Football: Hoddle leans towards experience

Glenn Moore looks at the relevance of England's Swiss friendly to the real thing

FOURTEEN World Cup finalists, almost half the summer entry, played warm-up friendlies on Wednesday night. Just three, Brazil, Spain and Denmark, gained a victory; Bulgaria, France and Austria lost to non-qualifiers Macedonia, Russia and Hungary respectively; and only Germany-Brazil attracted more than 25,000 spectators.

In that context England's scrambling draw with Switzerland in Berne does not look as shabby as it appeared at the time. One does wonder, however, what is the point of all these phoney wars.

While the England coach, Glenn Hoddle, moans that Brazil, with their pre-finals programme of non-stop friendlies, are "a motorway ahead of us'' in preparation, the world champions have only one further match, against Argentina in Rio next month, arranged while he has four. His seven- match build-up since qualifying is also well ahead of Spain's quartet of matches and Italy's three-game itinerary.

But does it matter? Denmark players prepared for the 1992 European Championships, which they won after being summoned as a late replacement for Yugoslavia, by sunbathing or home-decorating. England only discovered their winning 1966 side in the quarter-finals. The problem is assessing the relevance of performances in friendly matches to the real thing.

Certainly Hoddle will have learned little from Wednesday night. Martin Keown, Gareth Southgate and Rio Ferdinand are all good defenders with limitations in possession, Paul Ince is a key player in the midfield battle, and England look better balanced with a linking striker, like Teddy Sheringham, than two out-and-out forwards. But we knew all that already.

Worringly it also underlined a message from the defeat to Chile last month. Without Paul Gascoigne England lack creativity. In three hours' football without him they have created less than a handful of chances.

"It was such a difficult pitch I'm not sure that even Paul could have shaped that game," said Hoddle but he added: "At his best he can control the game and in the last four performances he has done that.''

Johan Cruyff recently suggested that 30 minutes of Gascoigne were worth 90 from most players and England should pick him even if they only got half an hour from him. "It is an interesting point," said Hoddle, "because no player can dictate for 90 minutes anyway. If you are looking for someone to control different parts of a game for 20 to 30 minutes then Paul could do that whether we say 'we'll give you 60 minutes and take you off', or bring him on. He has that ability."

Of other players he thought Steve McManaman "had a real go though the pitch didn't suit him and was as good as any in the second half''; Michael Owen "found out it was a lot tougher at this level but it was part of his education''; Paul Merson "took his goal well''; and Rio Ferdinand "needs time to be nursed into the position, it was his first full game and he did ok".

The sweeper plan is beginning to look too ambitious given the timespan. Ferdinand can defend and Jamie Redknapp, who swept in the B/Under-21 team's Tuesday defeat, can open the play with long-passing from the back but neither can do both. Redknapp is being groomed long-term; if he is in the squad for France it will be as a midfielder. The final squad will be based on experience. Mentioning Paul Ince and Alan Shearer, Hoddle added: "I found out the experienced players come back to the fore.''

Terry Venables realised the same. In his first match, in March 1994, his team was built around the spine of David Seaman-Tony Adams-Paul Ince- Alan Shearer. That was still the axis for Euro 96 and remains Hoddle's preferred core. But, due largely to injuries, the quartet has played together only eight times in 39 matches under the two managers, and only once under Hoddle.

England are yet to lose with all four in the side and Venables was fortunate in that he could play them for four of the five Euro 96 matches. Hoddle will be hoping for similar fortune next summer.

He names his final 22 on 2 June after friendlies against Portugal and Saudi Arabia at Wembley, and Morocco and Belgium in Casablanca. Hoddle has so far called 54 players into his squads of which 39 have been capped. "It would," he admitted, "be very difficult for anyone to break in now." Earlier in the week he spoke of 13 certainties, this is how the other hopefuls are placed.

IN: Seaman; G Neville, Campbell, Southgate, Adams, Le Saux; Ince, Beckham, Gascoigne, Batty; Scholes, Shearer, Sheringham. PROBABLE: Flowers; Keown. POSSIBLE: Martyn; R Ferdinand, P Neville, Hinchcliffe, Pearce; Redknapp, Lee, Butt, *Parlour, McManaman, Merson; L Ferdinand, Barmby, I Wright, Cole, Dublin, Owen. UNLIKELY: Walker, *Hislop, *Pressman; Pallister, *Matteo, *Howey; Ripley, Collymore, *Heskey. DISCARDED: James; *May, *Scales; *Platt, *Stone, *Draper, *Bowyer, *Clark, Le Tissier; Sutton, *Eadie. INJURED: *Anderton, Fowler. *called up but not capped under Hoddle.

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, goes back to his family's Sicilian roots in the first 'Godfather' film
film
News
Kim Kardashian speaks on the Today show about her step-father's transition
PEOPLE
Arts and Entertainment
Kermit and his doppleganger Hyalinobatrachium dianae
film
Sport
Wenger and Mourinho square-up to each other earlier this season
All the action from today's Premier League, including Everton vs Man Utd and Chelsea vs Arsenal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions