The claim by Croatia that we threw the game against Ukraine because we would prefer them to qualify just doesn't stack up. It might explain why Ferdinand appeared to be asleep at the crucial moment, and why the referee initially went to send him off , but Capello keeping Heskey on and Green completing the move by bringing down Milevski is a conspiracy theory too far. Clearly Shevchenko was out of the loop.
I watched it on the Internet for far less than I would have spent down the Pub. The picture was good: it froze every 4 minutes for about 20 seconds but with Sven's analysis and the England performance I hardly noticed. If it takes off, this internet thingy, I can at least boast that I was there.
Whatever Capello says they were better than us in nearly every department except perhaps goalkeeper. I say 'perhaps' because I don't think we tested Piatov once. In fact the exam paper got lost in the post.. We were pedestrian and no doubt some England players will claim that as we had qualified it didn't matter but I hope that they don't say so in the manager's hearing or in Modric's for that matter. Well at least the Tottenham players won't fall out about it.
Lennon was the innocent victim of Rio forgetting that this was a International football match and not a stroll on the beach and once he had been taken off our main chance of any spark disappeared. The game plan of using Heskey to make space for Rooney was like trying to clear the rain forest with a blunt hatchet. How long will it be before he works out that heading the ball on, which he does very well, is pointless if there is nobody ahead of you?
So when the question is asked, 'Where were you when the first England game was only available on the Web? I will proudly reply 'In front of my screen'. If it lowers expectations about our World Cup hopes this match will have been a vital part of our preparation. Spurs have a better chance of coming top of the Premiership. We were made to look pedestrian, particularly in midfield and they made good use of the extra man by keeping the ball and using the width of the field.
Our best player, as usual, was Rooney but he needs some proper support up front. Once Green was sent off I would have subbed Heskey and played four (edited) in midfield and hoped to catch them on the break. Rooney does the work of two men anyway and Lennon covers well and has the speed to support him quickly or threaten down either wing.
Conspiracy? I don't think so. But how do you explain the fact that it took Ashley Cole two attempts to concede the goal when he realised that James wasn't in on it, and that the authorities cleverly restricted the number of witnesses who viewed the match? Now of course one man's conspiracy theory is another man's poor performance and I predict that the truth will never be known.
So 'Fighting performance by 10 man England' it is then.