We’re not sure what game he was watching today, but Slakr seems to have been encouraged by England’s underwhelming performance today.
I cannot believe the bollocks you hear on Television these days. I’m not talking Pop Idol here, I’m talking about the jokers who claim to commentate on the football. It was bad enough during the season, but it seems like they’ve used up whatever “quality” they had, and are suffering mental exhaustion well before the lads out on the pitch. Maybe we weren’t all watching the same game, but I certainly saw some positives in today’s game, and coming out of it with three points, I think maybe England can go all the way this time. And I may actually watch them do it, if I can only find the mute button on the telly.
Just before half time I hear that “if ever England needed their inspirational captain, its now.” Hold on, I guess T&T scored three when I popped into the loo? No, still 0-0. 45 minutes to go. England have needed their “inspirational captain” on many an occasion, and sometimes he’s delivered. Chelsea’s leader had the more decisive contribution in the first half this time. But why in god’s name was everyone panicking so early on? Yes, we had scored 4 against Jamaica in the testrun for this game, but there’s a reason T&T qualified and Jamaica didn’t. T&T may not have had the quality players, but they held the Swede’s to a 0-0 draw, playing most of the second half with 10 men. So lets show them a little respect. At 75 minutes, I could understand panick setting in. At 45? I don’t think so.
And here’s another thing. While T&T had some good opportunities on the break, and had a goal spectacularly cleared off the line by Terry, I don’t think there’s a soul who watched the game who didn’t think England dominated it completely. Trinadad were playing for the draw, and defending deep in a 4-5-1 and still we were getting crosses into the box, and onto Crouch’s head. Both Crouch and Owen had chances that you would expect them to score from in the first half — Owen early on when Hislop spilled a Lampard shot, and Crouch at the death of the first half. Lampard had (and took) a number of good shots. Rooney got himself on the field. Lennon looked like he could run rings around defenders. Crouch scored a goal — and from an chance he’s likely to get a couple of in every single game he plays. Beckham pinged in the cross for the game-winner. Stevie G showed that his shot is just as good in an England shirt. Terry, Cole, Rio, Carragher, Beckham and Gerrard all showed an ability to come back and defend against the break, and when it wasn’t a fast break the defense was rock solid in its ability to get the ball back.
So why the hell is everyone moaning? Yes, England left it late. And yes, the final ball could have been better at times. But they were good enough on the day, and once we’re in the knockout stages there are no make-weight opponents left who are playing for a draw. Once England got the go-ahead goal, Trinadad were forced to push forward, and we found the ability to carve space at will. Would I have preferred that had happened in the 8th minute? Of course. And I’d have loved to see a match-fit forward sitting on the bench. But we’ve got the squad Sven picked, and we’ve got six points. And we’ve actually performed all the tasks we had to in the first round with a game still to go:
(1) See if Rooney can play
(2) Decide who should be the attacking central midfielder, and who should cover
(3) Take some of the weight of expectation off this side
So when Alan Hansen, Gary Linekar and Co rubbish the England team tonight and tomorrow, on TV and in the papers, I’m going to ignore them (well actually I’m going to swear at them, and draw little beards on their pictures in the paper, but I’m just immature that way). Nothing I saw makes me believe any less. It’s coming home.