Gerrard the Great: England 2 – 1 Hungary

Wembley Stadium, England v Hungary, International Friendly 11/08/2010  Steven Gerrard of England celebrates scoring the 1st goal with Adam Johnson of England Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

After falling behind amidst a chorus of boos, England’s captain Steven Gerrard went all Bruce Banner turns Incredible Hulk on poor Hungary. That frustration and torment endured by England’s underachieving side inspired Gerrard to remind us that he is still capable of being one of the world’s best.

Down 1-0 to 62nd-ranked Hungary, Fabio Capello’s seat was definitely heating up. He can thank his captain for sparing his blushes.

For changing his formation and installing Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott in the starting XI, Capello should be commended. But, it begs the question: where was this outside-the-box thinking 6 weeks ago?

This is the exact formation Capello should have used for the World Cup. With Rooney operating as a lone striker, flanked by Johnson and Walcott, and with Gerrard, Frank Lampard and the deeper-lying Gareth Barry in central midfield, England were much fresher and precise in their attacking game.

It doesn’t take a genius to have known this pre-World Cup, so Capello should still be held largely accountable for England’s failings. Putting Gerrard in a central role to link up with Rooney is a no-brainer, but evidently it took Capello a World Cup disaster to figure it out.

Despite the changes and the bright start, England fell into the same patterns of lack of creativity and lack of interest at times. So much so that Hungary took an undeserved lead on 62 minutes when substitute Michael Dawson got it all wrong and allowed Fulham’s Zoltan Gera to spring an attack which ended in a Phil Jagielka own goal. England’s misfortune was almost laughable in its cruelty as video replays showed that the ball did not cross the line when Dawson hooked it away just in time, but again much to Capello’s chagrin, the referees got it wrong.

Seven minutes later Gerrard showed the world that he still has it in him to take over a game by himself. Pouncing on a loose ball 30 yards from goal, the Liverpool icon lashed home a breathtaking drive. But it was his celebration that was the bigger talking point. It was a palpable cathartic release of all the disgust and frustration from South Africa, and one could not help but feel happy for the England captain. He was their best performer at the World Cup, and deserved better from his teammates.

He was not finished with the equalizer however. His range of ability was put on display as he took a ball from Ashley Young in the box and Robinho’d himself beyond two defenders before toe-poking a precision shot into the goal to send Wembley into delirium.

It was just a friendly, but the fans’ reaction shows just how much England loves their national team and their national game. Most expected booing throughout the match, but it was not the case. The crowd reserved their boos for Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and John Terry, and then the whole team after they tapered off at the end of the first half and walked off at 0-0.

But at the end of the day, cheers outnumbered jeers. All England wants to do is win. They still don’t have the talent to win a major tournament, as a one-man Gerrard masterclass was the only way to get past a mediocre Hungary side, but perhaps this change of formation and an injection of youth will help their cause.

At the moment though, certain senior players such as Gerrard and Ashley Cole (who somehow just gets better with time) must remain integral to England’s set-up. The same cannot be said for John Terry, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and even, at times, Wayne Rooney. Another poor performance from this quartet.

Should they be axed? What are your thoughts on England at the moment and moving forward, and on the match today? Leave your comments below.

15 thoughts on “Gerrard the Great: England 2 – 1 Hungary”

  1. Please read this …

    Before you go declaring how this formation or that system will work take a step back. Realize they just beat a lowly Hungary side in a friendly … that it was an exhibition. All those that cry for Rooney/Gerrard act like Capello abandoned it after such success … last I remember in WC qualifying England were just as close to unstoppable as you can come without that front combination and it included a lot of Heskey and Crouch.

    1. “A lowly Hungary side” ……..I’d like you to take a glance at the most recent world cup qualifying tables and see that Hungary nearly qualified over Christiano’s Portugal and Ibrah’s Sweden. They lost 3 of their last 5 but could easily have been Europe’s Uruguay of the world cup. Give respect where respect is due.

