I WAS at Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier between England and Ukraine, and I have to say that I thought it was a very disappointing result. England were very poor as a team.
They couldn’t dominate the game for any great length of time. There was no build up of pressure. Ukraine looked very comfortable, and were threatening on the counter attack.
We can’t kid ourselves, though – we’ve got Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole and Jack Wilshere out injured – we haven’t got the depth to cope without players of that quality. We did go to Moldova and get a very good result, but the old weaknesses were there.
I had an eye on Tom Cleverley because I think the No10’s a key position for England, but you can’t play that role like he was trying to. He was constantly chasing and running when he needed to show maturity, an awareness of space and composure.
Roy Hodgson has said recently that he doesn’t necessarily think possession is that important but I can’t say I agree. Their passing and ball control was poor. That, and our movement, failed to hurt Ukraine. I still think we’re too rigid – if you closed your eyes at any point in the match, you’d be able to correctly guess where James Milner is.
Hodgson also questioned if a team’s threat should be based on how busy the opposition goalkeeper has been, and I also find that strange. How many times do you hear managers complaining about not testing the opposition goalkeeper enough? England didn’t do that.
It’s difficult for Hodgson because he’s talking to the whole nation, but the football is what does the talking. The England job is never smooth, though I don’t think what he’s said is to do with the criticism he received at Liverpool – he’s well over that.
Lastly, I want to say how pleased I am for the families of the 96 Hillsborough victims. I played for Everton at the time and was in Liverpool that evening; I’m just glad that their struggle for justice has
Trevor Steven is a former England winger who played at two World Cups and two European Championships.