Dan Mobbs writes at ThreeMatchBan.com.
The result was never in doubt against part-timers Andorra, but Fabio Cappello’s England fielded a strong side and cruised to a 6-0 victory, demonstrating the Italian’s respect for the opposition, although this was something perhaps that wasn’t reflected by other members of the England entourage.
On Monday, Capello’s assistant and Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce, fielded goalkeeper Joe Lewis as an emergency substitute striker against Kazakhstan, after Lee Cattermole limped off injured in the second half. Having used all of his four outfield subs, Pearce elected to bring on Lewis to even up the numbers, prompting questions of whether he had shown a lack of respect for the opposition, telling the BBC
“We had to do that because Cat’s (Lee Cattermole) pulled a slight injury and with the tournament a week away we were at a loss as what to do,” Pearce said.
“We used all our outfield subs and Joe put himself forward to go up front. It was a forced sub.
“Whichever way we did it we didn’t want to be seen as disrespectful. That was the last thing I wanted.”
To be fair to Pearce he had legitimately used his other outfield players and this is understandable, as he doubtlessly wanted to utilise fresh legs and avoid injury ahead of the U21 European Championships this summer. However, the fact that he did allow keeper Lewis to play in every schoolboys favourite position, does feel like allowing the fat and ungainly kid at school a run out upfront against the local whipping boys, just for a laugh.
If Pearce’s decision was unclear if it was disrespectful or not, former England striker Jimmy Greaves’ comments during half-time of England’s match certainly lacked the same ambiguity.
Having missed out on a World Cup winners medal in 1966, due to regulations effective between 1930 and 1974, which dictated that only the starting XI would earn winners medals, he picked up his medal 43 years after the final. After picking up a leg injury earlier in the tournament against France, Greavsie was replaced for the remaining games by eventual hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst.
He was finally honoured though with a medal alongside the remaining 11 players and staff, with a ceremony at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday morning, before being paraded in front of the Wembley crowd at half-time.
With spirits clearly high and once again relishing the media attention, he seemed to get over excited and memories of his playing days came rushing back to him.
He told ITVs pitch side reporter Gabriel Clarke “Who are we playing?” before going on to exclaim “I think we could do a better job than them” referring to the semi-professional Andorrans.
The visitors to Wembley never posed any threat at all, a fact that was hammered home by Wayne Rooney as early as the third minute. As expected England dominated the game as if it were a training ground exercise, before cruising to a comfortable win.
The fact that they are semi-professional, with only one full-time footballer in the side does raise questions of whether Andorra really merit a place in the group stage and the opportunity to play against world class opposition. They certainly don’t have the ability to come close to beating many teams and are usually contentment to just try and limit the scoreline, without showing any attacking intent, which reflects their world ranking position of 196th.
After the game former Republic of Ireland international and pundit Andy Townsend suggested that minnows such as Andorra and San Marino should have to qualify for the group stages, but for them not to be involved would be disastrous for the future of football in these countries.
If they fail to qualify they would have no competitive matches for at least two years, until the next pre-group stage qualification came around again.
Also it would be a shame for the larger countries to miss out on games against the minnows of European football, as everyone loves to see a lot of goals. It is also an opportunity for families and young fans to go to see such games, as there isn’t the same level of demand and possibly gives them their first opportunity to see the nations greatest and also to see them score a few goals too.
If only to serve as cannon fodder or to even up the numbers in the groups, nations like Andorra and San Marino are an entertaining addition to European football and would be sadly missed if absent from the qualification campaign, by all fans of seeing goals scored… if that’s not too much of a disrespectful comment to make.
Dan Mobbs writes at ThreeMatchBan.com.