Whilst the nation frets over the imminent squad selection made by Fabio Capello, the enormity of the victory over Mexico, and the light that it shines upon the state of the national team, has been overlooked. Mexico are currently ranked 17th, just nine places behind England, in the FIFA world rankings. They are, as the first 20 minutes paid homage to, an extremely able and talented outfit that will pose many problems to the nations they will face in their group stage (hosts South Africa, France and Uruguay). It was a concerted effort and one that if repeated at the
Perhaps it was because of the focus on the squad selection, and the fact that it was a friendly, that had led to this game not being paid the reverence and importance that it deserved. England beat a team, easily at that, who could feasibly meet England in the latter stages. Because of that possibility, bundles of confidence will have been gained. A 3-1 victory which for all of the early tribulations over a lack of attacking intent came with consummate ease, should be praised more than it has and inevitably will be. Although the game kept the ambiguity over Capello’s final 23 intact, it showed England’s strength in depth in a fantastic way.
Barring Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Glen Johnson, this was a team that was by no means the best available to Capello, nor a team filled with certainties for the final 23. England are oft compared to the likes of Spain and Brazil with negativity. These two leading nations have masses of squad depth and that has always been a feature that England have been castigated over. It could be remarked that the seven uncertainties (and the used substitutes) did not play particularly well but perhaps that could be yet another reason to praise the plethora of options at Capello’s disposal. By beating a nation the quality of Mexico whilst playing within themselves, England have shown the nations competing in the World Cup that they have developed a competency and ability to win games comfortably whilst not playing brilliantly.
Although a victory against Mexico may not strike fear into the hearts of the leading nations, it is an important indicator of how England will perform at the tournament. As was mentioned by various commentators last night, Mexico play with an extremely fluent style of football one that England will have to face during the tournament. Mr. Capello will have picked the opposition for this friendly with such a style in mind. He will have wanted to see how his fringe players deal with such technical football because if England are to progress to the semi-finals, it will be a style that will be played abundantly by the opposition. Mexico are no fools and prior to this match they were unbeaten in ten games yet England’s determination to grind their opposition down through constant harrowing of the ball worked and could see them fare well in South Africa.
Of course it is understandable as to why the result of this game has not been paid too much attention. In under two months time, this result will be nothing more than a smear in England’s history and could eventually bear no effect on the squad that travels to South Africa because of the anonymity of many of the fringe players. There will be frustration that the game subsequently shone no more considerable light on the seven men that will be trimmed from the final 23. What it did show is that of all those that took part yesterday, Michael Carrick should be the most worried man as his at times-inept performance will have done nothing to endear himself to Capello, who has four other men staking a claim to be regarded higher than Carrick.
On the whole, the night brought about positivity and a general feeling of optimism for the upcoming weeks. Over the forthcoming days, we will hopefully have a much more clarified view of the thoughts of the England Head Coach but up until that point, the nation should enjoy the fact that an extremely talented side was brushed aside without too much trouble.