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

Saturdayís 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 didnít do it, and although you canít be too critical about an away win, it didnít fill me with confidence for Wednesday nightís game against Turkey.

I feel sorry for Kieron Dyer, itís no fun playing in an unnatural position Ė and on the left is not Kieronís preference. Heíll be judged on his performance in the team and that's unfair in that we all know heíd 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 doesnít help the shape of Svenís side. I bet heís secretly hoping for an injury to break up the Beckham, Gerrard, and Scholes monopoly Ė because other than through injury, I canít see an immediate way through those three.

Turkey will be tough, thereís little doubt about that! Iím 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 weíre playing too much 'one-dimensional' football. Thereís too much reliance on Beckham and Owen and if these two arenít on top of their respective games, then we struggle. Weíre still looking for a Michael Owen partner and although they play together at Anfield, I donít believe theyíre 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.

Iím in Glasgow at present, after picking up the wooden spoon in the ĎHome Nations Mastersí tournament. It was great to play in, but surprisingly, the standard wasnít as good as the club games. No disrespect to my elders, but there were more than a few older legs out there and Iím 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 couldnít have picked up from the rugby lads Ė what a tremendous display at Lansdowne Road.


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