…completely different. But hopefully not as farcical as Monty Python itself – the England football team!
Okay, so based on this summer’s European Championships, perhaps exactly as farcical as Britain’s greatest comic export. But it’s a new era; a post-Hope Powell era. Time for a fresh start.
England 6 – 0 Belarus
England kicked off their Canada 2015 qualification campaign in dominant style under the watchful gaze of Interim Head Coach Brent Hills with a six goal hammering of European minnows Belarus. Despite the canyon-wide gap in quality between the two teams, this was a victory England will treasure. Coming just 65 days after the 3-0 defeat to France which marked the end of Hope Powell’s reign as Head Coach, this appeared a wholly different England team.
Penetrative, clinical, creative and offering a platform to some of the talent frozen out in Powell’s final games (notably England’s fifth goalscorer Natasha Dowie, Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs and Everton’s Toni Duggan), England dominated from the kick off, racing into a 1-0 lead through Birmingham’s Karen Carney with just 3 minutes on the clock, the winger dispatching a delicate finish off the far post having run through a static Belarus defence. Things got even better for the home team when Ellen White doubled the advantage after a well-worked 1-2 with Jordan Nobbs, before Carney claimed her second and third goals before half time to give England a 4 goal cushion at the half time mark.
With the points all but secured, England eased up somewhat in the second half, but still had time to put a deserved shine on the victory with Natasha Dowie’s debut international goal coming on her first appearance in England colours since September 2011, the Liverpool forward turning provider two minutes later by setting up Eni Aluko for a tap in to round off the victory after 62 minutes.
While this was a victory which bore some of the hallmarks of a Powell victory – Hills, after all, was her assistant – this marked a statement of intent from both coach and team: a new start coloured with verve, dynamism, pace and no little attacking intent. A near-perfect response.
Next up, on Thursday, comes a second home tie against Turkey and an opportunity for Hills to firmly underline his case for the permanent Head Coach role.
And then, three days later, the final day of the FA WSL season. It’s just a teensy bit exciting, this.
Image from thefa.com – Thanks!