VIDEO: Blake looks back
Thursday, 14 October, 2010
Head Coach believes heavy win wouldn’t have been undeserved for Lions.
By Nicholas Veevers
Click here to watch the full interview and highlights of the game.
With qualification for the next round of the European U19 Championship already confirmed following the opening two victories against Albania and Cyprus, England U19s Head Coach Noel Blake used the final game with hosts Belgium to shuffle his pack and try a new formation.
Lining up with three strikers in Connor Wickham, Benik Afobe and Michael Ngoo, Blake then saw the Young Lions create a plethora of chances over the 90 minutes of the game yet somehow end up on the losing side.
"We'd already qualified, so I wanted to use the game today to have a look at three strikers playing with Wickham, Ngoo and Afobe,” Blake explained to FATV after the game.
"All three of them have had a decent two first games when they've been on the park and made good contributions, so I wanted to take an opportunity to look at all three, for later down the line.
"We played some super football, probably the best we've played in the tournament but their 'keeper made some good saves and we weren't hitting the target as we had been doing previously so that was disappointing.
"We created numerous chances and I said to the lads that we maybe used all our chances up in the previous two games!
"We set out to play attractive football and I thought we were excellent in the first half, prior to the incident with our two lads.”
The incident to which Blake refers came in first half stoppage time when Ross Barkley and Andre Wisdom collided whilst going for the ball and both had to be immediately substituted.
Belgium quickly took advantage of a shaken team to edge ahead against the run of play through captain Paul Jose Mpoku in the sixth minute of injury time.
"The two lads Ross and Andre collided, and I think psychologically that affected the lads because I know that it affected me,” added Blake.
"I wouldn't say the game was irrelevant, but it took a second footing after that.
"That said, our lads showed tremendous character, because when you see two of your mates get injured, it's bound to affect your game.
"We lost the game 2-1, but I think if we'd have won that game 8-1 or 8-2, no-one could have complained.
"We've played some really good football, throughout the tournament, and kept the ball really well.”
England will now be in the draw for the Elite Qualifying Round, which takes place next Spring and sees the teams put into groups of four again, with only the top team in each progressing to the Finals in Romania next July.