A good result for England despite the result. 3

Despite a heavy 4-2 loss against Ibrahimovic and co, Roy Hodgson seemed peculiarly perky for someone who ended their 2012 in defeat. On the contrary he goes so far as to predict a successful 2013 for the England team. This was Hodgsons first loss in 90 minutes since his appointment, but he took plenty of encouragement from a friendly game that at one point saw the England youngsters cruising 2-1.

A cheerful Roy Hodgson despite the loss

A cheerful Roy Hodgson despite the loss

He commented: “I’ve got to say it was a very good performance for long periods. It’s disappointing to lose, especially after 2012 when we haven’t really lost that many, but if we’re going to lose a game it’s probably better to do that with the team we had. So many players were getting experience, feeling their way into the national team. Me and my coaching staff learned an awful lot today about a lot of players, and a lot of the things we learned were very positive.

He also said, “I thought the centre-backs – Steven Caulker and Gary Cahill – did very will for us. Glen Johnson and Leighton Baines were their usual very good selves, and I thought Leon Osman actually was surprisingly good.

England were the away team and gave 3 debuts from the start and then 3 more with around 25 minutes to go. It wasn’t until the second set of subs were made, then England lost their fluidity and sense of purpose. On top of that England were unfortunate enough to run into an inspired Zlatan Ibrahimovic, scoring four goals, including an extravagant overhead kick, labelled by the England Captain as the best goal he had ever seen, and the performance labelled “a master work” by the England manager.

So many will see Ibrahimavic’s master class performance, the 4-2 result, but will miss what this was all about in the first place. This was a friendly and Hodgson boldly went where not many England managers have gone, he brought in a wealth of youth. The sides average age of 24 years was almost an all time low, on top of that they handed out 6 debuts, strong performances from the Manchester United trio, Welbeck, Cleverly and Young. Also a very good couple of debuts in Stirling, Osman and Caulker. Glen Johnson emerging for me as one of the best right-sided full backs around, Leighton Baines giving Cole a run for his money. And at times the young pretenders looked anything but, taking large chunks of the game in possession and purpose with two very well crafted goals. You can see why Hodgson isn’t to disappointed. The questionable performances were surprisingly from Joe Hart, who is typically very dependable in between the posts and the re-introduction of Tottenham midfielder Huddleston, who for me is poor, was poor and has no business playing at that level.

Hodgson continued “With players at home-coming back into reckoning we’re looking forward to a bright 2013. This was the Sweden team that drew 4-4 with Germany recently and I thought for long periods we didn’t just match them, we had the better of the game.”

I would have to agree with him, bring on 2013.