“Oh, don’t sing for this

England 3 - 1 Slovenia - Euro 2016 Group E qualifier - November 15th, 2014


That was the plaintive cry from one viewer as the Wembley crowd sang their delight at another insipid performance by England as they won yet another Euro 2016 qualifier, this time over Slovenia.

On an night when another team England beat, Estonia, could only manage a draw with the might of San Marino, England again struggled in the easiest group going, while Rooney was handed his 100th cap which was the only golden thing on show.

Roy’s diamond certainly wasn’t gleaming.

Roy had spent the whole week, and some considerable time before, complaining about the NFL game played at Wembley the week before this “crucial fixture”. Well at least the Jags and Cowboys brought some atmosphere and entertainment. Something Roy and his boys know very little about.

Now the NFL games generally cut up the pitch right down the middle, though it didn’t stop the usual whinging about sideline and endzone marks still being visible. Well those markings were irrelevant because even with it being obvious to everyone where the pitch would be damaged that’s where Roy decided to concentrate his players.

Middle of the pitch churned up – though it really wasn’t – let’s play a tight diamond. It’s not as if that formation works for this England group even on a pristine surface.

No matter what Roy says, no matter what the papers score players the morning after, no matter who Andy Townsend gives the man of the match award to, they didn’t make it work.

At the tip of the diamond Sterling doesn’t need any more help to find cul-de-sacs to run into. With the congestion of a packed defence and and England formation no wider than the NFL hash marks he found plenty of players to run into. And when he didn’t have he made his own cul-de-sac by stopping – with acres ahead of him – to left defenders get back and cut him off – otherwise known as Joe Cole syndrome.

At the base Wilshere gets the praise and the aforementioned MotM for doing what? Nope, me neither, nor many others who couldn’t quite believe what they were hearing when Townsend stated his nomination. Oh look at the pass stats they say. Yeah, he made a few and none of them counted for anything. Sideways balls to Jordan Henderson, you might as well give the ball away and cut out the middle man.

He did play a couple of balls over the top but they were never quite as accurate as they needed to be and when they did find their target that target was Rooney an as I tweeted later…

It’s awful now, how can a player who amassed 100 caps have a first touch that ranks with Adebayor’s? Rank being the operative word.

But Rooney isn’t finished yet, been written off far too early. Why? Because he scored a penalty after being tripped in the box. Did nothing the whole game, bar get in the road of others and almost had the pen saved and moved level with Jimmy Greaves on the England scoring chart.

The person who implored the fans not to sing for this rubbish also stated that Greaves would have had a hat full against this lot and he is 74. Of course Greavsie’s goal tally came in a little over half the outings it has taken Rooney.

Rooney was bang average for his 8. Another who has joined but not earned their 100th cap, following Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard.

So a generally clueless display by England where no one in white ever looked like having a clue what was going on. No one expects the ball, it always comes a shock when it’s played to them. A prime example came of this in the second half, bizarrely as I was mentioning this lack of instinct, when Jagielka had nothing on and played it to Cahill, the only player who he was going to pass it to, for whom it came as a great surprise, leading to a panicked first touch and almost loss of possession.

But then what do we expect with a team that has Jordan Henderson in it. His own goal to give Slovenia the lead was priceless. At the other end he wouldn’t have been able to score such a good goal for his own side in a month of Sundays. But Roy sticks with him, started him and didn’t replace him, was never going to.

You wonder if Roy had replaced Henderson where the biggest boos would have come from. The England fans who think he’s hopeless or the away fans who would see him as a great asset to their sides chances.

No Roy chose when the changes came to replace Lallana, while the dolt stayed on – Roy probably fearful of those boos. Lallana had a nothing first half when England were tight and he saw very little of the ball. But after the break Roy changed things to more a 4-3-3 moving Sterling and Welbeck wide and giving Lallana more a roving role. All of a sudden England looked better and Lallana was the one making things tick.

After Rooney had equalised, Lallana’s initial play set up the chance for Welbeck to scuff in the go ahead goal. Finally width was playing a part, highlighting even more the stupidity of Roy’s tight diamond. Welbeck’s flattering second was pretty much the only decent football put on by England all night.

Flattering it was, bar the goals the Slovenian ‘keeper had nothing to do except save one Jagielka header from a corner. Not that Hart had much to do but they could have been caught out a couple of times. Though once the new boy right-back Nathaniel Clyne had his post well and truly covered.

The Southampton defender’s performance showed the, again, stupidity of Roy in overlooking him in the previous fixtures this season. It was a steady display, he was caught out once, that provided a bit of width on the right. Gibbs again showed on the left that not only couldn’t he find a cross in a convent he couldn’t in a monastery, a Swiss flag convention, or even a cross making factory.

Roy’s lot with have a tougher outing in the friendly against the Jocks at Celtic Park in the week. It would be the perfect game to put in some of the other players Berahino and Barkley, a proper test against minnows who try, it frankly doesn’t need Rooney winning his 101st cap nor Henderson or Wilshere doing their impersonations of each other – mouth open, tongue out.

It needs something that England fans can actually be proud to sing about.

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