BBC Sport
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help

Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 00:00 GMT
A bad night on and off the pitch

By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Wayne Rooney's performance on the pitch and the behaviour of the Spanish fans off it were the major talking points of a friendly where England were given an education.

Rooney has had flashpoints before and his saving grace is he's young and he will have to learn

If we start with Spain, we have to say they were brilliant on the pitch but despicable off it.

The racist chants aimed at Ashley Cole and Shaun-Wright Phillips were absolutely pathetic. What on earth was all that about?

As for Rooney, he was silly and has got to learn.

He made a stupid challenge right in front of the referee on Joaquin then he produced a crazy push on Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Not only was it crazy it was dangerous. Casillas could conceivably have done himself a lot of harm as he fell into a crowd of bodies off the pitch.

Then, just to compound it, Sven-Goran Eriksson took him off just before half-time. Why did he not leave it until the interval? I thought that was a mistake.

Sadly, Rooney produced a terrible reaction to him being taken off, and he was criticised for taking his black armband off. It was not good - not good at all.

He is a great player, and his saving grace is that he is very young and you have to hope he will learn from these mistakes.

There is a tremendous spotlight on this young player and Eriksson has only accentuated that spotlight by taking him off.

Ashley Cole was racially abused by Spain's fans
Racist chants aimed at Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips were despicable and pathetic

We have seen it before with Rooney. There have been flashpoints before and he has got to learn.

As for the game itself, England were given an education by Spain, especially in touch and technique.

If you haven't got the ball at this level you haven't got a lot and Spain's passing was brilliant.

It was what England have got to aspire to. They have seen what it's like at the highest level and I have to say Spain's performance was as good as anything I have seen in the last 12 months, especially in the first half. It was fantastic.

England will be concerned that they conceded another goal from a set-piece.

They have got into a way of playing where their indecision is final at set-pieces. It wasn't even a particularly great corner that led to Asier del Horno's early goal.

It was a shambles, with nobody picking up and goalkeeper Paul Robinson didn't cover himself in glory.

What England need in there are strong characters who are going to organise and make sure that first ball is cleared.

The most important thing is that when you get the ball at this level you have to keep it.

Nicky Butt, who I think is a great player, gave the ball away about 20 times in the first 15 minutes. It was just not like him.

It was not a night for positives on or off the pitch - other than England can only get better.

Shearer: Rooney lucky not to go
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals

E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | Olympics 2012 | Other Sport...

Video and Audio | Scores & Fixtures | Have Your Say | TV/Radio Schedule

Fun and Games | Question of Sport | Photo Galleries

Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport