Frustrating England

I have loved every minute of this football season up until watching England tonight.

Lacking any threat, any confidence and any energy England frustrated and disappointed in their 1-1 draw with Ukraine.

Rescued by Frank Lampard’s late penalty their blushes were spared in a game most bookmakers had down as a routine win for Roy Hodgsons men.

Long ball football into a player like Jermaine Defoe is such a waste of his real talents and while ball retention was good, too often there was little product with Glen Johnson being the main culprit.

In fact it was only when the Danny’s, Welbeck and Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand were introduced England looked to have any urgency with Welbeck getting the post and winning the penalty.

Yes we are missing players, Rooney, Wilshere, Terry, Cole and Parker to name just a few, but we need to find a Plan B to play without these key players.

Tom Cleverley looked out of his depth against an average team while too much pressure is being put on 19 year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to take England forward.

A negative formation against a team who on paper at least were poorer, is surely not the way to set out?

As soon as England went with a three pronged attack they hit the post, saw a cross flash across the box and they won a penalty.

However England’s next game is with San Marino… A game that England will probably win with ease and like Friday’s game with Moldova will mask England’s real issues.

After that they travel to Poland in a match that already is a must win game.

In World Cup qualifying you generally need an average of 25 points from 30 to go through top of the group, already England seem to be set to make hard work over something that realistically shouldn’t be.

Well… For the third best team in the world anyway…

England v West Indies

So England begin with a win. On paper a result of a five wicket win makes the test look routine for Andrew Strauss’ men.

However it was far from it.

Held up for the majority of the fourth day by Shiv Chanderpaul before being reduced to 57-4 on the final morning by a resolute West Indies side begins to tell the story of England’s laboured win.

I am not sure whether the English press didn’t realise what the West Indies packed, or as usual put England’s expectations through the roof but this was a lot closer than originally was thought.

In fact it would be interested to see what a Windies full strength team with the likes of Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Sunil Narine could have offered.

Instead we saw a team with little experience, little confidence and little depth, the latter a stark contrast to their number one rankedĀ  opponents.

But if England are that they need to begin playing like it and the sooner the better, Stuart Broad is not going to take 11 wicket in every match, in this test they escaped, against South Africa they will not.

Capello’s beginning to look like a puppet

Fabio Capello must be wishing the FA had listened to the criticisms surrounding this weeks friendly with Hungary and done as many Premier League manager’s wanted and postponed it.

Not only is it very ill-timed, just three days before the beginning of the new Premier League season, but this week Capello’s already tarnished reputation in England has taken another turn for the worse.

Heavily criticised after England’s abject World Cup performance in the summer, he has now seen two of the players he freshly selected in a ‘new-look’ national squad, retire claiming they didn’t want to be bit part players. Several of his players have also questioned his communication with them as Capello begins to build his new look squad in time for the European Championship Qualifiers.

But is it Capello’s squad?

There has been a massive overhaul in terms of players being dropped from the World Cup 23, only ten players who travelled to South Africa have been selected. Whilst youth players seem to have replaced the more experienced World Cup failures, the likes of Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs are in, whilst Matthew Upson and Robert Green are out.

However there seems to be something begrudging about this Capello squad, most if not all media outlets came up with their own take on which crossroads England should take on their path to Euro 2012. But the majority said youth. Now Capello has done just that, selected youth over experience in a bid to succeed.

But going over past teams Capello has managed, few if actually any had the youthful exuberance that this England squad has, suggestions that he will switch to the 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation also seems very un-Capello, it really begs the question, has he been pushed into this?

Has all the media criticism and outcry after the World Cup pushed Capello to be a puppet and do exactly what they say? It seems like it. Go back 18 months, England’s rigid 4-4-2 with experience was being lauded as one of the best in the World, actual chances of World Cup success was being splashed across the tabloid pages.

Capello said then that he didn’t listen to these expectations, talk of the World Cup was banned in the qualifying stages. So if he didn’t listen to the media then, why has he done it now?

It seems the media have pulled their strings and got what they wanted, now what if this youth formula fails? They call for Capello’s head and they will probably get it.

The England managers job is quickly becoming one that few would actually relish. Capello now has around six months to turn the World Cup shambles into something the country can be proud of again.