if they want success.
Little teams don’t come to defend against England, come to play, you might not win but you’ll have a hell of a better chance than putting out a flat back 10. Kosovo showed you how it’s done.
I said before the game the last time England stumped up at Southampton’s ground it didn’t quite turn out how they figured it would. Macedonia in 2002 and oh look there’s the ball going over Seaman’s head direct from a corner – well how many goals went over his head… quite a few – and a two all draw.
Just minutes before the game Southgate was on telly telling us he knew all about Kosovo and how they played. How they pressed. Half a minute into the game it was obvious he knew it but hadn’t actually told any of the England players about it.
Fannying about at the back – yup still doing it – Maguire passes to Barkley. Barkley is in plenty of space but because he’s facing his own goal and clueless to what is around him he immediately passes it back to Keane. Keane has a player bearing down on him so panics and tries to pass to Maguire but instead finds a Kosovo player, one pass into the box, one shot and it’s one nil.
Kosovo weren’t here to hang on for a hoped draw and England were playing right into their hands. Shortly after they were on the press again and England were fannying about. There was seven Kosovo players in the England half and England never once thought of a chip over the top. It was wide open for one but no it was Chuckle Brothers passing their way into trouble.
England got level from a corner. Off Keane’s head onto Sterling. Real defending isn’t Kosovo’s strong suit, I mean he’s a midget and he’s all alone in the box.
The go ahead goal showed the way England should play. Pace. Don’t slow it up fannying about. Get it forward and run at ’em. They didn’t know what to do wheen Sterling turned them on the halfway line and ran at them. Sterling really didn’t know what to do when he approached the box. A pass to Harry and a Harry we haven’t seen for a bit. One touch onto his left and bang through the keeper for 2-1.
The third again came from quick play. This time the ball was chipped forward while Kosovo were moaning about one of their players being down, Harry played it to Sancho, who scampered into the box, crossing from the byline the Kosovo keeper pulled his foot away from blocking the ball, with such precision and timing that the defender just knocked in an own goal. The keeper couldn’t have done a better job of getting it wrong. England didn’t get it wrong, they played to the whistle. The visiting player had hurt himself and was actually injured at all despite the protestations of the players and coach.
The fourth was almost the same as the second a quick break, Sterling running, not quite knowing what to do, kicking the ball to Sancho for him to score. The fifth, Sterling with a lovely touch knocking the ball past the defender for him to run onto. Into the box and he tries to dink the keeper, kicking the floor and completely duffing the attempt he play it to Sancho for the youngster’s second.
Four goals all scored in the same manner. running at ’em with pace. Not fannying about and sideways passes. Yet that’s what they were doing for most of that half and most of the second half. Why? Why does Sterling start running at ’em and then stop stick his arse out and give the ball away? Why? Why? Why?
The second half started like so many have under Southgate. Again I ask what does he do to them during the break. I mean I know he’s the dullest thing in Dullville but it can’t just be his tedious voice that sends them to sleep. Is there Mogadon in the half-time oranges?
A few minutes in and a cross from their right finds Berisha, scorer of the first goal, all on his lonesome in the box. Henderson is flailing around, arm up for a nonexistent offside, he flies past the Kosovan, who steps inside and curls a nice goal past Pickford.
Not long after and a cross into the box from the right sees more blind panic. Maguire not really getting the ball he then gets the Kosovo player. Penalty. Pickford got his hands to it but wasn’t strong enough to keep it out.
Both goals saw the fullbacks disappear. Both of them were pretty much absent for the whole game. Contributing nothing going forward and nothing in defence. While the defending midfielder was helping in the build up to their goals.
Henderson and Barkley were doing nothing until the latter actually turned up, missing since his back pass. Running at the defence he won a penalty. The ref was being in one of those picky modes stopping Harry taking the kick to show a yellow for encroachment. It was two minutes after the awarding when Harry had his spot kick saved. After me saying he doesn’t miss ’em anymore, following his pair against Bulgaria. It wasn’t a good penalty, just the right height for the keeper.
There was time for Sterling to be needlessly offside, which was lucky for him as his attempt from less than six yards out, in front of an empty net ballooned over the bar. He’s missed some sitters, this would probably be the worst. He also hit the bar, when the keeper saved another inept attempt at a dink.
Rashford’s introduction livened England, his direct running, why it took Southgate so long to make a change, when it was obvious things weren’t working is anyone’s guess.
They also had chances. This was a game that could have very easily ended up 5-5 or 8-5 and it showed everyone else that the England defence is there for the taking. “Bigger teams” know it and have done it. “Little teams” should pay heed. Sitting back with a flat back 10 has got them nowhere. Might as well go for it, if you’re gonna lose anyway. Better not to die on your knees.
Kosovo are ranked 120th in the world, they’re fairly new to international football
And again it shows how things will pass once the “little teams” are disposed of in qualifying…