It is after all a result based business and that’s what Roy’s England managed against Slovenia to go unbeaten in qualification in the season after that miserable World Cup.
It’s 24 years since England went a season unbeaten, in overcoming Slovenia, eventually, they managed what Graham Taylor’s side did in his first year as England boss. Which seems very fitting.
Roy and his regime just remind me of Taylor and his. Though Roy is a little more lucky, this qualifying group for the Euros is somewhat easier than Taylor faced in his attempt to get England to Euro ’92. But everything else just screams Taylor.
Taylor took charge of England for 38 games, Roy is now one game ahead of that but at the same point Roy was three wins better off. A whole three. You could put that down to Taylor having fewer homes games where they only lost once and more away games during his time.
When you look at the defence that Roy picked to face Slovenia it just screams a Taylor selection and quite frankly it has to be the worst back four since Turnip head’s days. A centre-back at right back, even though the best English right-back in the land this season is on the bench – and doesn’t even come off it when said centre-back goes off injured. A number two trying to be a number leader at centre-back, Cahill is a junior partner not the man to lead a defence. A cluless dithering dolt making up the central pair and on the left, again while the best qualified player sits on the bench, a player who missed only a handful of league games this season, a player who barely featured in half his sides games is playing.
Roy playing favourites.
And a back four that on 37 minutes were completely outplayed by a 37 year old who plies his trade in the Japan. In the 84th minute three of them were done by a player who goes one worse than that and plays in the Japanese second division.
England could have been, should have been ahead by the time the old man beat the Cahill, Smalling offside trap. But Clive Tyldesley was repeating his trick from the weekend and slightly understating things. As Sterling who received only “one or two” jeers against Ireland, “just” missed a golden opportunity. Just as in he hit it well over, so far over the bar it didn’t even touch the net on the way down.
It was another classic piece of commentary to go along with the description of Andros Townsend as an unpredictable player. Apparently Andy Townsend, I honestly thought he’d gone, didn’t know what his namesake would do when he picked up the ball. I imagine he’s the only one who doesn’t.
Very shortly after Townsend did pick up the ball and everyone and I mean everyone – except Andy of course – knew he would cut inside and produce an inept shot. The only thing they didn’t know was if the ball would dribble harmlessly out or dribble to the ‘keeper or hit anywhere between row A and row Z..
Some time later Tyldesley had learned his lesson when Townsend repeated his trick and he called it as being predictable. Almost as predictable as Sterling mincing about running into people. “Oh look plenty of space to run into, nah I won’t bother thanks I have to try and beat this player after running towards him, and now I’ve beaten him I have to try and beat him again, oh twice must go for a thir… oh I’ve lost the ball”.
Andros another one with no league form to justify his selection. Roy’s Andy Sinton, while Henderson and Delph in the middle competed to be his Carlton Palmer.
Henderson bizarrely moved to right back when Jones went off injured – the latter showing during the game that even something as simple as a throw in his beyond him, as it led to the opening goal. Where was he when the cross came in for the hosts second? Where ever it was it was as much use as Gibbs defending the back post against the Japanese second division player.
Wilshere given a load of time and space again managed not to fall over when loping forward, mouth open tongue out, and actually did something, wow he scored goals. Taking his England goal tally to the same number as his FA charge tally. Were the goals that great? Yes the build up for the second was decent, something you don’t expect from this lot which makes the goal better. The shots though, well for once an England player didn’t lean back and balloon it over the bar. Well done you did a Dave Narey and not a Wayne Rooney.
Yes Rooney won it with his 86th minute strike but how many sitters did he fluff before that? Yes he might have joined the boy Lineker in second place of England’s all time top scores with 48 goals but dear god there’s no comparison. Lineker took 22 fewer games to reach that number and as the boy pointed out himself has scored in tournaments.
The only real difference between Roy’s and Turnip’s two sides is one is still being talked up, one still being eulogised over. Back in ’91 everyone knew we were watching rubbish but today you just scrape past Slovenia and Roy is back talking about winning the competition just like he was a year ago, almost to the day England’s World Cup nightmare occurred.
And that’s the similarity, against the minnows in qualification everything will go to plan but once England come up against any half-decent opposition in a game of some consequence then with that defence, that midfield we all know the outcome, unbeaten season or not.