Which of England’s old guard should be removed?

England manager Fabio Capello

Last night England were taught a lesson by an intelligent and well drilled France team. The French for the majority of the game were the better side, and if England had equalised in the final moments it would have been harsh. The French played with fluidity, constantly moving and always looking for space. England again played with little nerve or imagination, but this had to be expected considering the age of the England team and the quality of the French.

However, lets not get over dramatic about last night. Kieran Gibbs, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll all started a senior international for the first time. This was great to see. Fabio Capello picked a big game to play these players in, something we all called for after the World Cup. It is unfair to look at the score in too much detail. It was an experiment from Capello, to see what players could cope with senior international football. In the main the three in question as well as other fringe players all had decent games, though need more time to settle. If England had played woeful opposition, like Scotland’s game on Tuesday, what would we have discovered. The youngsters would have been comfortable and the press would have raved about them for the next few days. In a game against a top quality side, they did well, and Capello should be applauded for giving them a chance on the top stage.

Last night seemed so bad because of the way the media portrayed France in the build up to the game. They underestimated France and it came back to bite them. Instead of the press accepting that France were terrific in parts, they have rounded on Capello and his selection. What can the manager do? Where is the media’s integrity? Three months ago they were calling for such a shake up, now they have got it, they round on Fabio Capello. Last night France were the better team but without a doubt England have the better youngsters coming through. This can’t be ignored.

The question has to be can these players provide competition for the senior players. If we look at the England goalkeeping situation, not many people can question the quality England have. Both Hart and Foster are gaining experience and have played well so far this season. Hart is undeniably number one, but Foster will provide excellent competition – something that will benefit the players and the England team.

England do need to look at the centre back issue. Realistically, how many times will Rio Ferdinand and John Terry play together before the European Championships. For the rest of this season, the signs are not good. John Terry could be out for a couple of months and Rio Ferdinand can’t shake of niggling injuries. Fabio Capello should not be looking at Michael Dawson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Michael Turner to replace both Ferdinand and Terry. It is time for a shake up defensively and such a shake up will provide greater competition in the domestic and international game.

Continuing on in the hypothetical shake up, Andy Carroll did himself proud last night. The England man’s confidence was there for all too see, and if he had been provided with better service, instead of Joleon Lescott believing himself to be a quarter back, he would have caused greater problems. His build up play was excellent – fashioning a chance for Gerrard after a superb knock down. The service to him was pitiful – Sunday league standard at times. Just because Carroll is big it doesn’t mean to say he can deal with punts up fie.ld. England will need to learn to play with Carroll as they have with Peter Crouch. It is a process that will take time no doubt, but and England squad featuring Andy Carroll. Wayne Rooney, Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch has quality all around it.

We should be supporting Capello’s selection last night, not rounding on him. It is too easy to be blinded by a defeat to France. Some sections of the media have used lines like, England loose to the only team worse than themselves at the World Cup. France are in transition, and no one can seriously believe had Laurent Blanc taken that exact team to the World Cup they would have performed as bad. England are in transition, and had big injuries last night.

Lets put things into perspective. England need to clear out dead wood from the squad, but it will take time. As well as this, the senior players need competition, Capello is providing them with this. It is very easy to look at the result last night and be downhearted about England. Hey, its what we do. We need to back the youngsters, because they have the quality to do play for England. The transition from dead wood to talented youngsters will take time but we are on the right road.

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