How could I have ever doubted the experts…

…when they said England would win the group?

Oh that’s right I’ve watch enough England games like this latest one the final group D game against Ukraine. It’s amazing what a couple of very scrappy, lucky, wins can do for reality.

Can just imagine the Spanish squad watching that thinking phew, thank god they won the group and we won’t get ‘em in the quarters, at the same time the Germans will have started quaking in their boots at the prospect of a meeting in the semis. As for the Italians, forget ‘em, fodder, shouldn’t even bother turning up.

Super Stevie G is going to lead us to glory…

…aaannnddd back in the room.

Real world, it was a piss awful group, competing with Group A as the worst out there, though would the Dutch be the worst team? A piss awful group that was now difficult because Sweden beat France. Err no that just highlights how bad it was.

Ukraine were just the latest of a bad lot. The latest who in the process completely outplayed England. The latest who just couldn’t finish off moves that ripped apart England’s much vaunted resilience and defensive fortitude. I lost count of the number of times just two passes completely bypassed the so called defensive midfielders and bisected the centre-backs leaving a Ukrainian player wide open to dither about and bugger up another great chance.

When they weren’t going straight through the middle, it was targeting Cole on England’s left. Time and time again, as so many times before any player on the right of England’s opposition had acres of space to himself. With no help from Young – another useless performance – Cole was constantly inside to cover for Lescott’s dithering deer in the headlights routine – here’s a bright idea Joleon, when you’re defending in the area and they’re having pot shots at goal it’s a really good idea to spread your arms as far out as possible, make a nice big target for ‘em – it was an easy out for Ukraine, so much so they never really bothered with the other weak link playing right-back.

Ah that brilliant central midfield pairing. Oh those great blocks of Parker, yeah that one in the box with his hand was a cracker, again showing how much luck has been on England’s side so far. Someone needs to have a word though, it’s neither a block or an interception really if the ball is kicked straight at Parker when he’s stood still. It’s a bad attempt at a pass. And again take out those three yard back pass and what does he contribute? Nowt.

Which brings us to Gerrard. Oh magnificent, finally showing up for a tournament.

Just imagine what his media chums will write if he does more than stick one decent cross in. Oh, and that decent cross was the free kick in the first half. The cross for the goal, that was luck not brilliance.

From the corner Johnson dithered in giving the wide open Gerrard the ball, so the defender had time to close down, from there Gerrard tried some stupid Ronaldo style step-over, he’s then lucky to get past the defender as they both stumble, Ukrainian going hitting the turf. The cross then hits the covering Ukraine player which causes it to spin into a far more dangerous area than it was originally heading. Then the defender does get any contact, which along with his general ineptitude causes the ‘keeper to completely miss the ball as it travels to the back post for Rooney’s tap in.

First competitive goal in 8 years and his first competitive game in weeks and it showed, as you knew it was always going to. Should have done better with Ashley Young’s first half cross, first and so far only decent thing Young has done all tournament. Very poor, which has resulted in Welbeck getting nothing to play with and Rooney to drop deep a number of times last night.

Welbeck was the only one that chased down and pressed the Ukraine defenders when they were playing it out from the back. On the other side Terry and Lescott were under pressure from the off and as per usual any pressure resulted in lost possession. Will they ever get the ball when facing better opposition? So I feel Welbeck was unlucky to be withdrawn and some of the marks in the morning papers were harsh. As for super sub, on came Walcott in the 20 minutes he was on the park he touched the ball once.

So the other main talking points, well the Ukraine should have had a penalty with Parker’s handball as mentioned above, England should have had a pen when Rooney’s shirt was pulled in the box. And then Ukraine shouldn’t have had an equaliser.

A hump up the park again completely bypasses any central midfielder and has the centre-backs all over the joint, the eventual scorer, Devic, was initially offside from this hump, Milevskiy ties Lescott up in knots before passing on to Devic, cuts inside Terry, his shot is partially blocked by Hart and had crossed the line before Terry could hook it clear.

And surprise, surprise the response to this goal not standing from a certain Joseph S. Blatter is somewhat different than it was when England were denied a goal in the last World Cup…

You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock and Sepp Blatter. Harry Lime and Toxic Web

I dunno, this is almost reminding me of the last World Cup, boring draw against France, like the 0-0 against Algeria, beating Ukraine like beating Slovenia and the victory over Sweden was almost like the 1-1 against the USA, just this time we have a pretty damn good ‘keeper and not a muppet who throws the ball into the back of his own net.

Actually it’s pretty much like every other tournament. England always stink in the group stages. Then sometimes pick it up for the knockouts. Now feeling with all this luck going their way they’ll nick it against Italy and then like Bloemfontein two years ago the Germans will rip ‘em apart.

But they’ll have got to a semi and everyone will be happy and all the ineptness will be overlooked, much like 1990. Though hopefully it’ll be enough to keep Roy in the job then he can start the real building work he should have used this tournament for.

England 1- 0 Ukraine

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