Roy Hodgson now takes a team to the World Cup for the second time in 20 years. The first of course being Switzerland, remote outsiders whom he transformed into a team capable of scaring Italy in the qualifiers in the qualifiers, then figuring in the American finals.
His gamble in choosing the young internationally untried right winger Andros Townsend was triumphantly vindicated in both these games. Apart form his electric pace and excellent control, Townsend clearly has supreme self confidence . Not for him the easy lay-off rather than the solo burst at speed. This time he may not have scored but he struck the Polish bar and devastated Poland’s left-back Grzegorz Wojtkowiak, while the right-back, Piotr Celeban, was hopelessly out of position more than once, not least when the excellent, ambitious Leighton Baines crossed for Wayne Rooney’s goal.
England won’t win in Brazil but they should give a decent account of themselves. The favourites for me are the Brazilians themselves, Germany, Argentina and Holland.
I’d still like to see Jack Wilshere in the midfield to provide the element of surprise. Steven Gerrard’s solo goal was remarkable but the Gerrard-Lampard pairing is surely a thing of the past. And there’s a need for a left flanker “by profession”, if one can emerge in time.
Meanwhile, it’s surely worth persisting with 4-4-2 as Daniel Sturridge matures beside Rooney at international level.
Elsewhere, the sublime uncertainty of football was shown once again when underdogs Wales boldly drew in Belgium.