Where England really that bad in Montenegro? Undoubtedly, it was frustrating to draw against the nearest qualification foe, when a victory seemed the only outcome acceptable. Also, the second half performance left little to write home about, but the public outrage and media backlash is lacking in any foundation. Again, when it comes to England, we see that it is easier to write a story of failure than one of success; easier to concur with the tide of skepticism than evaluate the performance independently. As ever, the National team is vilified, because people are too lazy to think for themselves.
Roy Hodgson's time in charge of England has been a success. Once given control of the team in such close proximity to a major championship last summer, the manager worked quickly and effectively to achieve a respectable finish. Hodgson did all he could in Poland & Ukraine. This season, too, has seen yet more progress for England; the nucleus of a very good team on show in victory over Brazil at Wembley last month. In any other country, the extensive mass of positives would have been enjoyed. In England, those positives are devalued, deconstructed, and demeaned, so that, eventually the media would have you believe that every game is meaningless and every player underwhelming. There is just no justice.
England had a very positive qualification week. In San Marino, they showed a rare verve and inimitable style; the very characteristics which the media have eternally called for from the National side. England were insatiable against San Marino. However, the cliches still denounced a performance of conviction and confidence: 'its only San Marino.'
In actuality, we should expect nothing less from an English sporting media so defined by oxymoron. After the South African debacle in 2010 and the penalty heartache last summer, the incessant call was for younger players, hungrier players, players with a bright and extensive future. Hodgson has delivered in this regard too. Walker. Smalling. Cleverley. Oxlade-Chamberlain. Welbeck. Again, however, the immense determination for England to fail manifests itself in chronic hypocrisy; after this draw in Montenegro, the new call is for experienced heads, members of the old guard, players who've seen it all with England. How can any man succeed, when the parameters for such a state are so routinely changed by a deceitful and self-serving public? Roy Hodgson doesn't know whether he is coming or going.
There is still plenty to be upbeat about. England will qualify for the World Cup. This week, the media would have you believe that there is a great gulf to overcome. In reality, England sit just two points behind a grossly-overrated Montenegrin side with four games remaining. Thus, those who ask 'when was the last time England beat a meaningful side?' are the ones most likely to be celebrating in October; such is the capriciousness of a strange footballing nation.