Bulgaria bottled it.
The Czech Republic followed up Kosovo in showing that England could be turned over, Bulgaria bottled it. Cowards on and off the pitch.
After the Czech Republic ended England’s unbeaten run in qualifiers, stretching back 10 years, on Friday with their late winner, Bulgaria should have stood back and had a thought.
They were stuffed at Wembley 4-0 but had some chances, they’re bottom of the qualifying group, why not go for it. Yes Bulgaria are rubbish but England are flakey and crumble under any pressure, might as well try and not just go it with the old flat back 10. They went the cowards route. A five man defence with more defence slightly in front of that.
England started both games quickly. Five minutes against the Czechs. How many times have a I said it? Triangles and movement. For England and Spurs this should be done more. It works. The ball played to Harry and he plays it perfectly through the defence to the onrushing Sterling. Sterling gets into the box, keeps running, gets lost, doesn’t know what to do, so stops and is luckily taken out. For another Harry penalty.
The Czechs picked themselves up, went for England and equalised within four minutes the Bulgarians crumbled.
The Czech equaliser came from a corner where England were completely exposed. Was any of them actually looking at the ball? Or were they too busy playing grab ass with their opposing number. Rugby meets Come Dancing. Danny Rose thinks that marking the back post means you are literally marking the back post. All that looking just at players and still there’s someone free to knock it in.
Southgate’s changes to formation and the players he picked to play it didn’t work against the Czechs. Some people seemed surprised that Henderson and Rice provided sod all to England going forward while not exactly shielding the defence either. It’s almost as if they’d never watched a previous England game.
The fullbacks were none existent. Rose hardly got forward and when Trippier did he ended up facing backwards. Sancho was absent until he went off. Mount tried but didn’t succeed. Kane was again the only creative outlet in midfield playing people into good shooting positions. The type of positions we need harry on the end of rather than being the provider.
This was the same in both games. Harry played some lovely balls that he’d love to be on the end of. And yet again he was provided with very little service himself so on the very few occasions it came it seemed to take him by such surprise he fluffed his attempts. Kane is always stunned when Sterling passes him the ball, especially in the box.
The Czech winner came when they were doing that fannying about at the back thing, you know that routine that always works out well. Then Pickford did that Kyle Walker thing of waiting and waiting and waiting before playing the ball so when he finally kicked it the ball was deeper in his box and didn’t go as far up field. A stupid attempt to head the ball by Rose, left him flat on his back and plenty of space for the Czechs to attack. What was left of the Keystone back Four then left Ondrasek all alone in the middle of the area for the ball to be cut back to him to score from 12 yards. The greatest moment in the player’s history.
Meanwhile three days later in Sofia, Bulgari went behind early and then just packed it in for the rest of the first half, seemingly hoping the UEFA officials would call the game off. heading in at the break four nil down.
The opener came when Rashford decided not to fanny about and just have a bang at goal. The keeper should probably have saved it say people who watched David Seaman let in numerous goals above his head like that. Rashford provided more than Sancho. Bulgaria did have an attempt before England’s second but they were weak up front.
That second again came from triangles and movement. Sterling to Harry and again he plays the perfect ball into the box for Sterling to run onto. Sterling tries a shot which is heading for a throw when Barkley gets on the end of it.
Southgate thought that the answer to England’s shaky defence is to keep half of it, free pass Maguire alongside Mings who basically had very little to do was given the man of the match by many. This must be down to not kicking the ball into his own net. Watch him for Villa and he’s got a howler in him against better opposition.
Southgate thought the answer to England’s midfield rubbish against the Czechs was Winks. Sideways and back passes, that’s the way forward – the usual “he’s one of our own” suspects loved the stats padding, of passes that did nothing, went nowhere and were of no consequence, they conveniently ignore him being put on his arse by a Bulgarian player dribbling around him. He did actually pass one ball forward more than four yards. A ball out to Trippier, who did well to take it down and get it under control, inside to Harry who curled a lovely ball over the defence, right onto the head of Barkley, while Sterling tried to get in the road.
Harry again the provider from outside the box. Harry again with a ball Harry would love to be on the end of. Minutes into added to and Harry was providing again. The slowest triangle of the lot. Harry out to Trippier, who played it into the box, around the defender, Harry running throw squares it for Sterling for an one a plate tap-in.
It took well after the hour for the fifth. Harry again the provider. A perfect through ball for Sterling and for once he didn’t panic and actually knew which foot to use. Sterling and harry had hit the post. Harry’s attempt similar to one of his recent league goals, against Southampton. For the fifth, Harry turned provider and finisher as he picked up the lose ball, skipped past the defence and slammed in a left footed shot – you wouldn’t know which is his strongest foot in such situations.
Most teams will have witnessed the Czech result and performance, any team worth their salt will go for England after that and won’t be cowardly like Bulgaria…