Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
After the disaster that was World Cup 2014, it was absolutely essential that the Three Lions enjoyed a positive start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. You would think that a 100% record, three clean sheets and eight goals scored would have been enough to draw widespread plaudits.
However, that’s rarely the case with England and once again the team are receiving a lot of unwanted and undeserved negativity.
The truth is that we’ve done all that can be asked this season and now is the time to get behind Roy’s Boys as they ease towards a place at Euro 2016.
You Can Only Beat What’s In Front Of You
Sunday’s slender 1-0 win in Tallinn was met with plenty of displeasure from certain sections of the English support and media but the only thing that really matters is that we chalked up another three points.
A number of teams have dropped points against lesser opposition in recent matches, with the likes of Spain, Netherlands and Germany all slipping up. However, there isn’t any real judgement on those teams as ultimately they will all achieve the goal that they’ve set out to do by reaching the finals in France.
England will be joining those teams at Euro 2016 so there is no need to jump on their backs just yet.
Knocking four or five past Estonia would be all well and good but the fact we saved our best performance for the hardest game in qualifying is actually a positive sign. You can only beat what is in front of you and Roy Hodgson’s men have duly done that by winning all three opening fixtures. More pleasing, though, was the confident manner of victory against Switzerland last month and that contest is the one that we should be judging as a barometer of where we are currently at; not results against minnows such as Estonia and San Marino.
Hodgson has already set his side the task of registering a maximum 30 points in qualifying. The Three Lions are currently 30% through that challenge and look set to have a real chance of answering their manager’s call.
It’s hard to criticise that really.
Captain Rooney Scoring Goals
Wayne Rooney was hardly at his scintillating best during the double-header against San Marino and Estonia, but the England skipper was on the target in both matches to close in on Bobby Charlton’s record and ensure that the Three Lions maintain a 100% start to the campaign.
Scoring when you haven’t played well, regardless of the competition, is the hallmark of a top player and the fact he will end his career as the leading scorer in both England and Manchester United history is more than enough to silence his critics.
Rooney to break the record before October 13th 2015 is 4/5 with BetVictor
Building Towards Future
It’s easy to forget about the sense of positivity surrounding the new generation prior to the shambles in Brazil and one poor tournament should not detract from the long-term ambitions. Up until now, the youngsters have responded well after that summer of disappointment.
With the likes of Ross Barkley still to return from injury, the future does look pretty bright for England. Whilst it is good to keep the level of expectation low, there is no doubt that the squad needs to be backed by the fans and media alike.
Likewise, both player and manager have been questioned over the Raheem Sterling situation but perhaps it is best for stars like the 19-year-old to be bedded in slowly rather than putting the weight of a nation on his shoulders so prematurely.
Hodgson still has over 16 months to build a team capable of challenging in France. There is still a long journey ahead for the Three Lions and ample improvements will need to be made if we are to return to a level which we all deem suitable. However, the positive has easily outweighed the negative so far and England should be congratulated on their decent start on the road to recovery.
England might not boast the superstar names of yesteryear any longer but this current crop could be the best team we’ve had in years. Put the criticisms on hold and get behind the boys.
Come on England!