England on the slow train to

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Russia.

With qualification in the bag, England could go out in their final group game uninhabited and entertain the fans in a feast of football.

Or they could just be England, Southgate’s England.

Even when the pound shop Iain Duncan Smith does something right, in picking a back three. He has to do something wrong, in picking Henderson and moving Rashford.

With a back three, which is the formation that’s seen the best out of England at tournaments, you don’t need two holding midfielders. So Gareth starts with Winks but why did he pair him with Henderson? I mean why hinder the lad with this dolt?

Now maybe I’m happy on a club level that Dier was rested but wouldn’t it be somewhat logical to play Winks alongside his teammate the one he’s played with a number of times?

No, Gareth reckons not. So we get three at the back and Henderson passing the ball sideways / back and standing there stopping the centre backs coming forward and slowing any move in that direction.

Now I’m certainly not getting as overexcited about Winks’ debut as some. He did OK but did he really do enough to warrant the reaction? There was still too much passing for passing sake, back, sideways. No, he wasn’t helped by those around him but when he went forward he showed something, something he could have done more of.

Rashford has played well for England on the left. Every time he’s been shifted to the right it hasn’t worked. Shifting him for Dele didn’t work here.

Behind Rashford was the biggest disappointment of the season so far. Trippier has been given a golden opportunity to step up for club and country, he’s blowing it. Far too hesitant and always looking and ready to pass back. The one time he’s played looking forward, against Huddersfield, he was so much better.

Again he’s not helped by those around him. He needs movement in front of him, so he can either pass the ball forward or gain space from defenders following the movement. But he has to do much more himself.

Dele is just crowded out, like he has been pretty much all season and Harry gets no service whatsoever. Oh but he could do more. What more? If he moves out of the box there’s no one left in it to score and so the ball just gets slowly passed back to the keeper. Ex ref Keith Hackett says it wasn’t a penalty. Well if you ever catch the ITV reruns of The Big Match you see just one bad refereeing performance, it’s by Keith for Man U and against Spurs and it’s a real shocker.

The keeper, well Butland really had only one good save to make, from Keane, his own teammate. It was a good save. He and the defence are hindered by this desire for them to play out from the back like Barcelona. They can’t and so shouldn’t.

Doing so is one of the most infuriating things about this England, it’s up there with Raheem Sterling.

The defence was a little shaky but as it’s the first time they’ve played together it’s not a huge surprise. But if you think adding Cahill will make them far more solid you are a bit delusional. He like Hart have a howler in them most games.

Hart should be gone now, nobody with any sense has him in the World Cup squad, barring injuries, many injuries.

But this is Southgate were talking about and that’s where it all comes from, top down. At the last three tournaments England were insipid and uninspiring. Roy Hodgson is insipid and uninspiring. England are still insipid and uninspiring. Southgate is…

There’s been reports of the Russians bugging England’s hotel and training, well if they need help sleeping but it’s not going to last long.

The only real bright spot on the night was the Jocks as they yet again failed to reach a tournament. It’s been so long that it’s in the same decade as three of the teams in the group came into being.

Who knew when John Collins scored that penalty against Brasil in the opening game of the 1998 World Cup it would be downhill from there…

I’m sure there’s a song in there something about… Scotland cannae do it cos they didnae qualify…

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