Football

Are England returning to the dark age of football?

Hodgson may be taking England backwards. (©GettyImages)
Hodgson may be taking England backwards. (©GettyImages).

Frank Lampard scored his 29th goal for England to rescue his side from a defeat against the Republic of Ireland and spare manager Roy Hodgson's blushes. 

In the first game between the two sides since the abandoned match in 1995, the disappointing draw showed nothing to reassure England fans that their team has changed since Fabio Capello's reign.

The 80,000 spectators were only mildly entertained at Wembley in what proved to be a scrappy affair. However, there were two main moments of quality that stood out and they were, of course, the two goals.

West Brom striker, Shane Long, looped in a superb header past England goalkeeper, Joe Hart, before Lampard poked home after great work from Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge just after half-time. However, not long after that, Sturridge had to be taken off on a stretcher, after he sustained what appeared to be a serious injury.

Before that, the Republic of Ireland were comfortable, and passed the ball around the pitch with relative ease, with Seamus Coleman being, by far, the game's outstanding player. 

However, England piled on the late pressure, and the Republic's goalkeeper, David Forde, was called into action to thwart Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott to prevent a winning goal for the home side.

Despite England's efforts, they could not find the goal to clinch them victory, and it left many supporters and even the manager, with very contrasting thoughts after the full time whistle. 

It also brought up the issue about the captaincy of Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole for the night, an issue that had been debated in the media for days before. 

Spurred on by their fantastic supporters, the Republic pushed forward, and got their much deserved breakthrough in the 13th minute, when Coleman's sumptuous cross was superbly met by Shane Long, who rose over Glen Johnson to nod home and send their travelling faithful wild.

England pushed forward 10 minutes after, and Daniel Sturridge, on his first start for his country pressed forward and, after some tricky footwork within the box, supplied the ball to Lampard who swept the ball beyond Forde and draw England level.

However, that proved to be Sturridge's last impact as, after chasing Stoke's Glenn Whelan down, he pulled up and was taken off on a stretcher after lengthy treatment on the touchline. At half time England made two changes with Ben Foster replacing Hart, and versatile player, Phil Jones replacing Johnson, who had a poor first half.

On the other side of the defence Ashley Cole, making his 102nd appearance for England, nearly scored his first international goal, after getting into the box and would've got onto the end of Walcott's cross if it wasn't for St Ledger's vital interception. He was taken off after 53 minutes, and replaced by Leighton Baines.

It was after this that England proved to be most promising, and nearly yielded the second, and potentially clinching goal. Walcott's shot was saved by David Forde, who gathered comfortably, and his legs thwarted Oxlade-Chamberlain after Rooney's pass found its way to him.

So, at full time, both sides were forced to settle for a draw.

England's performance was bad and they definitely not deserve the win at full-time. It was lacklustre, and limp, and was described by Gary Lineker as being a return to the “dark ages”. As scathing as this remark is, it is also very true.

England fans were subjected to a performance reminiscent to that of some of the worst performances in Capello's reign, and Roy Hodgson was brought in especially to change that. 

Hodgson must change the 4-4-2 formation, and allow Wayne Rooney and his wingers more freedom, so they are able to break forward with pace and play the exciting football we know they are capable of. 

Also, who will partner Michael Carrick in central midfield? Lampard? He definitely put in a fantastic display last night and rescued his country again, something he has done over the course of his illustrious career for the national team. 

Or will Steven Gerrard come in and hold the midfield whilst Carrick drops back, or pushes forward and pushes the ball out to the wingers?

The two midfielders mentioned above are certainly old, in footballing terms, though, and a bit of youth and enthusiasm has to be integrated into the national squad, in order to move on from the failure of recent tournaments, and emulate what the Germans did. 

They must be our model if England are to move forward. Phil Jones can play in midfield, his fellow Manchester United player. Jordan Henderson too, could be considered, after a good end to the season with Liverpool.

These players must be considered, and involved in major tournaments along with the experience, in order to create a blend of both which could, maybe, see England win their first major performance since '66. 

England's performance definitely wasn't enough, the partnerships in every area of the pitch looked unsure, and consequently, the pace and vigour of the Republic's team took advantage of this, and could've grabbed a shock win. So Roy, change it before England do return to the dark ages and emulate the poor and dull performances they have carried out under countless former managers.


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Topics:
Internationals
World Cup
Football

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