What The Papers Say - 19 March
Phil Neville, Leon Osman and Leighton Baines all feature.
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The FA are considering handing Phil Neville a coaching role with England Under 21s at the European Championship this summer.
Everton’s captain has been involved with the Under 21s before — he was on the coaching staff for a qualifier against Belgium in February 2012 — and he could be given another opportunity alongside Stuart Pearce in Israel.
The FA want to give budding young coaches experience and said in a statement last week that they were seeking ‘to supplement the development teams’ staff by introducing former players, who are setting out on their own coaching careers, into roles with teams.’
Neville, capped 59 times by England and whose brother Gary is Roy Hodgson’s right-hand man, is one of a number of names in the frame.
If an approach was forthcoming, it is likely the 36-year-old would be eager to pursue the challenge as he told Sportsmail during an interview last May how much he enjoyed his role against Belgium.
‘It made me realise what a special thing being involved for your country was,’ he said.
The Under 21s play their final two warm-up fixtures this week — against Romania at Wycombe on Thursday and against Austria at Brighton on Monday — before Euro 2013 begins on June 5 with a clash against Italy in Tel Aviv.
West Ham, West Bromwich Albion and Everton are monitoring Manchester City midfielder Abdisalam Ibrahim, 21, on loan in Norway at Stromsgodset.
IF THE impression Roy Hodgson exudes is of someone forever on the verge of cracking into a smile, then there comes a confession from the dressing room that portrays the England manager in a different light. Mr Nice Guy has bared his teeth.
“He has a relaxed demeanour about him the majority of the time,” said left-back Leighton Baines. “But he has got it in him to rattle a few cages if needs be.
“And he has done that before now. He doesn’t mince his words. He is very straight and direct, and you know where you are with him.
“If there is something you are not doing, or something he is not happy with, then he generally just tells you straight.”
Hodgson will hope both the both the carrot approach and the stick one can extract the results he requires as he enters what feels a defining period in his tenure.
“As a player you prefer that,” said Everton’s Baines. “You’d like to think you are honest enough to know when you are not doing something right and you are not going to argue. It is good he picks the right moments, chooses the right moment when he feels someone needs something like that.
“But generally he is very calm and relaxed and after a game like Brazil last month he doesn’t get too carried away. He gives us the praise we deserved for winning, but not more because it was a friendly.”
Hodgson became only the third England manager, following Walter Winterbottom and Bobby Robson, to beat Brazil when Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard sealed a 2-1 success at Wembley. That the post-match celebrations were kept in context serves as a pertinent reminder that the hard work en route to Rio in 2014 comes over the next week when England face minnows San Marino and then Group H leaders Montenegro.
Victory agaainst Brazil will bolster confidence, but Baines accepts belief will be bruised if England endure any unexpected setbacks.
“You have to bear in mind it was only a friendly, but at the same time you have to take some confidence from it,” said Baines speaking during a visit to England sponsors Vauxhall’s car plant in Ellesmere Port.
“It makes things easier that we won it, but the important thing is the qualifiers and we have to follow with some more wins now.” San Marino, bottom of the world rankings alongside Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands, are next on Friday.
Baines played in the 5-0 win over the two-bit opponents in October and recognises the expectation of fans will be for England to trample them. “The perception is probably right,” he said. “We should be beating San Marino, but we still have to get the job done.
“It’ll probably be a little bit tougher because we had the luxury of playing in a big open space at Wembley. The early goal is key. It settles everything down really and then you are not trying to force things to happen.”
That game was one of five starts Baines has made since Euro 2012, while he replaced centurion Ashley Cole at half-time against Brazil to highlight how he is breathing down the neck of the Chelsea full-back.
The only game he has not played in since last summer was the draw in Poland. “I am in a better place than 12 months ago,” said Baines, “I feel that way anyway in terms of chances.”
LEIGHTON BAINES has paid tribute to Jan Mucha after the Everton FC stand-in goalkeeper produced his best display for the club in the win over Manchester City.
Mucha, deputising for the injured Tim Howard, was in fine form to repel the Premier League champions on Saturday, making two critical saves in the Blues’ 2-0 victory at Goodison Park.
Despite being at the club for three seasons, the Slovakian was making just his second league start. Baines believes the 30-year-old deserves credit for his performance.
“It’s never easy coming in when you have been out for such a long time,” he said. “I’m sure it has been difficult for Jan, but he hasn’t shown that.
“He’s done really well for us and he kept us in the game. At 1-0 he made some great saves and on another day they could have equalised.
“He did well coming out, punching balls clear and taking a bit of the pressure off us.
“It was great to get the clean sheet as well. We haven’t had as many as we would have liked, so I’m sure Jan will be delighted.”
Baines is currently away with Roy Hodgson’s England squad, ahead of the World Cup qualifying double-header with San Marino and Montenegro. He has been joined by Goodison team-mate Leon Osman, whose stunning 25-yard strike set up the Blues’ victory over Manchester City.
“It was a mis-hit!” said Baines.“No, it was brilliant.
“For all our pressure we needed a goal. If it hadn’t come then they would have started to creep back into the game, but we dominated the first 45 minutes.
“The goal was much needed and it was a great strike by Ossie.”
On a personal level, Baines hopes his Everton form will give Hodgson a selection headache.
Since last summer’s European Championships, Baines has featured in all but one of England’s seven internationals. With Ashley Cole troubled by an ankle injury, he has started three of the four World Cup qualifiers played so far, scoring his first goal for his country in the win over Moldova last September.
“Hopefully it’s a headache for the manager,” added Baines. “It’s good to have healthy competition for any place.
“I want to make it tough for him, but really whatever is best for the squad and for the team is all that matters.”
LEON OSMAN hopes to make his competitive England debut this week and has admitted his pride at retaining his place in Roy Hodgson’s squad.
The Everton midfielder forced his way into Hodgson’s plans after a string of consistent performances earlier this season, and made his debut in the friendly defeat to Sweden back in November.
He was called up for the international against Brazil in February, but did not feature. He has, however, retained his place in Hodgson’s squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino on Friday and Montenegro next Tuesday. And the 31-year-old says he is ready to take any chance that comes his way.
Osman said: “I just need to keep my head down, keep working hard and if another chance comes, I have got to take it. To still be in the squad means the world to me.”
Osman joined up with England’s squad on the back of an impressive performance against Manchester City at the weekend. His stunning 25-yard strike, as stand-in skipper, set Everton on their way to a valuable 2-0 win over the Premier League champions, seven days after their FA Cup dreams had been dashed so emphatically with defeat to Wigan Athletic.
“It was terribly disappointing last week,” he added. “For ourselves, for the fans, and we had it tough for a few days.
“But the only way we could put it behind us was by coming out on the pitchand getting a good result and putting on the performance we did. I think (the hurt) was plain for everyone to see. We didn’t turn up last week and we weren’t at the races. But we showed when we are at the races, like today, we’re a match for any team.
“It’s what we’ve got to concentrate on now, the league and getting as high as we can. I think we showed today it’s important to us and we want to win all our remaining games.”
On his goal, he added: “Joe (Hart) is a fantastic keeper and to beat him from that range, I can’t ask for more. I’m delighted.
“Maybe it bobbled a little bit as I hit it but it went in the back of the net and it gave us the goal we needed to go on and win.”