Book review: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume 1

The first volume of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples looks at the history of England from Celtic times to the start of the Tudor era. Churchill examines the forming of the country. There are chapters looking at Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but the focus is on England and their relationship with them. England’s relationship with Europe, especially France, is also looked at, with war occurring regularly between the two countries.

The history is a political history, with the focus being on monarchs and powerful families as England forms and evolves. As the country becomes more stable, chapters tend to focus on monarchs and key events during their reigns. It is a very readable history of the forming of England.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Gareth Southgate appointed England manager

The FA have appointed Gareth Southgate as the new England manager.

If you vote no, please leave a comment saying who you think should have been appointed instead.

England 2-2 Spain

Two late goals from Spain secured them a draw against England in the friendly match at Wembley Stadium last night. England’s first goal was a penalty from Adam Lallana; an incisive ball from Lallana found Jamie Vardy and a bad touch resulted in Reina bringing him down. Vardy doubled the lead early in the second half with a powerful diving header from 6 yards. Aspas pulled a goal back just before the 90th minute and Isco scored Spain’s second goal with the last kick of the game.

As expected, Spain dominated possession, but for much of the match didn’t offer too much of a threat to England’s goal. England looked to play on the break with a pacy front four and when they played quick, one and two touch football. However, when they played slow, they were closed down by Spain and lost the ball. The tactics seemed to be to play direct to use the pace of the attacking players, whilst minimising the space for the Spanish attackers, particularly between the midfield and defence.

What did you think of England’s (or Spain’s) performance? Leave a comment to let me know.

England 3-0 Scotland

A comfortable scoreline for England, but the result was not always the formality it seems to suggest. The first half lacked in shots on target or quality, particularly in the final third. The one bit of quality in the final third came when Walker fizzed a cross in and Sturridge headed in to give England the lead. Scotland’s best chance came from a corner, but Hanley headed well over from 8 yards out with a free header.

Scotland started the second half well and created 2 good chances at the start, but were unable to take either. This proved costly when the head of Lallana met a cutback from Rose and doubled England’s lead. England started to keep the ball better and their third came through Cahill heading in a corner from Rooney.

England looked frail at the back and in the first hour, Scotland created plenty of chances but were unable to take any; against a stronger side, England will be punished. England do look better going forwards, but too often the quality in the final third was lacking, but when it does work, England do look dangerous. England need to improve keeping possession as too often they gave the ball away cheaply and as with the chances, better teams will punish England.

Slovenia 0-0 England

England were fortunate to come away with a point following their trip to Slovenia. The best chances of the game went to Slovenia, who were denied by some excellent saves from Joe Hart, notably at the start of the second half. The big story before the game was that Rooney was being dropped for Dier, but Dier and Henderson both had poor games in the middle of the park and put the defence in trouble. Going forwards, England struggled to create chances and any kind of a threat only seemed to come in the final third of the game after Townsend was brought on from the bench. However, the threat posed by England was rare and Oblak only had one save to make when Lingard shot from 25 yards. The point keeps England top of the group, but with the exception of Hart’s saves, there were no positives to take from this game in terms of player performances from the game. Whilst England will remain favourites to qualify from the group, it is incredibly difficult to see how they will make a big impact at the World Cup (assuming they qualify) with performances like that.

Let me know what you thought about England’s performance by leaving a comment below.

England 2-0 Malta

England recorded a 2-0 victory over Malta in a World Cup qualifying game at Wembley. Both of England’s goals came in the first half; Daniel Sturridge scored the first with an excellent guided header from 12 yards and Dele Alli doubled the lead by stabbing home a rebound from his own shot. Hogg made a couple of good saves for Malta, especially in the first half. England controlled possession throughout the game, but struggled to create good chances. Too often, the ball seemed to go sideways or backwards and was often slow and narrow, particularly in the final third. Much was made about how England controlled possession, but this would be expected against a team ranked 176 in the world. In summary, whilst England have gained another three points in their qualifying campaign, it was a disappointing performance and they will need to play better to win in Slovenia.