is stop and pass backwards.
England ground out their standard cookie cutter struggle of a game against the might of Andorra to get four goals that glossed over an awful display that made you want to fly paper planes.
As predicted Southgate changed the whole starting XI for the game against the second lowest ranked UEFA team. As predicted, by those that are actually paying attention, it was the usual struggle. Imagine going ahead inside 20 minutes then taking nearly an hour to get the second from a dodgy penalty.
But when you look at the team Southgate put out and how he has them playing it can’t come as any surprise to anyone, even the happy-clappy.
How many right-backs did Southgate intend on taking to the Euros? Well, he’s back with them here. Does a team really need three right-backs starting? No. Especially not when all three don’t really work.
Trippier at left-back again didn’t work. It didn’t work at the Euros, despite the pundits saying Southgate got it right. He seems to be the first choice understudy to Shaw on the left. All other left-backs in the country might as well try and find another country, if that’s his thinking. Trippier doesn’t work because he’s always facing backwards and coming inside to use his right foot. Nothing goes forward.
Reece James doesn’t work because he just passes back. While Southgate played a blinder by picking Alexander-Arnold in the midfield three. You can see Southgate’s thinking. He doesn’t want to play him, he was forced by the player’s performances to pick him for the Euro squad and was revealed that TAA pulled out with an injury. Now with his good for so far this season, Southgate has to pick him but if he plays hm out of position, then he won’t play well and it’s an excuse to not play him again. Gareth wouldn’t want to upset is favourites.
I read one pundit saying Southgate saw it wasn’t working so made a rapid change. It was half-time. Rapid? Even then he got it wrong. There was a simple answer. As said Trippier wasn’t working, both fullbacks were basically playing as winger, with no real defensive duties. Move Saka to the left, play TAA on the right. Then get ’em to head to the byline, Saka to run in and TAA to put in crosses. TAA could also take the set pieces, because as well as not working in open play, Trippier’s set pieces don’t seem to work these days either.
One of the main reasons England are always passing backwards is the ineptitude of the passing. how many times do you see an England player facing forwards only for them to have to stop because the pass is behind them? The other reason is the fear installed by Southgate and the general cowardice. It’s Andorra. If you can’t dribble past Andorra should you really be in the Premier League never mind the national team? But they’re scared to try, because Southgate fills them with fear.
The opener came from Saka doing something, a cross over that fell to Lingard to score his first for England for a while. But then as I said it took nearly an hour. During which birthday boy debutant Bamford found out what it’s like being Harry Kane, when you don’t get any service. It was no surprise that Southgate went by the numbers just after the hour, when he made some changes and brought on three of his starters.
But why? Why not try Bamford and Kane together, one as 9 the other as 10. It’s Andorra for Christ’s sake, try two strikers. Try something that isn’t wrapped in cowardice. It’s Andorra for Christ’s sake.
The penalty came shortly after the three changes and involved all three. One two between Grealish and Mount, Grealish plays the ball back to Mount who dithers because he doesn’t know what to do, until he’s touched and goes down screaming. Kane scored his 40th goal for England to move level with Owen in fifth place.
England then did their usual bang a couple more in to make it look a bit more respectable. First Lingard toe poked a knuckle ball in, then for the only time they did anything quickly, TAA took a quick corner to Lingard who crossed for Saka to finish it off.
And there was the thing. When England went at Andorra or did something quickly, it paid off. But for so much of the match they did everything slowly. Where one touch was required they took 10. When pass and move forward was required, they stopped and passed back. The irony of the ref doing Andorra for being slow to take a throw, when England are the slowest throw takers out there.
In the end the real cheers were for those that got some distance with their paper planes, while the standout performer on the field was a yellow balloon…