This was Big Sam’s first match in charge and Slovakia away was always going to be a tough start – perhaps even the hardest game of the World Cup 2018 qualifying group other than maybe Scotland. We drew 0-0 against them in the Euros so hopefully we could break their resolute defence this time and even more so as James and I had travelled there!
It was virtually the exact same team that played under Hodgson in the Euros but I didn’t really have any suggestions for anyone else to play. I think Rashford has to start soon though and possibly Barkley along with others. It will depend on how well they play this season though.
We dominated the game from start to finish as we should have and Slovakia just predictably parked the bus as they did in the Euros and you can’t blame them as it worked.
A key moment in the game was when ex Liverpool defender Skrtel was sent off after a number of stupid fouls and they were down to 10 men as a result. This should have made it easier but if anything it made it worse as they just defended more. Unlike the Euros though this time we kept going until the very end.
Thankfully for everyone we got our reward in the very last minute as Lallana who had already hit the post in the match this time got lucky as the goalie couldn’t save his shot and we England fans went crazy as if we had won the World Cup!
I thought John Stones was outstanding all game and did a lot more than expected to help us get the win. If he can continue to play like this I think he will be England captain in a few years.
On the other side though I thought a lot players played poorly and not as well as they play for their respective clubs. Players like Sterling, Kane and Rooney were particularly average but it is hard to play with players that you don’t play with that much and we are more like a team of individuals than an actual team which I think will be hard to change.
So we won our first game of the group and Big Sam got off to a winning start. I expect us to qualify easily but how well we do in the actual tournament is the real question.