It looked like England’s hosts believed their own hype in last night’s World Cup qualifier. All they had to do was turn up to win. That’s England’s routine and as with England it didn’t quite work to plan.
A country of 53 million versus a country of 625,000. This was a meeting of two pretty equally matched teams.
Have to admit my viewing was intermittent during the first half – bloody ITV, bloody STV. But what I did see the home side were bloody awful. Montenegro kept gifting England the ball, closer to Joe Hart’s goal they were the worse they got.
It was an easy ride for England. Doesn’t make them world beaters as some would have you believe. Yes they had good possession but what did they do with it? Rooney back to his best. My god he ran about a bit, hit a nice chip onto the post and scored with a free header. You’d think he was Messi the praise I heard.
But with Rooney running about all over the place, Welbeck wide left and Milner on the right there was no one in the box. No focal point.
Milner on the right. Now I’m not as adverse to Milner’s place in the team as many are but his place isn’t as a wide man – I’d rather see him in the middle instead of Gerrard. England are picking players out of position just to cover for the inabilities of others. Milner, only picked as the wide right man because Johnson is inept at right-back. That’s no way to select a starting XI. Oh yes, Johnson can have shots but he can’t defend, you know the job of a defender.
On the other side it’s the same really. Welbeck is chosen for his tracking back to cover for the
best left-back the world has ever seen (© English media). I read that Ashley Cole was a defensive rock whereas I kept seeing those in red running past him with ease. Feel Welbeck is wasted out there. He certainly didn’t deserve the yellow card for diving when he was clearly clipped a couple of times.
Two up at half-time though would have flattered England no matter what the pundits said.
One up was certainly an embarrassment for the home side as things were somewhat different after the break. They brought on Damjanovic immediately, well after he’d sorted his hair and just attacked. England were all over the place.
Again England were lucky that when Montenegro got close to Hart’s goal they contrived to butcher everything. Wrong passes, miscontrols, inept shots. But they were running rings around the visitors. Carrick went missing, Cleverly… oh he was playing well if you could disappear more than being anonymous then he did, Gerrrard fannied about giving the ball away and resorting to good old fashioned humps up the park that gave the ball away.
Speaking of humps up the park giving the ball away. Was it Roy Hodgson’s plan or did Joe Hart come up with it himself to kick every goal-kick, or ball out of hand, down the right wing out of touch. Because who ever came up with it must have been pleased with the amount of times it worked.
Despite how poor Montenegro were in the final third it only looked like a matter of time before they would equalise. England just never looked like being able to hold out for a whole half. Especially as the manager stood there apparently clueless that he could change things with substitutions. But then knowing the way he seems to think he would have brought on the likes of Lampard or Parker. Don’t know what would be worse, those players or the status quo.
Of course he could have introduced some pace with Oxlade-Chamberain but that would have weakened the defence.
When it came England gave Damjanovic enough chances to score. Pinball from a corner, what three attempts by the player to eventually put it in. Think he might have had his hair ruffled after scoring. From there you could only see Montenegro winning. Yes Gerrard had his glory shot that failed like so many before.
A win wouldn’t have flattered the hosts. It was a game of two halves but they were far better during their period of domination than England were during theirs.
Roy still says England’s fate is in their own hands. Yes but that likely means they’ll have to beat Montenegro in the return fixture and it’s three games against them now without a victory. Handed yet another piss easy World Cup qualifying group and England are again struggling.
Best you can say is that at the moment England look about as likely World Cup winners as the hosts Brazil do.