England's 8-0 win over minnows San Marino will have provided a timely confidence boost ahead of Tuesday's 2014 World Cup qualifier against Montenegro.
Despite an indifferent build-up to the match England produced a very professional performance in a game that could have attracted criticism if they hadn't achieved their eventual 8-0 victory. I got the feeling that anything less than this margin of victory would have had the vultures circling.
In the past, England have sometimes let their standards slip in games where they have been expected to win. This was a game where they were expected to win but also expected to win handsomely.
Despite the quality of the opposition, England had to maintain a high tempo and self-motivation throughout the game. The lack of atmosphere in the ground, with the exception of the loyal England band, and the general feel of a pre-season friendly could have demotivated the England players but to their credit they showed their quality and professionalism for the whole game.
An 8-0 victory in itself will not be a surprise many onlookers but the goals were just part of the impressive display. Individual players did themselves no harm either.
For me the most impressive display came from youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was a constant threat throughout the game with his skill, pace and strength. With Theo Walcott absent for Tuesday night's qualifier against Montenegro, Oxlade-Chamberlain must surely be in contention to start. His second international goal will have been an added bonus.
Throughout the side, England can point to positives. Jermain Defoe, with his own brace of goals, will have boosted his confidence, particularly after such a lean spell in front of goal with his club side Tottenham.
Daniel Sturridge impressed as a substitute, scoring his first international goal, and the likes of Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard performed to their usual high standards. Each of them also weighed in with a goal which will add to their ever-growing international tally.
Leighton Baines is becoming a true contender for the left-back position and is possibly the first full-back for many years to place Ashley Cole under pressure for his place in the side. Baines has continued his Everton form on the international scene and Cole, despite his 100 caps, must surely be looking over his shoulder. True, Baines did not have to do much defending but he showed how good he is going forward and looked comfortable doing so.
England boss Roy Hodgson will have been delighted with the partnership of Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott. They were never tested throughout the game but 90 minutes playing together will enhance their understanding of each other's game and increase their match fitness.
Obviously this result was expected and nobody should get carried away. However, it does make a nice change for England to perform so clinically and in such a professional manner. They could have easily been distracted by the build-up to the match but Hodgson and the players deserve credit for this performance.
Quite often we are quick to criticise England but on this occasion we must be quietly impressed. The next game against Montenegro is huge in terms of qualification but England will approach it with huge confidence and rightly so.
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