Date: 7th January 2008 at 3:55pm
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Speaking on the official site today, Martin O’Neill has insisted that our younger players did not have a case of the ‘willies’ because of playing in front of new England manager Fabio Capello.

Some of the press have been stating that Gabby and Young failed to find any fluency during the match because they felt intimidated, which although a nice excuse is a load of nonsense.

‘Were they affected by Capello’s presence? You may well have to ask them but it never entered my head. Was he here?

‘But then I’m not 21 and trying to play for England.

‘Gabby and Ashley have been threatening to go past players all season and have been playing with a freedom of expression. It wasn’t there today but give United credit. They may have all the flair in the world but they were steadfast defensively.

‘It is a fantastic compliment to Ashley Young that even a team like United were doubling up on him after just one season in the Premier League.

‘And Gabby has got a lot of potential. We have a lot of players with potential who are definitely going to get better.

‘Some of the younger players – and the older ones too with players like Martin Laursen – their performances have been terrific.

‘The litmus test is them playing against Manchester United in a big Cup game, but I think these players will all improve.

‘United have a quality of player that we would like to get to, with everyone comfortable on the ball.’

I’m not sure on some of his comments to be fair, but we can’t agree all the time can we. Teams are sussing out how we play and defending accordingly now which is why Maloney should be playing a bigger part as he gives us another dimension.

But for all the potential in the world our strikers need to be converting better, only in brief glimpses do we seem dangerous when Carew plays, we would do far, far better in my mind by going back to the 433.

Should the ‘willies’ have got to our younger lads though and they are worrying they blew it, Martin also doesn’t believe Fabio will have made his mind up about anyone at this stage of the game.

‘I am sure Fabio will have plenty of time to assess all the English players between now and the summertime before the main business starts for him in September with the World Cup qualifiers.’