ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson said that their interrupted build-up to yesterday’s game had hampered his side’s performance after their surrender of a one-goal lead in the 2014 World Cup qualifier away to Poland.
England were once more a disappointment in labouring to a predictable draw against the world’s 54th best side after their failure to build on Wayne Rooney’s first-half goal and retain possession was again costly. They sit top of Group H with eight points from four games but it is a total the manager perhaps feels could be greater given the difficult circumstances imposed by Tuesday’s 20-hour delay from heavy rain.
“On Monday, after the training session on the pitch, the players were looking very sharp and lively,” Hodgson said. “I didn’t get that impression [yesterday]. I don’t want to give the impression we were hard done by and our opponents weren’t.
“But if a game is postponed it is a little easier if you are on home soil. We had that extra day in the hotel.
“There was no question the pitch was playable but it wasn’t suited to quick passing. Both teams made quite a few passing mistakes. At half-time we were quite surprised how many passes we had sent astray.”
The reality was that England’s play was again undermined by the same long-term problems. For all of James Milner’s occasional class and consistent endeavour, that he was yesterday considered England’s finest performer in a team where there are individuals that supposedly pervade the world-class category is ultimately damning.
Amid the myriad misplaced passes and their below-par composure, England played without both the necessary purpose and sophistication required to succeed in international football, and even after taking the lead it was apparent that a lack of confidence and nous was continuing to compromise their chances.
It was never truly clear where any potential England goal would come from so it was in some ways fitting that it should arrive in such uninspiring fashion. 31 minutes in captain Steven Gerrard masterfully curled a corner into the Polish penalty area which bounced off of Rooney’s shoulder and into the back of the next. The forward had attempted but failed to head the ball but in hitting his shoulder it then glanced off Lukasz Piszczek and beyond goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton for the lead. It was one England did not necessarily deserve, but one that it was regardless hoped they would not waste.
With their continued misuse of possession came the invitation for Poland to equalise but their threat was ultimately minimal until Joe Hart’s costly mistake. Around 20 minutes remained when the goalkeeper naively jumped for a cross he had little hope of reaching, to leave Kamil Glik with most of the goal to aim at, and to head the equalising effort that settled the ultimate outcome of the game.