VIDEO: Blake impressed by Lions' attitude
Wednesday, 09 February, 2011
Head Coach praise for U19 debutants - and Connor Wickham.
By Glenn Lavery
Click here to watch the FATV interview with Noel
Despite watching his side slip to a 1-0 defeat on Tuesday night, England U19 Head Coach Noel Blake was pleased with the Three Lions’ performance against a strong German outfit.
Nine of the Germany squad helped guide their country to European U17 glory in 2009, while the majority of Blake’s squad were a year younger than their opponents, in some cases two years younger.
A Denis Thomalla goal in the 42nd minute gave the Germans the victory, but Blake was happy with his charges.
“I thought we played quite well, overall,” he told FATV after the game. “I was really pleased with the group.
“This was predominantly a ’93 year group, we were playing against one of the best nations at this level and we didn’t look out of place. I thought we played some really good football at times.
“All the things we spoke about prior to the game, having good defensive discipline and shape and not being punished on the counter-attack - things that we’ve been accused of lacking, at all levels – I thought we showed that we’re capable of doing that. I thought we also passed the ball quite well overall.
“There were some really good positive things [and] individual performances. For a squad with four or five new boys in, who have never been in the [England set-up] before, I thought they acquitted themselves very, very well. There aren’t many who have played at U19 [level]... and I thought they did really well.”
Blake also reserved special praise for one player who has had previous experience at U19 – and Under-21 – level, Ipswich Town forward Connor Wickham, who scored a wonderful solo goal for the Tractor Boys against Sheffield United at the weekend.
“We go around watching the clubs week in, week out and you can see a vast improvement in players’ playing the right way,” he said. “The attitude of the players is so much better, to the point where I felt it necessary to give Connor Wickham a pat on the back.
“With all the publicity he’s had recently, playing in the first-team at 17 years of age, there’s no ego to the boy. He’s a role model at this younger age group, along with others as well, and I thought it was right that some of the new boys in the system realised the standard of personnel [we are looking for] as a footballer [and] as a person.
“Some players in this country are getting a bad press, and rightly so, but he’s demonstrated that when things have to be said the other way round, he gets that praise and we’ve used him as a role model this week.”