Barney Ronay was online to answer your questions about England's friendly with Brazil at Wembley
Thanks for all your comments and questions. Barney has signed off to go prepare for the game.
There is plenty to read on the football site today. We have a list of the top 50 big-game goalscorers in football history, plus various articles about tonight's fixtures. Danny Taylor has previewed England v Brazil and Paul Doyle has looked forward to tonight's other games, including Spain v Uruguay, France v Germany and Holland v Italy. We also have Jonathan Wilson on the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
Tom641 suggests: "Do you think Hodgson will start Baines as a left-sided midfielder and Cole at left-back? Would this work?"
No. It would be a disaster and everyone would call for him to be sacked. And it would be your fault.
Lankeymarlon declares: "England are going to get humped. Brazil are full of world class players, just cause you've not heard of them doesn't mean they aren't good players. England have a terrible short memory. The pretentiousness of the team and their fans is unbearable to outsiders."
Maybe just take a deep breath and think about a meadow with flowers and lovely grasses in it. Bake some bread. Listen to Deep Forest amazonian techno music. Perhaps then, but only slowly of course, the pain will subside.
Tiresias42 asks: "Do you agree that Rooney has severely underperformed at international level for a long time and never managed to be as influential as he can be at club level? Is there any sense of patience running out with him or has he been misused by England managers? I normally assume he's never in the right head-space for England."
I think his problem if he has one is he doesn't seem to play "with" any other England players particularly. Owen had Beckham. Lineker had Beardsley and so on. Rooney always seems to be playing a separate game. And against good teams he's marked out of it because no one else up there is a threat. I've been frustrated with him because he is a lovely player. And oddly enough for all this he'll get very close to that ancient scoring record.
Kennym says: "In the absence of a live webchat with Ewan Murray, I'll hijack this and ask how you think Scotland will get on with Wee Gordon in charge."
They will continue to be an average team, but will perhaps over-achievea little rather than under-achieve a little because everybody will feel a little happier. I suspect they will win a WC qualifying match at some stage this year and then have a proper shot at the Euros. I'm told there are some decent wee fitballers about the place coming through. With an expanded tournament Strachan has a really good shot at it. Would love Scotland to go to tournaments again. they have been missed.
JoshOwl asks: "Steven Gerrard's range of passing and style of play contrast to the silky short passing play favoured by Walcott, Wilshere and co. Can Gerrard have an impact in a team whose players use a different football philosophy for their clubs?"
Yes... silky Walcott. That's what they call him. Gerrard's occasionally excellent long passing is probably quite well placed to get the best out of Theo. Actually this question is a bit silly. Have you seen Liverpool play under Brendan Rodgers? Some would say a little too short and silky.
Magnusson says: "Roy Hodgson was one of the pioneers of the long-ball tactic. For almost 30 years he held an almost religious belief on the matter. When he took over England, I feared the worse. However, in the post-Euros period he has displayed a willingness to go beyond his favoured 4-4-2 and explore more modern tactical ideas based on pressing and possession. Has he spoken in detail about his tactical ambitions for England to the press. If so, what are they?"
You're overstating that. Hodgson took the coaching that was available in England then and exported it successfully to less well organised leagues. But he's no fool and he's seen more talented overseas footballers than you or I and he knows that the game is played a different way. He's not picking Andy Carroll because he wants England to play a different way, so give the poor guy a break. I think he'd like us to play like Germany in their "game of sprints" mode, where they attack at speed (and horizontally) with fast, athletic players in key positions and defend as a team. Whether England can do it is another thing.
Cryogenic asks: "Would Big Phil have made a great England coach? Would he have had Cole and Johnson bombing forward at every attempt, leaving big gaping holes or would he have axed the main striker and had snipes with the English press?"
It would have been fascinating wouldn't it? We basically got nowhere under Capello. One or two nice displays in qualifying – the highs against Croatia. But he wasn't interested in development at all and at tournaments England were below their – admittedly good-to-average – level. I think Scolari would have been more fun. I think he would have been a more natural international manager. And he loves his attacking players. I'd love to have those years again with him, if only for the guaranteed oddities. And the team prayer meetings.
SamtheEagle90 asks: "Do you expect to see a gradual shift towards a more attacking line-up – perhaps beginning tonight – ahead of the World Cup? Surely the press and fans are going to lose patience if Hodgson continues to replicate the negativity of the performances we saw in the Euros?"
Hodgson has talked about his template for an England player: pace, youth and athleticism seem to be the main things. He saw the painful winding down in the second half at the Euros and he wants greater vim. England cannot simply defend to victory. So let's see anyway. Are the players there for that? Probably not...
Stronzito asks: "Neymar says England have one match-winner. Would you agree that he's got this one thunderously wrong? I could be wrong, but I think Rooney has scored only once for England in a major competition since 2004."
Yes. Well. I suppose Rooney scored the winner against Ukraine in the summer (from two yards out). But let me say this. By the time he was 21, Rooney had achieved far more than Neymar has now with his hat-tricks against China, his eight goals out of nine this year in friendlies against teams like China. No doubt he has great talent. But as yet he's no 21-year-old Wayne Rooney.
Peppernaul asks: "Which is more probable: a 'realistic' performance and everyone singling out one or two unfortunate individuals in the England set up to blame, or a "result" and having to listen to Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney call each other 'world-class players' (again)?"
I think it will be a good, lively game. Brazil are in flux a little. There will be several phases as players come and go, but not a drop in intensity; is an important time for both. And I don't want to hear any more world class talk from anyone. Right now the limits of world class is Real Madrid v Barcelona and a few other blokes from elsewhere. The rest of them are just being polite to each other.
MrMondypops asks: "Do you expect England to line up in a 4-4-2 with two banks of four?"
Just hearing those words make the hairs prickle on the back of my neck. I love banks. I love four and I love two. Two banks of four is a kind of heaven. And yes I do expect that. It is a sensible way to play football against a more technically skilled opponent. Although, to be honest, Hodgson himself is a little disdainful of systems and formations. In his mind, he is simply sending out the best players in their best positions with specific tactical jobs to do. If it looks like 4-4-2 from the sidelines, so be it.
Stauffenberg1943 says: "I hope the crowd gives Cole a great reception tonight. He's been easily one of England's best players over those 99 caps. The idiots at England games that have booed Cole, the Nevilles, Beckham, Hargreaves – anyone who has played for Manchester United it seems – should grow the hell up."
It's football. Everybody's cross. Everybody bears a grudge. Everybody has a tribe. Everybody's an idiot. Plenty of people go to football games, and indeed comment on these blogs, in order to soothe the knot of demented rage that beats behind their eyes whenever they hear the word "football". It is a public service. Society should be very grateful.
OttoMaddox asks: "Considering Brazil look likely to be starting with Alves and Marcelo at full-back, should England be looking to play Walcott and one of Lennon or Oxlade-Chamberlain on the flanks tonight – someone speedy to catch Brazil on the break?"
I wish Oxlade-Chamberlain would play a bit more like that, pushing wide rather than cutting inside. Lennon is very exciting but I fear he wants a more chaotic, less considered game than Brazil are going to give him. England will have to defend while Brazil hog the ball for periods. I can see no reason why Walcott shouldn't be first choice on the right. Not that he's a world beater or anything. Just... no reason why not.
CreatureOfTheNight, who may or may not support Manchester United, asks: "Don't you think it's time to finally drop Gerrard? Both Cleverley and Carrick have been better this season. If Roy is picking the team purely on merit, then Cleverley should be the one starting the match. Wazza should be the captain. What do you think?"
No. Don't be silly. Cleverley is good but not at his level yet. Hmmm... I wonder which team you support?
Chuckyg asks: "Do you think England are making a mistake by continuing to overlook Rio Ferdinand, who has been good all season and looking better then ever recently?"
Yes, I do. He should be in the squad on merit right now. But all managers have to develop a personal relationship of trust etc with their players and Hodgson has gone down this road and is backing your Cahills, Jagielkas etc. And then, let's face it, Rio's hardly the future is he? Next summer will he still be going as strong? It's not an overwhelming case, all things considered.
Basmati asks: "What's your favourite colour football shirt?"
Barney replies (on topic):
Goldish yellow with a blue and green badge
Cavelier5 says: "Playing Brazil is always a great occasion. ITV will wheel out all the usual Samba Boys cliches to make sure we know so, but they don't seem to me to have the same aura they used to. Neymar certainly has the hair and by all accounts is the next big thing, but Ronaldinho, really? They're a bit short of top draw strikers and seem to me to have been underwhelming for quite a long time now. Basically, what I'm saying is we're going to give them a good old fashioned up-and-at-'em shoeing aren't we?"
Ronaldinho is the reigning Brazilian player of the year and the greatest natural off-the-wall talent since... well who knows. I can see no situation where picking him is a sign of desperation. If he was English (this is an impossible scenario) we'd have him out there in a shopmobility scooter 40 years from now.
Brazil are hugely strong in depth, physically, all very sound, no weak links. Maybe they don't have the peak players of 2002 but they are still a fearsomely good set of footballers.
Benjamin92 asks: "Ashley Cole makes his 100th Engladn appearance this evening. Is he the greatest England left-back of all time? Also, what are your views on the vast contrast between a glittering on-field career and a shunned personality?"
I basically couldn't care less about his personal life or whether he "seems nice". But I think he's a brilliant defender. Not so much going forward, Stuart Pearce gave you more there: scored goals, brilliant crosser. But Cole is a fine player and clearly very tough mentally as his standards rarely dip despite so many people basically seeming to dislike him.
MrMondypops starts things off: "After England are comprehensively outplayed and beaten by Brazil tonight, will the tabloids be calling for Roy's head?"
You'd have to ask them that. But I certainly don't think so. Contrary to what is apparently a widespread belief, journalists aren't idiots. Roy is a good manager. The players are energetically second rate, but with some potential in the young ones. There is more than anything a bit of a lost generation between the ages of 23-32-ish, an absence of convincing experienced players to plug the gap. Perhaps we should blame the, ahem, golden generation for this. Or maybe no one's to blame and it just is.
Good morning. Barney Ronay will be online from midday to take part in a live webchat. If you have any questions about tonight's game, drop them into the comments section below.
For a non-competition year, 2013 should be an entertaining one for England fans. Whether 150 years of the Football Association is worth celebrating is open to debate, but at least they have convinced some decent teams to visit Wembley for their anniversary. Germany, Argentina, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland are scheduled to visit Wembley, but tonight's game is the most glamourous of all.
Brazil are not here to cheer the suits of the FA. They have a home World Cup next summer and will mean business tonight. Luiz Felipe Scolari will be in the dugout and Ronaldinho could be back on the field making the case for his inclusion in the World Cup squad.
England need to qualify for the tournament before Roy Hodgson can even consider who to pick in his team. They are two points behind Montenegro in their qualifying group and will be taking tonight's game seriously. Jack Wilshire will make his first international start in nearly two years and Ashley Cole will become the seventh England player to win 100 caps.
Drop your questions for Barney into the comments section below.