BLOG: England insider Glenn Lavery on World Cup progress.
England are through to the quarter finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 and everyone in the camp is delighted.Hope
and the players knew they could play better than they did against both Mexico
and New Zealand
and they certainly proved that against Japan on Tuesday. Japan are a very talented side and are ranked fourth in the world for a reason. They have an easy-on-the-eye, short passing game and Hope believes they are arguably the best technical side in the world, while New Zealand coach John Herdman referred to them as ‘the Barcelona of women’s football’. So, to deservedly inflict a 2-0 defeat on them
them is no mean feat, and after a slow-ish start to the tournament England are finally beginning to find their rhythm.Ellen White
scored her first World Cup goal and it was certainly one to remember, as she lobbed Japanese ‘keeper Ayumi Kaihori from just outside the area after being played in by Karen Carney
’s wonderfully weighted through ball. Had Ellen’s semi-overhead kick gone in shortly before the break I think it would have been the greatest World Cup double I’d have seen. Indeed, so good was her goal and 38th-minute attempt that Ellen was trending on Twitter during the first half, just as Jess Clarke
had been after she scored the winner against New Zealand on Friday.Rachel Yankey
came off the bench in the second half and made an impact – just as all of Hope’s substitutes have done so far in this tournament – by scoring the second from an acute angle. The whole team obviously deserve credit for the victory, although Sophie Bradley
and Player of the Match Jill Scott
have been receiving most of the plaudits over here in Germany. Jill bossed the midfield while Sophie put in an exceptional performance for such a young player – and for one who was coming in for the rested England captain, Faye White
. Off the pitch, meanwhile, Jill has kept true to her word and has been keeping us all amused with her World Cup diary
England are playing well and Hope now has every manager’s favourite selection dilemma ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final, as the four players she brought in against Japan all performed admirably. Choosing her eleven won’t be easy, but, then I guess that’s exactly what Hope would want.
Before and after every game it is now commonplace for players and managers, at every level, to receive good luck messages, congratulatory messages or messages of commiseration from friends, family and associates.
This England Women’s team is no different, as the players’ family, friends and club team-mates have been texting, Tweeting, phoning or ‘Skyping’ with their messages of support throughout this World Cup, with Chris Evans and Rio Ferdinand (Come on the ladies England team.... #stayonyourfeet girls + progress nicely!
) being two of the team’s more high-profile supporters to date. County FAs and grassroots clubs from across England have also sent their own good luck messages on a large collection of flags and I know each and every message is truly appreciated by every member of the squad.
Hope, too, has had her fair share of messages, and one person’s texts in particular have proved a great source of inspiration and have actually made it onto Hope’s ‘Quote of the Day’ wall in the meal room.
Howard Wilkinson, the former England Caretaker Manager and Under-21 Head Coach, has been friends with Hope ever since he employed her as National Coach, and from this trip alone it is clear to see that Hope holds him in very high regard. He contacts her after nearly every England game and he did so after all three Group B encounters. Below are his messages after the Mexico and New Zealand games (Hope has yet to fully divulge what he said after the Japan game):Mexico
:“You didn’t lose your first game, got your first point and your first goal in the tournament. So now you need your first clean sheet and first win. Talent always rebounds.”New Zealand
: "Talent rebounded and the Kiwis couldn’t predict the second goal... two games undefeated. Next targets = first clean sheet and consecutive wins. Always good to finish a game a better team than when you started.”
After a long Wednesday of travelling, we are now in Dusseldorf ahead of the quarter final against France. In between packing up all our stuff at the Dorint Hotel in Augsburg, most of the staff and players managed to catch a few minutes here and there of France’s 4-2 defeat to Germany, but that result hasn’t altered anyone’s perceptions of what a tough side the French are. England are hoping they now have the momentum to help see them through to the semi-finals for the first ever time.
(Unfortunately, for those of you wanting an update on the table tennis tournament, we didn’t have a players’ room in the last hotel, so it has been on hold. Sophie has been charged with organising it, so I’ll have a word...)
Remember, you can follow my World Cup updates on Twitter via @laveryglenn
, but until next time...