If England had won that penalty shoot out against Italy it would have been a travesty. The press has been very kind to the national team this morning, partly because — as we kept being told — ‘expectations were low’ and partly because everyone still likes (with some justification) Roy Hodgson. But from the middle of the first half onwards, England performed as poorly as I have ever seen them, and it wasn’t simply down to the might of the opposition. Indeed, the Italian defence is ponderous and porous, as we shall see when they play a team which dares, from time to time, to attack.
England’s problems were partly a consequence of team selection, and partly tactics. Rooney should not have been on the pitch; he was there as a consequence of blind hope. Ashley Young should not have been on the pitch, either and I’m not so convinced as others by Danny Welbeck. I’ve never been a huge fan of Carroll, but when he came on he won every ball in the air. Defoe/Walcott/Carroll permutation would have been far more incisive.
And it grieves me to say it but by some margin the best performer for England across the four games has been John Terry.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.