For better or for worse, England are Brazil

England 2 - 0 Poland - World Cup Qualifier group H - Wembley - October 15th, 2013


Be careful what you wish for. This could get embarrassing in the jungle. As two decent performances on the trot mask what has gone before and optimism raises it’s ugly head again.

Rejoice, Roy was bold his England side played well and made it to the 2014 World Cup finals. There was no repeat of ’73 or do I not like that or even the wally with the brolly – yeah I know that was the Euros. Yes it was probably one of the more enjoyable games we’ve seen during Roy’s reign but you can’t let it cloud out the facts.

This was a piss easy group. A piss easy group that England scraped through by one point, you look at those in the play-offs and thank god it was so easy or one of them could be up next.

And Roy’s boldness. Just think about those bold players Roy picked. Those bold players that got the high scores in your paper this morning and Saturday morning. Leighton Baines and Andros Townsend. Now think about if those two would have played if Cole and Walcott had been available?

When all four were at Roy’s disposal just a few weeks backs who did he go with? Cole and Walcott and how did taht work out for ya? Bit crap weren’t it.

Then read over those little bits next to the player’s score and ask yourself those who are writing Ashley who? next to Baines’ 8, 9 or 10, weren’t they telling you Cole was the greatest left back the world had ever seen a short time ago and Roy had to pick him.

While Baines was sticking in crosses I bet you all were wishing for Cole to be there playing himself into a position where he could only pass it back – or taking hours with a throw-in. While Townsend was running at defenders it was crying out for Walcott to run fast with absolutely no control over the ball, as it goes left and right with every other touch.

There was one thing that did stand out last night and I don’t know if Roy had anything to do with it. But that was the most controlled, disciplined, unselfish display I’ve seen from Steven Gerrard in an England shirt since I don’t know when. And while Poland haven’t exactly been great it wasn’t as if this was against Andorra or San Marino where he normally performs.

No Hollywood shots no glory balls that were miles off their intended victim. Only one real attempt, which I would actually blame Townsend for it’s eventually failure. Should have come to meet the ball instead of the usual English disease of letting it come to you.

Maybe it was Carrick next to him that calmed Gerrard down to this display. That said both started pretty ropy with some wayward passing but after that fitted in well. Until Roy had to go change it for changes sake and introduce Lampard which buggered everything up.

He even deserved to celebrate his goal in the manner he did. Usually his penalties and tap ins are celebrated wildly over the top me-me-me style. But here he had to work for it and well it it put the seal on the deal.

Just made things certain because the Poles could quite have easily levelled things up producing an end scoreline and result that stopped England in ’73. For most of the game it was ’73 all over again. As Rooney, Townsend, Welbeck and Sturridge did their best impressions of Tony Currie, Mick Channon, Martin Chivers, Martin Peters and Allan Clarke. While thankfully their manager picked Szczesny in goal, who made saves but wasn’t quite the Tomaszewski that you feel Boruc could have been.

One difference was the Poles on the break, which they did more often that 40 years ago but weren’t quite so deadly, while Hart didn’t have a Hart howler in him like Shilton did back then. It was no coincidence though that the visitors attacked the English right. Smalling looked completely out of his depth there. Luckily this choice of Roy’s didn’t cost ’em.

Rooney calmed things down before the break, losing his headband he met Baines perfect cross with a perfect header after Carrick had perfectly swept the ball out to the fullback. Nerves needed calming after quite a number of misses. Including Townsend’s left footed smack off the bar. The ball just seemed to fall wrong for the strikers, more often than not sticking under their feet. And when they had clear cut chances they kicked wide. I’m looking at you Welbeck.

Took until a few minutes before the end for Gerrard to clinch it. It was lucky, it bounced about – almost as if Walcott was playing – but he was determined and finished it off.

When they attacked and played with purpose England looked better than they have in most of this qualifying campaign – yes they were caught on the break – when they pranny about and and try and hold on they look hopeless. But with the draw for the World Cup groups going on rankings now they are going to be in the second tier of teams, Moldova, Poland and San Marino aren’t going to be there, they’ll probably be based in the hottest part of the country and Roy will no doubt ignore what he saw over the last two games and drop back into picking the usual suspects – while taking some player who is injured.

World Cup 2014 in Brazil, what has it got written all over it for England…

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