All entries for Wednesday 30 March 2005

March 30, 2005

England 2:0 Azerbaijan

Is it just me?
Am I the only one who watches England's matches and thinks that Wayne Rooney is vastly, ridiculously overrated?
Ok, the guy's good. For his age, he's bloody brilliant. But if I just listened to matches on the radio, I'd be sure he was the saviour of the team, his every touch inspiring them to greater feats of glory. I'd put at least 5 players in the first team before Rooney's name went on the sheet, and probably more like 7. He was our best player in Portugal, true (closely followed by Lampard), but they were all pretty crap in Portugal. He's probably the best second striker. Although seeing as Sven won't give anyone else more than 15 minutes up front, we'll never know.
Also, in a kind of related way, what have Michael Owen and David Beckham done to annoy the BBC's commentary team? From watching tonight's game on BBC1, I'm sure Owen must have slept with Mark Lawrenson's sister, or killed his son, or something. He can't do anything right. Owen misses a header from the middle of the box and it's "a glaring opportunity, missed to the disbelief of those behind the goal and probably himself", "not the Michael Owen we're used to". Rooney does exactly the same and "he'll be disappointed. But he did have to lean back for it". "It was a hard chance to take."
Rooney setting up Steven Gerrard's goal was "superb". Were these people watching the same goal? He controlled a pinpoint pass from 40 yards by Beckham, somehow outsprinted one of Azerbaijan's finest, then managed to cross behind the two guys who were actually in the box. the ball managed to come to Gerrard after a deflection from another defender. It's not what he intended. It's a fluke guys.
Then Beckham. Alen Hansen after the match "His performance in the last 4 or 5 matches haven't lived up to his high standards."
Our first chance, Beckham runs 40 yards-this is the England player with no pace-onto Lampards through ball, somehow keeps it in and gets it back to Rooney. Who does sod all with it. He starts the first goal with a long ball to Rooney, then scores the second himself. If that's not living up to his standards then what's he supposed to do, play blindfold?

Ok….the opposition was only Azerbaijan, this was supposed to be a walkover. They did do well to stop us scoring, basically by having at least 8 men in the box at all times. And yes, they might have been a bit of a threat if it weren't for a tendency to shoot from 35 yards out along the ground. But even so, Beckham was by far the most awake England player on the pitch. Owen should have scored but didn't exactly miss any open goals. And that's ignoring the disallowed goal in the first half.

Oh, and as for Kramarenko, Azerbaijan's "hopeless" goalkeeper (Mark Lawrenson again) he didn't exactly do badly. At the time he was described as hopeless, he'd conceded just as many goals as Robinson, exactly 0, with far more to do due to a decidedly ropy defence. And watching the replays, what exactly could he have done about either goal? He didn't exactly do badly with the saves he was called upon to make either. I have a sneaking suspicion that you could put Petr Cech or Iker Cassilas behind the Azerbaijan defence and they'd concede a couple if they had that many attempts to score. Skysports coverage says "Kramarenko appeared a compulsive puncher with an inability to catch the ball coupled with an impulsive habit of charging from his line. But, after his problems with the Poles, he made a succession of (largely unconvincing) saves." It doesn't matter how convincing they are, so long as the ball doesn't go in.

Then there's the referee's slightly dubious booking policy as well. Is running around with one boot really such a heinous crime? It's your feet that are going to be stood upon. And if Owen really intended to handball when diving 2 yards out, wouldn't he at least have directed it into the net?

Ok, sorry. end of rant.

March 2005

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