NEIL BONNAR: England qualification has just papered over the cracks
11:00pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in Sport
WE fall for it every time. One England win and suddenly everything is right with our game.
Tuesday night was cause for celebration after we got the victory that took us to the World Cup.
But that’s all it was.
If anything, getting to Brazil on such a wave of positivity – while it’s nice – could have worrying repercussions for the future of our game.
I thought there had been an earthquake in the night on Tuesday, but it was just 60 million kneejerk reactions to England beating Poland.
I wish I had a pound for every time I heard or read the words “world class” related to an England player.
Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney were suddenly the world beaters they have been threatening to be for a decade, Andros Townsend became the new Ronaldo, and Ross Barkley and Ravel Morrison – who didn’t even play – are just two of our, dare I say it, new golden generation.
The job of the FA and all concerned in the development of our game is to make sure we don’t take our eye off the ball, so to speak.
There has been a healthy realisation in the last couple of years that the quality of the England senior and under-21 team, and the development of our younger players is poor compared to other European countries.
What we have got to make sure is that two victories over extremely average sides in Montenegro and Poland and qualification from an easy group does not lead people to think we’re suddenly something special, because we’re not.
The return of the Premier League and Champions League in the next few days will bring reality crashing down on those who think otherwise.
The quality of football in those two competitions is a different world to what England played against in their last two games.
If we think those two performances are the required standard, we’ll be settling for England as flat track bullies – happy to beat the also-rans while repeatedly falling well short when it really matters.
The only way to change that is by continuing to accept we have a fraction of the qualified coaches of other countries and our players are not very good, and then do something about it.
It was the best thing that ever happened to Germany when they got trounced 5-1 by England a decade ago.
It was the wake-up call that brought about the root-and-branch changes to their national football development infrastructure and turned them into one of the top three nations in the world and the blueprint for ailing nations like ourselves.
England would have got that wake-up call had they failed to qualify this week.
We must make sure the alarm bells are still heeded, as all Tuesday night’s win did was paper over the cracks.