Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scotland v England

Yes, it's another football post. Don't worry, though - should be the last for a while.

I rather enjoyed the match last night. Largely because it's actually quite rare for the TV to have football on that I care about, what with Sky getting the rights to all our qualifying matches, us never actually managing to qualify, and Scottish football in general being pretty poor.

I felt the result was about right, with one caveat (which I'll get to). I was very glad that it wasn't a humiliation, though it was pretty obvious that England weren't playing at full intensity. (That said, had it been a 'real' match, I suspect the result would actually have been 2-0 England and the match much less enjoyable - in a 'real' game Scotland would almost certainly have gone for damage-limitation rather than trying to win the match.)

The one caveat I have to put on the result is Scotland's goal. The truth is that while Scotland's performance was generally okay, there wasn't really any point at which they looked like scoring. The goal was extremely well taken, but it did seem to come out of nowhere. Though I guess you have to take your chances when you get them.

Conversely, England's three goals weren't unexpected - each was well worked and the result of good play. That's a really bad thing for Scotland, because two of the three were the result of exactly the same sort of defensive problems that caused them to lose to Germany (and, indeed, England last year).

The bottom line from last night's game is to confirm what we knew already: England are a good way ahead of Scotland in terms of football. But it tells us virtually nothing about how England compare with any of the bigger nations - for that, they ideally need to play Spain or Italy.

(The follow-on from that is that it would be good for us to have a rematch, probably in Wembley, next year to see if we've progressed any. But the prospect of such a match should be less appealing to the England management, since we're not the right test for them.)

In the meantime, there are several positives that Gordon Strachan can take from the past year or so. Progress has definitely been made. But in some areas, and particularly in defense, he does need to think again.

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