This is England. And it's not very good.
England 0 Algeria 0
What a shambles. I don't care when the team is announced by Fabio to the players. Whether it's two days before the game or five minutes before getting onto the team coach. If you're in the England squad then you should be prepared to do battle for your country, chests pumped out, full of pride and guile and courage. I can understand uncertainty can perhaps have a negative influence, but please get a grip. The players know what's at stake.
What we witnessed looked like a group of players drafted together last minute and asked to play ninety minutes which they weren't too fussed about doing, going through the motions disinterested and confused. The botheredness level stood at around 1 out of 10. It was just woeful.
We were the perfect illustration of fragmented. Formation was uncomfortable, some of the players completely ineffective others lost in their own shadow of past form. Too slow on the ball and too slow off it. Clumsy, sloppy. Rooney looked unfit - and its best we concentrate more on the fact he hasn't scored for 630 minutes rather than his ill-judged outburst to the camera post-final whistle. And yes, booing isn't constructive, unless you've just forked out 5k to travel to SA to see your nation represented by players earning up to 120k a week. We drew with Algeria. It's frustrating and fairly unacceptable when you can hardly think of one true threatening moment. A boo here and a boo there reminds us at least that some of the players do actually care enough to be pissed off about being jeered and react to it.
Apparently only two England players run over to the England fans to applaud them. I guess the booing was way too hurtful to hear for the delicate ears of some of our representatives.
4-4-2? Doesn't work. Especially doesn't work when you attempt to play all your best players rather than play the best players in their best positions. Gerrard is suited behind a forward, rampaging down the middle of the field. For all this desire for Barry to be fit and selected, I'm confused why a defensive player should be bestowed with so much importance. I'm not critical of Barry and his on the field responsibilities, I'm alluding to the fact that a creative spark (Joe Cole) should be the one ilk of player we need to be selecting, because offensively we appear to have no clue.
There was no cohesion or obvious style to our play. If Fabio means for one, it's lost somewhere between the training ground and the opening seconds of a game. 4-4-2 is not working. In the context of the game v Algeria, Fabio can quite obviously change things with the aid of substitutions. Lennon, who was not effective (not so much his fault other than his reluctance to run down the wing instead of cutting in all the time, but then he had little choice to do otherwise) but to replace him with SWP? I don't see the point. At all. Any player positioned in the role that Lennon is required to fulfil, based on the strengths Lennon possesses, you'd think the one thing to do is not starve the player of the ball. To then bring on a player who is similar to Aaron defeats the impact of changing things around effectively.
Fact is, in this England team, the way it's set-up, he simply cannot be picked. Massive shame considering what we all know he can do. And I can't see how SWP could possibly do any better considering the shape of the team and the rigid boring way we attempt to push forwards in routine and obvious stagnated fashion.
Heskey is Heskey. And for the record, the last time a Heskey/Rooney combo was effective was apparently back in 2009, but then I'm unsure how many times these two have played together since. Heskey alongside an out of sorts Rooney is painful. Defence was okay. James was fine. Terry wasn't perfect, but the back four was the only highlight for me, at a stretch. But then Barry did help out back there too. And Carragher made sure that in the final group game, we'll have to throw Upson or Dawson in at the deep end.
Pressure? What pressure? James, you know anything about that?
So, why are we so disjointed? Why are players lacking the required application? Are they unhappy with their manager? The formation? Is there a player dispute within the camp? Or is all this just part of the traditional 'we'll play crap in the opening two games, win the third and then get to the semi-final' master-plan? I'm knee-jerking for the sake of it because I can't fathom a more sensible logical explanation (i.e. we're rubbish).
I've said we would stumble to the final. A moment of madness, surely. But we all know one result, one positive result could change everything. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm bricking it.
We have to win the next game. No other options available. Drawing lots is not an option. Win. And win decisively.
England really need to start believing and trusting in each other. The fact we've failed to do so in the first two games suggests a frailty that is frankly disturbing. Did we perhaps over-rate our chances based on the qualifiers? When is the right time for that magical click to happen when everything sets up perfectly performance wise?
Dozens of questions, no comprehension with the alleged answers.
Still, onwards we go. And regardless of the empty days ahead before we face Slovenia, by the time our final group game kicks off, it will be once more heart-in-mouth and once more, singing/hoping that we turn up. If we do, we'll soon forget about all this. If we don't, batten down the hatches.
Until then, at least I can enjoy countless repeats of John Barnes dancing in a park with the cast from Shaun of the Dead.