Dominic Fifield was online to answer your questions about the World Cup qualifier in Podgorica
CinsoTenaka asks: "What's the weather like over there?"
Will attempt to tweet a picture in a second (@domfifield), but seems OK. High cloud. No rain at present. Can even make out the top of the mountains that circle Podgorica. So that is encouraging.
Actually, on the IT front, it may be wishful thinking to suggest I'll be able to tweet that. I've already knocked the wifi out once today by attempting to post a link to this web chat, hence James Dart kindly helping me out via email to get the responses across. Will give it a go, but if Montenegro disappears off the grid, don't come looking for me ...
Enjoy the game tonight, all.
kpateldf24 asks: "Do you think the result (in terms of possession, shots etc) would be any different if we played Italy now? I mean, shouldnt we be looking to build a new Pirlo/De Rossi instead of thinking of beating Montenegro ? ...What I mean is, why is there a lack of desire to build a signatory style...the kind where Carrick and Gerrard (quality midfielders) knock about the ball as if to mock Montenegro's talk?"
I think Roy Hodgson has a style that has worked for him over the years, and that's what we should expect him to implement with England. Ideally, we would see a midfield here this evening that resembles that against Brazil in February: Gerrard anchoring, with Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley utilised slightly further upfield in a trio. That would have given the whole side a progressive feel. But Wilshere is injured and absent, and England can't really afford to lose this match. So pragmatism comes in. If they don't qualify for the World Cup, is Hodgson ever likely to be offered the opportunity to stamp his own style on the team? Surely he'd find himself either out of a job or, at best, ripping the whole thing up and starting again.
He's fairly honest about the process he's taken on. He's brought in a sprinkling of youngsters who are gaining valuable experience while the team progresses through their qualification campaign (there will be plenty who play in the glamor friendlies already arranged for 2013). The style is not as defensively-minded as it was at Euro 2012, when he had to go back to basics having been parachuted in late to take up the reins. I think he would point at the whole system and suggest things are looking up. "An international team takes a bit of time to mould together," he said. "I get the feeling, as a group, we are moulding better together the more we play and have a chance to work together. It's up to the players to show that on the field of play. But I don't think there's any coach in the world who says: 'That's it, we are there.' You are always looking to continue the process and move it on slightly. I bet even Del Bosque is hoping to move it on a bit and keep it going, and that is where we are too." In time, hopefully that "signatory style" will emerge.
MurrayOstril asks: "Have the England 'band' got lost on the way/stuck at customs/banned from the ground/been involved in an unfortunate trombone related accident? Or will I have to watch the game on mute? I actually soundtracked the San Marino match with Aphex Twin's - Drukqs, any musical suggestions for tonight's game?"
Mute, I'm afraid. At least I think so. They were playing Swedish House Mafia on a loop prior to the San Marino game in Serravalle. Personally, I found that preferable ...
CaveatLektor asks: "How important is it to England that they avoid losing? And should we not see the relative quality of the current Montenegro squad as a kind of once in a generation anomaly, in much the same way as Slovenia had in qualifying for the World Cup in Korea/Japan? Also, have you tried the loze yet?"
Hodgson was asked about the importance "not to lose" last night and offered up the anticipated "it depends upon the context of how a draw is achieved" response, which was fair enough. England will certainly look at the fact three of their last four games in the group - Moldova, Montenegro and Poland - are at home and spy that as cause for optimism, even if the national team hasn't always been at its fluent best when the pressure is upon them at their home ground. A draw would not be disastrous, even if Montenegro beat Ukraine in June and went five points clear. That could still be clawed back. But I think there's an appreciation within the group that a victory is needed here. They all want to avoid those last three home games becoming "do or die" and will want the Wembley crowd firmly with them, carrying them through at the top of the section. In order to achieve that, they have to prevail here.
As for the progress Montenegro have made, I hope time doesn't prove it to have been an anomaly. There's such a fierce desire to excel here - that much was obvious even yesterday as Brnovic spoke - and huge pride at what has been achieved. I remember the scenes at the final whistle 17 months ago all too well, the locals ecstatic that a play-off place was theirs, even if they did go on to lose to the Czech Republic. They have top quality players, excelling in Serie A, and the hope must be others come through, albeit in a country with a population matching that of Sheffield. "It would means such a lot," said Brnovic. "Both for the players, for us, and the people here in general if we were to reach Brazil. We have covered a large distance to get here, but there is still some way to cross. We will certainly cross the other half if we play well against England. If not, we face a more difficult route to get to Brazil, but we will still hope for success." I guess prolonged success feels unlikely with the resources and population at Montenegro's disposal, but the desire is clearly burning.
