UK & Ireland Football

Lee Dixon: Passion won't be enough for Pearce's England

Internationals RSS / / 29 February 2012 / Leave a Comment

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It's a big opportunity for Stuart Pearce...

It's a big opportunity for Stuart Pearce...

"There would be absolutely no shame losing to Bert van Marwijk’s outfit, but beat them and, well, Stuart will have made a very strong case for taking the job full-time."

International tests don't come much tougher than Holland and while a motivated Stuart Pearce will not let that faze him this is likely to be a losing night for England, says Lee Dixon

Friendly matches are often the most derided of international fixtures with pullouts aplenty resulting in occasional apathy from media and fans alike.

Wednesday night's game against Holland has not had the most promising build-up with an interim manager leading an inexperienced team and fans not yet aware of who will lead the Three Lions.

But for Stuart Pearce, Danny Welbeck and Scott Parker - among others - this game must be viewed as a huge opportunity to cement more permanent roles with the national team. For the players there's no better thing than being in the England squad and when an opportunity presents itself you must grab it.

It could be argued that Pearce is in a no-lose position - Holland are one of the finest teams on the planet, World Cup finalists in 2010 and one of the first teams in the Euro 2012 hat after qualifying with an almost perfect record. There would be absolutely no shame losing to Bert van Marwijk's outfit, but beat them and, well, Stuart will have made a very strong case for taking the job full-time.

I'm not sure they will, however. It's a huge ask to defeat such a strong team after such a short preparation period, but it will be fascinating to watch Pearce's Three Lions go about their business.

Match Odds
At international level it's all about testing yourself against the best teams. It's a great thrill when you're standing in the tunnel and you look across at the badge of Germany, Holland, Italy or one of the big powers of world football in opposition.

And few managers will be able to transmit that desire to beat the other XI than Pearce.
He was my captain when I was in the England squad and the Psycho tag was fully justified! He was a brilliant player to have in your team, as others feared and respected him. He's undoubtedly mellowed a bit as a manager but I'm pretty sure that he will dig out a look in the dressing room that speaks 1,000 words. The team that represents England will know how important this fixture is.

But, as I said, it's so hard to oppose Holland here, especially at the current price of [2.68]. Await news on the lineups before striking your bets, but if it's the first team for the visitors then get behind the Dutchmen.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals
England's backline is hugely inexperienced and I'm surprised to see Over 2.5 goals as long as [2.32]. Ashley Cole excepted, no-one has more than 14 caps and players like Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are real international novices. I rate them all as individual performers but they will be up against a proven attacking force, a team which scored 39 goals in Euro 2012 qualification. Overs looks a standout bet.

To Score
Every time I see Robin van Persie play he looks a no-brainer goalscorer bet and I have to get behind him on Wednesday night against an all-Premier League international defence. Theo Walcott had a confidence booster against Spurs on Sunday and should enjoy the wide open spaces of Wembley. If he plays he would rate a bet to score, as would Daniel Sturridge.

Recommended Bets
1pt Back Holland to win @ [2.68]
2pts Back Over 2.5 goals @ [2.32]
2pts Back Robin van Persie to score @ [2.7] if he starts
1pt Back Walcott to score @ [4.6] if he starts
1pt Back Sturridge to score @ [3.5] if he starts

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