The main thing which annoyed in the aftermath of England’s 5-0 win over San Marino was the amount of people who analysed the performance. I don’t believe for a second that how badly or brilliant you played against a semi-professional outfit will impact what happens when you face real opposition.
The joint worst team in the history of international football set out with their variation of a 10-0 formation hoping and praying to keep the scoreline respectable. While I’m not suggesting for a second the minnows had an obligation to attack the Three Lions, I don’t see the point in allowing an exercise and encouraging a game where only one team have the resources to win. The irritation is it’s a match-up everyone’s seen plenty of times before, when the slightly superior Andorra come to Wembley they are similarly restricted in the ways they can approach the game and often, rarely venture further than 30 yards from their goal in numbers.
I just don’t see the point in continuing to persist with these dreadful events, due to the population of these miniscule nations, they are never going to be at a level where they can compete with the major teams, so make them qualify in a preliminary round and against teams closer to their level to stop these pointless exercises twice every qualification round. Some minnow nations have improved Republic of Ireland travel to the Faroe Islands expecting a tough match today, but some still offer little and can’t provide a stern enough test at international level to anyone, like San Marino.
As a self-confessed football addict, there is virtually no football match I could not find a point of interest in. Whether it’s a lower-league game showcasing a young talent or a chance to see the expensively assembled League Two outfit Fleetwood Town. Nearly all football matches are going to appeal to me in some way. This England versus a team with the population of a big town fixture is a definite exception. I learn nothing more about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain because he can curl past a goalkeeper standing comically out of position. We are no closer to knowing whether Kyle Walker will emerge as the England right back for the next ten years, because the opposition are far too miserably inept to test him. Plus the San Marino goalkeeper’s recklessness and inexperience injured Theo Walcott. This is another strong case for stopping these miserable match-ups, people can get hurt. How our amateur footballers supposed to cope with players used to playing at a pact they’ve never seen before?
This game seemed to generate more of a buzz than other non-events between England and part-timers perhaps the excitement of guessing how many England should put past San Marino got people through their last day of work that week. Regardless the same people eager to sweepstake the number of goals scored, then moaned about England only winning 5-0 and not looking overly impressive against a team who set out to do nothing but a damage limitation exercise. I’ve been accused of pessimism in the past, but being upset at your team looking unimpressive in a glorified training exercise is simply ridiculous. This game didn’t teach us anything about England or San Marino and shouldn’t be taken any further than that. Those who got angered watching it perhaps need a reminder of the ease at which England swept aside Estonia a month earlier. Only to then be incapable of raising their level against real opposition in the shape of Ukraine.
If you replace these meaningless games with friendlies or even training camps, it will allow younger players to get a greater understanding of the England set up and perhaps, further push through that next generation that England so desperately need to replace the aging stars of the last decade. But welcoming them into the squad in such meaningless fixtures doesn’t benefit them or the national team. Put an end to these pointless fixtures and quickly please.
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