There’s new faces, exciting prospects, but it’s the same old dried up leader and the same old inadequacies that saw them scrape past an even younger and even worse Norwegian side in front of one man and his dog.
At the weekend Roy Hodgson was repeated shown on TV at games, of course he was watching those he’d picked, ones that were gonna play anyway. At one point he was surrounded by empty seats. Sat there with a rictus grin he looked like an old bloke taken from his old folks home on a day out to rekindle old memories.
Against Norway when he wasn’t slowly getting lower and lower bending forward in his seat he was smelling his finger as if he’d poked through the paper earlier and was checking.
I didn’t hang around to listen to his post-match diatribe but after he got home I image he slowly made his way up to his bedroom in his Stannah Stairlift, slippers on, hot cocoa in hand actually quite happy at what went on at Wembley.
While Roy stays in charge the smell of decay will hang around the England team. After all if Roy had his way the England team last night could have included Gerrard and Lampard.
But no Roy chose Wilshere and Henderson, along with that other perennial failure Rooney, now captain so undroppable. No coincidence that things looked better, pacier, faster, when the former of those two midfielders and the captain exited the scene.
A clueless first half where the visiting goalkeeper, on a team who have kept one clean sheet in their previous six games, didn’t have a save to make, hell England only had two shots on target all game and one of them was the goal.
The penalty the only thing of note, bar elbowing a Norway player that quite easily could have seen red, that Rooney did during his 70 minutes on the pitch. The rest was just the standard huff and puff that we saw in Brazil and before. But he’s captain so he’s got to play even though his club form has matched his England form.
Another rub on Roy. Was expecting Townsend to come on at some point. I mean he’s had a completely rubbish start to the season so had to be in the squad. In fact bar one little group of games he’s had a rubbish year but still called up no matter what.
Roy can’t look past the bleeding obvious…
M = minutes player
G = goals scored
A = assists
Player A has done nothing over three seasons, has five England caps, player B and C play a similar wide role, have played more, scored more, assisted more and have never even been mentioned as possibles. Roy has never been to see them as far as their manager knows.
A is Andros Townsend, B is Nathan Dyer and C is Wayne Routledge.
Roy wants a face paced possession game, which is what these guys play at club level since Swansea got back into the top flight. But then he’s happy with Wilshere, who did what Wilshere does in this game with like Townsend’s cut inside and shoot over the bar, doesn’t look like changing.
Now Mongo played a couple of nice passes that came to nothing but is stock in trade of picking the ball up deep, running to near the opposition box, losing the ball and falling over is wearing a bit thin.
Henderson, even without the smothering hindrance of Gerrard next to him did nothing, got his place now, doesn’t have to do anything to keep it the Golden generation showed that way to him. Oxlade-Chamberlain looked like a player who isn’t playing. There seemed to be no cohesion with his fullback, Stones, who while doing OK I saw getting higher scores than the left back, who some will never forgive for taking Cole’s place.
Sterling ran the show for England. As mentioned in the Spurs Liverpool post he has come on, but is Roy stifling his impact with Rooney’s presence? Linking the two Liverpool men – Sterling and Sturridge – with Rooney getting in the way looks a far better option – but as pointed out it can never happen now because Wayne is Roy’s England captain.
Norway matched England’s two shots on target, could have quite easily come away with a draw, as those defensive slips are still there and they will be with the likes of Jones, who still looks clueless and well Cahill for England can quite easily cough one up.
Switzerland away in the opening Euro qualifier on Monday and while England limped home winless and witless from Brazil, haven’t improved since, the Swiss got into the knockout stage and took the eventual runners up, Argentina, until the the last minute.
You do wonder if in Basel the visitors will as big a draw as they were in their home country as vast swathes decided they had something better to spend their money on than watch this rubbish – after all England never came to see me when I was crap.