England’s 1-1 draw with Montenegro in the qualification for next year’s World Cup has left the Three Lions in a precarious position.
The result means that England may have to win their four remaining games of the group.
When the draw came out for qualification a lot of pundits and fans declared that it was ‘an easy draw for England’.
There was no other major European football nation in the group and Roy Hodgson’s team should win it at a canter.
Call me cautious or sceptical, but I was always wary of the group. I must admit I thought Ukraine would be challenging as well, but the fact that Montenegro are top of the group doesn’t surprise me at all.
The country from the Balkans has a side that have some very good technically gifted players and a rapidly developing team. They definitely deserved a point for their second half display.
As England boss Roy Hodgson revealed after the game England’s fate is in their own hands. If the Three Lions win all four remaining they go to Brazil as group winners, it’s as simple as that, but as we all know England don’t do simple.
All the remaining games are crucial for England, but two games in particular will define their qualification. A home game with rivals Montenegro and a tough trip to Ukraine are the games that England will find most challenging.
The standard of performance last night was poor from England. The first half display was fine, but that was only because the home side played so poorly. Montenegro showed what they could do in the second half and nearly turned the game on its head completely.
In the second half Roy Hodgson had no answer to the Montenegro onslaught. What makes a good tactician is somebody that can change things around when things are not going their team’s way.
It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to work out that Montenegro was on top in the second half. Hodgson’s re-active, rather than pro-active substitution maybe summed up his nature as a boss.
Hodgson is cautious by nature and England teams in the past that have been cautious have been found out at by teams, even smaller nations like Montenegro.
This game was a chance for Roy Hodgson to send out a message to everybody not only in the group, but also the rest of Europe that England means business under him. Instead the former-West Brom boss picked a team that was designed not to lose.
I think that’s why England will never get anywhere under Roy Hodgson. I’m not saying that England should have gone all-out attack in Podgorica, but the selection of James Milner and Michael Carrick suggested that England were going for functionality and not flair.
This was a difficult game, but England had the players in the squad to go out and win this game. Instead Hodgson’s cautious lead to a draw that could leave England in a very tricky situation.
Some fans and pundits believe that England are moving in the right direction under Roy Hodgson. I’m not completely convinced by the former-West Brom’s boss’ management of the team.
England may have to win all four of their remaining qualifying games and I really wouldn’t be confident of that happening. The Three Lions really don’t want to finish second and have to qualify via a play-off.
Some of the teams that are likely to finish second could cause the current England team major problems. Hodgson’s side could face the likes of Portugal, France or Croatia in the play-offs.
England doesn’t have a particularly great competitive record against any of the trio. England may get lucky and draw a team that are slightly less high-profile. However, there is no guarantee that England will get through the play-off.
I really hope that England will be at the World Cup next year, whether it by winning the group or making it through the play-offs. If England do qualify though I feel that lots of the problems in the team will be swept under the carpet.
The England set-up is in need of change and has been for a good while. Roy Hodgson is not the progressive boss that England really needs to implement those changes. The England squad is full of aging stars and mediocre players.
Until England appoints a boss that is willing to make brave decisions the team will struggle to ever achieve anything on the international stage.
Is England in need of change?
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