Some quick thoughts on last night’s Holland v England friendly, as I don’t think it would have been screened in the US.
Robert Green – the West Ham ‘keeper had a solid game, despite conceding two first half goals. Really, he was pretty much blameless for either, both coming as a direct result of a defensive player giftwrapping passes to the Dutch strikers. He made a number of pretty good saves, and started the move that led to Defoe’s opener for England. Carlton Cole, of whom George Best once said: ‘He can trap the ball further than I could kick it’, also impressed with a late cameo, so there are reasons to be cheerful for the cash-strapped Irons and Gianfranco Zola.
Jermain Defoe – scored two, looked lively, could get ‘Arry’s Spurs off to a flier against a weakened Liverpool defence this weekend.
Dirk Kuyt – full of the usual industry – could get Rafa’s Reds off to to a flier against a weaked Spurs defence this…erm…. England’s defensive errors came from lapses of concentration by Rio Ferdinand (hardly his first, and Utd fans will be glad to see him do it in a friendly game rather than a competitive match) and Gareth Barry. Ashley Cole looked good going up and down the left wing, but Glen Johnson was unconvincing both in defence and going forward.
In the midfield, Fat Frank showed his usual consistent level of performance, Beckham started ahead of Sean-Wright Philips, tellingly, although neither player did anything noteworthy. Ashley Young was given 67 minutes during which he fell over a lot and looked a little out of his depth at international level. He was replaced by Villa team mate James Milner, who immediately made an impact, sending over several good crosses from the ‘wrong’ wing for him, and making Defoe’s equaliser.
Milner: His 20-minute appearance impressed
Carrick came on for Barry at half time, but had little influence on the match. I remain unconvinced about his ability to perform consistently at the highest level.
Heskey and Rooney, well paired up front, both looked sharp, but then Heskey always does when playing with the Rooner, and seems unable to replicate the form at club level.
The Dutch side featured a number of EPL players, and some others who could, and possibly should, be signed before the window closes. As I said, Dirk Kuyt was his usual busy self, and Robin Van Persie looked intermittently dangerous, sending one shot inches wide from 25 yards. Nigel de Jong, the Man City midfielder (assuming he gets a game) was industrious and error-free, but Ryan Babel again failed to make an impact, despite coming on in a free-ish role up front.
Of the players Real Madrid are looking to offload, Rafael van der Vaart, of whom I am an admirer, played excellently before being taken off at half time for Wesley Schneider, who didn’t have the same impact. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, apparently not match fit to start, also struggled to get involved after coming on in the second half.
So, I think that’s covered the performances of the EPL-based players. If you’ve any questions about last night’s game, fire away and I’ll do my best to answer them.