Cooney and Black

Jack Wilshere should have done what he does best – passed the ball – but he didn’t produce and it was no surprise he was substituted. He just does not dominate a game


CAUTION, please, caution. Let’s not bang the drum of triumphalism too loudly.

England won again on Monday night but, to be brutally honest, Switzerland were only marginally better than Norway, who were despatched last week.

So Roy Hodgson’s new generation earned him the three points England deserved, but the victory posed just as many questions, as to the shape and style of the team Hodgson wants to play.

Switzerland were the strongest team in a group made up of Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino. As an exercise, it should be like shooting fish in a barrel, only you can never tell where England are concerned.

Their new diamond formation gave them more flexibility than they produced against Norway, but in the second half when they changed to five in midfield, they looked more comfortable.

Much still needs to be done, however. Raheen Sterling made the first goal for Danny Welbeck, who also got the second, but did not produce enough in his role at the point of the diamond to suggest he can make the position his own.

To convince us all, he should have run at ordinary defenders, but didn’t get on the ball enough to make an impact.

Jack Wilshere should have done what he does best – passed the ball – but he didn’t produce, either, and it was no surprise he was substituted.

He just does not dominate a game and, with those quick feet, should be able to move the ball on much quicker than he does.

There remains a massive question mark against him, especially against such ordinary opposition. It meant there was little fluency about England early on, not enough attacking flair, few ideas and worries still at the back where at times Leighton Baines and Phil Jones made awful errors.

Fabian Delph was lucky to stay on. He made two undisciplined tackles early on, and was booked inside nine minutes. Hodgson must drum into him that he has to stay on his feet and not go diving in.

There is a big difference to international football to what he is accustomed to in the Premier League. Give him the benefit of the doubt this time because he was clearly out to impress, but he must learn from this. Hodgson must make sure he does not get drawn into careless ball winning if he is ever to play for his country again.

The Swiss hardly tested Joe Hart, but played enough balls in between the centre backs to suggest better sides will punish us. Fortunately for Hodgson. the other nations in our group are so weak that qualification for Euro 2016 is assured, and England will not face another side in competition football who will offer more of a challenge that the disappointing Swiss.

For Welbeck, second string striker, it was a satisfactory night with ten goals now from 28 games. That’s where Hodgson got lucky. If Daniel Sturridge had been fit, the England manager may well not have gambled on the diamond formation.

Now he has breathing space and can stick two fingers up at those, including myself, who have questioned his management. He will be a very relieved man.

So, too, will be the Football Association, faced with the prospect of more poor crowds at Wembley for matches of little appeal in the months ahead.



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