Sunday, 13 November 2011

England's win a contradiction in terms

It was England's first win over a reigning world champion since Argentina were humbled at Wembley in 1980. It also ended a run of three straight defeats against the Armada in which we'd not scored at all.

And yet it was probably the first demonstrative acknowledgement that we're simply no match for the likes of Germany, Holland and the Spanish to win Euro 2012.

Because England's win was 0% inspiration 100% perspiration. Not that tracking back and winning every ball isn't without merit - it is. But it's not enough in itself to win tournaments.

Scott Parker broke it up in midfield, Joleon Lescott was alert to everything and Glen Johnson marauded when called upon.

Friendlies are often a difficult monitor of progress. Apart from not knowing how seriously the opposition are taking it (and Spain may well have played with more urgency had it been competitive), the sheer amount of substitutions breaks up the drill and formations worked up by the starting eleven.

Then again we have strength in depth: Fabio Capello could have easily picked a quite plausible alternative team. Who knows where the inspiration might come from in the future? We have Jones, Rodwell, Wilshere, Welbeck and Walcott to invest our dreams in.

On a completely different level, Spain have their problems. They came into the game without a win in four and luck deserted them in that fashion. On this display, they hardly look worthy favourites to win in Poland and Ukraine.

So it's Sweden next at Wembley and another chance for England to win, build confidence and break a duck of incessant draws against the Scandinavians.