Andy Munro refects on England’s Euro 2016 opener.
Perhaps not quite, as we really should have seen off a fairly uninspiring Russian team. In truth, there was little to criticise other than our ability to finish in the final quarter which should have been meat and drink to the much vaunted Harry Kane – if he hadn’t been so busy taking corners. In fact, Kane was one of the few underperformers and why he wasn’t replaced midway in the second half by Sturridge or Rashford is a mystery.
Similarly, why the ineffective Sterling wasn’t replaced midway through the second half is another puzzle as surely Vardy’s pace against a tiring and aging Russian defence would have been a game clincher. Sterling’s inability to both release the ball at the right time or provide a quality ball into the box is almost a talent, in the reverse sense.
One player who was quite superb was Wayne Rooney, who was more influential than he’s ever been at major tournament level. So the question must be asked as to why he was replaced by the lightweight Wilshire, who flits in and out of games despite his undoubted skills? In fact that’s a bit like Lallana who admittedly had a good game this time but it was Rooney who was the massive presence in midfield and who pulled the strings.
At the back, the fullbacks were particularly excellent but the central defenders were culpable in leaving the diminutive Rose to challenge for the equalising header against the towering opposition centre half..and where the hell was Kane coming back to mark him?
Certainly one must question Roy Hodgson’s judgement on these issues but all is not lost with another two games to play. However, knowing England, they’ll at best draw against Wales and yet again it will go down to the wire which is a shame as the team is brimming over with exciting young talent.
The accompanying violence could only be described as Putinesque and how the British media can yet again try and tar our supporters as well as the Russians with the same brush mystifies me. Italy, Serbia, Holland, Belgium, Russia, Poland to name a few all have hooliganism of a far more deadly kind than us and I think it’s about time some of the UK journos woke up to that fact instead of continually whining on instead of celebrating our great support. My one hope is that Russia don’t qualify as I’ve never met such a boorish and arrogant race, and that’s just been on my holidays!