Paul Parker

Positive signs for England

Paul Parker

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England played well on Friday evening against Bulgaria, but a lot of people are sceptical about them and they still have it all to prove.

They've seen this before in the qualifiers: positional interchanging and the players doing what Fabio Capello wants them to do, playing in the style he's used to from his time managing in Spain and Italy - with imagination and commitment.

But you have to remember that the Bulgarians weren't all that good.

If you're looking to pre-judge what we can expect from England in Euro 2012, when it really matters, you'll get more material from the game in Switzerland on Tuesday.

People suddenly think we are going to win the Euros - Capello has got to quell all that.

We've got to start believing that we can play in that manner at a major tournament against the big sides. To do that there's still a long, long way to go.   

But there were many positives to take from the match. Phil Jagielka looked confident: he reminds me of Fabio Cannavaro.

You don't have to be the biggest player to play at centre-half at international level. It's not second or third division football; it's calculated, it's on the floor, and it's all about movement and positional sense.

Someone like me, who's 5'7" and played more games at centre-half than full-back has an idea of what is needed: you just have to be astute in your defending and make sure you can control and you can pass.

He's a very, very good player. He used to be a midfielder so he's going to be better on the floor than your John Terrys and Matthew Upsons. He's more comfortable on the floor than even Rio Ferdinand.

Then there's Joe Hart, who will have helped Jagielka and Michael Dawson and put in a fantastic performance. It makes a difference having a goalkeeper behind you that is full of confidence.

He'll make a mistake at some point, without a doubt, because he's young - but we can't persecute him for it when he does. In fact, he did brilliantly to prevent a Glen Johnson own-goal on Friday.

Despite his great start, we have to accept that he needs time. The best goalkeepers in the world are never in their early twenties, their best years always come when they're older.

It's all about believing in him - and I think the young lads in the team will believe in him because he believes in himself. You can see that by the way he is on the pitch, always smiling and not showing any nerves. You can see him being a fixture for England for a long, long time - barring injuries.

The bonus is there are a lot of young goalkeepers around and I hope they can keep him on his toes. You don't want old goalkeepers behind him and waiting because then he'll know the place is his and relax.

We need to get back to the era when we had Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton then we had Chris Woods and David Seaman and Dave Beasant, who couldn't get a look-in, and we all know how good Dave Beasant was.

We need the same situation with our centre-halves, too, which we don't have at present

Jermain Defoe scored a hat-trick and I think his partnership with Wayne Rooney is clearly the way forward.

I got fed up of 'little and large' in the times of John Toshack and Kevin Keegan, to be honest. At international level you don't see too many sides employing a big bloke alongside a little man. I think it's a fallacy that they work well together.

Peter Crouch is not an international player and there is no need to pick him. He could be marked out of the game by, for example, Jagielka.

If Crouch was aggressive and 6'7" he'd be the best striker in the world and unplayable, but he's not; he's a powder puff. He doesn't hit the ball.

Because he's 6'7" people think he's got a good touch, and he has - but if he was smaller no one would notice his touch. It'd just be normal.

He is good enough for the squad because we're short on players, but won't make a big difference in the future. Until we start looking at the younger forwards who have got pace, like Daniel Sturridge at Chelsea, we'll not be feared outside the outstanding starting forwards that we have.

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