France 1 England 1: just like watching Chelsea – or Sunderland

Jake brightens up the site again

It has now become officially fashionable – that is to say permitted by the BigClubCentric sportswriters – to regard defence as a proper part of playing football.

England played France as Chelsea had played Barcelona and Bayern Munich and, dare I say it, Sunderland have on occasion played the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal. They got a respectable result – a point in this case, against superior opposition – and everyone is therefore purring. QED.

Even if there are prettier ways of playing the game of football, this was indeed a creditable performance. You make the best of what you have available and that is what Roy Hodgson did. It is not anti-football because it displays that such worthwhile attributes as resilience, strength of character and even courage can sometimes compensate for inferior ability. And lo and behold, headlines and snippets I have seen from the English media talk of a battling, never-say-die resistance to earn the draw – though I am sure there is plenty of criticism or at least realism, too.

The French manager Laurent Blanc has just been of the radio as I type, ”satisfied, not disappointed”” with what he saw, France engaged in a difficult match and sharing the honours, though he correctly added that his team had largely dominated the game.

Salut! Sunderland readers may need no reminder that the close season in the Premier League does not mean they are for forbidden to visit the site and offer their views, especially when there is a major tournament in progress. Not forgetting that in yesterday’s game, there were roles for two players with recent SAFC experience.

This is how the discussion staggered into something approaching life last night. Feel free to add to it:

Jeremy Robson (at Blackcats):

Not a bad performance I thought against France. Lescott had a great game for me even setting the magnificent goal aside. Reidy would probably have described Welbeck as “milky” or “as weak as piss.” Either would do.
I have a question on Joe Hart taking up a position out from his post when facing an opponent about to shoot/cross from a tight angle. He routinely takes up this position and there was an incident in the 2nd half where he stood a yard off his left hand post, when the player was close to the touchline and put the ball out for a corner. I’m wondering why he does this when most goalkeepers and their coaches would encourage the keeper to stand tight against the post which means that (in this scenario) were he to stand tight to the post he would only have to dive to his right to cover the shot going across him. Most goalkeeping coaches would not encourage their keepers to do what Hart does. He is a very good keeper, although I thought he should have done better with Nasri’s goal. Is his logic that he is reducing the area he needs to cover by encouraging a near post shot (and
which rarely if ever beats him) and is widening the angle which would arguably reducing the effectiveness of a cross? I’ve just emailed my son’s GK coach to ask his view although I know what he would advise youngsters.
Is this a case of rewriting the coaching manual because Hart is good enough to do such unconventional things.

Jeremy (taking up his own theme here):

I thought Welbeck was very poor Salut. Loses the ball far too easily most of the time and is rarely a threat on goal. Very weak in fact and far short of being an international player. Beyond me completely why in a team playing with one forward he was preferred to Carroll. For the life of me I don’t understand why Crouch (who finished the season two goals short of his best ever tally in the PL) was left out for someone like Welbeck.

Hodgson did manage to play four “wingers” in a single game which must be some sort of record, even if Milner didn’t really take that role today.

A decent performance all round which surpassed some of their forbears who weren’t able to carry the weight of expectation. Even setting the goal aside, Lescott produced a tremendous display.

M Salut

England were dominated throughout, surrendered possession with ease, passed to the wrong players, created relatively little and yet restricted a technically superior side – apart from the header well saved by Hart – to shots from long range and lots of passing around the edge of the penalty area . At the back, we defended superbly and had a keeper who, having made one excellent save, could have done better with the equaliser but later made a couple of other good saves. All in all, a bit like watching a Sunderland backs to the wall display.


Good points well made Salut. Watching the game I realised that although Hodgson included Martin Kelly in his squad, he didn’t play him at all when he was the Liverpool manager (he was given his debut by Dogleash).

France looked more dangerous through the game to my mind but Hodgson set out a side to frustrate and largely contain them, which they did very effectively. He deserves some credit for that. I was disappointed to see Oxtail-Crosse & Blackwell go off as he seemed to pose more of at threat than anyone else, even though it hadn’t quite come off for him. The French defenders didn’t like him running at them.

And that is it so far. Not quite an England equivalent of the chubby, middle-aged French supporter caught by the cameras fast asleep (didn’t that once get a Boro fan banned from the Riverside?). But a few other thoughts would be welcome … it would be nice to be able to stir up debate without having to threaten the Good Friday Agreement.

Monsieur Salut, by Matt

7 thoughts on “France 1 England 1: just like watching Chelsea – or Sunderland”

  1. Salut. I was using the term in ironic mood as I don’t think what Hodgson has done is “anti-football” at all. I was giving him credit for setting about the job in the right way. My mood hasn’t changed at all. I still think it was a decent performance, and a superb one by Lescott in particular. I would have liked to see Andy Carroll play as I have said as I believe his physical presence and lay off capability will cause havoc in this tournament. I am not grumbling although I can see why my sarcastic tone might have suggested that I was. I still think Hart should have done better with the goal though. For anyone who is interested (even if only you and me Salut) in the issue of Hart’s positioning I am going to talk to a former international goalkeeper about this on Friday night and will report back.

  2. Last night I feared Jeremy and I were the only people to have bothered to watch, such was the lack of interest here and at Blackcats. Today I’m wondering whether, having seen it once and felt “Not a bad performance I thought against France. Lescott had a great game for me even setting the magnificent goal aside”, he then watched it again, in grumpier mood, to decide it was anti-football. That phrase, incidentally, is becoming one of the most irritating in common usage, though my annoyance may be a function of supporting Sunderland.

    • If I read or hear that Hodgson is setting up England to be ‘hard to beat’ again I’m gonna go mental. That said, I’ll probably just sigh and say that I’m sick of hearing/reading that phrase and that will be it.

  3. England have never made the best of what they have and that has been the problem which has persisted down the years. If the swashbuckling French were as good as many say they are they would have displayed sufficient guile and penetration to break down the anti-football English defence.

    Chelsea beat Barcelona because the Catalans couldn’t defend, and they won the lottery of a shoot out against Bayern. Hodgson realises the limitatons of his playing resources and is making the most of it. He hasn’t gone to the Euros to entertain the world or even just Mr Othman. He has gone there to get the best results and to achieve that in the most expedient fashion possible. I doubt very much whether England will win it. They may not even qualify from the group, but I don’t think his team has any intention of embarrassing the nation like Crapello’s did.

  4. England, Denmark and Italy may likely go to final because they are playing Chelsea’s way. Cos most of the major tournament won this year is Chelsea’s way, too defensive, too defensive, anti football.

  5. I thought we played as well as any other “leading’ nation may have played against France in the opening group game; a game which looks the hardest on paper. I think we could have been a bit bolder on the counter attack, though with this we have to give Hodgson the benefit of the doubt that the players will master this the more they adapt to his methods. If Keegan had adopted these tactics in 2000 we may have went further; tactical ineptitude was always Keegan’s major managerial strength.

    James Milner’s performance was hard working but reflective of a player who isn’t at his sharpest- that dodgy back pass and very, very decent chance he had being the evidence.

    I thought Gerrard should have done MUCH better for France’s goal. When the ball fell to Nasri he should have been tighter, quicker. Analysts were saying it was due to the deep defending line etc but he needed to react quicker. He then turned his back on the ball as Nasri shot.

    Walcott should have been introduced earlier for his pace to get him behind a very slow reacting French back-line. I am content as hell with it.

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