England 4 Lithuania 0: Three talking points as Harry Kane nets
Three talking points as Tottenham striker Harry Kane scores on his England debut
Hodgson will not bow to public pressure
Prepare yourself for endless repeats of THAT cross and THAT header, which resulted in THAT goal. The camera panned around the stadium and FA supremo Greg Dyke seemed unable to contain his delight that the Spurs forward scored within 80 seconds for full international football, further enhancing his stature as the pin-up boy of England’s team to come. Praise must go though to the manager. Roy Hodgson chose not to yield to the calls of sycophancy aimed in the direction of Harry Kane and his need to start against Lithuania. Instead the Cirque de Harry Kane started 71 minutes into the game and reached an early ovation on 73 minutes with his first goal. Hodgson, whose scribbles on a piece of paper hit the headlines, made the correct decision ultimately. The 21-year-old appears to have years ahead of him in the England fold and Hodgson is acutely aware of this. There is no need to rush him onto the international scene and Hodgson was right to put the needs of the team, and nation one may argue, over the calls from all angles of the media to get Kane involved. Hodgson, who can often be seen as the wise old grandfather figure, showed he will not be second-guessed by anyone.
England continue to lack dynamism
The gulf in glass between England and Lithuania was patently more glaring than the garish rainbow of football boot colours which modern footballers decide to wear. The result was never in question once Wayne Rooney added his 47th international goal to his tally in the sixth minute but England, like a battered old Vauxhall Corsa, failed to get out of first gear and push on their with noticeable advantage. Where does one apportion the blame – Hodgson or the players themselves? The argument will remain that in such games, the Three Lions do not need to get out the lowly gears but with 80,000+ attending Wembley on a cold, spring March night, the players must do more. Hodgson only has so much at his disposal, especially given the current state of England’s footballing reserves. However, the formation does not suit the players – especially the midfield trio. Michael Carrick, Fabian Delph and Jordan Henderson are all quality players but are very similar inasmuch as being very workmanlike and not very creative on the ball. Sure, the width of Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck gives England creativity, but one of the midfielders needs to add more than just energy and graft to proceedings.
Fortress Wembley remains the whitest of elephants
England sit proudly atop of Group E with their 100 per cent record firmly intact. All looks well and qualification for the tournament in France would require something drastic not to come to fruition. Despite this impressive start, the game itself was hardly much of a spectacle, especially contrasted with the events at Twickenham a few weeks previous. Naturally comparing aspects of football and rugby is similar to looking for similarities between cats and dogs but the FA needs to look at the usage of Wembley. The home of English football appeared more like a haunted house, bereft of atmosphere and briefly lightened by the Mexican Wave shortly before Kane’s goal. If this carries on, interest in the national team will continue to wane. The decision to play all the games at Wembley is stifling the ability for fans to get behind England. If the FA are so keen to look at how the Spanish and Germans do, then they need to look at the whole package. Both these sides famously play their games, serious or otherwise, at locations across the length and breadth of the country. Unsurprisingly, support for these sides remains high. Who knows, taking England on the road may inspire the youth of today put down the controllers and play the sport for real.