Right, let’s get a few things straight shall we? I have woken up this morning to be bombarded by assertions from various sections the media and the usual plethora of pundits telling me that last night’s 2-2 draw with Brazil in the newly refurbished Maracana Stadium was a great result for England. And on the face of it they’re all correct. In fact, the Three Lions almost committed daylight robbery to steal victory; one which would have been the first by a visiting European nation on Brazilian soil since John Barnes waltzed unchallenged through a second string Seleção defence 29 years ago. But in reality what we saw was one of the poorest Brazilian sides of the last 25 years completely dominate Roy Hodgson’s team and then take their foot off the gas at the 60-minute-mark when they thought they’d done enough.

bragoal

And for anyone who doubts the lack of quality in Luis Felipe Scolari’s men then I recommend you actually watch them regularly. They’re poor and the Brazilian public knows it and if things don’t improve soon, ‘Big Phil’ has a fight on his hands to retain his position for the World Cup in 12 months time. They totally dominated England for the first hour of the contest and should have been out of sight but profligacy in front of goal and lack of composure with the final pass cost them dearly. The English finally awoke to make a contest of this money-making jolly to Rio de Janiero and were very close to shocking Brazil on their big night; the re-opening of their iconic Maracana. But no one should be fooled by the last 30 minutes or the parity on the scoresheet. England are dreadful and there are many reasons for this.

Anybody who watched ITV’s coverage, hosted by the gargoyle-featured Adrian Chiles in partnership with Gareth Southgate, a man so boring he makes me want to drill through my own temples to bring relief to my brain and the perpetually edgy Roy Keane, will have had the bleeding obvious pointed out to them repeatedly. England can’t keep the ball. England cannot retain possession, and do you know what?….maybe it’s time we didn’t try.

For about the last 20 years since the days of the Charles Hughes book of tactics and technique was derided as being medieval in it’s footballing approach we have been brainwashed into thinking that English players should be taught to play like the Dutch, the Germans, the Spanish, the French or even the Martians…anybody but ourselves. Well here’s the thing. It doesn’t work. The more we play tippy-tappy slow-slow-even-slower football because we think by passing the ball to death we are somehow elevating ourselves to the status of our continental cousins, the more we are kidding ourselves. When did this ever work for England? We have struggled to qualify for most of the last six or seven tournaments against opposition from many countries who didn’t exist 20 years ago or who have populations that number roughly the same as that of Yorkshire. And when did we last perform for 90 minutes in a tournament match? Having wracked my brain throughout the evening I suggest it was against Croatia at Euro 2004. Yes 2004! We have been embarrassing at the last two World Cups against the might of Algeria and Trinidad and Tobago so maybe it’s time we went back to playing like we know how and how we did for the last 20 minutes of the game against Brazil last night. We must play with pace and movement, two things so sadly lacking from 90% of English performances over the last decade. It worked in 1996 for Terry Venables and it certainly worked in 1990 under Bobby Robson, so Mr.Hodgson, if you’re reading (you’re not, I know), let’s play like England again rather than a pedestrian version of someone else. It worked last night after all.

roo

Player reviews:

Joe Hart
Best game in ages. Saved England from humiliation with a string of top saves. Looked assured.

Glen Johnson
Whenever I say his name my head involuntarily shakes from side to side. Surely there must be a better English right back? Surely? There must be. Surely?

Leighton Baines
Seemed to be injured from very early on and went off in the first half. Still doesn’t look as assured for England as he does at Everton.

Phil Jagielka
Steady Eddie will always give 100%. Did OK.

Gary Cahill
Often loses his man or his positional sense. He will be a weak link against the top teams

Phil Jones
Is anymore proof needed that the lad isn’t a central midfielder?

Michael Carrick
A bit like my Ikea coffee table; Functional, not ugly but hardly ever likely to dazzle anyone with it’s beauty. Totally overhyped.

Frank Lampard
It was sometime in the early part of the second half when I realised he was playing. Ineffective like so many appearances with the Three Lions.

James Milner
Proven Premier League performer who will run all day long but is about as much use as tits on a snake at international level.

Theo Walcott
Can’t pass a football to save his life can he? His legs are way too fast for his brain to keep up which was perfectly demonstrated each time he thrashed wildly at the ball in vain attempts to aim the ball towards a team mate, usually at the wrong time.

Wayne Rooney
Never been the same since that hair transplant. Heavily deflected goal being lauded as a wonder strike by the stupid media.

Ashley Cole
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Solid

Jack Rodwell
The £12 million (snigger) Manchester City midfielder had no time to show what he’s not very capable of.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The young man, who was last seen disappearing up his own jacksie in North London around the start of the season, has been woeful in his last few England appearances and not much better in his rare run-outs for Arsenal. Hopefully he isn’t believing his own hype and last night’s excellent goal can kick start improvement in his game.

MARK GODFREY

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