England friendly against Ghana last night was derided in all quarters as a pointless exercise. But, sometimes, things don’t have to have a point, they can just be fun.

Much like playingGuitar Hero or watching a Jean Claude van Dammemovie, the ding dong of a 1-1 draw at Wembley was just that: fun. That is an adjective which has been applicable all too rarely in recent times where England are concerned.

For all the (justifiable) pre-match complaints about fans being short-changed by the slew of stars allowed to leave the squad early by Fabio Capello, no one can have left the national stadium last night and say they did not get their money’s worth.

Ghana must take a big slice of the credit for that. The Black Stars were England’s party liaison, bringing the best out of their hosts both on and off the pitch.

Even with the party-pooping pre-match announcement that “musical instruments, including vuvuzelas, will not be permitted” inside the ground, the 21,000 visiting fans made a right din as their team played with the kind of joie de vivre so rarely seen in an international friendly beneath the arch.

It was no different in the press box as plenty of Ghanaian journalists sported their nation’s shirts and scarves, and they even managed to raise the odd smile from the jaded British hacks as they struggled to contain their emotions.

Goran Stevanovic’s side played with exuberance and it was matched by England’s fringe men. With the home team full of players determined to prove a point and a visiting side displaying a genuine will to win, the occasion got off to a high-octane start and got more fraught from then on.

Even Capello was willing to overlook his team allowing the game to be so open. The conservative Italian even seemed to enjoy himself.

“It was not a friendly game; there were two teams on the pitch playing well, strongly, with lots of tackles,” he said. “Every tackle was a fight. The players played without fear and with confidence. Ghana are a really good team. It was an exciting game, a fast game, a really important game for the fans to know some players who never played.

“It was also interesting for me to know the value of these players to play here at Wembley.”

It was even enough to raise a lumbering, half-fit Andy Carroll into opening his England account at only the second time of asking.

It is a fair bet that Carroll’s club manager, Kenny Dalglish, has never been so happy to see an England goal before. The Scot will have surely been delighted to see his £35 million signing drill his clinical left-footed strike back across Richard Kingson to give England the lead just before half-time. The goal was a glimpse of what Carroll can achieve in and England shirt if he is kept on the straight and narrow and does not allow that huge price tag to weigh him down.

With eight games left of their season Liverpool still have an outside chance of aEuropean place, and Carroll will be a step closer to full match fitness when the Reds travel to West Brom on Saturday.

That’s right; the Premier League. You remember that, don’t you? Well, it resumesthis weekend, and Early Doors for one cannot wait to see Sunderland play Manchester city following Asamoah Gyan’s late equaliser.

Gyan made monkeys of City quartet Joleon Lescott, James Milner, Gareth Barry and Joe Hart – but mostly Lescott – as he squirmed his way through on the edge of the box and fired in a great finish to send the away fans as mad as a box of frogs.

His admission afterwards that “I was twisting and turning, but honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing, I was just trying to protect the ball” only enhances the pleasure derived from such a fitting end to a thoroughly enjoyable match.

In the cold light of day, England failed to win a home match against lower-ranked opposition after being ahead for so long, but there are plenty of positives to take home.

There was a second sparkling performance from Ashley Young in as many games, plus strong showings from Gary Cahill, Stewart Downing and, inevitably, Jack Wilshere, who Capello praised afterwards with the simple, knowing phrase: “He’s a player.”

But, perhaps more than any of that, it was just good to see enjoy watching England again after the stale, moribund showing in South Africa which was so at odds with Ghana’s own campaign.

England’s next match is not for three months, and it is a qualifier against Switzerland for which all the big boys – save for the suspended Wayne Rooney – will return. It will be nowhere near as enjoyable. So, until then, it’s best just to bask in the enjoyment of a game of football which was fun for fun’s sake.

Source: Eurosport


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