This week, we took a step away from one of the most intriguing Premier League seasons in a while, to pay attention to the international schedules involving qualifying for the 2012 European Championship.
This particular round drew a lot of attention as England were due to play Wales in Cardiff, and naturally rivalries of old were rekindled as a sold-out Millennium Stadium looked to see if Gary Speed’s Welsh side could cause an upset and add further misery to Fabio Capello after a week that saw John Terry reinstated as captain and left many questioning the handling of the situation.
The rendition of ‘God Save The Queen’ was drowned out by the hiss of the Welsh fans, providing a reminder of the hostile atmosphere and tense rivalry we come to expect. After two quick, and arguably soft, goals early on, it looked as if the tight contest that people might have expected quickly turned to damage limitation for Wales as England looked to take control. However, England were unable to add to their two early goals, and the second half saw a rejuvenated Welsh side take more control as England looked to sit back and see the game out. Here are five things that could be taken from the game.
1) Aaron Ramsey is too young to be captain
It is fair to see that Ramsey has looked a promising talent for Arsenal, and certainly has the potential to be a player of real quality in the near future if he continues to develop as expected. However, at 20 years of age, to be given the responsibility of leading his national team as captain may be a decision considered a little premature from Speed’s point of view. Certainly there are reasons that make sense in this appointment. For example, it could be argued that this saves changing the captain into the future and questions over who leads the team may not crop up as often as it has done in the England camp. As well as this, certain personalities within the Welsh side may be considered undesirable.
Craig Bellamy, for example, who for all his talent and effectiveness may be considered too much of a “hot-head” for want of a better term and as such will have been left out when the decision of team captain was made. However, overall one must question whether Ramsey was truly the right choice. Although one of Wales’ better players on the day, as a leader it could be said he has not truly found his voice yet and such responsibility may have been best left to a member of the squad with more experience.
2) Craig Bellamy should not be playing in the championship
It was always thought that sending Bellamy to Cardiff on loan was a bitter move by Manchester City. Although Bellamy has said he wanted to go there, it was always clear that the only reason this happened was simply because his employers were unwilling to send a player who was one of the best of the season to a Premier League rival, and the Saturday’s game provided an opportunity for this to be shown.
In the first half, when England dominated possession and Wales barely made anything out of their play, Bellamy was naturally anonymous. However, in the second half when Wales began to assert themselves, much of the play went through Bellamy, creating chances and combining with Ramsey effectively in applying pressure to the England back four. A player of Bellamy’s quality, despite his attitude at times, should not be playing Championship football.
Continued on page two.