Continuity of success sought
by Glenn Lavery
Sunday, 17 October, 2010
John Peacock hoping his players can cope with pressure of UEFA qualifiers.
John Peacock has taken his England U17 team to Georgia for the First Qualifying Round of next summer’s Euros and the Head Coach has urged his players to convert their form in friendlies onto the competitive European stage.
Peacock led England to glory in this competition last season and is still able to call upon Nathaniel Chalobah from that successful squad. The centre-back started four out of the five games in the Finals in May and then captained this year’s squad to The FA International U17 Tournament title in August, less than a month after they triumphed in the Nordic Tournament in Finland.
Ahead of the first qualifier, against Sweden on Monday, Peacock says he is hoping his players can extend that winning run when it matters most.
“I’ll be looking for a reinforcement of the things that I saw in August,” he said. “I was delighted with the progress the players made in that short space of time that we were together, so, hopefully we can continue that.
“Obviously we managed to win that tournament, but that was a friendly tournament, this is now the real thing and that’s the next test – to deal with that bit of added pressure in order to qualify for the Elite Round in March.”
As well as Sweden, standing in the way of England and a place in that Elite Round is Poland and group hosts Georgia. Despite England’s recent European pedigree and their tournament win in August, Peacock is under no illusions as to how difficult it will be to progress to the next stage of qualifying.
“It’s not an easy group,” he concurred. “Generally, you find one or two nations in the opening qualifiers who you’d think won’t cause you too much of a problem but you can’t say that in this group; we’ve got some tough games ahead of us.
“First up we’ve got Sweden, who we played in the Nordics recently and I saw them play in Serbia a few weeks ago as well. Because we play Sweden first it’s important we know about them in particular and hopefully we can get off to a good start.
“We have got a lot of information on all three sides which we have been analysing in the lead up to the games, but, like I say, in every tournament the first game is very important so we all have to make sure we are switched on for that. Everything is focused on Sweden.”
In addition to the 80 minutes on the pitch and the need for rest and recovery, another key aspect of this trip that will enhance this squad’s football education is the experience of living for a week in a different country and experiencing a different culture.
“That’s a different challenge.” said Peacock. “Somewhere like Georgia which will probably be new to the players in terms of distance they would have travelled – apart from maybe Nathaniel, who would probably be the only one who has travelled any great distance to play international football.
“It’s a different environment, a different culture and that will mean more pressure, as well as the pressure of having to finish first or second to go through.
“They will be away from home for about ten days in a different environment and their ability to gel together off the pitch as well as on it is going to be crucial. Managing the downtime and managing themselves while we are away is going to be a crucial factor moving forward.”