England went into this game clear leaders in this group with their opponents sitting in second place. A 3-1 win at Wembley extended the group lead to an almost unassailable 6 points, with England now 4-4 in qualification games. With that all said, England are still not operating at the top table of International Football, and and times were frustrated by a far weaker team.
Today was Rooney’s day. He was playing in his 100th game and was presented with a golden cap from Sir Bobby Charlton. This may of been through gritted teeth as I have covered on my last England visit.
England set up with some new blood at full back with Nathaniel Clyne and Kieron Gibbs, coming in for the established, Leighton Bains and Glenn Johnson. This offered some pace on the edges of the field, which was going to be needed with the pedestrian midfield of Wilshere, Henderson and Lallana playing out of position. I am getting fed up with moaning about Wilshere and how he is not a holding midfielder, but there he was again. Henderson can play that position and does every week, but he is pushed up the pitch at England level, and plays alongside his team mate Lallana. I say team mate, the guy hardly ever plays for Liverpool, and also should not currently be an England player. If you want two holders and a traditional midfielder to play off Sterling, how about Henderson, Noble and Wilshere (further forward).
This poor line up (positionally) meant England had no shots on target in the first half. Every ball forward went to Rooney, who was doing his damnest to score, at the expense of Sterling and Wellbeck. Shocking first half. The playing style was typified by a Jordan Henderson OG admittedly against the run of play in the second half. This seemed to spark England, with the reply almost instant, as Rooney got in the box and won a penalty. Personally I don’t think he was touched at all, and I had a great view. Rooney stepped up to get another goal for his tally, and England really pushed on from there. All of a sudden, the team realised Wellbeck was playing and in his usual lackadaisical style he added another 2 goals to his tally, with Sterling interchanging well with the Arsenal striker. If he keeps getting these goals, I think Rooney’s stint at the top of the scoring charts may be shorter than Sir Bobby Charlton!
Yesterday, my companions for games were the Aldershot duo of Ian and Albert. This was young Albert’s first visit to Wembley and being used to 1.5k at the Rec meant that nearly 90k in attendance was pretty awesome. I’m sure he had a great day out, and hopefully will see better performances in the future.
My MOTM was Wellbeck, and whoever voted for Wilshere, as was announced at Wembley, needs to take a long look at themselves.
One last thing, as regular readers will know. I am a recent convert to NFL, BUT the state of the pitch was shocking yesterday, covered in wrong coloured strips of grass, and the remnants of the gridiron pitch layouts and lettering. Just behind the goal was COWBOYS, and the yardage lines all up the left wing. This is our national stadium and our national game. This needs to be sorted. I’m sure it’s not to hard to use overlays for the non playing surfaces. The stud marks all up the middle didn’t look too great either, but didn’t seem to effect the roll of the ball. Click on the photos to see what I mean.
Enjoy the pics (taken with a recently acquired low end Canon DSLR).