Blake looking for performance
Nicholas Veevers in Caen
Tuesday, 27 July, 2010
Head Coach eyes a place in the Final, but wants his side to perform.
UEFA European U19 Championship Finals
England U19s Head Coach Noel Blake is quietly going about trying to plot his side’s route to the Final of the European Championships, but admits the Young Lions will face their stiffest test yet when they take on Spain in Tuesday afternoon’s semi-final.
Blake’s team have got increasingly better in their performances as the competition has gone along whilst tournament favourites Spain cruised through Group B with three wins from three but now it’s the knock-out stages and anything can happen.
After a good display against another of the competition's hot-shots in hosts France at the weekend, Blake feels his team are going into the match in the right frame of mind.
“We look forward to it with confidence, it’s a big game for the chaps but we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
“Spain are a very good side, make no bones about that. One of their boys has just been sold by Santander to Real Madrid for a lot of money. We know it’s a difficult task but it’s one we look forward to as staff and a group of players.”
Blake has also been hit with the news that midfielder Dean Parrett will have to sit the game out through suspension after collecting two bookings in the group games, whilst there are also injury doubts over Nathan Baker, Reece Brown and Jacob Mellis.
He has confidence in the players at his disposal though and the main thing for him is another step-up in performance level from the impressive form shown against France on Saturday.
“I think the biggest thing for me personally is if we under-perform,” he explained. “I just want us to go out and perform and from there, you will see what happens.
“Sometimes you can perform well, as we did in the second half against Holland, and not get your just-rewards but without performances it’s very rare that you get anything at international level whether that’s at youth level or senior level.
“I’ve watched enough football to understand that if you don’t perform then you stand little chance of getting something.
“As I said before the start of the tournament, performance is critical and when we perform to the level that we expect, we have been okay.
“The level of performance has got better as we’ve gone on and that’s tournament football. You can’t peak too early and we’ve got gradually better and stronger in all facets of the game and that’s really pleased me.”
Blake was the assistant coach during the same competition last year when England beat France in the semi-final in Ukraine, as were a number of the players in this squad, so he feels it shouldn’t really be seen as a surprise that the Young Lions find themselves at this stage for the second season running.
“We have experienced being in a Final last year and some of the lads here were involved in that,” he added.
“We didn’t come here to make the numbers up, we came with some objectives and we’ve achieved one of those (qualifying for the U20 World Cup) so we’ve got one more remaining and nothing has changed in that sense.
“We are consistently now a top four European nation in youth development football and in recent years we’ve been consistently getting to Finals and getting in the top four. So that is an achievement in itself.
“When this campaign began, there were 52 nations involved and we’re in the last four, so that’s something to be celebrating.”