So there you have it England finally win through, why do they always have to do it the hard way? However the soap opera continues with the return of a familiar nemesis in the round of sixteen!
All in all and much more rounded performance even though they will need to be better on Sunday. Perhaps it is encouraging that England are improving incrementally. From virtually nothing last Friday against Algeria they dominated for long periods, passed the ball much better and created a fair few chances, If this trend continues they will dominate for longer and may even convert more of them!
For our part Steven Gerrard was arguably the Man of the Match although advocates of James Milner, quite rightly, might have something to say about that. Although he drifted out left his performance was much more effective subjecting the Slovenian defence to the aggressive, probing runs we’ve become used to at Anfield over the years. He linked up well with Rooney which lead to his chance. Not only did we see great vision from our Wayne to thread the pass into his path but also great anticipation from Gerrard who seemed to know exactly where to run so he would receive the ball. The placed shot was stopped by the keeper perhaps leading many to think he should have leathered it but equally it could have ballooned over the bar. It would be harsh to castigate him for taking the option he did.
For once Glen Johnson had a solid game in defence. Despite getting booked for a nothing incident early on he didn’t shirk his challenges and made two vital blocks towards the end of the game as England nerves frayed and Slovenia went for it. Mathew Upson also put in a good performance alongside John “please like me” Terry and Capello now has the “nice problem”, managers always say this when this happens, of deciding between him and recalling Jamie Carragher. Upson has the pace, but Carragher has more experience, over to you Fabio!
Although many will relish the next game against Germany and see it as an ideal opportunity to dust off the tin hat, mug up on the xenophobic chants, and mention the you know as well as a certain event 44 years ago, it is an opportunity missed. One extra goal, or Algeria holding out for a minute or so longer, would have seen England face Ghana and then either South Korea or Uruguay in the quarter finals. Instead we now have Joachim Low’s men, never trust a man with hair that is far too black for his age, followed by either Argentina or Mexico if we are good enough to win through. An altogether more challenging task but these sides can’t be avoided for ever.
Germany secured their date with us by beating the Ghanians 1-0. Are they beatable? I’ve said that the first half decent team England come up against will see them lose. I’m not totally convinced that the Germans fall into this category, Ghana created enough openings last night to give England hope.
Meanwhile Milan Jovanovic can concentrate on finalising the details of his move to Anfield as he and Serbia pack their bags after their 2-1 defeat to Australia. And what of Roy Hodgson? Has yesterday’s result and presumably Fabio’s stay of execution, made his mind up for him? Anfield rather than Soho Square? We shall see in the meantime all we do is speculate in a desperate, hopeless and probably uninformed way!