Photo (C) Jon Candy Wales play Costa Rica in remembrance of former manager and player Gary Speed.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
It's a big week of international football friendlies with many international managers getting their final opportunity to try out untested players ahead of June's Euros in Poland and Ukraine.
While there are still friendly matches penciled in for late May and early June, most national coaches will hope to have their Euro squads clear in their heads by the late spring and will therefore use this week's fixtures to try out a number of fringe players.
The two most mouth-watering fixtures must be Germany v France and England v Holland, the second of these matches originally scheduled to be played in August before the English Riots caused its cancellation.
In other key Euro 2012 warm ups, Poland celebrate the grand international opening of their new national stadium with the visit of Portugal, the Republic of Ireland take on an improving Czech Republic side, while Russia travel to Denmark.
But by far the most emotional of this week's friendly fixtures will be a match that doesn't involve any of the Euro 2012 qualifying teams, namely the match between Wales and Costa Rica. The match is a testimonial being played in memory of the former Welsh manager and international footballer Gary Speed, who tragically took his own life in late November 2011. Tickets to this remembrance match are priced at 10 pounds for adults and 5 pounds for children, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to charity.
While the identity of the next England manager remains unknown, one thing the new boss will face is the realization that England have a severe shortage of experienced central strikers ahead of Euro 2012, with Darren Bent becoming the latest major casualty.
Aston Villa's Darren Bent would likely have featured in England's plans for this summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine but will now miss the tournament after rupturing ankle ligaments whilst playing for Aston Villa against Wigan at the weekend.
With Wayne Rooney set to miss England's two opening Euro 2012 fixtures through suspension, England may have to trust in a relatively untested forward line in Ukraine, with the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe suddenly looking far more likely to travel to the tournament.
England face Holland on Wednesday evening and will use the opportunity to try out strikers Campbell, Sturridge and Manchester United's Welbeck against the Dutch.
Photo attributed to: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/austinosuide/329074993/in/set-72157594431462939/ Mr Pierce-Not Happy]
Friday, February 10, 2012
With Stuart Pearce named as the England caretaker manager for the February 29 friendly with Holland, sections of the British press have already turned on the former England player. Those bastions of morality - the Sun and the Daily Mail - run with stories alleging that Pearce's brother is a member of a far-right political party (the BNP) and point out that Pearce was accused of racist remarks against former England team mate Paul Ince in 1994.
Pearce played 78 times for his country and only retired from the international game when he was 37. More Than a Game was lucky enough and indeed privileged to spend time working with Stuart Pearce in Nottingham back in 1996 during the Euro '96 football championships. The suggestions that Mr Pearce is a racist are absurd. Meanwhile, the British press continues to destroy England's national football team in the run up to Euro 2012.