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Saturday, 3 June, 2000, 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK
Does the Malta match matter?
Malta v England
England gave a very unconvincing performance as they beat Malta - but does the display have implications for Euro 2000?

Kevin Keegan himself admitted that things were far from right on the pitch, but he feels the Malta match was a mere blip in England's preparations for the finals.

But with just a week to go, is it not significant that England have struggled to beat one of the weakest football nations in the world?

Can they expect to pick up their game - and confidence - in time to face Portugal on 12 June?

Does Richard Wright's topsy-turvy debut as an England goalkeeper give you cause for concern about his international credentials?

Or it is the case that this was an insignificant result and England will be much stronger and more reliable when it comes to the crunch.

Tell us - and the world - what you think.

Does the Malta match matter? HAVE YOUR SAY


Of course it matters. When any sportsman or woman pulls on an England jersey they should be completely motivated and playing their best no matter what the opposition. This is yet another display of a lack of passion of England players.
Steve Lowe, England



When any sportsman or woman pulls on an England jersey they should be completely motivated and playing their best no matter what the opposition. This is yet another display of a lack of passion of England players

Steve Lowe, England
Does it matter? Well, a good indication of how well our manager rates his squad is that just hours after the Malta game, Keegan announced that when England get dumped, he will be summerising on ITV. Mmm.
Jonothon Yuill, England

I don't think that people should overreact to the result on Saturday. Indeed it was dissapointing but it wasn't the 1st eleven, the team will come good against Portugal. Now is the time for the whole country to get behind KK and the team, the Press will knock them as soon as the slightest hiccup occurs!
Paul Cullington, Oldham, England

Some people say that the game against Malta was the last thing England needed but I wouldn┐t go that far. OK so we managed a marginal win over a group of part-timers but it will serve as a good reminder to Keegans troops, that performances like this will see England returning home, Scotland style. We know England can play better like they showed during the Brazil and Ukraine matches and if we are to take any positives away then it has to be the performance of Barmby on the left-hand side.
Dave Harwood, England



It will serve as a good reminder to Keegans troops, that performances like this will see England returning home

Dave Harwood, England
The malta match does matter because it help to identify England's strength for Euro 2000. Of course credits have to be given to the Maltese team for their performance, but it was obvious that England was not playing at their fullest potential. It is best to know your weakness now and turn it into strength then to suffer the consequences later, especially at a big stage like Euro 2000.
Zainie Suhaili, Brunei Darussalam

I think just looking at the Malta game is irrelevant - England were sliced apart by both Brazil and the Ukraine - teams who were both in second gear - the defense is nothing short of shocking and I can't see top quality strikers in top gear missing the chances both the afore mentioned teams created.. Also please remember both the games above were played on home soil!!
Helga, Sweden

Here we are going through the time honoured rigmarole. England is taking part in yet another international tournament and it's all being hyped up again. "England's best chance since..." we've heard it all before. The fact remains that England's performances at international level just do not live up to the expectation of the adoring public. England manage a floundering draw in a friendly against a brazil team that are so laid back that they would have fallen over if they were any more so. This is then, of course, immediately held up as testament of England's greatness... yawn yawn.
Peter Odinga,

Look at france 2-2 against japan..... look at yugoslavia 4-2 defeat against Southern China.. These matches have no importance. Just be glad no England player got injured. Look at that poor Italy keeper Buffon, because of a dumb useless friendly he misses the tournament.
James Pugh, Holland(50%scouser)

Look at France 2-2 against Japan. Look at Yugoslavia 4-2 defeat against Southern China. These matches have no importance

James Pugh, Holland(50%scouser)

England should really have taken Malta apart on Saturday, but as their skill showed, doing something like that is completely beyond them. Same old performance that we have come to expect. Lack of imagination. I couldn't believe that I saw Beckham take the ball backwards to a safe place so he could cross it into another crowded Malta box. Those Malta defenders must have thought, 'Fantastic, another boring England attack, I think we'll just head this away again', and that is all they had to do. Any football team with an ounce of intelligence and skill would have made very short work of Malta, but England couldn't. A rematch, and Malta would have probably won it!
John Haime, England

I don`t believe the Malta game was significant. Most of our players are used to top flight football, European Cup finals and the like. It`s hard to get motivated for a a game against a team such as Malta. Keegan was trying a few different tactics out and I feel, a friendly should be treated as a testing ground for new players and not as a competitive international. I still believe England have the players to beat anyone in the world and look forward to Euro 2000 with great optimism..
Karl Karlsson, England