Loze … now you've got me feeling properly ignorant.
Ideologue asks: "Do you think the Montenegro coach has a point when saying he is surprised Hodgson would call up players who do not play regularly for their clubs such as Lescott/Young etc? Do you think players would fight harder for England if they had to truly earn their place in the squad?"
That was Vucinic's comment on the involvement of Smalling and Lescott. The Juventus striker had been asked whether he was surprised that both John Terry and Rio Ferdinand had effectively opted out of England (a question asked in the context of the fierce patriotism that will be very evident at the City stadium tonight), and he responded: "They must have their personal reasons for that, but I'm sure the match would be better and more interesting if they played too because they are certainly among the best defenders in the world today. I certainly do see (Smalling and Lescott's inclusion instead) as a source of weakness because, if they're not playing regularly for their own clubs, I don't see why their national coach should be picking them."
Did he have a point? Well, Lescott wasn't in the original party for precisely that reason and is only here because Dawson, Cahill and Ferdinand withdrew. He's gone from a key member of the Premier League title-winners and mainstay of England's back-line at Euro 2012 to a fringe player at Manchester City reliant upon others dropping out to get a game for his country. Which is quite a descent. But Hodgson does know he can rely upon him. He did so in Ukraine last summer. The issue will be if he's rusty tonight, and whether he can inspire a youngster at his side who is only starting out at this level.
I guess it's an anomaly of the Premier League, where England players can find themselves on the fringes at clubs crammed with foreign talent. There are plenty of players in this party who feel more like fixtures in the national team than their club sides: Lescott, Young, Cleverley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, even Cahill at times. But I'm not sure that affects the hunger. It perhaps suggests there aren't alternatives out there who are featuring every week in the topflight, leaving Hodgson to pick from the fringes. Indeed, that's something he's been forced to confront all season: it was an issue after the Italy friendly back in Berne in August, if I remember correctly, as he considered selecting a squad for the qualifiers ahead with so few of his players likely to be first-choices for their club sides.
johnny5eyes asks: "Would the likes of Italy, Holland, Spain and France be as tentative as England seem to be going into this fixture?"
No, probably not. Which is probably a reflection of where England are in terms of this team's development. I do think there's a quiet confidence behind the scenes with this squad. Certainly, they seem united and content, which has to bode well. And they should be bolstered by the reality that Roy Hodgson has only, technically, lost one game in charge to date - that friendly in Sweden last November (I know people will point to the penalty shoot-out against Italy etc) - which suggests some level of progress and quality. But some caution is required. This does feel like a match outside the team's comfort zone, and those draws with Ukraine and Poland are not easily forgotten. They have something to prove here. It could be an uncomfortable evening in a tight, noisy stadium; the hope is they produce a performance similar to, say, that in Bulgaria in qualification for Euro 2012 (3-0 in Sofia in September 2011).
CredeSigno asks: "Does Hodgson deserve credit for gradually eroding away unrealistic expectations of this England side or has it now gone too far the other way? Montenegro deserve to be respected, but should words like' fear' really be banded around when lining up against such opposition?"
Have people been calling for that for years? I think there's a sense of realism about this England set-up under Hodgson, and, to be honest, there has to be. The national team has had three turkey shoots (San Marino twice and Moldova away) in this group, and two more awkward games against Ukraine (ranked 48 in the world) and Poland (ranked 61). Neither of those were won. In fact, both were drawn rather unconvincingly. Montenegro, as group leaders and ranked 28th, come into that latter category so Hodgson and his players have to prove this evening that they have what it takes to win contests like this in qualification.
When it comes to specific comments about "fear", Steven Gerrard was asked to respond to Brnovic's comments earlier in the day, or to consider the prospect of facing Jovetic (who had scored against Liverpool a few years back for Fiorentina), which prompted him to insist England were "not scared".
mike65ie asks: "What's the pitch like? Long ball friendly or will Montenegro have to play some actual football?"
The pitch didn't look the best last night, admittedly. It's very patchy in parts, even if Hodgson claimed to be encouraged and satisfied after taking a detour after the afternoon storm to check on it personally. Since then, of course, it's rained heavily again - most of the night, in fact - but we're told the drainage from the surface is excellent and it shouldn't be an issue, unless of course the thunderstorms return later on (which is conceivable). Looking out of the window now, it's high cloud... not that that means anything at present, clearly.
The long-ball issue seemed to rile Roy a bit. Brnovic had a point to the extent that he has a team who would prefer to play on a pristine surface themselves. He'd launched into that stuff about direct play unprovoked. The question, from a local, had been something along the lines of 'What are your objectives for tonight?' Five minutes later he was still talking and offered up this: "As far as I know, the English have always favoured long passes, so who should complain about this (the pitch)? Us, with Vucinic, Jovetic, Basa... or England?" Cue Joe Hart punting down the middle, Rooney flicking on and Danny Welbeck converting on the run...
ReyLuis asks: "Should Roy start attacking and go for a couple of early goals, in order to knock the stuffing out of the crowd? Or should England start defensive and look to attack with fresh legs in the last 20 mins? Personally, I would go with the first option."
Well, England were 2-0 up here back in October and that's when their problems actually began. I suspect they can't afford to sit back too much in the opening stages, and therefore risk handing Montenegro the early initiative. Brnovic spoke yesterday about how he has been at odds with his own national press in recent times: they've been urging him to be less gung-ho and questioning why he's gone into big matches playing an attack-minded 4-3-3; then they come to this game and his instinct is to shut up shop, "park the bus" as he put it, only for the local media to be calling for all-out attack to knock England completely out of contention for top spot. He's got a dilemma there. As for the visitors, they will feel they can still impose their quality on the game. They'll be wary of the threat posed by Vucinic and Jovetic, as Hodgson pointed out last night. "Montenegro's tactics don't vary that much," he said. "They are reliant on the quality of their front players. There are some very good technicians in their team and they obviously feel, with those players, they can create goal chances often enough." His implication was 'stop those two and you most likely blunt Montenegro'.
As for the crowd, I honestly don't remember it being that intimidating the last time we came here 17 months ago, until the pitch invasion at the end, of course (!). I don't think that will prove too much of an issue, for all that there have been incidents - Poland and San Marino, with chairs and flares thrown - that have marred recent games in this ground.
JacquesCustard asks: "Should the comments calling England arrogant be taken with a pinch of salt? I mean who are Montenegro anyway? I've never heard of them let alone know where the hell it is. Do they even speak English there?"
You could imagine them high-fiving each other under the table. English arrogance? Please ... In truth, I think a large dose of salt might be appropriate. Yesterday's Montenegro press conference, as press conferences go, was entertaining with Brnovic and Vucinic appearing to delight in trying to out-do each other with provocative answers to the questions lobbed at them (largely by the visiting press). It was almost as if the striker would offer up the "Smalling and Lescott can't be all that given they're not in their club sides", then glance over at his coach who would duly respond with "England are running scared". I may have been mistaken, but I'm pretty sure they shared mischievous looks at each other as the questions were interpreted (yes, it was done through an interpreter), and you could imagine them high-fiving each other under the table. The reality is, though, that it was hard to disagree with a lot of what they said. Steven Gerrard and Joleon Lescott have both mentioned the spoiling tactics they expect, and the level of intimidation they anticipate, but, as Brnovic pointed out, it was Wayne Rooney who kicked one of their players and was sent off the last time England played over here. And as for the pressure involved in this game, surely the team playing catch-up will feel it most.
Good morning. Dominic Fifield will be online from around 11.30am GMT in Podgorica to take part in a live webchat.
Montenegro coach, Branko Brnovic, believes his side will confront an England team running scared on Tuesday, suggesting the visitors have been arrogant in their attitude towards progress to Brazil and dismissing their apparent concerns over the state of the turf at the City Stadium by claiming the English have "always favoured long passes".
"We respect and appreciate the English team, but even more so we appreciate our own qualities," said Brnovic. "I'm sure we'll make the most of them. I've read statements from some English players about the way the pitch will look. As far as I know, the English have always favoured long passes, so who should complain about this? Us, with [Mirko] Vucinic, [Stevan] Jovetic, [Marko] Basa, or England? They're also intimidated by our fans. All these stories are coming from their side. That shows they're more scared of this game than we are."
"With those comments it just shows we've got them exactly where we want them," said Gerrard. "They seem to be more interested in saying things and doing all the talking. But talking doesn't win you football matches. I'm not really too interested in what they've had to say in their press conference. I'm more interested in how the lads train at the ground on the night before the game and when the first whistle goes in the match itself."
If you have any questions for Dominic, drop them into the comments section below.