• Robert Gammon


The international break, for many, is a bit of a damp squib. A build up of potentially exciting football that fails to reach the explosive heights that you think it could.

The first two of England’s games were very professional, clinical and boring. We did enough in front of goal and made no silly mistakes, and despite scoring a total of seven goals, there was very little to talk about. The only two real talking points were Lingard’s resurgence and whether Pope’s feet are good enough to keep him in goal for the Euros.

The final game against Poland, looked to have a bit more of a bite, but still didn’t have that oomph, that je nai se quoi, that spark.

The game did it’s best to provide that interest. England attacked with earnestness and looked good in the first half. Southgate’s men could count themselves unlucky to go in the second-half with only a single goal lead. And, the inevitability of single goal lead bit England back in the arse in the second half, with Stones making a mistake reminiscent of his older self.

This calamity led to a very nervous end to the game, with Poland looking to really push forward. Still I felt a strange feeling of nothingness about the game. In the dying moments of the contest when Stones headed back, in pure Hollywood redemptive fashion, to Maguire to score a class goal, I still felt nothing.

I have been searching for why there is such a disconnect between engagement in finals and qualifying games. The last qualifying game I truly enjoyed watching was England’s 5-1 win over Germany, and that's just because it's Germany, and Heskey bloody scored!

The lack of crowd has brought this more to the forefront of my mind as Wembley blared out fake fans that suit the plastic like attention I had to these actually pretty prevalent games. The Poland game especially was a true test for the players.

It’s not because England aren’t a good team. If you look around Europe, we must be one of the favourites for the competition. I say that because apart from France and Holland, most of the major players are having a rough time of it. Germany lost to North Macedonia for goodness sake, their last qualifying loss since that infamous Heskey goal.

We, on the whole, play aggressive, fast paced football, that is fun to see.

So why is it all a bit naff? What makes qualifying football boring?

The questions may seem rhetorical but I am truly stumped.