Last week England had their final two friendlies in Miami to get them prepared and ready for England’s first game against Italy on Saturday night (GMT).
There were positives in both performances with some good play and players such as Barkley and Oxlade-Chamberlain showing their intent with positive attacking displays, we have gotten used to seeing in the Premier League. I will add Lambert's too with his tidy finish versus Ecuador.
There are some real disturbing signs that were revealed in the two games. Which I believe could leave us to have a repeat of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and not being able to get out of the group.
The heat in Miami has been enough to show that England won't be able to deal with the high temperatures. Especially as the game gets to the latter stages, it was clear to see lapses in judgements in players with the loss of possession so often and allowing the opposition to have several chances that could have led to them scoring (one chance hitting the post against Ecuador where the player miss hit a shot from a couple of yards out). Secondly when England gained the ball back they would very tamely walk with the ball and seemed to show a lack of fitness and will to want to get forward and score. I do realise it was a friendly and some have said it was because Hodgson doesn't want the players to peak too early. But intensity is important and would've been good to see, if they could, to last the full 90 minutes without wanting to just walk the ball forward and have a nice rest. Thirdly was Arroyo goal, Ecuador's second equaliser, the fact the players dropped off and didn't try to close him or get a challenge in, shows a tiredness and because of that, players naturally drop off and allowed the player to gain enough space to shoot at goal and score. Many teams in South American countries don't need an invitation to shoot and will do as witnessed.
With heat, comes anger. This was shown with Sterling’s slightly rash challenge against Antonio Valencia. It certainly wasn't worthy of a red card but challenges such as those will make the referee in Rio have to act, plus a potentially dangerous challenge could be seen as bad as an actual one when it comes to a World Cup and depending on the referee. It has been seen in the past with great stars such as Rooney or Beckham. When a game becomes less about enjoyment and trying to play and leads to a lot of frustration (which international teams may choose to heighten!) plus the increasing heat bad decisions are all too easily done.
My belief is I hope the older players and coaches make sure the team realise these actions must be learnt upon and to have one happen in the lead up to the World Cup is a great opportunity to do so.
Otherwise it will become the same scenario of a young talented player being sent off, with the team struggling to play any kind of decent football and a summer of déjà vu for England fans.