Considering not many fans seem to care about international football anymore, England’s performances this week have left a surprising number of people in a huff.
It would seem that the same fans, who in their almighty wisdom criticise the worth of international friendlies, were rather upset by the way Roy Hodgson’s side were taken to the cleaner’s at Wembley by Chile. We should’ve just enjoyed a week off whilst the world’s nearly sides battled it out in two legged play-offs for the right to hit the Copa Cabana next summer.
This was, after all, a feeble Chile side. Their third place finish in World Cup Qualifying, just four points behind Argentina, condemned continental champions Uruguay to a play-off place, but was clearly a fluke. And, of course, the same Alexis Sanchez who scored a sensational winner for Barcelona in the El Classico last month is merely another flashy South American footballer with no end product once he pulls on the national shirt. Like Radamel Falcao. Or Lionel Messi.
From an English point of view it was simply dire. Once upon a time England boasted an armoury of defenders. Regardless of our failings further up the pitch you could rely on a Terry Butcher-esque back-line, epitomising the great British spirit of Spitfire’s, Stonehenge and a scrap in a car park. Gone are those days. Chris Smalling looks hopelessly out of depth at international level. His delegation of defensive duties to Leighton Baines in the build-up to Sanchez’s second screamed of a man who simply didn’t fancy it. A man reluctant to take responsibility.
The great Phil Jones conundrum rumbles on too. A midfielder in defence? A defender in midfield? At the moment it seems that Jagielka and Cahill are first choice purely because they are the only choice. Default. And if, as we say, we have these two outstanding left-backs, can one of them put in a shift at right back please?
Because aside from run in straight lines and get caught out of position neither Kyle Walker nor Glen Johnson appears to do much. So having been humiliated by this clearly inferior, what better way to turn things around than with a clash against the old enemy….or at least their ‘B’ Team? Apparently not bringing a full side was ‘disrespectful’. Worth bearing in mind next time Wayne Rooney drops out of the squad for a friendly game against Azerbaijan or Andorra.
Thank goodness they did leave near enough an entire staring line up out. Had we been faced with the might of Muller, Ozil, Lahm and co., rather than such average players as Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze, things may have got embarrassing. Like they did last time. Make no mistake about it; the German’s were toying with us.
Watching Michael Ballack struggle to contain his laughter when asked by Adrian Chiles how many of the England team would get in the Germany one hurt. Lee Dixon tried to regain some dignity by throwing in the usual ‘Ashley Cole would’ answer. Yes, of course he would. Over their captain, Phillip Lahm, who was so concerned about how good Ashley Cole is that he watched the game from his flat in Munich whilst resting up ahead of Bayern’s game against Borussia Dortmund this weekend.
There was however some hope for England as Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved that it is possible to offset ten incredibly average players with one inhumanely gifted one. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those knocking around. And even if we had one he’d probably sit on the bench because, as we all know, ‘James Milner offers more protection’.
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