England are through to the last 16 of EURO 2016. Wales topped the group. Russia are going home (presumably to huge cheers all round). Slovakia are now hanging on for other results after a peculiar brand of anti-football that, fair play to them, shut out Roy’s boys and leaves them waiting to see if third place can be secured.
Those are the headlines as group B came to a close for England in St. Etienne but there was so much more to it than that. Roy tinkered. Roy lost out.
It was a demonstration, if ever us Brentford fans needed another one after some of the Marinus era performances, that stats and possession don’t win games. Although, to be fair, at least England managed some shots (come on Bees fans, it’s all good now !). The BBC figures show how one sided a game this was in all but the key category – goals scored – as the match ended 0-0.
Jack Wilshere was anonymous whilst Postman Pat after an all night ‘bender’ would still have offered better delivery than Jordan Henderson showed. In what seemed to be a wonderful atmosphere – so loud even ‘that band’ were drowned out for vast swathes of the game – England had the chances but just couldn’t take them. Any of them. Not even one.
Then there was Glenn Hoddle. Oh, for some level of decent co-commentary on ITV. Talking to one New Road observer during the game, his take on it was that Glenn had been replaced by a random sentence generator. Another, that Sacha Baron Cohen was filling in for him.
Whatever the answer, his performance was the normal drivel infused nonsense . “I think that’s a tactical move,” he observed after one substitution aswell as noting that “Sturridge has just had a mouthful.”
Glenn went on to explain how the lack of England’s ability to breakdown Slovakia was because “We’ve got all footballers out there at the moment”, with the solution to this being a call for Andy Carroll.
I could go on. Those are but a handful of the examples plucked at random although , equally, perhaps it is something that ITV are putting in the water. Over in the Wales – Russia game my sources tell me how Tony Pulis noted that, at 3-0 up, “Wales will be happy to stay in front here” .
Yes. Gareth Bale made it 3 goals from 3 to see his team top the group by a point after what seems to be a steamrollering of Russia. I didn’t see it, can’t comment but can only say “well done”.
Outside of all this, England ARE through. England remain unbeaten. They now face a last 16 game agasint the second placed team in Group F which, all things considered, could have been a lot worse on paper. Mind you, so should a game against Slovakia have been. On paper.
It will take a better man than me to call who Roy & co face next out of Hungary, Iceland, Portugal or Austria. The only thing I’d say for sure is that given recent history, what chance another encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo? He of ‘cheeky wink’ infamy.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, whatever you read.
It would have been wonderful to top that group and failure to breakdown a bus parking defence has cost England dear in that respect. Yet is it that bad?
Roy has ended the group stages happy. Indeed having dominated three games to such a level that he told reporters after the game, “That gives me some sort of satisfaction.”
For now, though, the most important task of escaping the group has been achieved. There’s a few day’s break until Monday, 8pm, when England ‘go again’.
Until then, there’s four more groups to play out and, of course, the release of the Championship fixtures tomorrow (Wednesday). For us Brentford fans, this will make a nice diversion and a chance to see how our next 9 months will map out.
Until Sky get the carving knife out…
For now, here’s St.Etienne….
St.Etienne. So Tough. Why do I bother….