It was never a good idea in the first place to have two friendly internationals at the end of a gruelling Premier League season and all the forebodings have come true with a performance from England that was drab, lifeless and bereft of any intuition or guile. It would be easy to point the finger at the players, but, when they have just finished a stressful final period of a long season, is it really any surprise?
Gary Lineker, a former star England striker and now a television pundit did not hold back in his assessment of England`s performance. He tweeted:-
"Even though results haven't been great, felt tactically England was maturing, but this is a step back to the dark ages of two lines of four."
The dark ages will have hurt England manager Roy Hodgson, as it strikes at the very heart of how he perceives himself. Hodgson thinks that he is some kind of revolutionary `nouveau` manager, but his tactics and style belie the true failings. Hodgson is a typical Championship level manager who has travelled the world managing at various levels, but winning nothing of note. His destination in the Premiership was at West Brom where he inherited a blooming team, yet in a short matter of time, turned them into one of the most mundane teams in the division.
Hodgson is the grey man with the dead hand on the controls of England. He can make a PR disaster out of the simplest of situations as with last night`s captaincy issue, where he changed his mind at least three times in quick succession depending upon the television station to which he was talking. His treatment of Rio Ferdinand was a disgrace as was his massively misguided support of racist John Terry.
Hodgson`s reversion to a 4-4-2 system condemned our players to tactics that were left behind by the rest of football 30 years ago, but our man from West Brom still thinks that is the way ahead!
As far as individual performances go, the two wingers, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, were guilty of childish and selfish `one-man-mission` football. Where were the crosses into the box which you expect from your wide players? They also both missed two sitters which my 10 year old niece could have put away. Rooney looks like he is still in turmoil with nappies and diapers on his mind. Once Sturridge went off, Carrick`s excellent incisive passing to the front players was wasted. The two centre backs were a disaster waiting to happen and we only saw anything like international class when Phil Jones came on in the second half. Lampard got a tap-in but that was about all he did during the whole match.
Lineker worries that if England plays like that against Brazil, they will get hammered. Maybe that will be the price to pay to realise that after 12 months in the job, when it feels like 12 years, Hodgson is no nearer improving England`s prospects. They have four World Cup Qualifiers left to play; three at home and one away. Normally you would expect them to romp through and qualify, but after last night`s dross, I would not hold your breath.