Sure, it's a friendly and okay Fabio selected an experimental side and some of the more senior players were applying little assertion to avoid big injuries. And post-match, for Fabio to state he knows his final 23 players already would suggest that regardless of what happened against Japan, there wasn't a lot of importance bestowed on the game, other than perhaps one or two miracles to make him scratch that chin and re-think. Which is fine considering how casually inept the game was as a whole from our standing point. I mean for starters, our two goals were scored by Japanese players. Heskey might have nabbed one all for himself from 3 yards out, but the ball really needed to be 2 yards out for him to stick it away with conviction. Bit unlucky there.
Elsewhere, Huddlestone played well without being exceptional. He did what he did, passing the ball around neatly. Not really a test and not the type of game where he could perhaps show the gaffer he is a better bet than say Carrick. Our back four were pretty much woeful for large periods. Johnson was all over the shop. Again. I bet he's gutted King wasn't on the pitch to take the blame.
And then there's Theo Walcott. I know he's young, and I know two years back many had reservations about Lennon and his (lack of) end product, but why exactly we persist in a player (a confidence player with no confidence) when it's obvious that waiting for him to recreate the type of magic he's created 2 or 2 times before (that many) seems to be quite desperate from an England perspective. He has pace, and if the plan is to use him as a late sub, it still doesn't fit well considering he struggles to influence the game in any meaningful way when given more time on the pitch to impress.
He's had a poor season, has suffered from injury layouts. Still living off that hat trick, that run against Liverpool and that chipped goal for Soton. Is he even a winger? If he played for anyone else, he'd be nowhere near this squad.
Which brings me back to the point of this game. If it was one last chance (to follow on from the whole bundle left behind him) then he failed to impress. SWP did more in his appearance than Walcott has managed for countless England games. This is not a 'Aaron is better than Theo' propaganda piece. This is more of a 'let's drop the dead donkey' awareness campaign. Azza was placed on the left, obviously to accommodate Theo's inclusion. So we hardly got much from our wing-man thanks to Ashley Cole and his marauding runs on the left. That and the fact that the ball spent most of it's time going out to the right hand side, before the players got a little bored of nothing happening. I'm hoping Fabio is well aware that Lennon works better running down the wing, with a man up head to skip past - which is why he is better suited to the right-wing and no Cole. As for Theo, he's better suited at home watching the WC on his wide-screen. Although I'm sure if he doesn't travel, he'll still manage to get a mention (ask ITV and Gareth Southgate who described a Walcott shot on goal which the keeper saved, when it was Lennon who had the effort).
Okay, so it is a propaganda piece. I'm just bored of repeating myself here. And before any gooners latch onto this, there's a fair view who agree with me. If there is room in the squad for a 'wildcard' then I'd probably go with Adam Johnson. He's had a far better season. If TW does go, and proceeds to go on a mazy 50 yard run and scores the winner, then most of us probably wouldn't care if he doesn't do anything again for five years. Seems an awfully big risk and ask of the kid. He has time on his hands. Let him claim stake to true form and end product by developing and improving, rather than us forcing the issue, over and over and over again.
So, over to Fabio for that one. And for the sake of England, Walcott is better off out on loan at a club with less pressure and with no bog-standard requirement for Henry mk II posturing.
As for the rest of the game, there's not that much more to comment on. No tempo from England, all far too ordinary and predictable and pedestrian with (thankfully) some fine moments from Rooney and Hart to keep as mostly awake. We didn't use the wings - but then I've already explained why. It was all pretty much a bore, and I'm sure we'll improve tenfold when we play the USA. At the very least, it will be a more balanced side - so perhaps we'll have some form of tempo to excite us and give us hope. Might actually be a blessing, playing the USA. Could turn out to be a EPL type of encounter.
I expect Hudd and Daws to be tuning into the game with the rest us. Both lack the experience and can't be risked. Although the irony of someone like Dawson (who has arguably had a fairly fantastic season) missing out, is then not so hurtful when you consider the experience that stands before him for those central positions. Even with the likes of Rio and Terry looking a bit shaky at times. You can't honestly see him going because every CD has more England experience than him (although I don't rate Carragher or Upson above Daws - but the former is (apparently) more versatile).
It's all come a bit too late for Tommy (Joe Cole a shoe-in), so perhaps next time round. For the both of them. Crouch, Defoe, Lennon and King - dead certs.