England's Weaknesses Exposed In 3-1 Win Against Egypt

Having watched virtually every England game for over 40 years now its odd how little changes. We rarely put on a virtuoso display and we usually come away feeling as though we really should play better. Even when we do play well, many fans will be quick to point out that the opposition was weak. It’s almost never a satisfying experience.

In recent years we have become reluctant to over-praise because we’ve seen the over-lauded players fail to deliver so many times in the past. We have finally woke up and realized that England is a second tier international side. Not bad but not stellar. The days of ‘we should be beating sides like that’ – a mantra often uttered in the past – has all but gone, swept away by repeatedly poor performances.

It was often a criticism thrown at England fans and English media that we persistently over-rated our players – thinking we had a good chance of winning a World Cup or European Championship when it was patently obvious to the objective observer we lacked the quality to do so.

Those days have, outside of a few tabloid circles, gone. England fans are less arrogant than ever, less believing than ever. We want to believe. We really do. But we have no evidence and little history to justify it.

We were happy to qualify in good style, even though we rarely seem to be able to keep a clean sheet. These days just getting through is fine. We’d like more but don’t expect it.

Oddly enough, the old-style dissatisfaction with how the team plays has been replaced by a simple ‘just glad we won’ mentality. Twenty years ago a 3-1 defeat against Egypt after falling behind and playing like a drain for 45 minutes would have attracted tidal wave of criticism and disgust from press and fans. Not any more. All but the most casual observers know that sides like Egypt possess quality and won’t just roll over because they are up against the motherland of football. And we know we don’t have much strength in depth.

So while we get still get frustrated when things don’t go well – its no longer the national disgrace it used to be. Very few fans would dare suggest that England will win the World Cup. We could but it seems unlikely. We need to get a lot of luck and play out of our skins against the best sides. It’s possible, of course, but you wouldn’t put your mortgage on it.

After last nights win courtesy of one terrible bit of goalkeeping and an offside goal, I was just pleased to have the victory. It was a relief. We were not that great. Walcott especially played like a naive school boy. The defence is easily made to look ragged, the midfield often slow and lacking in creativity for long periods of time. Defoe,as usual, looked lightweight at international level.

I could go on but the point is we all know now that England are not the great footballing power that for decades too many kidded themselves we were and actually, that’s a relief. The over-bearing expectation before every tournament has only harmed England’s chances; put pressure on them to perform to a level that they couldn’t often achieve. It would be ironic if this low level of expectation led to a successful campaign. Ironic, but, if last nights performance is anything to go by, still unlikely.

15 thoughts on “England's Weaknesses Exposed In 3-1 Win Against Egypt”

  1. Good article and I agree to some extent, but I pose another question (possibly for another writer to write about):

    What does will it take for Peter Crouch to get a starting spot? 20 goals in 37 appearances for England is mighty impressive and his past two internationals have seen him wrap up a brace, first Belarus, now Egypt.

    1. and how many yellows for elbows, free kicks, and off sides has he provided. The problem with Crouch in the world cup is that International refs will stop play when they see elbows, and you see Crouch’s elbows all the time even when he is innocent.

      Also with Rooney, you need a poacher with pace. I was hoping to see C Cole matched with Rooney for a bit. Cole has the physicality of Heskey, but also has a sense of where the net is.

      Crouch will come in handy if England find themselves down a down in the 2nd half as a 3rd striker to fill up the middle. but he has to learn to keep his arms in.

      1. I think the word “we” should be replaced with the word “I” throughout most this article. It’s a stereotypical “England fan” negative viewpoint that’s a bit outdated IMHO. Feels like it was written by Eeyore. In the 70s. On a bad day.

        We won this FRIENDLY, didn’t we?! And I’m pretty sure we qualified for the tournament comfortably. Bring it on!!

  2. I think we can win the world cup but not with that team or formation. We’re suppose to be playing a 4-4-2 with gerrard on the left. He spends most of the game in the middle and the left is empty,we’ve even got Rooney going over there, what’s that about? I don’t want to see Rooney on the left, he’s the prem’s top scorer and the best player we’ve got. If Fabio wants gerrard in the middle, play him in the middle and put downing on the left or Johnson.

    my team –

    Johnson Terry Ferdinand Cole
    Wright-phillips Gerrard Barry Downing
    Rooney Crouch

    Maybe have Lampard or Milner in the mid as well instead of Crouch and go 4-5-1. I think either of these teams are good enough

    1. Well said my own take on it is we play 4-5-1 and put Rooney up front.

      I think the benefit with Rooney is if the midfield keep feeding him long balls we can hit hard on the counter and he is our best player by far if we give him the ball he is very likely to convert something from it.

