Kenny Dalglish: Don't crucify the kids, England's best team will beat France at Euro 2012

22 November 2010 01:53
Look at the England team who played France on Wednesday night. Manyof them - Kieran Gibbs, Joleon Lescott, Adam Johnson, Peter Crouch,Micah Richards and Theo Walcott - have not had regular first-teamfootball this season. Others like Phil Jagielka were played out ofposition.

Two more, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson, were making theirdebuts. Why is anyone surprised that they looked a little disjointedand were beaten by a French team whose line-up was dominated byChampions League starters, three of whom - Florent Malouda, Samir Nasriand Bacary Sagna - are regulars at two of the best clubs in the PremierLeague.

I said last week that if Fabio Capello used the friendly at Wembleyto try new players and ideas, people shouldn't jump down the players'throats if they lost the game or were second-best at times, but clearlyit fell on deaf ears.

Promising: Andy Carroll had a decent England debut against France

Some of the analysis, or post-mortem to be more accurate, has beenover the top because I honestly believe if England's best XI, with JoeHart, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, takeon France's best XI when the real business happens at Euro 2012, therewill only be one winner - and it won't be Laurent Blanc's men.

One of the most popular misconceptions following England's defeat isthat their players are technically inferior to continentals. It's aneasy generalisation to make but that doesn't mean it's true.

I watch scores of games a year, from Under-11s at the LiverpoolAcademy, where I work, to Premier League matches at Anfield and I don'tbuy it.

In fact, I'd go further. There was nobody I saw play for France onWednesday night technically better than the England players. The gapbetween the teams wasn't technical, it was tactical.

The French got tighter on England than the other way round for thefirst hour and put them under pressure when they had the ball. Theopposite happened when France had the ball, England didn't close andpress them well enough.

  More from Kenny Dalglish. Kenny Dalglish: Oh Andy Carroll, please don't be a fool.13/11/10 Kenny Dalglish: City are paying the price for spending too much too soon06/11/10 Kenny Dalglish: Managing Newcastle is crazy, as Hughton is now finding out30/10/10 KENNY DALGLISH: Manchester United's players can't blame Rooney for having ambition23/10/10 Kenny Dalglish: After all the glory years, this Mersey derby is now more a battle for survival 16/10/10 Kenny Dalglish: Wilshere is good enough and old enough for England09/10/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Whereas France had an idea of how they wanted to play on Wednesdayand the players understood it, England were caught between two stools.

They didn't use Carroll to best effect but there is no point inpicking someone that good in the air and then pretending he's DavidVilla.

Despite what you might read, top-level football is not just abouttechnique. Otherwise all those fantastic ball-jugglers would be playingin the Premier League rather than entertaining on street corners.English players are not technically deficient in my view, but wherethey have to improve is in game intelligence.

An example was the first goal for France, Karim Benzema played aone-two that left Jagielka ballwatching and he was able to get byrelatively easily to score. Individually though, England have no needto feel inferior.

Of the four centre-halves on the pitch at Wembley, you'd take Rio Ferdinand ahead of any of them. You'd take Steven Gerrard over any of the other midfielders and, mark my words, Jack Wilshere won't be far behind him in time.

As England try to improve, they can't forget what we are already good at. The best teams in the world like Spain have copied traditional British qualities like pressing and trying to win the ball back. As British teams try to emulate their skills, it doesn't mean standing off teams when they have the ball.

Through my work at the Liverpool Academy, I do have a fair idea of what is coming through, not just at my club but in general. And while I'm not saying the standard can't improve, there isn't any cause for alarm. At Liverpool, we have a couple of Spanish coaches at the academy and we are getting the fusion right between technique, tactical awareness and a strong mentality.

What is heartening is when I watch U-9s, U-10s and U-11s play, I see the boys trying to use what they've been coached in matches. Last summer, the England U-17s became European champions. And who did they beat in the final? Spain. So they are capable of it.

Tactically, I don't think the England team should be embarrassed by using their strengths, they should go into games with a clearer picture of what they want to achieve than they did against France.

It was good to see Carroll given his chance and he is clearly regarded by Capello as a striking option but, having put him in the side, the service up to the Newcastle player was poor. He did OK in the circumstances, but to really flourish he needs people around and about him . and there wasn't much support.

You should play the best way suited to the players you have at your disposal. If you have a big centre-forward who is strong in the air like Andy Carroll, use him.

My observation was that the French didn't handle England's set-pieces too well and that is how the goal was scored through Crouch. It is as legitimate an attacking ploy as a one-two.

People have gone berserk after the defeat but England showed when they put their foot on the gas later on, they were able to get themselves back in. The question has to be asked why France were given the space to play before then. From what I've seen from the kids coming through, England are not miles behind other top football nations.

The facilities are first-class but an area that should always be looked at improving is the standards of coaching because without the coaching expertise, even the best facilities aren't going to make much of a difference. But don't exaggerate what happened on Wednesday night. Capello's options, particularly up front, were limited because of the unavailability of Rooney, Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe.

Cut this column out and keep it. Because if England play France in 18 months' time in Poland/Ukraine, I'm telling you England will win.

Enlarge I'm sure many memories will come flooding back to Sir Alex Ferguson when he returns to Glasgow this week in the Champions League, but he has probably tried to blank out the time I marked him in an Old Firm reserve game. I was an 18-year-old kid at Celtic when Jock Stein played me at centre-half to teach me a lesson, apparently he was annoyed I was making too many square passes and thought having to play at the back would knock it out of me. Educational purposes, he called it. Anyway, it was an education because leading the Rangers attack was one Alec (that's what we called him in Scotland) Ferguson. He had a height advantage and a certain reputation for enjoying a physical battle. I can't remember much about the game but we won 2-0, so I must have done my job. It was the first time I'd come across Fergie in direct competition, though it wasn't to be the last! Fergie was brought up a mile or so from Ibrox and has known about the club far longer than any of the Rangers players who will face Manchester United. Rangers will be more adventurous than they were at Old Trafford in a 0-0 draw earlier this season but not much. Walter Smith is a canny manager and won't make it an easy homecoming for Fergie. But I still expect Fergie to get a better result than he did against me all those years ago.  Sacre bleu! L'Equipe's damming verdict on Fabio's England flops Where it all went wrong for Capello: Sportsmail tracks a bad year for Fabio

 Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Joleon Lescott, Glen Johnson, Fabio Capello, Andy Carroll, Jack Wilshere, Phil Jagielka, Theo Walcott, Walter Smith, Frank Lampard, Darren Bent, Karim Benzema, Peter Crouch, Adam Johnson, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe, Steven Gerrard Places: Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, Scotland, France, Spain, Poland, United Kingdom

Source: Daily_Mail

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
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