, and where I thought we would use this fixture to exercise the demons instead we added to the woe. Ecuador scored late into the first half through a we worked goal. We were left scratching our heads on how to lift the mood of the camp. At half time, I gave it to them! A proper rollicking! I assertively told them to get back out there and play how they know best, to stop effing about and to play quicker and shorter passes, followed by plenty of movement to create space between their defensive lines. Eventually SuperSub Oxlade-Chamberlain scored right at the death to save our blushes. The mood in the dressing room was much more buoyant and positive at full time than at half time. I gave them further advise before getting on the coach back to Burton. Which allowed me to release my frustrations of the last two games I had witnessed whilst with the lads. It erred on the lines of, “Stop trying too hard and play it simply!” along with some colourful language.
Next up was the Home Serbia tie for the Under 19’s. The return of Ben Brereton was a massive positive impact for the boys as the group knows the lad can score a goal from anywhere. With this confidence the youngsters thrashed the Serbs 5-0.
We also had the Under 21’s play on the same date. This meant a quick jet over to San Marino to face their under 21’s. After a slow start with the opening 30 minutes of the boys playing keep ball, we eventually seized the initiative with Tammy starting the rout against them an Leon Bailey bagging the last, we clocked a 7-0 win and a very good performance to boot.
With very little rest for the wicked or myself and the three squads we then saw the under 19’s take on Northern Ireland in Belfast. After the thrashing of Serbia I was half expecting a more subdued affair, one that would be more about the needle and foul count than the scoreline. I was wrong. The lads were on their game from the off. Mason Mount being the pick of the team. The Under 19’s captain gave a captains performance, scoring two and assisting with Joe Willock’s goal. The under 19’s seemed to be a much better unit than I had expected, considering the changes to the squad that were put in place. I can certainly say the more work I put into the Under 19’s the more rewarding it feels.
The Under 21’s then saw the Serbian under 21’s in a game that more fouls that I have ever seen before. It was a stinker of a match with little to please the 8,000 odd fans that turned up to watch this crap. We also had a goal disallowed which was not offside and I’m sure if VAR was in place, we would have seen it given.
And the final game of the internationals, saw Ghana come to Wembley. We played a patient style to keep the ball away from their quick wingers. We took the lead by man of the moment Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. This guy has certainly not done his hopes of making the World cup any harm, talk about taking your chance when it’s given. Kane score and so did Hendo to allow us to see out the game as comfortable winners.
A much needed win for the 1st team, a match that allowed me to see more of one or two players and a game that has seen some players take the initiative in a bid to be in the squad come the summer.
With these games out of the way that means my diary is empty until March. So I’m off to start the Christmas shopping and then skiing in the new year. If I don’t see you until then, Happy New Year!