is having to listen to pundits talk the rubbish up like you have just witnessed it with your own eyes.
England’s football and rugby team held a “hold my beer” competition on Sunday to see who could pit in the dullest, predictable, performance. Both were really lucky in the opposition also took part.
First up the football team, who managed to drag a draw from jaws of defeat against a toothless and clueless Ukraine, in Poland.
Not unsurprisingly chose to make Maddison the scapegoat, as did his chums in the media. The Spurs man was taken off just after an hour, as Southgate said the front players weren’t clicking. Again unsurprisingly Southgate played Maddison out of position in a formation that was just wrong. Southgate went 4-3-3, because he likes to copy, with Maddison on the left. He said the player was allowed to float but when you have so many others occupying the same central space, all with their own egos and agendas, then what chance is it going to work.
Add in Southgate’s usual dull tactics of the back pass. Kyle Walker is claiming that Southgate has talked him out of international retirement twice. Why? Well, one stat stands out, in these qualifiers Walker has played in four of the five games so far. Of the passes he’s attempted in those four games on 27.5% of them have gone forward. You can add in that he’s only put in one successful cross.
Everything is sideways or backwards.
Walker tried three foreword balls in the first half, two of them led to goals. The first one was to Saka and didn’t give the winger a chance as it was picked up by those in yellow. The second was an aimless header that fell between two Ukraine players. Holding off Saka the player in yellow then just bypassed most of England with one ball out to his right the ball was then passed on to the overlapping fullback who cut the ball back for the opening goal to be knocked in. A few touches, three passes, for players and a goal because they went forward.
His next forward ball came about due to that problem with Southgate’s England, with no balls going forward Kane was dropping deep again, again being the one doing the creating. When everyone wants him to be on the end of the creativity, scoring. This time he was so ridiculously far back that all but two outfield players were in front of him. A glorious chip to the right of the Ukraine box and for once Walker had actually made a run forward. And score his first goal for England. Did he get forward again?
It was the one shot England managed on target in the half… they only managed another three in the equally dull second half. They were just lucky Ukraine didn’t have much going forward.
And we have Dion Dublin saying England are playing too slow and that Kane is dropping too deep. Well, yes Deon. Have you never watched a Southgate England game before? I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s been you co-commentating on all these qualifiers, have you forgotten that this is exactly what has happened in every damn game under this dullard?
Admittedly they didn’t talk it up as much as those commentating on England’s rugby World Cup opener later. Yes, defensively it was a good display but again they were helped out by an opposition that somehow, when faced with an England down to 14 men after a couple of minutes, that just went to pieces. The Argentine side couldn’t go through any phrase of play with without coughing up the ball of giving away a penalty.
All while the pundits creamed themselves over George Ford because he kicked three drop goals, directly in front of goal.
Well, maybe if Ford’s other kicks from hand weren’t utter rubbish that just gifted away the ball and England actually tried to play rugby not football, then he wouldn’t have had to go for the drops – if the football team kicked the ball forward as much as the rugby team. And in a defensive display Marcus Smith managed half the number of tackles that Ford did, even though Smith was on the pitch less than 5 minutes to Ford’s 75. Matt Dawson might think Ford has to be the centre of everything but when teams are running through his pat-a-cake tackles and his aimless kicks from hand are just gifting away possession against a team that can handle the ball and situation better than Argentina result in England being stuffed, then we might ask how many knocks to the head did Dawson suffer.
Yes they were down to 14 for nearly all of the game but even with 15 they would have played the same dull kick the ball away game. They never looked like crossing the Argentine try line, they never even looked like trying to do so – but Ford is so great. I suppose it could have been worse, Borthwick – the Southgate of his sport, dull and uninspiring as a player the same as a coach – could have gone with his first choice for scrumhalf, Youngs and not the player he originally left out of the squad.
And that red card, yeah you just knew when Curry was sin binned they would upgrade it. Much like when the Argie flew through Ford his wouldn’t, nor when Steward was taken out later. And of course the following day, we saw a head on head challenge that was worse than Curry’s go unnoticed seemingly by any of the thousands of officials they have officiating the game between the Springboks and the Jocks. To go with the no arms tackle by Russell that would see them screaming for a life ban if Farrell had done it but went by with nothing but a penalty.
All awful officiating but worst to come when Fiji were awarded penalty after penalty on the Welsh try line but no card shown, then when everything switched to the other end of the park the first infringement by a Fijian and here comes a yellow , then they head back, yes one Taff is carded but again it’s penalty after penalty on the line and nothing but a talking to. To add to the fact Fiji should have had a penalty try as a Welsh player stopped a try with a no arms tackle. Wonder what the Taffs felt like knowing they required an English ref to help them win.