Two pre-World Cup warm up wins in a row against Mexico (3-1) and Japan (2-1) certainly looks good on paper for England’s World Cup ambitions. However, the victories belie the lacklustre performances in both games from the English side. Sure, you can argue that you can never judge from these inconsequential friendlies but the tepid manner in which the English went about their business must be troubling coach Fabio Capello somewhat.
Yesterday, the out-of-form Japanese team made England look ordinary, taking an early lead and handling England’s attacks comfortably. The Japanese could even afford the luxury of conceding a penalty which Frank Lampard inexplicably failed to convert. Unfortunately, for the Japanese, they contrived to give away two late own goals to hand England an undeserved win.
Luck is certainly a vital factor in winning World Cups and if England can manage this kind of fortune in the tournament, then they will go far. Perhaps the English players are feeling the effects of a long and hard Premiership season. In any case, Capello has his work cut out to whip England into competitive shape. Knowing Capello, he will probably go with tried and tested players when he selects his final squad of 23 and keep experimentation to a minimum.