Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sun 4 June 2006

"Jamaica? No, she went of her own accord..."

And so it came to pass that England finished their World Cup preparations with a fine 6-0 victory over Jamaica on Saturday. The choice of opponents was interesting in that Sven obviously wanted someone weak enough to beat convincingly, thus motivating his entire team, however Jamaica should be seen as being comparable with Trinidad and Tobago, England's opponents on June 15th. At least it was a more justifiable choice than Germany's when they played Luxembourg recently, beating them 7-0.

So what do the Sunday papers make of yesterday's performance? Well the Telegraph seems to be hailing Peter Crouch as perhaps the answer to all our fears, suggesting that, despite starting his England career as a joke figure, he is in the current circumstances "virtually indispensable". Not sure about that myself, but a hat-trick yesterday won't have done anybody any harm.

The Observer is similarly complementary about Crouch's performance saying "the tall striker has answered all his many doubters in the best possible way" before reminding us quite rightly that "England cannot play Jamaica every week". If only.

Much was said about Crouch's poorly taken penalty, not least from Eriksson who told us that "...[Crouch] came to me and apologised about that. He took it in a jokey way, not seriously, and I don't like to see that." Very reassuring, especially given England's record when it comes to sudden-death penalty shoot-outs.

The Observer goes on to note that none of England's first-half goals came from open play - a worry given their attack-minded midfield - but at least Michael Owen was back on the scoresheet again. The Mail on Sunday's Ian Ridley remarked that it would "deliver him a welcome shot of confidence for a tournament in which he has always before come alive".

Ridley also highlighted the sense of self-destruction in the Jamaican camp which led as much to the visitors' downfall as anything England did on the day. Watford's Marlon King was sent home from the training camp after a row that followed their 4-1 loss to Ghana last week, and Jamaica started the match on Saturday with a booking for Jermaine Taylor before he went on to head into his own net. Daley later did likewise with his foot.

So all in all then, we can go into the World Cup Finals next week with a renewed sense of vigour and optimism, but how far can we go with the players available? How far will we go with the Coach's tactical astuteness? And not only that - do we HAVE to keep seeing Crouch doing that body-popping cobblers?

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