Guest blogger Thomas Rooney gives his perspective on the forthcoming friendly against Denmark…might be worth remembering that the last time we played the Danes in a friendly in Copenhagen we lost 4-1!
In the middle of a Premier League season isnâ€™t the most popular time to have a friendly. But that is the prospect facing England as they prepare for the away fixture against Denmark on February 9th. And in what shape do we find that national side in?
Well, in an odd position truth be told. Gone is the early optimism of the Fabio Capello reign; If the disheartening World Cup fiasco didnâ€™t dampen the mood all together, the 0-0 draw with Montenegro in the Euro qualifier at Wembley.
More disappointing perhaps was the result, or more pertinently, the performance against France. The game offered a lot of parallels in some respects. Both teams were looking to rebuild their reputation after disastrous World Cup campaigns. Unfortunately that was where the similarity ended as the next generation of French players played around and through a baffled England side. The final score may have been a 2-1 defeat, but you would need to add two or three more goals to the French score to find a more fitting scoreline.
Going into 2011, those placing regular football betsÂ will tell you that Fabio Capello faces a difficult task. Qualification for the European Championships is a must, but if he does manage to qualify easily enough then most observers will wave this away, safe in the knowledge that they have seen it all before and that emerging from Group G isnâ€™t much of a challenge. If he fails to do this, then his planned retirement after the Euroâ€™s may be bought forward somewhat.
But there is some light amongst the gloom. English players have proved themselves as up there with the best, James Milner, Adam Johnson and Jack Wilshere have all performed well this season, and fringe players such as Michael Dawson and Darren Bent are putting their hands up for a starting place. Perhaps most importantly Wayne Rooney looks to finding some semblance of form as he looks to bury his own personal South African nightmare; his performance in tandem with Dimitar BerbatovÂ against Birmingham City a couple of weeks agoÂ was excellent, and Fabio Capello will take heart.
Denmark represents a challenge of sorts and will be a good warm-up ahead of the important qualifier against Wales in March. Football betting patterns will see England emerge as favourites, but the Danes will pose a genuine threat.
Premier League managers could do without the extra strain of an England fixture in the middle of a busy Premier League schedule; any potential knocks to key players would not be welcome in the crucial second half of the season. Capello will look to use his time wisely as he looks forward to a key period in his time as England manager. Lots to lose, nothing to gain. Who would be an England manager?