It’s not a new excuse used by England managers and players, it’s an old lame, tired standby that’s an easy get out for yet another inept performance by again both players and manager.
Just a week earlier we saw three players in particular who play for Barcelona and Spain – Xavi, Iniesta and David Villa – who played all through last summer, then played through most of this season past in the league, the cup and the Champions League, the latter two all the way to the final.
It all adds up to 50 or more appearances for their club before you factor in the international scene and the way they’ve gone it’s been like this for the last few seasons with very little break. You can also pretty much add in Messi to that and when you look at the stats they do more running and cover more ground than those around them. Yet did they look tired during that Champions League final?
And then you look at the England side out on the Wembley pitch and who looked the more lively. Baines, played every minute of every league game for Everton this season. Ashley Young, didn’t miss many games and when he played he was on the field for most of the 90 minutes.
The abysmal performance put in by England in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland on Saturday had nothing to do with tiredness but everything to do with ineptness, complacency and laziness.
Ineptness starts at the top. Fabio. Ashley Young has shown his best form on the international stage over the last few games. He’s been full of confidence, finally looking like he feels he fits along with having a decent club season. So Fabio sticks him on the bench and starts Milner, who has been anonymous for Citeh and not the player that fought his way into the England set-up. Fabio compounded this with Walcott on the right, Bent up front, Lampard in the middle and Ashley Cole at left-back.
Complacency and laziness were shown all the way through the game but especially in that first half, hardly anyone looked bothered. Ferdinand – what a surprise his name would crop up – god knows what he was doing with his
attempt to clear Barnetta’s free-kick. Some blaming Hart but he was in a no win situation, go for the ball someone gets a touch and you’re left looking stupid, stand there and wait no one get’s a touch and we have what happened. The ‘keeper has to expect his defenders to do better.
But this isn’t a new problem, England have been poor defending set pieces since Svennis’ days.
And then it was back to Ferdinand again as he lollygagged, not really being that bothered, to get a ball down England’s right. All he had to do was up the pace slightly he would have got there first and been able to do his usual routine – aimless hump up the park. But no he dithered, let a Swiss player get there and a free-kick was given away. Milner then blotted his copybook even more jumping away from the wall and leaving a gap for Barnetta to sneak one in the near post.
Before and after that there was general headless running about by most in white, predominantly Walcott and Milner. The former seemed to be wanting to try and improve the general view of Senderos as a defender by making the Swiss lumper look
good. He really isn’t a right winger and there’s some debate about whether he’s really a footballer. It was one of the best Wright-Phillips impersonation I’ve seen for a while. Maybe that’s what Fabio wants, after all he picks Wright-Phillips enough.
Wilshere finally showed some life to win the penalty which Lampard did his very best to make it easy for the Swiss ‘keeper to save. But he didn’t and it squirmed under his body to pull one back.
The good thing for Fabiuo it was nothing he couldn’t change at half-time, the bad thing being he was only allowed three subs to come on. And one of them had been used after half and hour with Baines replacing Cole. Baines was playing well, showing why he’s got about the most assists in Europe over the last three seasons or something.
In the end only one change was made. Fabio actually did something right, Young coming on for Lampard. Many seeing this as Fat Fwank’s last involvement in an England game. Don’t count on it folks, you know he and Gerrard will be back in tandem soon.
Young made an almost immediate impression, livening things up and scoring 6 minutes in. Good ball by Milner, nice lay-off by Baines with his chest and Young bangs it into the far corner.
And that’s certainly more than Darren Bent did. It’s far more than Darren Bent ever looked like doing. I Tweeted that Bent is just another Andy Cole, quite frankly that’s an overestimation. Bent is a very poor man’s Andy Cole. People talking him up after scoring in recent England outings and getting goals for Villa.
But you can sum Bent up by one piece of action, on the 70th minute, Young has a shot the ‘keeper saves and knocks the ball out into the box, Bent has all the time in the world, a gaping open net in front of him and the ball finds itself floating high over the bar. Typical Bent. Was ‘Arry Redknapp looking at his wife thinking
You could have scored that, because I know I wasn’t the only one thinking it. After all he had a chance earlier to finish things off. It was harder but still should have done better.
Not for the first time Darren Bent was stood there looking confused.
The late sub – who knew Walcott was on the pitch between half-time and the 77th minute? – also missed a sitter. But in reality that would have been unjustified. England got more than they deserved against a not brilliant side and then got lucky as Montenegro could only draw with Bulgaria later and so didn’t jump above England in the qualifying table.
And the most shocking thing is – people being shocked.
England 2 – 2 Switzerland