Just when you wonder whether it’s worth watching England any more, this happens.
First things first – our hearty congratulations to Jimmy, who sounded absolutely delighted on the radio this morning. It’s almost two years since that horrible knee injury against Newcastle that threatened his career and it’s fair to say that I wasn’t sure he’d be half the player we’d seen glimpses of in his five games prior to that tackle by Scott Parker. How glad I am to have been so pleasantly surprised on his return.
Perhaps Fabio Capello (or one of his staff) saw just what he could do against Arsenal. He might have made some frustrating errors in passing, but his work rate, energy and enthusiasm shone through for everyone to see. And that’s just what’s been missing from a stale England side for far too long. Perhaps Bully’s legendary sense of humour – he certainly doesn’t take himself too seriously – can instill a bit of a fun back into the England squad and provide the passion that’s been so sadly lacking of late.
The question is will he start? I remember toasting Sean Davis after he was called up by Sven-Goran Eriksson and then watching as every one of England’s substitutes were used in that mauling by Australia but Davis. Perhaps it was a good thing he didn’t get on. Our other recent England call-up – also no longer with us now – was Zat Knight, who played twice on a post-season tour of America when some of the more established names had dropped out.
I’d imagine Jimmy has a decent chance against Andorra because the pressure of the ‘bigger’ game against the Croats simply isn’t there. You never know – if he plays and does well, he made be on the pitch in Zagreb as well. I’m not often in the habit of saying nice things about the Evening (sub-)Standard, but there’s a piece by Matthew Norman in there today calling Bullard the ‘anti-Lampard’ which I thought was quite nice.