Capello's England: A Distinct Lack of Evolution in Post-World Cup III Lions
A nil-nil draw at Wembley to a Montenegro side missing its two best players is, at best, poor. Excuses are always readily available. "They defended deep," "We were unlucky" and the like were the order of the day from the England set-up, but truth be told Montenegro deserved their point, and were only inches away from winning (albeit would have been undeserved).
For those who haven't already, it's time to drop the illusion that England are amongst the top, elite world teams. Spain and Germany have had similarly tough games with opponents shutting up shop, but both have a perfect record.
Aside from this game, there is the far more (long term) important issue regarding an utter lack of forward progress from Capello's men. The players must of course take the burden of some guilt—Rooney cannot buy a goal and Barry doesn't look the player he was but two seasons ago—but tactically England were short.
Montenegro were always going to be defensive, but England looked totally bereft of ideas beyond the tried and tested "bang it to Crouch" technique. Maybe Adam Johnson can be held above that, but England simply seem unable to deal with a packed defence.
When Germany suffered internationally repeatedly around a decade ago, they put a plan into action. No more ground-out victories based around players strong in stamina, but young German coaches started to implement aggressive, exciting match plans. In the meantime the DFB (the German equivalent of the FA) began a programme of intense scouting for talent and nurtured what they found.
Now the likes of Thomas Mueller and Mesut Oezil are household names. The German international pool is overflowing with talented young players, while England rest their hopes on one or two names.
Following the German team's complete dominance over England in South Africa it was hoped that at least the catastrophic result would spur the FA into a similar state of action—a long-term planning for England's future. Unfortunately, the FA have, compared to the DFB, done nothing and it will hamper England's chances of reappearing as a global elite.
One might argue of course that a coach earning £6 million a year should already have his team of celebrated superstars well established into the top three or four teams. England are, somehow, currently sixth but a few hundred points from going up.
This lands us back at the original point, that England suffer when playing against defensive teams. When Rooney was firing on all cylinders it was easier as he made things happen, but his current form, which has seen no sign of abating, will eventually see him play himself out of the starting team.
England lack a Xavi or Oezil, and until one is nurtured to fruition, as Josh McEachran seems the best bet of being, England will be forced into archaic systems of play which cannot compete with the fluidity and aggression and modernity of their Teutonic and Iberian friends.
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