I think a hard match against Malta was what England needed. If they had won easily, some of the players could have gone into the tournament over-confident, and it shows them that they have to respect for their opposition. Also the players may have been careful to avoid injury.
Kieran Unsworth, England

Malta 1 England 2. So what? The result is irrelevant. There's always a "silly season" prior to major tournaments where the big guns of world soccer trot out mediocre scorelines against so called no-hopers. In 1996, England beat a Hong Kong XI 1-0 only days before trampling the tulips of Holland 4-1.
Kevin Maidment, England



The result is irrelevant. There's always a "silly season" prior to major tournaments where the big guns of world soccer trot out mediocre scorelines against so called no-hopers.

Kevin Maidment, England

Nope, the Malta match doesn't matter. England played badly because of the heat, the lack of noise from the crowd and due to lack of motivation. England will struggle to get out of the group stages in Euro 2000, but if they make it through to the quarter finals, they will go all the way!
UK

All friendly matches matter and are important, no excuses. You perform what you practice. One cannot compare the strength of the English team with that of small Malta. On the other hand, credit should go to the Maltese team for their enormous progress they achieved during the last few years. Kevin Keegan will eventually face similar situations and he is lucky to have experienced this opportunity to improve on the strengths and weaknesses of his team before Euro 2000. As clearly witnessed during the match, the shakey defence needs urgent attention, whilst, the attack lacks motivated and creative players. Good Luck!
Reginald, Malta

Of course it matters! If a team doesn't have enough pride or passion to play for their country then this dilutes the jersey their wearing. This would be like asking Steve Waugh not to take a Test Match against Zimbabwe because of the opposition. Even so if an England team made up world class players cannot defeat a nation half the size of Brisbane or Sydney then what does it say for the depth that Kevin Keegan has?
John Azzopardi, Australia

I think every game is important, but the Euro 2000 games are the most important. It is important that England feel comfortable with their football and they looked like they were struggling at the Malta game. The finishing wasn't even up to Premiership standard, never mind international standard. If it wasn't for Barmby's fantastic play, I think England would have been embarrassed. Fortunately Barmby was alert and made fantastic attempts. I think he was very unlucky not to score but that's not the most important thing.
W. Miah, U.K.

I reckon it must be a cunning ploy by Keegan. Our expectations of success are now lowered. Having said that, I think the formation is most to blame. We never look effective defensively and offensively when playing 4-4-2. To compete on the international stage, for England it must be 3-5-2. Does anyone remember how good we were just two years ago under this system?
David, England



I reckon it must be a cunning ploy by Keegan. Our expectations of success are now lowered.

David, England

I don't think the Malta game mattered that much, but it was a chance to give other players a run out, like Richard Wright and Nick Barmby. The game shows Keegan he made the right choices.
Sean Carroll, England

I guess yes, the game matters since it helped Keegan to know where he stands. It also showed up the good work of Josef Ilic (the Maltese manager) and his mates who's performance is gradually increasing. I think Keegan needs a fantasy player (like Gascoigne used to be), who can create imaginative opportunities.
Joseph Farrugia, Malta



The game matters since it helped Keegan to know where he stands.

Joseph Farrugia, Malta

The Malta game mattered because it was an international football match. However in terms of build-up to the European championships, it was more of an opportunity to give the squad members a chance to play some competitive football. Therefore the implications for Euro 2000 do not lie in the result, which was admittedly poor, but in the team selection. England's form cannot be judged on one friendly against a team looking for a draw, but surely we would be better prepared by playing a consistent team in a run of matches so that the players can adapt to playing with each other and form important understandings before they are thrown into a major competition.
Marcus, UK

I'm not at all bothered by what happened against Malta, if we are going to have an off day, better now than when the proper games start. A lot of times when you play a team (in whatever sport) that is of a much lower class then your game can drop, we have a great chance in Euro 2000.
Rick Davey, England

I think the Malta match is just a warm-up game for England and an experience for the lads to co-ordinate their football talents. I wouldn't say that England didn't perform well in that match. England concentrated on their passing game and delivering the ball to the strikers. Of course who wouldn't want England to have an avalanche of goals against minnows like Malta... But I think it's more important to 'blood' players who have little international experience, e.g. Barmby, Hesky and Wright. I felt that Wright was not exposed to high standards of goalkeeping that Seamen and Martyn have been. Bear in mind that Wright's team had just been promoted to the Premier League and he had not played against any top football teams yet. Winning against Malta but not fantastically will also be a blessing in disguise to not get too complacent against teams like Portugal and Germany.
Dominic Chan, Singapore

