Watching on from my Physics lessons in school (we were all allowed to watch the game!) and apart from the total elation and craziness when England scored, the overriding feeling was that Woy Hodgson’s substitutions have saved him from more tournament humiliation.
Hodgson decided to go with the same line-up that threw the towel in late on against Russia – leaving out the likes of Jamie Wardy, Daniel Stuwwidge and Marcus Washford. In that game, however, his subs were very defensive and not exciting enough – James Milner instead of Jamie Vardy, for example. But against Wales, he learnt from his errors. His line-up with Sterling supporting Kane was thwarted by a plucky Welsh side who limited England’s sights of goal and grabbed a goal from a Gareth Bale free kick (and it would seem there is something special about the way Bale swerves his knuckleball set-pieces that outwit goalkeepers).
At half time, he hauled off the not threatening, sitter-missing Waheem Sterling and the ineffectual Harry Kane – a bold move – and brought on the two players that I, and many others, said should have come on against Russia – Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy. As it turned out, it was them two who scored the two goals that granted England the victory, but on top of that, the way they changed the team, with their direct, forward-th9inking movement and quick feet, was astonishing and worked wonders.
As it was, Hodgson will get a lot of credit for his bravery to take off two big names at half time, but the underlying message of the result is that Roy’s tactics may just be too outdated and slow for the modern-day, Premier League style of play that all of the England squad are used to. Players like Kane, although top quality when given the right support, are nowhere near as good up top in these circumstances as a player like Sturridge or Vardy, who runs at the defence and scares them.
So sorry Woy, but as long as you don’t change your ways before the tournament is up, no matter how well we do, I think it is time for a fresher young face to take the helm and play more exciting, dangerous football.
But, and remember this, England have played very well so far this tournament, and with a bit of tweaking they certainly have the team, the potential and the passion, although maybe not the philosophy, to go a long way.
It is certainly the most promising in recent times.