Me and my good friend Kirky sat in a pub, deep in the heart of Essex, that was alive with lazy racism and passionate, heart-on-the-sleeve support and watched our England team bumble about like it was a bloody practice match.
Of course, this match was a no-win situation for our boys (apart from actually winning it that is) when playing such a tiny and frankly useless nation at football. Only an 8-0 victory would have satisfied a goal hungry public and as the chap next to me kept shouting: “IT’S FUCKING TRINIDAD & TOBAGO!” who treat a 0-0 draw and getting a corner like a victory. They were very poor and very dull but still, England had to break them down.
Once again the defence was brilliant, Carragher and Cole pushed forward nicely from the full-back position and looked very composed; while Terry’s heroics saved what would have been a disastrous goal. Frustratingly, Rio Ferdinand ended up trying a few long range passes because no one else would and hence he gave the ball away a few time.
Beckham was quiet but is worth his place for his dead ball delivery alone and when the excellent Lennon came on, all driving runs, pace and taking players on; he was reduced to playing right-back. Joe Cole was once again full of twists and turns and is capable of unlocking defences with a penetrating run, although he cut inside a little too often for my liking and didn’t cross into dangerous areas. Downing replaced him and like Lennon, offered energy, enthusiasm and an ability to take defenders on with pace and power; these two are a real boon. Gerrard has a better match and he and Lampard found some depth in the central midfield with mostly Lampard (who missed about 5 shots on goal) doing the attacking as Gerrard looked sound defensively, Lampard’s misses though became quite worrying as the game progressed.
But not as worrying as Owen, who was better than against Paraguay and showed some of his old ability to beat players but was mostly off the pace and Crouch, who seemingly has the Andy Cole trait of needing 5 chances to put away 1 goal.
And then Rooney came on; funnily enough he did nothing, apart from acting as a wake-up call and a massive moral boost, part of me was glad that we didn’t need him to win but clearly England are a better prospect with him playing. Even if he is the most over developed 20 year old I’ve ever seen…