I do believe that England will have a good performance in the coming Euro2000 games. Although a poor defeat over Malta is not so convincing, it is only a warm up game! The real challenge is yet to be on 12 June. Have a review of records in last time's World Cup, Euro Championship Cup, the teams finally gained amazing results were usually not those found their best status even before the tournament started.
FeiFei, China

I don't think the game matters. We did underestimate Malta, and it was mostly down to poor finishing from England. Richard Wright needs to learn when to come out, and not to make rash challenges. Also, like Man Utd in the World Club Championships, the climate really got to the players and stopped them from playing their game to a certain extent.
Alex, England



I don't think the game matters. We did underestimate Malta...

Alex, England

After Brazil and especially after the Malta match, I feel that the team does not work which is strange since England has so many brilliant players. Getting a goal from Malta means there is something wrong with the defence. Heat or the goalkeeper should have nothing to do it.
Peter B, Romania

Having watched all the three warm up matches played by England, there is no doubt in my mind that England are one of the top favourites for the tournament. However, Keegan needs to instil the right mental, and psychological toughness in all the players so that they can bring out the very best for the team, in every match.
Low Sy, Singapore

I think it does matter. Keegan told them to go out and win comfortably and try hard. He also sent out a team consisting of Seaman, Neville, Beckham and Shearer so if we just struggle past Malta what chance do we have of winning Euro 2000?
Wasim Younis, England

Yes, it matters, all England games matter, it's just a shame some of those players can't get motivated for these occasions. England have turned in a lacklustre performance that must have had hands in Germany, Portugal and Romania rubbing together in anticipation. Their inability to break down a team that defends in numbers and then get caught by that team on the break is a major concern. Given better finishing today, Malta would've won and made us look like mugs.
Trev, UK



If we just struggle past Malta what chance do we have of winning Euro 2000?

Wasim Younis, England

I thought that it was a very poor disjointed performance. I am still not convinced that Kevin Keegan has the experience or the ability to get the correct blend of players. He is in a position now where he has to play with what is available. He doesn't have the multi-million pound cheque books behind him to scour the world for the top talent
Stefan Hendriks, U.K

Am afraid it reminded me of the panic era under Graham Taylor. We won't stand a chance unless the 4-1 inspiration returns!
Guy Avance, Holland.

England should have been scoring for fun. I think they still have a great chance to win Euro 2000 but I hope the Malta game hasn't knocked their confidence.
Carolyne Gresty, England

I would plead with people not to overreact to this match. No matter how good or bad Malta are, when you put ten men behind the ball on a narrow pitch, even the best sides in the world will struggle to break them down. Any experienced player or manager will tell you this, so please don't go overboard with criticism just yet!
Adam Bastable, England



England turned in a lacklustre performance that must have had hands in Germany, Portugal and Romania rubbing together in anticipation

Trev, UK

Surely the reality is that this last friendly is an opportunity for squad players to try too hard to make the first eleven and players who are sure of their places to ease up a little to avoid injury. I still worry about Shearer's inability to get among the goals (when even Adams, Keown and Heskey have managed it!) but will repeat the mantra, 'form is temporary, class is permanent'.
John Blenkinsopp, England

Of course every game matters, but England will have to rise above this game. It was a friendly played in warm temperatures and England were experimenting with new players and trying different combinations. We have the potential of winning and I hope England can become the champions they really are.
Kim Schultz, Australia

The Malta match is an irrelevance. It would have been nice to slot six or seven past them but it didn't happen. It was a PR exercise for the 2006 campaign and a bit of a strenuous workout for the boys. When the time comes on June 14, England will be ready. We don't want to peak too soon.
Eddie Selvey, Nottingham, England



The Malta match is an irrelevance. It would have been nice to slot six or seven past them but it didn't happen

Eddie Selvey, Nottingham, England

If this game was arranged to give the team a confidence boost before Euro 2000 then it has failed miserably. Forget the heat, Malta is a tiny country, with a part-time team but a fanatical love for football. If a full-time England team can't do better than 2-1, then something is surely amiss.
Sharon Robinson, UK

