Two-footed Andros Townsend saves England’s blushes in Turin

Italy 1 England 1

Pelle 29, Townsend 79

Wayne Rooney said, “The best player on the pitch, by a mile, was Michael Carrick.”


Carrick can pass a ball, slow a move down, speed it up, act as a playmaker who can hold the ball and decide where it should go. He can give shape to the players around him, although not in a dynamic way, as Paul Gascoigne used to do

Martin Jol was planning to build his Spurs team round Carrick but Daniel Levy sold him to Manchester United, apparently without telling his manager.

First half, England played stupidly, partly because Phil Jones was in central midfield, partly because fullbacks Clyne and Gibbs were clueless, partly because we attacked narrow, trying to interpass between three centrebacks.

One thing Italians can do is mark.

They love to mark. Proper defending includes marking opponents as well as spaces because spaces don’t score goals, even in friendly matches. If an Italian defender doesn’t mark, he won’t be playing in the next game.

The goal we conceded was surreal. Watching the veteran Giorgio Chiellini taking on Phil Jones as he trundled infield was like watching a supertanker in the Thames trying to overtake another supertanker.

Chiellini hoofed a ball into the box and big Pelle, who can’t hit a barn door for Southampton, glanced a header past Joe Hart

Roy Hodgson knows Italian football because he coached Inter Milan in two spells. He knows that they are tactically astute and ruthless, and he also knows that they are unaccustomed to playing 90 minutes of energetic football, as we do in the UK.

Carrick replaced the injured Smalling in 44, so Jones moved into defence. That changed the second half completely, adding the experience, craft and intelligence that had been lacking.

We expected a dolt like Graham Taylor to pick an England team without a playmaker because Taylor, a third division full back who never played with a good footballer, didn’t believe in having a playmaker. His view was: What if your playmaker has a bad game?


Well done those subs!

Andros Townsend, he’s always been like that, always made his own goals, always been ready to take on defenders and shoot.

Here we saw a winger who isn’t scared to miss collect a nudged pass from sub Ryan Mason and fire in a scorching shot just inside the post.

He’s two-footed and that’s rare in Britain these days.

He got Gigi Buffon’s shirt. And Buffon got Andros’s shirt.

It’s a noble idea to collect the shirts of players who score against you. Especially after a shot that no goalkeeper could have saved.

Harry Kane is a businesslike footballer who plays as if he’s about 28. He moves and passes decisively and simply.

But Kane wasn’t helped by Walcott or Rooney, and he had no service from midfield or full back.

Hodgson should never play Phil Jones in midfield again.