Football: World Cup 2014 Maldova 0 – 5 Engerland

Not Nearly As Bad As It Could Have Been

Brazil World Cup 2014 logo.

Let’s face it, pretty much all the omens were against this game. We’d only just got over the Great Euro Olympic Summer of Sport hoo-ha, barely scraped our way through the stomach-clenching tedium of the transfer window, just about got used to the idea that the Prem was back in action, and we’re faced with this, an international World Cup qualifier away to the 147th best team on Earth.

Oh and it was live on ITV, with all the terrifying mateyness and crap bonhomie Adrian Chiles brings, coupled with the tactical insight of Andy Townshend and Gareth Southgate, and 10 minutes of ads slapped in at half time.

So there we were, bored, disillusioned and patronised to as the whistle went. Surely things could only go downhill from here?

But if you overlooked all of that and just concentrated on the football, it wasn’t all bad.

Sure Engerland started with many of the old skool ‘golden’ generation, and, sure, Hodgson was the latest in a long line of failed Engerland managers to believe that, just this once, Lampard and Gerrard could actually play successfully in the same team and that all evidence to the contrary, that John Terry was still good enough to ‘man up’ our central defence. But there were strange, vaguely reassuring moments.

First, in starting with Cleverly and Oxlaid-Chamberlain, Hodgson confirmed that if you’re good enough, you are old enough and that he’s not totally averse to taking risks. Both played well, reaffirmed his selection and looked to build on their previous good performances.

Second, to a large, often disturbing extent, Engerland played the ball on the floor. Sure there were 50 yard hail mary hoofers every now and then, but they weren’t as painfully abundant as in previous games, and some actually had purpose. But generally Engerland mixed it up on the grass, passing and moving their way through a very poor Moldovan side. And when they did pass, they actually looked like they were trying to accomplish something rather than get rid of the ball to a teammate.

So, a big win, a good smattering of new players, some purposeful movement and tactics, not bad for an evening’s work in the furthest tie away from home in qualification.