We always do badly going into tournaments and you cannot blame the players for taking it easy, they didn't want to risk injury. Give the players a chance. Friendlies don't matter; you don't win tournaments by winning friendlies.
Steve Sommerville, England

England's strong points are their defence, use of set pieces and ability to strike quickly on the break. Their main weakness is their inability to keep the ball and build slow attacking moves (as shown in the Malta match). The Malta match was of no consequence in my opinion because Malta never attacked in great numbers (and so not leaving themselves exposed to a counter attack).
Steve Lewis, UK

I have great respect for the England team and Malta is, or should be, no big deal for mighty England. But our boys did just great and only good luck helped England win! It is indeed an honour for our little nation to lose 2-1 to England. Still, we wish England the very best for Euro 2000,
Enzo Gusman, Malta



It is indeed an honour for our little nation to lose 2-1 to England

Enzo Gusman, Malta

If my memory of sports still applies, people who play in friendly games especially against poorer opposition before a big game, really don't try that hard, even when the manager demands it. I think we should see the real England team when they meet Portugal. Whether or not they will be good enough, is another matter.
Barry Leftwich, USA

You must also remember that this isn't England's regular team, so perhaps they were not used to playing with each other. Also, remember the unconvincing performances before Euro 96...
S Dulaimi, UK

I think that England didn't take the Malta game very seriously. They played the last three games wrong. It should have been Malta, then the Ukraine and then Brazil. In the end it became a winding down process. It's funny how peoples memories are so short especially when it comes to football. After the Brazil game, England received praise. That all changes when England play worse than usual against an inferior Maltese side. Here┐s a message for everyone. Wait until the Euro 2000 is over, then moan!
Sam Wren, England

I think the Malta game proved that there are still aspects of England's game that call for urgent attention. There are two main areas that I feel may prove to be England's stumbling blocks : the defence, which still looks shaky and vulnerable, and the inability to translate the chances created into goals. Let's also be brave enough to face the facts. Shearer is not as sharp as he once used to be. I think Owen and Heskey would make a deadly strikeforce.
Arif M. Baig, USA



The Malta game proved that there are still aspects of England's game that call for urgent attention

Arif M. Baig, USA

The match confirmed most, if not all, the strengths and weaknesses of Keegan's boys. Beckham, Heskey, Campbell, Barry and Barmby are playing some exquisite football. Yet there is still lack of cohesiveness at times, not to mention lack of sharpness in front of goal. Fowler should have been omitted altogether from the squad, to leave place for Kieron Dyer. A defender yes, but with superb offensive quality.
Does this match matter? It all depends on Keegan. It is quite clear by now which players are oozing quality and those who lag behind.
What is the point of capping players who time and again fail to make the grade?
Gilbert Bezzina, Malta

I think every game an England team is involved in matters, I just wonder if the England camp were not taking the Malta team seriously enough. In today's football there are no really easy games and the sooner the big teams like England realise that the better. By the 12th of June England should have their act together, but hopefully England will give Portugal & Romania the respect they deserve because personally I think these two teams are better than the current German squad. With some hard work England will finish top with Romania second.
Malcolm Rogers, Canada

Of course the Malta match didn't matter. The games that matter are in Euro 2000 and not a game against Malta in very hot conditions when our players haven't been used to conditions like that recently. If conditions are like that in Belgium then at least we have had some experience of the heat. Malta didn't matter, Euro 2000 does.
Pete Bull, England



I was at the game and frankly I'm not impressed

Christopher Farrugia, Malta
It is just one of those things. I think most of the players were too tired and hot. Thank god the temperature in the low countries is more accommodating! I was pleased with Barmby, but I hope he stays consistent. Beckham was quite good and again his set piece gave us a goal! But he needs to get more of the ball especially on the right flank. Scholes looked bright but soon faded. Phillips and Shearer were average. I think Owen and Shearer is a must. Overall an average performance but I predict it is just a blip!
Michael McBride, UK

Of course it matters, all friendly games before a major competition are important to have a feel for the squad, how they play as a team, the spirit, the confidence of the team.
Abdulaziz Loonat, UK

I was at the game and frankly I'm not impressed with this English outfit. The team needs time to mature, although there is potential. One must also consider that Malta's team is made up of part-timers. Good Luck Keegan, you'll need it.
Christopher Farrugia, Malta

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See also:

03 Jun 00 | England
Close shave for shaky England
03 Jun 00 | England
Keegan disappointed but upbeat
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