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English lesson comes at price
by Paul Kennedy, March 1st, 2012 12:02AM
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TAGS:  england, european championship, netherlands


[ENGLAND-NETHERLANDS] A drab England-Netherlands friendly came to life in a big way in an incident-filled last half an hour as the Dutch went ahead 2-0, England then pulled even in the first minute of stoppage time, but Arjen Robben won the game a minute later for the Dutch, 3-2. The loss was the first in more than a year for the English, coached for the first and perhaps last time by interim coach Stuart Pearce.

"The aim of the exercise was to learn about one or two individuals and about their credentials for the summer," said Pearce, the U-21 coach promoted after Fabio Capello quit, "and I've learnt a lot. I've offered my services in the summer, I've really enjoyed these last few days. The players have been outstanding."

Robben was given acres of room to score the first goal, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar made it 2-0 on a clash of heads with defender Chris Smalling that resulted in both players being taken to the hospital.

Gary Cahill and Ashley Young answered back for England before Robben's late winner.

"Once we got ourselves back in the game," added Pearce, "we are disappointed we have been beaten. It's disappointing to lose but the exercise was to learn from it. We came up against an outstanding side and the exercise will stand our young players in good stead."

The learning experience came at a price.

Besides Smalling's injury, Steven Gerrard went off with a hamstring injury, and his replacement, Daniel Sturridge, injured his big toe late in the game.

Feb. 29 in London
England 2 Netherlands 3. Goals: Cahill 85, Young 90+1; Robben 57, 90+2, Huntelaar 58.
England -- Hart, Richards, Cahill, Smalling (Jones 64), Baines, Gerrard (Sturridge, 33), Parker, Barry (Milner 46), Johnson (Downing 61), Welbeck (Campbell 80), Young.
Netherlands -- Stekelenburg, Boulahrouz, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Pieters (Schaars 46), Van Bommel, Nigel De Jong, Robben, Sneijder (Emanuelson 76), Kuyt, Van Persie (Huntelaar 46; De Jong 62).
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 2:01 p.m.
    It's as if no one has noticed that while England has been less than mediocre the last few years, Stuart Pearce has taken the England youth squads deep into tournaments. The older English players have had their turn, they never jelled as a team, lacking a real #10. It's time now for the next generation, and that effort should start this summer, and who better than Stuart to do it, given that he has changed their nappies for the last few years. He's intelligent, modest (to a fault), and clearly has a working relationship with the next generation. IF Wilshire can come back to organize the show, Stuart and the kids might make a run this summer. Redknapp is a great guy, but his health is questionable, at his age won't get better, and it is unreasonable to expect him to be capable of leading England -- time to give Stuart a chance. He wasn't called Psycho because he was crazy, but because he was so passionately dedicated to his side, and to winning. He won't put a lackluster side of multi-millionaires out to just go through the motions and earn another cap. Only hope for 2014 is to go with the kids, and see who has the brass.
  1. Mark N
    commented on: March 2, 2012 at 11:45 a.m.
    LOL 'changed their nappies'. Allan, your comments are reasonable and well-thought-out. Too bad for England, you probably wouldn't fit in well with the FA.
  1. James Gearie
    commented on: March 4, 2012 at 10:07 a.m.
    You got an awful lot of change out of one missed chance in a friendly. Every team can afford to have a tap in artist in their starting eleven. Goals win games, its up to the rest of the team to indulge the strikers 'lazy' principles, for it is he who is under the most amount of pressure on the pitch. Midfielders can miss tackles, keepers can punch instead of catch, the striker might only get one chance in the game to score a <a title= "Soccer Goal" href="">soccer goal</a> and if he misses he's berated. If your team is lucky enough to have a striker who is also a grafter and who can retain his poise when his own moment of glory comes along, you indeed have a rare breed. Liverpool used to say that Ian Rush was their first defender. Since him I can only think of Shearer,Les Ferdinand, Drogba (maybe Rooney on his day) who could provide at both ends. It is certainly an English phenomenon to have a guy score 25 a season and then criticize him for not tracking back.

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