Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Roy's England plans seem on the hoof

When grand plans don't come together, great generals resort to a Plan B, but at Wembley, Roy Hodgson's backup looked distinctly laboured.
Konoplianka's strike was superb
Only a late equalising penalty from Frank Lampard saved England from the ignominy of home defeat to a determined Ukraine intent on revenge.

Their disallowed 'ghost' goal against us in Euro 2012 was the easiest motivation possible for coach, Oleg Blokhin.

The visitors came out of the traps keen to break us up with pugnacious directness. Skipper Steven Gerrard, who later saw red for the first time in his international career, was deliberately run into by a Ukrainian marker in the early minutes.
Roy's blood pressure increases
It's true goals that goals change games and Jermain Defoe's disallowed one would've given the game a whole different outcome had it been allowed. Instead it gave Ukraine their chance.

Their greater resolve resulted in a terrific strike from Yevhen Konoplianka and from then on, England struggled with it.

The problem of searching for an equaliser came in leaving ourselves exposed at the back. Hodgson's instruction to keep possession exposed our deficit of creativity and imagination.

Lampard's great leveller: he leathers it.
We missed sitters, struck woodwork and worked hard in front of a patient Wembley crowd, but it's hard to watch England forced to perpetually evolve during competitive games. We don't have the guile of more than one gear. We're not good under pressure.

A late penalty can't disguise the lifeless, oft limp show and it's no good blaming the referee for handing out cards like confetti. We know international football's less tolerant on challenges.

LESSONS:

1) This early setback's a reminder qualification isn't a formality.
2) Roy Hodgson's still at the drawing board post-Capello.