      1. thats an excellent piece Matt, its a pity some of the press wouldnt read the bloody thing! eric they are a poor side. they finished 4th in qualifing behind portugal who really struggled and barely made it theirselves and then scored in one game in the world cup. they one 5 group games, 4 of which were malta and albania home and away. fair play they had a good result against denmark away. europes uruguay?? really?? so where are the players of forlan, lugano, aguero, perez and pereiras qualitiy in the hungary side. uruguay would have bet england out the gate last night. qualifiying from south america is a lot, lot harder then europe.

    2. I read the first paragraph of that article and stopped there. Do you really think that on half, 2 years ago is enough to see if this formation will work? Come on, that’s just silly.

      What is a fact is that a 4-4-2 DOES NOT work anymore, so it must be abandoned.

  2. Stevie G was England’s best player at the world cup and continues to be the linchpin of the team. I just hope he can translate this form to his Liverpool season. YNWA!

    1. That could be the difference between a 7th place L’pool and a 2nd place L’pool. I do hope Gerrard has an improved year this time around.

      1. There has never been any doubt, when Gerrard is clicking, England and Liverpool are completely different teams. Not always the most productive, and often a streaky player who goes out of form (unlike a Frank Lampard who is the poster-child for consistency), Gerrard is still arguably the best English player of his generation because of his raw talent in dribbling, passing, shooting, heading, and intelligence.

  3. You can’t read anything into this game, most players are preparing themselves for the season ahead and are holding themselves back to avoid injury.

    It was obvious in the way both teams played that they weren’t giving it even close to 100%.

  4. I had England winning 3-0. People will get brainwashed and fooled again for “Merry Old England” with October starting Euro Qualifying.

    Spare us. Hungary sucks. They have little that can scare a good national side. England was lucky thanks to great Gerrard skill. However, in the longer picture, a loss here the tabloids would have had a field day.

    Often in life, “tough love” is the only thing to recognize. If these guys were not going all out, why play? The focus should be EPL weekend. If you want a warmup do it couple weeks before Euro

  5. jesus the first paragraph nearly made me puke. this is the problem with england and its fans. it was a friendly against a very poor side and you start making him out to be some sort of hero?? the 1st paragraph should have read: well done to england and gerrard for giving the fans something to cheer again but this was poor display and the team still has along way to go.well done to gerrard for showing some fight and scoring 2 great goals but it begs the question where was this from the captain in south africa?

    1. While he didn’t dominate the tournament by any means, Gerrard was the best player for a terrible England side. And he was doing this operating from the left wing because of Capello’s asinine tactics.

      The reason the first paragraph may be over the top is because Gerrard is an exciting player when he is on his game, and very few players can take over a game like he can in the world, so he deserves credit for it.

  6. Positives to take from the match. Adam Johnson and Theo Wallcott looked good on the wings. Joe Hart looks good and should be given a run of games. The thing Capello must due is continue to give the a few of the kids he picked last night a chance to go on and be a real part of the future. James Milner maybe would be better placed to play in Lampard’s spot in the middle as I don’t see Lampard being part of the squad in Brazil in four years time at the age of 36.

  7. England are on a hiding to nothing at the moment, if they win and play quite well, it’s a case of ‘oh it’s Hungary, they’re crap, England should win, ‘f England lose or get a draw, it’s ‘England are shit, they can’t even beat Hungary.

    Why don’t people just accept, they played better than they did in the World Cup and the players coming in such as Zamora, Gibbs, Hart, A Young and A Johnson did well.
    72,000 fans there last night to watch England, no other country in the world could have got that for a friendly after the performance they had in the world cup.
    If we had a team that matched the fans, we would have won every world cup and euro for the last 100 years


    And Poker, US and Mexico had bigger crowds, post World Cup. I know they were against bigger opposition, but I still think that’s impressive for huge countries. England do have a very dedicated fan base, unfortunately for you, that means nothing when it comes to results.

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