It was quite fitting that England’s trip to Poland see their World Cup qualifier end in a one all draw because there’s quite a similarity with them and the way the played.
It was billed as a game between two of the best strikers in the game and in the end both of them played their part in the final score. By scoring and not scoring.
Well, this wasn’t Andorra, though of course England struggled against them, as they finally faced a team that tried to attack for the first time in this international block of games. Though Poland aren’t that great, with a disappointing Euros, where they picked up just one point in the group games, and a string of losses under they recently appointed Portuguese manager.
They did start this game the stronger but much like England when they do that, they couldn’t find their talisman striker. It as generally front foot stuff, quick passing and movement that just failed at the last. While pressing when out of possession, which England haven’t really faced in these games, so they couldn’t amble about passing it between the defenders. England or course are a bit lost when they can’t do this.
Poland eventually tired and dropped back, letting England gain more of the ball. But much like their hosts nothing much came of it. One good chance from Kane when Sterling, again starting on the right to accommodate Grealish, got to the byline and stood up a almost perfect cross. Again, I can only assume Kane totally miss-headed the ball through utter shock and disbelief at Sterling doing the right thing. Sterling made sure he corrected this “mistake” and every time he had the opportunity to get to the byline, he cut inside, ran into trouble and lost the ball. usually followed by falling over and claiming a foul, that wasn’t there.
Grealish was claiming for a few as normal. Though since he’s moved to Citeh he seems to get more upset than he used to. The smile has gone. But then the ref’s whistle has as well, a lot of the time. Now they’ve been instructed to let the game flow and that falling down screaming doesn’t indicate a foul, Grealish isn’t quite so useful as he once was.
With all this Poland slowly turned into England and in situations where they were going forward quickly with the minimal amount of touches now saw them slowly take too many touches before going backwards.
Within a minute of each other the two strikers showed the main difference between the pair. Lewandowski had a shot from outside the box but it was weak effort that caused Pickford no trouble. Then a poor clearance by Poland landed at Rice, he squared it to Walker who knocked it down to Kane, about halfway inside the polish half, he took a step and fired a shot that just cleared a Polish defender before curling, perfectly, away from a static Szczesny, who really didn’t have a chance. For Kane to move past Michael Owen into sole possession of fifth spot on the all time England scorers list. Just 12 behind Rooney now, in just over half the games Rooney played – 64 to 120, he’s played 25 fewer games than Owen.
At this point it was predictable what would follow. England would go backwards and backwards, inviting pressure and maybe throw in a couple of howlers. The first howler came when Pickford dithered on a Stones back-pass. With plenty of time, the Polish player was about 20 yards away when Pickford first touched the ball, he waited until the player was right on top of him before attempting his hoof up the park. Getting lucky the ball ricocheted up off the Poles’ leg and not straight into the net as Pickford scrambled back to retrieve it.
Then into the first minute of the four in added time, the Poles attacked down England’s right. Sterling flounced out of helping, walker was left spinning with a turn, the cross was weakly cleared to another Polish player, his shot was blocked out to the right, where Lewandowski stood up a cross to the back post for Szymanski( to nod in the deserved equaliser.
I read this week that England have a team that would win the Premier League, I kinda doubt that what I do know is they have a manager who will never win the Premier League. A manager who was sacked by the only club that hired him and they only did that because he was there and mates with the owner. A manager that no other club has really shown an interest in and no top side will go for, even though that’s what he thinks will happen. That’s why he’s not signing a new deal, Southgate figures one of the top six will be after him following the World Cup.
But no, they won’t. And while the Poland manager Sousa, who has been under pressure with as stated a poor Euros and poor results generally, made five substitutions, giving his side some renewed life, Southgate stood there looking befuddled and never looked like doing anything as England tired.
As I’ve said so many times, whatever England do, it’ll be despite Southgate not due to him…