The standard England qualifying games are back, with a struggle against a flat back 10 Hungary before racking up bit of a score, that again shows why England won’t win anything once they qualify with ease.
In a surprise to nobody, in the first game after that Euro final loss Gareth Southgate went with his favourites, for the World Cup qualifier away to Hungary. Also not surprising anyone was the only change from that final defeat being Grealish for Trippier, with the associated change of formation from a back three to four.
I wonder why all of a sudden Grealish is getting a start. What could have happened since then to facilitate this change of heart from Southgate, over a player he saw as one who slowed England down?
As was pointed out during the Euros, Southgate was reluctant to pick Sancho, right up until the player signed for United. Well, he didn’t want to play Grealish right up until he signed for City and now he’s not just an automatic starter but Southgate is shifting his untouchable, Sterling, to accommodate him.
With Stones and Sterling starting – the former hasn’t played a minute for his club this season, while the latter is a regular on the bench in 2021 – it’s not playing for City that makes Southgate pick you, it’s being a City player.
So the same old players settled into the same old routine. Commentors can talk about “rotating the ball” and “patience” but in reality it’s dullardness and cluelessness… and back passes. The only creativity coming from Kane dropping deep again.
In the first half where England had all the ball, without creating any real chances of note, Hungary didn’t look a patch on the side that almost got out of the Group of Death in the Euros, by barely being behind in the whole tournament. But the hosts were the ones that produce the only real moment of skill in that half. A flowing move of one touch football, that failed with the last pass being far too hard, so not curling towards the striker in the box.
Meanwhile everything went down England’s left, with Grealish and Shaw – Shaw, whose only role in the England team seems to be to test the quality of the sewing for the England kit, my god, the strain on the seams of those shorts – until it cut inside and got far too crowded. It wasn’t until the second half that anyone got to the byline and put a decent cross over.
Ten minutes into the half, England should have been one up. Hungary had opened up just after the break and Walker played the perfect pass – I know, mustn’t have put too much thought into it – to Kane, who hit a weak shot the keeper saved. Rice got the ball – commentators oozing over his performance say he won it but in reality the Hungary player just ran into him – onto Grealish, he played the perfect ball for the overlapping Mount – who finally decided to turn up – he put in a good cross and Sterling put his foot out and scored. A scuffer of a shot. Not the great finish they make out.
Sterling, who had spent the first half standing out on the right, not being involved, then amazingly turned provider. After Hungary give up the ball, it’s played out to Sterling on the right, he does the right thing in playing the ball first time – not stopping, coming back and having to beat a player – totally miskicks the cross into the floor, it’s not going near Kane until it deflects off a Hungarian player onto the striker’s head.
This was a bad game for Kane. All the talk of him having bad games during the Euros was utter rubbish as he had nothing to work with, no service from the likes of Sterling. Here on four occasions he had good service, had four chances he would normally do far better with. He should have had four goals, been up to fifth on the list ahead of Michael Owen and just two behind Jimmy Greaves, only ten behind Rooney in top spot. Later on he should probably have got himself a yellow card to be suspended for the weekend fixture against Andorra, where Southgate is expected to make wholesale changes.
A few minutes later it was three for England, when Maguire for once decided not to foul someone at a corner and the keeper made the kind of howler that he didn’t when facing one of Kane’s shots.
Minutes before the end, Rice made it four. Again, more luck as he shouldn’t have been on the pitch. He should have been carded earlier for a foul, he should have got something for the whiny pleading for the foul being given, then later he probably should have been red carded for a studs in challenge that got nowhere near the ball, just a Hungarian calf. Again the pathetic pleading of a 50/50 challenge. Christ with that council haircut, what a joke. Anyway he had a shot and the keeper fluffed it again.
Another qualifier. Another easy win in the end. Another game of the usual suspects doing the usual things, like every qualifier that’s gone before. The same old it’ll work until they meet someone decent, like the last two tournaments.