A little over a week away from a year before football crazy Brazil host their first World Cup tournament in 64 years and the poor old dears can’t even beat England.
Never mind the 19th place in the FIFA rankings, what with them having no competitive matches and well the way those rankings have England in the top 10, the damning stats are in two games they’ve conceded four goals while scoring only three against this England side. A loss and a home draw that was nearly their first home loss to a European side since England last fluked it over there in ’84, against this Roy Hodgson England side.
An England side that might not just be there in Brazil next June.
And if they were to play as they did in the first half it would be a relief for all if they didn’t qualify.
Best player on the park, Joe Hart, by a country mile is all you need to know. I saw a paper’s marks out of ten for the England side and the back four were all getting sixes, with talk of them doing OK with dodgy moments. Well on that basis why was Hart having to make save after save? Baines you can let off, he injured himself very early on but for some strange reason was replaced when itw as obvious he was struggling. But then a look at Ashley Cole sat on the bench and you can see why Roy took his time.
Again the fullbacks created England’s problems. Lost count the number of crosses Oscar had from the visitors left with no left-back in sight. Or the easy through balls that found a Brazilian player in acres of space with Glen Johnson nowhere to be seen on their right.
What followed was either Hart brilliance or Brazilian profligacy in front of goal. Then blind panic and an aimless hoof up the park by a player in red. A lot of red, what with their faces not quite the usual pasty colour. England’s first half spectator, Rooney, obviously felt it was a top coat colder out there with his long sleeved under shirt. Or he saw the colour of the ball and figured they were expecting snow.
If in the unlikely event one of those aimless hoofs found it’s way to an England player they then proceeded to play their own little game of who can get rid of the ball the quickest. Which didn’t necessarily mean offloading it to a team mate, in fact more often than not it didn’t go anywhere near a red shirted player.
Aimless first time chips to nowhere from Lamaprd. But the main culprit was Walcott. When not dithering he was running away from the ball, letting defenders intercept it with ease and his main party pieces. finding himself with the ball in loads of space, a great swathe of grass in front of him into which he could run he would immediately pass it sideways or back, playing someone into trouble. Never mind no footballing brain, no brain at all.
He had one gilt edged chance in the first half but combined most of what had gone before, dithering and looking so scared of making a choice it was as if he wanted to run away from the ball instead of the shot he eventually got off. To no effect.
The only shock at half-time was the 0-0 scoreline.
No shock it didn’t stay that way long into the second half. Cracking attempt by Hernanes, Hart no hope, as it hit the woodwork and a nice finish from Fred that was far more than the simple tap in I think I heard Andy Townsend say it was.
Then something strange happened. Roy made a move. Other than just standing there in the technical area screaming at the ineptitude. And it was a positive move. Removing a defender for an attacker. The hopeless Johnson withdrawn, Jones moved from being hopeless in the middles of the park to right-back and Oxlade-Chamberlain brought on.
Positive. What was Roy thinking?
It had an almost immediate effect. England seemed to have more forward intent. And Chamberlain did what no one had done in red in the previous hour. He did something without dithering. Pass onto Lampard whose ball Rooney was lucky to control but Chamberlain had kept on moving and was there for a snap shot and the score was level.
Just over ten minutes later and Brazil’s profligacy looked like it was gonna really piss on their parade. An aimless, useless ball out of defence after a shocking ball by Marcelo, which was luckily kept in play by Milner, who played a nice one-two with Thiago Silva, fed Rooney who had a bang and it deflected into the top corner.
A couple of minutes that made everyone forget the rubbish that had preceded it.
Then brought back down to earth as yet another cross from the left with hindrance from Cole to find yet another Brazil player all on lonesome in the middle, Paulinho, to volley in the equaliser. Good job those defenders got their sixes.
What followed was the standard
never mind the quality, feel the width comments from Roy.
Along with the usual platitudes towards the Germans and the way they rebooted after Euro 2000. Completely forgetting the Germans booted out the old guard and brought in youth, while the very same pundits keep talking about Gerrard’s return and Lampard and Ferdinand and Terry.
Ah but Roy only has 30% of the premier League to pick from. Yes he does but does he use that 30% – which if you take each team in the league having a 25 man squad is 150 players to pick 20 plus from – no he doesn’t. The U21s will have a few but would they have had a look in even if their championships didn’t start on Wednesday? No. He’ll stick with the tried and tested failures. Pundits moan about the inability to retain possession and yet not one of them will mention picking a player from Swansea who when they’ve come into the top flight that’s been their MO. Ball retention. So we’ll end up losing the likes of Nathan Dyer and Leon Britton will never be picked.
Just have to look at Oxlade-Chamberlain, he must feel like he’s back at his club. Only brought on as a last resort. At club you feel it’s the manager being jealous of the adulation at international level it’s just Roy being panic into a flat back ten.
So never mind the width, this should have been an embarrassment in the scoreline and if England do make it to Rio next year expect more of the same. Wilshere isn’t going to make it all better.