You gave 'em a chance Harry and they didn't let you down. Gawd bless you sir.
That's the main positive I take from the Wembley Cup, played at Wembley by the way, between four teams chosen at random by the Premium Bond computer.
Bostock, Livermore, Rose and Naughton are ready in my view to be introduced to the first team squad. Against Barcelona, where Livermore scored a brave headed equaliser, and Celtic they made the difference in both second halves with their skill and enthusiasm. This could be a brilliant boost for the club when injuries are giving us some problems especially to Woodgate, King and Dawson. Dervite needs to be paired with an experienced centre half which helped bring out the best of Dawson when he first started.
Pre -season is going really well now .We've hardly won a game for ages which augers well for the start of the season. I was surprised to learn that we hadn't lost a friendly for four years. In fact since Celtic beat us 2-0. Statistics are uncanny sometimes. Perhaps this season we will achieve something in the EPL instead of in pre-season.
Barcelona gave us a demonstration of how to keep the ball, a modern take on the old coaching manual's instructions:
(1)If you haven't got it, get it.
(2)When you get it, keep it.
(3)While you've got it, use it.
However we didn't buckle and kept our shape. In the second half we came back strongly and in the last 15mins, when we had five youngsters on, we not only equalised but looked the more likely to score again. Celtic, who have a Champions' League game coming up, seemed fitter and more determined than us; they were quicker to the ball and with the ball.
But that is what pre-season is for, to step up fitness, to appraise the squad, to see how it performs under pressure, and try out tactics and pairings. Its more for the coaches than the fans. Even Modric played poorly today which must tell us something about something. Bent had possibly his last chance, or in fact his last three chances, to save his Tottenham career but declined the opportunities.
We look as if we are to replace Bent with Crouch and there is about as much difference in their footballing abilities overall as in their names. Harry said he didn't learn much from the game against Celtic, which is cagey manager speak for 'I learnt plenty but I'm not telling you'. I hope.
Our youth teams throughout the club have had a brilliant season and we could be about to reap the rewards. With the addition of Naughton who looks a real prospect we have four or five players who are hovering on the edge of the squad and have this pre-season to show how ready, or not, they are. Bale and Giovani must also come into the reckoning if they are still with us. Search teams report 'no sightings'.
I would rather go this route than bring in a couple of grizzled old pro's to give us more backbone. Give the youngsters their heads and lets enjoy finishing 10th. If we are going to finish mid-table, which we well might, I would be happier to do it with the judicious mixture of age and youth which we already have on the books. Then we can really look forward with some optimism.
I am reserving judgement on our prospects for the season until we get the dreaded pre-season 'vox pop' summons from Mr. Duggan. The arrival of our youngsters gives me a reason for optimism, I always find something, even if some of the individual and team performances do not.