while England prove they’re not wrong.
England’s first warm up match, a one nil win over a very poor Austria, for the Euros was a god awful 90 minutes full of the usual failings which won’t improve when Southgate puts his favourites in.
During ITV’s coverage of this dire fest the commentator said, while talking about how bad the Austrian team were these days, that when they last met a class side they were ripped apart.
Over 90 minutes England didn’t rip them apart.
Later on co-commentator Lee Dixon said Austria offered nothing going forward and were very lacking up front.
Over 90 minutes Austria managed 5 more shots than England, 14 to 9, while achieving the same number on target, 4.
Yes, England made one of those shots count, one more than the visitors. But it was a clueless display, only matched by the pundits moaning about Harry Kane dropping deep and going wide. Well if all those midfielders and wide players they moon over actually provided some service then the striker wouldn’t need to go chasing the ball to try and create something.
Passing the ball back doesn’t keep Harry hanging around the box.
And if Harry hadn’t gone out wide then the goal wouldn’t have come, as he picked up one of the few forward passes from midfield, played the perfect ball to Lingard, his cushioned ball to Grealish was cut out by the Austrian defender but in doing so played it into the path of Saka, who took his first senior international goal well.
Southgate, stood there looking confused in his pyjamas, then sent on a bunch of substitutes which just made a bad game even worse. While he will make all the right noises – after all that’s why he was hired by the FA – he’s probably happy that Trent Alexander-Arnold limped off with what looked like a tournament ending injury. He really didn’t want to pick him, doubtful he would have started him, or even play him at all.
The game showed that England are going into a tournament with their best hope consisting of Jack Grealish being fouled.
The usual routine at tournaments is England struggle past the teams they are favourites to beat then lose to the decent sides. Austria fit that first category…