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England - back on track or a banana skin? - 31/03/2003

   Football Association

Saturday’s game in Liechtenstein was a disappointment, it was a game that England had the ability to control, dominant and to show their superiority. They simply didn’t do it, and although you can’t be too critical about an away win, it didn’t fill me with confidence for Wednesday night’s game against Turkey.

I feel sorry for Kieron Dyer, it’s no fun playing in an unnatural position – and on the left is not Kieron’s preference. He’ll be judged on his performance in the team and that's unfair in that we all know he’d do better through the middle. He showed some nice touches and had a few great runs, but he also came in with the ball on a few occasions, and that doesn’t help the shape of Sven’s side. I bet he’s secretly hoping for an injury to break up the Beckham, Gerrard, and Scholes monopoly – because other than through injury, I can’t see an immediate way through those three.

Turkey will be tough, there’s little doubt about that! I’m sure the crowd will help our cause, but the first goal will be crucial, and if they get it, then I can see Turkey going on and winning the game. For me we’re playing too much 'one-dimensional' football. There’s too much reliance on Beckham and Owen and if these two aren’t on top of their respective games, then we struggle. We’re still looking for a Michael Owen partner and although they play together at Anfield, I don’t believe they’re the answer for England. Oh, and thanks to One North East (ONE), the regional development agency for inviting me to the game! It's work as well as play, but I'm looking forward to the game.

I’m in Glasgow at present, after picking up the wooden spoon in the ‘Home Nations Masters’ tournament. It was great to play in, but surprisingly, the standard wasn’t as good as the club games. No disrespect to my elders, but there were more than a few older legs out there and I’m sure it caught up with them. It was interesting to see how many ex-Newcastle players were there, every nation was represented with Wales having Glynn Hodges and Malcolm Allen, Ireland with Ned Kelly, Scotland with both Darren Jackson and Kevin Gallacher, and of course Pedro and me representing England, just a pity we couldn’t have picked up from the rugby lads – what a tremendous display at Lansdowne Road.

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