The amount of jingoism that binds the English media is sometimes surreal and more often than not, borders on selective amnesia. The performance of the England national team last night against perennial opposition in France has split the world football camp into two groups – Ingerland and the rest of the world.
The Ingerland boys have seen something in the English game that the rest of the world haven’t seen last night, and that leads us to question whether the lavish praises being showered on Roy Hodgson’s side are justified.
England must have received explicit instructions in the dressing room prior to kick-off regarding arranging themselves in a battle tank formation in front of their goal for the entire match.
The English lines never looked like they could be breached – until Samir Nasri’s equaliser – and they pretty much held sway for most of the match. By the look of things, France had to dig a tunnel from the halfway line to the opposition box to escape from the perimeter setup by England on the goal line.
‘At times it was like there were 15 bodies in front of us. It was really difficult to find space,’ said Patrice Evra.
Starting the match with the 18 year old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is apparently considered as a ‘bold move’ by some, and it gave us a glimpse of what England’s future would look like – grim and a colonial brand of football.
Except for the opening few minutes, the front two – Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck – were completely cut off from the rest of the team for long durations during the game. It felt like England were functioning without a head, and were more than happy to take the blows to their body than punch above their weight.
Last night’s ninety minutes of football would have been more entertaining had France played against a wall in front of the Donetsk stadium.
After the England-France game, Sweden were shocked by a quick brace by Ukraine’s elder statesmen, Andriy Shevchenko. This lead to the Sweden coach Erik Hamren branding his side as “cowards”.
‘We were cowards in the first half and should have done more. I’m not happy with the team, I was expecting more.’
Perhaps Hamren will change his opinion about his team when Sweden meet England this Friday for their second group game.