on a night out with England.
A similar performance a similar result from England in their friendly against Italy, another team that failed to make it to the World Cup.
In times gone by a pair of draws against the Netherlands and Italy in friendlies before a World Cup would be good signs for England but after these two games you can’t believe the media are back to their old tricks of talking England up again.
This was another dull 90 minutes against an equally dull, very limited Italy side. They may have not matched Holland in formation but they matched them in what was lacking. Neither have a player in the middle of the park that can run a game, a Pirlo in Italy’s case, and neither looked to have a striker that fills you with any confidence he can hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.
Immobile brought the predictable lack of mobility quip from Clive Tyldesley. He’s a striker than can score in Italy but here he looked like the type of player that has got his international goals against Macedonia, Liechtenstein, Albania and Israel, which is what he’s done.
He had the chances though, a bit of pressure on Stones very early on and if the City defender hadn’t fouled him he might have tested Butland in goal. There’s the thing with Stones as well, once he’s comfortable about his place you feel he’s a liability. Then there was the free header Immobile had from a cross when – Man of the match – Walker just looked at him but didn’t bother doing anything else.
The thing was Italy were playing the way England should have been doing. They knocked a few long balls over England’s back line, it’s just their front guys weren’t Vardy. That’s how you have to use the Leicester man there’s no point fannying about at the back and slowly meandering up the park to fanny about in front of the box, when you have Vardy.
The Italians were pressing England, a lot more than the Dutch, leaving space behind their defence. On a number of occasions there was an opportunity to quickly just loft a ball over for Vardy to run onto. Because that’s the only way to use him, put the ball in front of him. But no, England dithered and the chances slipped away.
And there’s the rub, for all Slaven Bilic banging on about the pace of the England side they are so slow between the ears.
Yes Walker can run fast but he hates touching the ball, so when he splits wide and the keeper passes sideways to him, he waits and waits and waits until the last second before passing it back to the keeper, playing everyone into trouble. Sterling can run but his fannying about, running into defenders who has has to beat, yet again, instead of seeing the open man and passing the ball off is useless. Not great as the media would have you believe his performance against Italy was. All the talk of his goal tally for City this season, yeah but bar a couple of ’em they’re all tap ins from about 2 yards out.
Wow, he ran forward and was fouled, twice, for England’s goal. Well, yes but he had very little to do with the actual goal, it was the only real smart bit of fast play from those in white on the night. Lingard stopping the ball and passing it on to Vardy in a flash, for the striker to lash it home.
Contrast and compare to two free kicks England had in the Dutch half during the previous game which were passed back into England’s half.
Seen quite a few arguing about the equaliser and the use of VAR, well it got Vardy’s goal right and it got the penalty right. Dimwit reporters banging on about “clear and obvious”, well Tarkowski clearly stood on Chiesa’s foot after obviously pulling him back by the arm. The other end and everyone is screaming for it.
The same dimwits were no doubt screaming for a penalty earlier when Oxlade-Chamberlain threw himself to the ground, a most blatant of dives but of course he plays for Liverpool and so that’s been totally ignored. Now imagine if Dele had done that, we wouldn’t hear the end of it.
Italy deserved the equaliser they were running the game at that point, again Southgate’s changes completely disrupted the home side. Walker was doing his man of the match routine of leaving runners alone in the box, he stood off and was doing nothing while Tarkowski was left to deal with Chiesa. The Burnley man not helped either by Ashley Young, who with the changes made by Southgate was now on the right, almost as bad as him being on the left. My, doesn’t seeing the completely right-footed Young, playing on the left, turn his body to get the ball on his right foot in such a way that he can only pass the ball back gets tiresome quickly.
This, like the Dutch game, told us nothing we don’t already know. England can fanny about, don’t know how to play to certain players, lack any great creativity, are equally matched to another team that didn’t make it to the World Cup and are destined to the usual failure when they get to Russia…