Early Doors

Luke warm Dutch

Early Doors

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Being the reactionary beast that Early Doors is, it's hard to know what to make of England's pre-season jolly to the Netherlands last night.

Neither of its two settings - mild ennui or knee-jerk outrage - seem appropriate for such a grand yet inconsequential game of football, which ended in a 2-2 draw that was more luke warm than Red Hot Dutch.

As promised, it did not watch the game live, being as it was a completely pointless 90 minutes - a view that seemed to be shared by Rio Ferdinand.

Instead it saw some hastily edited highlights on YouTube (other user-generated video streaming sites are available. Just not as good).

From that grainy footage accompanied by an intriguing mix Dutch and Arabic commentary, it looks like both sides had their turn at switching off for a half each.

It's always nice to bump into an old friend, so it was good to see a cameo from the hapless Ferdinand of old. His lethargic backpass allowed Dirk Kuyt to pounce eagerly in his trademark labrador-on-heat style to score the opener.  

Gareth Barry - not long after citing his England career as the reason for moving to Man City - also had a rare aberration after being played into a corner that led to Holland's second goal.

Robert Green must be wondering if all this England business is really worth the effort after all. After rupturing his groin on the eve of the 2006 World Cup, the West Ham keeper was made to look like a prize muppet by his team-mates on what was a huge night for him, but perhaps an even bigger night for David James.

But equally, Bert van Marwijk's side had their own bit of downtime after the break, with Jermain Defoe given plenty of space to scamper away and take his first goal well. James Milner than came off the bench and beat his full-back to the punch to set up Defoe's second.

It's always refreshing to see a player make their England debut and really bust a gut, although perhaps Martin O'Neill won't have been so happy with the Premier League kicking off at the weekend.

Milner's appearance is perhaps the key take-home from a diverting but utterly pointless exercise.

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The newspapers love to see themselves as reflecting the mood of the nation. Fittingly, just like the fans, there is something about England matches that bring out the best and the worst in them.

The headlines following internationals are always worth a scan, with equal parts glee and cringing awkwardness.

"Holland hit by Jerm warfare" cries the Daily Express. The Daily Mail and The Sun both go for "Jermain Man", while the latter also blasts Our Boys as "Dam fools" for their first-half meltdown.

The Daily Star surprises no one with the awful "Jermain gets flops out of a Holl", but the Mirror redeems all with the rather good "OranjeBOOM".

That headline may well have been in the locker ready for a win over the Dutch, but better to air it now than risk never using it.

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It was a winless night for all the other British and Irish teams too, what with Ireland's 3-0 defeat to Australia, Wales' loss to Montenegro and Northern Ireland's tie with Israel.

But the worst was reserved for Scotland, who did their level best last night to scupper their World Cup qualification hopes.

Sitting second in Group 9 behind the already-qualified Dutch, a result in Norway would have put them in pole position for a play-off spot, but George Burley's side imploded in Oslo and ended up on the wrong end of a 4-0 humiliation.

For all their Sassenach-hating ways, ED would actually like to see Scotland reach a tournament for the first time in over a decade.

But, with that defeat dropping them behind Macedonia on goal difference and just one point ahead of the Norwegians, Scots are in danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as only they know how.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "These were just two stupid mistakes. Two silly mistakes. Sometimes you are angry because some mistakes that they did were incredible. I don't accept mistakes where the position is wrong or if I try doing something in training and then, afterwards, I don't see it being put into practice on the pitch." - Fabio Capello sees events in Amsterdam with a refreshing honesty.

FOREIGN VIEW: If this goes on much longer ED will have to rename this section 'Latin lunacy watch', such is the regularity of crazy stories coming from South America.

A Copa Sudamericana match between Blooming of Bolivia and Uruguay's River Plate was abandoned after 66 minutes when a knife-wielding fan attacked a visiting player.

Peruvian referee Hugo Carrillo suspended Tuesday night's match in Santa Cruz after the Blooming fan attacked River Plate forward Henry Gimenez from behind, sparking protests from home supporters, who threw objects and flares onto the pitch.

"The player is not badly hurt, but he is shaken. He was hit by a stone," River Plate team chief Donato Rivas said.

Local media said the culprit, who was arrested, had a knife on him.

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