‘I beg your pardon, Mellburg is on a hattrick?’ were the cries around the game when the big Swede put his country ahead. There was something inevitable about the way England started the second half against one of our biggest bogey teams that meant 2-1 was always going to be on the cards. It was refreshing to say the least, that England mustered around a weedy boy from north London and saw the win out. This meant that Sweden have to go home.
The game was fun, scoring two goals to win is always enjoyable, but as a proud Englishman I must suck some of the joy out of it. So here are four things that have sucked about England thus far:
1. Our best player going into the tourne was Ashley Young, even more so when Roy revealed that he’d be playing him centrally. So what has become of him? No mark left on the France game, with wastefulness his only mark on the Sweden game. Has done an absolute Downing.
2. Switch to the other wing and we find Milner. All he produced up front was the odd throw from bad crosses and giving the ball away. ‘But he’s in a defensive cover role’ you say like a fool, well then why isn’t he any good at that either? Been saying that he should come on to replace Walcott when we are already winning for a while now.
3. Talking before the game I said of Danny Welbeck – ‘If he finishes his chances, he is allowed to do nothing all game’. He really took that to heart. His gifted finish/fluky miscontrol was great but did he do a single other thing? He even lost a footrace to Olof ‘two’s too many’ Mellburg. Really lacks a footprint for me and makes the choice easy when it comes to putting Rooney in the team.
4. Giving the ball away. I don’t want to be Spain (like, who even are they?) but we bring all our problems on ourselves. Countless times in the two games, we have given the ball away while the wingback is up – on the same wing! I enjoyed one moment intensely in the game last night (it has been a while); when Terry tackled Ibrahimovic near the half way line. That is where our backline should be, fearless and confident in their ability. But we kept giving the ball away and we had to go back and back and back.
Reading the reactions of the Swedish players this morning, they felt unlucky and thought they were the better team, and I think they have a case.
Leave the Saab running, dye your hair with bleach, whack on an Abba CD, and put your feet up on the Ikea coffee table – you’re Swedish for a moment. Now, how many last-ditch blocks or tackles did the opposition have to make? How many long balls did they play compared to you finding gaps between the lines? And they bring on Walcott and he has a lucky deflection (yes it was) that changes the game. We were robbed Helga.
Elsewhere in a puddle in Donetsk, Ukraine and France finally managed to play a game of football. I thought I must’ve been a war criminal in a past life when I heard Adrian Chiles say the words ‘we have an hour and twenty-six minutes to fill’ during the storm.
I don’t know what was worse, watching England be a bit worse than France replayed, or listening to Strachan (just here for a laugh), Southgate (just here because I played for England) Vieira (just here to be interesting but no one asks me anything) and Chiles (just here).
Anyway the game was fairly routine for the French. Despite Ukraine going into it with no fear…
… they just didn’t have enough quality in attack. Menez was lucky to stay on the field as the ref balanced up a few mistakes, but overall Ukraine’s just pass it to Shevvy tactic wasn’t quite enough. Just as they began to grow into the game, the Frogs hit them with a right and a left that meant game over. They have everything to play for against England though.