England‘s 3-2 win over Scotland was eventful and exciting, but how much can we take from the game to anticipate how England will do in their four crucial remaining World Cup qualifiers over the next two months?
Do England fans need to start seeing the job in hand as one against the odds, or one that they should easily brush aside?
Well, various points can be taken from the storming spectacle at Wembley on Wednesday night. England are still dodgy at the back and prone to little errors that become costly. Once again, we saw Roy Hodgson‘s team concede to a sloppy goal that could have been avoided. The first one in particular was one that you could claim is a rarity because Joe Hart failed to fend off a decent shot. But, England were sloppy and their slow reactions to close down James Morrison‘s effort proved to be an error. However, given the pressure of the game and the quality of the second goal you would argue that England weren’t entirely to blame just because Scotland aren’t seen as world class.
What is more of a worry however may be that England seemed to lack a creative spark for huge parts of the game when the ‘better’ players were on the pitch. Wayne Rooney may be rusty, but when he is playing as a central striker we seem to become extremely narrow, I feel he’s better behind someone else. Steven Gerrard had a decent game but his passing at times was woeful, he results to desperate long balls that although are inventive can also become wasteful.
But the brighter sparks probably out weigh the negatives for England. Theo Walcott looks to be becoming one England’s main threats and key men. His diversity as a winger and striker means he has that ability to find England a goal from almost nothing positions. His pace combined with well-worked moves can result in something impressive as he showed once again.
I feel a lot of criticism is given to Walcott’s ball control as he tends to look very clumsy. But in reality, the speed at which he travels at explains that — his sudden change of pace before switching into an elaborate attempt of an end product inevitably results in this untidy style. But it is impressive and it’s unique. I hope Hodgson sticks with Walcott as England’s right-sided player and stays away from the temptation of the more defensive James Milner.
Other notable positives were obviously the strong displays from the other younger players; Jack Wilshere, Kyle Walker, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck. They all had very fine games, the latter two working well to provide key parts of England’s goals.
But although it was a friendly, something that impressed me was a factor that has become a stumbling block for England. The ability to fight back and win games has proved a weakness for Hodsgon’s men, you only need to look back at the points dropped in Montenegro earlier this year. But on Wednesday they showed a determination to get the result, a fight and collective togetherness to keep going and not let the heads drop. Twice they found equalizers before netting the winner — through a new possible reliable striker, Ricky Lambert. It was nice to see that turn around as before the ability to win games from tough positions has been, for me, a real issue especially under Hodgson’s leadership.
It wasn’t a comfortable evening and that is because England aren’t a huge force, it’s something England fans now accept, the team is simply not that great. So going into these final qualifiers you just know it’s going to be a nail biting battle until the last, but with the positives we saw vs. Scotland there is still hope that the job (10 points from 12) can still be finished in four games.