England slumped to a woeful 0-4 defeat to the hands of Hungary last night.
Buoyed by an initially raucous Molineux crowd, the national team started the game relatively well and looked like they were on-track to right their recent Nations League mistakes.
The optimism didn’t last long, however, as Roland Sallai struck for Hungary in the 16th minute. The stunned supporters soon began to quiet as the first half drew to a miserable close.
Little did we know what lay ahead in the second half. The Hungarians scored three more times, all within 20 minutes, much to the delight of their fans and the chagrin of ours. Sallai scored a second and Zslot Nagy and Daniel Gazdag were both gifted goals by a generous England defence. Oh, and John Stones was sent off - as a last minute ‘up yours’ to the fans. It was a dismal evening for all involved and led me to believe that maybe England won’t romp to the World Cup so easily later this year.
Blame Lies With Players, Not Southgate
This game was supposed to be England’s wake-up call after their dismal performances recently. With talented players like Jarrod Bowen, Bukayo Saka, and Reece James in the squad, fans had high hopes for this Nations League campaign and saw it as a prelude to what was to come in Qatar this winter.
But England, once again, were poor across 90 minutes. The lethargic passing and non-existent movement patterns spoke volumes about how they regard this tournament. For them, the Nations League is nothing more than a burden and a presence standing between them and their holidays.
Fans have rightly criticised Gareth Southgate for his role in England’s Nations League debacle, but I think the majority of the blame lies with the players. Sir Alf Ramsey himself would have trouble motivating this group of disinterested layabouts. The players’ claims that the season has been exhausting falls on deaf ears as the workload has been virtually the same for every player across the continent and I saw none of this supposed exhaustion in the lively Hungary players.
Worst Home Defeat In 94-Years
The 0-4 defeat is the worst England home defeat since 1928. To put that in perspective, that was one year before the Wall Street Crash and over ten years before World War Two. Fans said that this year would be the one where England made history, but I doubt this is what they had in mind.
Southgate has to go back to the drawing board and re-examine his priorities. With the amount of talent he has at his disposal, there is no reason why this new golden generation can’t put minnows like Hungary away with ease. If my Subutteo exploits are anything to go by, then I’m certain I could guide this team to the World Cup in some style.
Ditch Pragmatic Formation
I’d ditch the overly pragmatic formation and opt to blitz teams with unforgiving force and no mercy. There would be flying full-backs, interchanging forwards, and an assured, rock-solid defence. I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that I would be the greatest England manager perhaps of all-time. Furthermore, I’d rid the team of its off-the-pitch messages and restore good old fashioned English grit.
England have problems they need to sort out quickly. Whether it’s pure laziness from the players or underwhelming management from Southgate, there has to be inquiries into the team’s sheer lack of sharpness and motivation. Questions will be asked of the management, and I have to admit that the utter conviction I have that this team will win the World Cup is not as strong as it once was.
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