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Albania v England

Was there any need to make it so difficult for ourselves? A dodgy central midfield (given Saturdays performance) and Sir Missalot up-front was asking for trouble. To be fair to the Albanians they didn't make it easy, and there was a time when I thought we weren't going to break them down. They closed down excellently and it was only when they began to tire that we started to break the back five down. It's always difficult playing against 5 hard working defenders and credit to the Albanians, they made us work had for it. Again, well done lads, not the greatest performance but the job got done.

PS I've replaced Sol Campbell with Wes Brown as there's not a lot to say about Sol, he didn't do anything of note in the 25/30 minutes he was on the pitch and there's more to say about Wes.

David Seaman

It's hard to say much as he barely did anything all game. I have to say he made my heart jump when that one shot was thundered in but looking at it again the ball was swerving all over the shop and he didn't spill it, just knocked it straight down to take the sting out. What he needed to do he did well and it would be hard to criticise or compliment Seamo for his performance.

Ashley Cole

Chris Powells poor performance against Finland left his place open for contention to one player only and didn't he do well. A fine debut from young Ashley. He defended well, whenever he lost the ball (which was only about 2 or 3 times) he tracked back and won it again. His runs forward scared the defenders witless and I think some of the Albanians who thought he'd be an easy target were dissapointed. His passing was a little innaccurate at times but the ball did seem to keep coming over to our left side and I reckon he attempted more passes than most. One pass to McManaman over the top was pure class, lets hope he starts for the greece game.

Rio Ferdinand

Another good, solid game from Rio. He defended well when he had to but I think he really shone on the ball. The Albanians didn't do a lot of attacking and Rio spent most of the time defending closer to the half way line than the box and I don't think he misplaced a pass all game. This also forced Scholes to play higher up the pitch and allowed us to keep a constant attack going. When the ball did break to them he had the pace to get back and held off the forwards well, allowing our other players to get back. Good show Rio.

Wes Brown

Nothing particularly surprising about Browns performance I don't think. We all knew he could play and he didn't dissapoint, nothing silly or too adventurous, he worked hard and for the team. Everything that was asked of him he coped with well and between him and Rio they reduced any attack through the centre to long range efforts. Wes had a good game and you get the feel that even against better oppostion he would still cope fine.

Gary Neville

Another great performance from Neville (I must check my temperature, praising Gary Neville twice in a week?) near faultless in fact. There's not a lot I can say really, he didn't do anything wrong and played solidly. No fancy flicks over defenders to talk about mind. I'll let that one go, keep it up Gary.

Steve McManaman

Not as good as Saturdays game but I still don't think he did that badly. At times I thought he looked intimidated by the fact that Ashley Cole overlapped him two or three times and kept beating players :) . Never mind, I thought he looked lively and he wanted the ball which is always a threat when you have the ability to beat players. He tended to drift inside perhaps because he isn't a left winger sven, kevin, glen....... (well, the section is called 'rants').

Paul Scholes

Somebody clearly read my comments last time and told Scholes to push forward more! I thought he had a good game, pushing forward more and running at players and into the box he showed the attacking prowess that made him such a hit with England. His goal just highlighted the reasons why he should be allowed to come forward and break from the midfield, although managing to hit the crossbar from 2 yards was quite an achievement.

Nicky Butt

I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, why Nicky Butt? With talent like Carrick and Cole (J) in the squad why does Nicky Butt play? Maybe Sven didn't want to have three Coles in the squad, maybe he was trying to emulate the Man Utd midfield as much as possible for marketing purposes, who knows? only Sven. I thought Butt was poor, his distribution was poor, his tackling largely mis-timed, his positional defensive play shocking and his all round contribution was not good enough (bar a good pass that to be honest, I could have played).

David Beckham

Not as good as his performance against Finland but still played like a captain. He was continually trying to up the spirit and play by example, working hard, running all over the pitch and trying to create something out of nothing. Beckham put some good balls into the box and hit a couple of dangerous free kicks, as you'd expect and did everything he could to try and lift the side. Not good to hear the boo-boys, I'm hoping they were Albanian. But even so, why?

Micheal Owen

As a man I used to know once said 'Different class son, different class.' England have no other forwards like Micheal Owen, full stop. Thats two vital games he's turned for us now and we can't afford to rely on him for much longer. We don't have anyone else as good as him but we do have players who come close, Kevin Phillips, Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey.... Not Andy Cole, are you listening Sven?

Andy Cole

When are the men who matter going to get the message that Andy Cole is not of international class. I'm trying to word this in as many different ways as possible but there comes a point when repetition is the only option. How many opportunities did Cole get to make an impact on the game last night? 5, 6, 10, 15? I'm not going to let the fact that he scored a tap-in in the last minute (from a run that I could have made) cloud the fact that he had an awful game. Off the top of my head, 6 chances - one goal, numerous tumbles on the edge of the box when a simple layoff was all that was needed. Not good enough my friend, not good enough.

The Substitutes

Excluding Brown (for obvious reasons) Heskey (for McManaman) and Sheringham (for Owen) didn't really make a great impact on the game. Heskey was fairly anonymous on the left but you get a feeling that if he had played up front he may have had an impact, holding the ball up well and laying it off nicely. Sheringham didn't do a lot, didn't have a lot to do.

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