Qualification for a major competition should be seen as exciting and a welcomed achievement; but for England fans, last night’s two-all draw in Montenegro just typified the current mentality and capability of the England national team: it doesn't amount to much. While Spain qualified some time ago for Euro 2012 at a canter, winning all their group games to date, for England it was more of a struggle and they seemed to crawl over the finish line - albeit with a game to spare. While Spain were the undistracted hare, England were most definitely the tortoise.
A side with so much capability fails to produce on so many occasions, and the scepticism amongst the England fans is now at its highest. I think it’s time to call a spade and spade and admit that our chances in Poland and Ukraine next summer are severely slim and our chances are actually dwindling as we play more matches.
The ever-changing England team are failing to gel and as a result are playing poorly. The catalyst, surely, is the manager. Fabio Capello, in his time so far managing England, has divided opinion and more often than not has failed to win over a large chunk of the English contingent. Although a highly regarded coach and a very good appointment by the FA, Capello seems to be producing an England team that is boring to watch, and he has rightly come under criticism for this amongst other things. I've never been a fan of Capello and he is yet to completely win me over. I don’t believe that he the man to lead England to victory, but I'd like to see him prove me and a lot of England fans wrong.
The players of England must also shoulder some of the blame of this dwindling form of late. The main criticism of the England team is that they underperform, underachieve and fail to entertain. I don’t expect a team of players who play against each other more than they play with each other to click automatically every time there is an International fixture; but surely the class and experience of these footballers, playing regularly in the Premier League, should allow them to put on better performances then those we are witnessing at the moment. It’s lackluster, it’s not entertaining and frankly: it’s boring. This is exactly why a lot of people find it hard to be patriotic and passionate about the team any more. Thankfully, I’m not one of those people, but I can see their point: why be passionate about a team who don’t look passionate themselves?
I can see I’m painting a bleak picture here. Of course it isn’t all doom and gloom: we have qualified, which is more than can be said for our last Euro campaign, but the manner in which we qualified is disappointing. It’s all well and good trying to defend the England team “it’s next summer, they’ll be better by then” – but will they? They always seem to crumble under the pressure of a big tournament and let the monster that is the English media get to them. I don’t expect England to win Euro 2012; I just expect them to play a little bit better than they have done during the qualifying campaign, or it’s going to be a very, very short stay in Poland and Ukraine next summer.