Noel ready for action
Nicholas Veevers in Caen
Saturday, 17 July, 2010
Now all the talking is over, Noel Blake can't wait for Sunday's game.
UEFA European U19 Championships
Live on Eurosport
With Sunday’s European U19 Championship opener with Austria just a matter of hours away, England’s Head Coach Noel Blake sat down with his fellow bosses from Group A for the official UEFA press conference on Saturday afternoon.
Taking place at the splendid Abbaye aux Dames in Caen, Blake was joined at the top table by tomorrow’s opposite number Andreas Heraf, French coach Francis Smerecki and Netherlands chief Wim Van Zwam ahead of the games on Sunday.
It’s been a gradual build-up for all four sides since qualification was secured from the Elite Rounds in May and Blake revealed to the largely French audience that he hopes they will be impressed by his players in terms of technique, awareness and physique.
“A lot of people have formed the opinion now that young English players are not technically good enough,” he said.
“From our point of view, we’re here to show people that we can play technical football. It’s already been said that we’re a physical outfit and one thing or another but I remember when France won the World Cup with the likes of Vieira, Petit and Henry who were all six foot plus but technically very good.
“We don’t want to penalise players because of their physicality, because they’re all technically very good and we’re here to develop future international players.
“A tournament like this leads you to meet new people and get new challenges, so we’re just looking forward to proving to people that there are some good things going on at youth development stages in England.”
Blake’s squad have been together since Monday as they prepare for their initial group games, starting at the University of Warwick and then arriving in Normandy on Thursday evening and everyone involved is just eager to get the talking over with and the football played.
England found themselves at this stage of the competition last year and went on to reach the Final in Ukraine on that occasion and they were again in the last eight of 2008’s competition in Czech Republic, so Blake knows what is required given that he was Brian Eastick’s assistant in both of those tournaments before taking on the role of Head Coach last summer.
“The mood in the camp is good and the lads are enjoying being here so we’re hoping to have a good tournament,” he added.
“Every game is important, but you can’t look too far ahead. We need to play the first game and see where that leaves us and then take it from there.
“The most important thing for me is to get the performances right, because the results tend to follow if you have the performances.”
Austria are first up for England in Flers on Sunday evening and whilst they are the team that Blake knew least about in comparison to the French and Dutch when the draw was made, he has since seen them in action and has a fair idea of what to expect.
“We’ve had them watched and have the DVDs and we’re very impressed by them,” he revealed.
“They have some lively characters in the team and it will be very difficult but we’re looking forward to it, no question about that.
“We know they’ll be dangerous in all areas but we feel we’ve got the players to cope with them.”