England’s Slovenian stalemate: Rant Review

Slovenia 0-0 England


England gained a point last night in their Group F World Cup Qualifying game in Ljubljana against Slovenia.

One point is better than none, but at a time of transition for England, the ineptitude to play with any panache and to conjure any real chances to trouble the Slovenians, left me bored and frustrated yet again.

It was a hard earned point in the end, yet a point that may give England fans reason for concern rather than reasons to celebrate.

Torino’s on loan goalkeeper Joe Hart was England’s man of the match, which in itself, tells its own story. It was his saves that kept his country in the game, with Slovenia being the more ruthless in front of goal, with chances spurned by Kurtic, Bezjak and Llicic.

As one would expect, England had more possession; 67% in fact.

Slovenia mustered 13 shots to Englands 12 on goal.

Out of those 25 shots at goal, both teams could only muster 3 shots on target each – but if it were not for Joe Harts’ reflex saves, England could have well suffered defeat.

Bigger Picture….


I know it’s early days in Southgate’s tenure and the side itself, to quote Joe Hart after the match is ” A young side”, with the “Bigger picture, Qualifying for the World Cup” in Russia 2018, the main aim.

However this and the Malta game before it, was the perfect chance for Southgate to put his own blueprint on the team. I know he hasn’t had long with the side among all the recent shambles of Allardyce’s exit, but we still find ourselves witnessing a style of football that echos last summers dismal displays.

Last night there was no conviction nor real movement in attack. No plan it seemed. No drive nor passion to break Slovenia down. To much insistence on playing out from the back and far to many mistakes.

We all make mistakes!


The occasion got to Jordan Henderson last night – there is no doubt about that.

Is he the right captain in chief behind Rooney? I’m not so sure he has the quality nor the leadership skills to be the driving force of the team once Rooney does exit the fold. Who else is there though? Captain Joe? Maybe.

One things for sure, the spotlight will be on Henderson a lot more now he seems to be deemed vice captain and his performances will have to be a lot better than last night. Mistakes aside (what was he doing with that back pass that put us under pressure?), he made far to many wayward passes, never drove the ball nor his team forward and played far to many simple, square balls that had no effect on the play what so ever.

Dier and Stones – would have been hung out to dry by the media, if their errors led to goals. All things for Southgate to work on prior next months game vs Scotland.

Error’s and Rooney decision aside, I found myself lost with the starting selection plus his timings of substitutions left little to inspire and rejuvenate.

Whats this insistence on Daniel Sturridge? Surely Rashford deserves to start over him on recent form. Yes, Sturridge had that one good season playing alongside Luis Suarez, when Liverpool finished second but has he really shown any evidence of being anywhere near that level since?

Time after time, he goes for glory or tries the impossible to gain the plaudits only to let a goal scoring opportunity go to waste. He is not direct enough nor decisive enough and is not lighting up the Liverpool team at present. Only my opinion but does nobody else see it? Yet he starts both games back to back. Yes I do remember he got that goal vs Wales in the summer, after coming off the bench right? Point exactly,


Maybe I’m being harsh on the guy, as last night, nobody in an England shirt (GK aside), covered themselves in any glory. Could Theo had done a better job down the middle? Vardy has never let his country down and at least you know you get some form of tenacity when you play him.

Jesse Lingard was a brave and arguably inventive move by the gaffer, but a move that didn’t really pay off.

Yet again another player, who has done well this season, yet is far from the finished article in my opinion. He got embroiled in a brawl towards the end, was lucky to stay on the pitch as a result and I was left wondering how, he played 90 minutes over the likes of more attacking threats in Alli, Rashford and Walcott.

Regarding the timings of substitutions, poor Marcus Rashford – how is he expected to change a game with 8 minutes remaining? Even Rooney – to be fair, had little time to influence the game. Rooney coming on still to be played in midfield – why?

A side in transition…

A side in transition. It can only get better right? Is Southgate the best man for the job? He’s got two more games to prove it, with the next one against the Tartan Army.

End the old enemies qualification hopes and the fans may well be united for Southgate to take the helm.  I’m personally still torn but in the same breath, I don’t think there’s anyone else (bar Wenger), who may be suitable for the job. I am a bit old fashioned and would love to see a fellow Englishman get the role and really hope he can succeed.

It was refreshing to hear Southgate’s honest comments after the match, for which I respected.


“We didn’t start either half well and need to do that better” and “we created some good chances of our own but need to do better in the final third” was a true evaluation by the interim manager.

In his defence, he did also state ” I inherited a mess”, when reflecting on his first 10 days in charge, and his initial installment was obviously far from perfect, for all parties concerned.

Credit due, he has come in and steadied the ship and gained 4 points out of 6 in the process. Slovenia may well prove to be the nearest team to rival us in qualifying too (having beaten Slovakia at home already in qualifying), so maybe it’s not all doom & gloom.

Let’s just hope we can do the business and beat Scotland at Wembley next month.

Surely you HAVE to show passion in that game right?


Whats your thoughts on the game and England’s current state?

Is Gareth Southgate the right man for the job?

Was he right in his team selection?

Who would you pick?

Lets discuss! Leave your comments below…



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