      If you look at the players in the England squad from Gerrard to Terry and Lampard the squad has a lot of talent in it but Manchester United arguably with less valuable players in each position do better because they take better advantage of Wayne Rooney.

      End of the day when you play chess everybody has the same pieces but what you do with those pieces makes the difference between winning and losing. England squad have good players but they are used ineffectively I think we should use a formation that plays to Rooneys strengths so the other team is busier with trying to stop him than trying to score against us.

    2. Lamps looked pretty bad yesterday. He wasn’t much into the play and ended up missing two sitters. If I were to make a selection based on yesterday’s game, I’d take Lamps out.

      I pretty much agree with your lineup apart from Crouch. I’d leave him out and have Heskey on to hold the ball up.

      I know, I know… Heskey is crap. I just think he plays a vital role in the England side (bringing our great midfield into the play).

      You can bring Crouch on later on in the game to great success. Teams have such a hard time adapting to him – especially when he is a “surprise”.

      Don’t like the idea of a lone striker – England play four-four-effing-two. Plus, don’t you think it’s pretty late to change our formation now?

  3. “We have finally woke up and realized that England is a second tier international side.” John, did you “finally wake up” and realize that the Soviet Union no longer exists as well?

    First off: It’s a friendly, a match that’s supposed to be used to experiment. Unlike lesser mangers, Cappello knows this. France and Germany both lost theirs after all, so what?

    It’s not the English way to improvise. Outside of Joe Cole, I can’t think of a single player on the English set up that does. Until England produces a dynamic, enigmatic, playmaker – that’s just the way it will be.

  4. I completely disagree, I have nothing but disdain towards friendlies. I feel they are pointless and nothing can be gained from using them as a tool to view the side. If you honestly feel that last night was an honest and full performance to judge England’s World Cup chances, then I’m stunned. Wouldn’t have mattered if we’d lost. It taught us nothing and the disdain that you view Egypt by is rather unpalatable.

    As for the plainly ridiculous opinion that England are a second tier side, England are in the top tier. Over the last 20 years England have failed to qualify for two major tournaments,The 1994 World Cup and the 2008 European Championships. France failed to qualify for 1994 World Cup, didn’t score a goal in the 2002 World Cup. Yet in betweenthat, were the best side in the World for a 3 year period.

    Yet differing circumstances affected both failed qualification competitions. Under Graham Taylor, he inherited an aging side and was shorn of the two best young talents for most of the games at the time, Gascoigne and Shearer. Mclaren simply made error after error.

    Englands record in modern international tournaments is one of the best in the world. In 1990 they lost to the eventual winners, in 1996, they lost to the eventual winners, in 1998 they lost on penalties to those minnows Argentina, in 2002 they lost to the eventual winners Brazil, in 2004 the lost on penalties to the host nation, in 2006 they lost on penalties after playing 60 minutes with 10 men. 2 semi-finals and 4 quarter finals is a damn fine record for me, especially with only one tournament on home soil.

    Along with Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy and Spain, England are at that top table. Viewing an injury hit semi reserve side as an England team doesn’t tell us anything.

    Hardly second tier is it?

    1. Mr. Baggins, you need to go have a lay down back at the shire. England hasn’t been to a major final since 1966, again not even a final. You’re probably using the self delusional, “Newcastle-esque” standards of grandeur, however – their record speaks for itself. The top tier teams in my opinion are: Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, and 98-2007, maybe France, England belongs to the second rung: Holland, Spain, England, and now France again. On current form, sure: Holland, Spain, and England are up there and Argentina/France, not. But when it comes down to doing the business at major tournaments – again, the record says it all.

      1. Spain second tier? Defending European Champions? Holland? AN walking advert on how to blow up in major tournaments. France who cheated there way to a major final?

        Dear me.

        If finishing in the top 8 of the last two World Cups makes you second tier, then god forbid.

        1. I said on “on current form” Spain, Holland, are up there, even England some may say.

          Spain has had a good run of form, the last two years they’ve probably been the best in the world, everyone knows that but up until Euro 2008, they – like England, have been perennial under-achievers. They can and should reach this year’s final but they are no where near the WC records of Germany, Italy, Brazil, and Argentina’s. As for France “cheating” – Ireland isn’t there because they were simply not good enough – period. As for finishing in the top 8 at a world cup – that means absolutely nothing, especially for teams like Spain that have the quality to do better.

  5. “Not any more. All but the most casual observers know that sides like Egypt possess quality and won’t just roll over because they are up against the motherland of football.”

    i’m thinking that a lot more countries are getting better

  6. I disagree that the expectations are anywhere as low as you think.

    “Just getting through will do now.” -> That is a laughable comment.

    For all we like to put ourselves down, we really aren’t a second tier side. Italians look at us in the same we we look at the Italians – a big threat. Same for Spain, France, Brazil, Argentina et al.

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