It's crunch time for the England national football team. Tonight is their final game in their Euro '08 qualifiers and if they lose against Croatia they're out. I've been saying for months that they don't deserve to be in the competition. It would be the kick in the arse that the Football Association need and it might mean we get a decent manager.
England were in the easiest group of the "home nations" and they should have already qualified by now. Scotland were so unlucky, losing out to a goal from Italy (the Word Champions) in injury time, having already beaten France twice in their group. Northern Ireland have a chance if other games go their way. But England only have a chance because Israel beat Russia (who would overtake England if they beat Andorra tonight and England lose) in the last minute, last week. Poor, very poor.
Here are the current Coca Cola FIFA World Rankings, and for the first time in ages England are outside the top ten. I'm surprised they're not lower.
- Czech Republic
Well, England are out. Beaten 2-3 by Croatia and finishing third in the group behind Croatia and Russia.
It was a very poor first half and England conceded two soft goals in the first 15 minutes. The system just didn't work and Croatia were a class above. Somehow England scraped back two goals: a penalty from Frank Lampard and a brilliant Peter Crouch goal after a superb cross from David Beckham. But a poor performance from virtually the whole team got worse when England sat back on the qualification score and Croatia got the winner with 15 minutes to go.
A miracle in Andorra could have helped England but Russia's single first half goal (against a team that has never won a qualifying match) always looked enough.
As I said earlier, it's time the FA had a good look at the problems. McClaren must go. Very disappointing but not all together surprising. We didn't deserve to be in the competition. And refering to the list, England are the highest ranking team not be to in the championship.
As suspected, as of today (Nov 23) England have now dropped to number 12. As Greece have jumper to number 11 that means there are now nine European teams above them, moving England into the second tier for the imminent draw for the 2010 World Cup in Germany. This means we will definately meet one of the top seed teams in the group stages.