England’s bright new era under Big Sam Allardyce got off to a damp squib of a start on Sunday evening with The Three Lions needing a scruffy 95th-minute winner from Liverpool’s Adam Lallana to beat ten-man Slovakia 1-0 in Trnava in their first World Cup qualifier. Despite Joey Barton's bizarre post-match tweet in which he described the performance as 'solid', this was quite simply as dire as it gets. I'm afraid Joey must be bipolar or something (sorry) if he thinks that was a solid display.
Not only did the Three Lions struggle to beat Slovakia, again, they played over half an hour against the Slovaks with a man extra, following the dismissal of ex-Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel for a stamp Mr Barton himself would have been proud of.
Since his appointment, Allardyce seems to have been walking around with the smile of a man who has just pulled a beauty queen in a club. In a few months he will realise, he will be walking around like a man who pulled a beauty queen in a club, but then when he got her home found a few extra parts downstairs. And there, I'm ashamed to say is going to be the fun in watching England's World Cup campaign - watching it slowly dawn on Big Sam. Up to about 5 years ago there was profit to be are in laying England, with the public unwilling to acknowledge the state of our game and the bookies only too pleased to accommodate them with criminally short prices. The public have now wised up and the performance against Slovakia will only have reinforced prevailing opinion. Any betting on England has gone.
Allardyce himself is a proud Englishman and you cannot fault his enthusiasm at getting the job. The 61-year-old’s appointment is probably a good gauge as to where England currently are as a football nation with The Three Lions simply needing someone to come in and prevent any further public humiliation like the one at Euro 2016 in that last game against Iceland. In many ways that was a sensible move by the FA, but the performance against Slovakia hinted that the players are too far gone to be saved by anyone, let alone Sam. On occasion we see individuals destroyed by a single performance (think Maicon vs Bale or Chambers vs Benteke) and it looks like England were destroyed as a team that night against Iceland.
Big Sam won't be able to save them, but we might as well sit back and enjoy watching him try...