Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Howard: Clumsy Lads Must Learn

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Howard: Clumsy Lads Must Learn

Article excerpt

England u21 0 Spain u21 4

ENGLAND Under-21 coach Howard Wilkinson insisted the record 4-0 mauling by Spain last night was "a worthwhile exercise" - if the players learn from the experience.

Wilkinson was surprisingly positive despite seeing his side given a footballing lesson by the Spaniards in the opening 45 minutes of the friendly at Birmingham City's St Andrews ground.

They were often chasing shadows in a warm-up game for the European Championship qualifiers with Finland at Barnsley on March 23 and in Albania four days later.

But Wilkinson, who had lost several regular players to Sven-Goran Eriksson's first senior squad, is confident the experience can be beneficial for the future.

Wilkinson said: "It's better the game finished up like it did rather than us hauling back the deficit and everyone saying 'what a terrific fightback' and being drowned in the euphoria of the result.

"If that was the case they might have forgot all the other bits. It was a bad performance and the defenders found the tide coming in for half of the game.

"In that period you were scratching your head and thinking of some players: 'I've not recognised them.' "But I said to them at fulltime there were lots of pluses to take out of the game if we are prepared to learn from our mistakes.

"We were up against a very good side whose movement and passing was excellent, but they were also organised, determined and energetic in the way they went about getting the ball back.

"It's a case of comparing that with our passing and movement and we were almost clumsy at times in the first half. …

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