If England are to prosper in a tournament they will play largely at Wembley, they will have to be a lot better than this. Home advantage will not get Gareth Southgate’s team very far if they play so meekly.
Second best to a very modest Czech Republic team, a good side would have buried them. As it was England lost by a single goal and an unbeaten record in qualifying games going back 43 games and 10 years was gone.
Given what has gone before in Group A and for much of Southgate’s tenure, we can forgive England a performance out of character in so many ways. If they beat Bulgaria on Monday we will see this as a blip, DailyMail observed.
Nevertheless, this was poor and should be viewed as a timely warning. Southgate had been asked on Thursday if his team would do a lap of honour if they secured qualification here. Maybe there is more to do than we – and indeed he – thought.
Before this game, we knew there were issues across the back four and they showed themselves again. Neither of the two Czech goals that followed Harry Kane’s early penalty reflected well on the England defence or indeed the midfield players detailed to protect them.
What we didn’t expect was that England should be so poor in possession. Under Southgate, this is an old habit they had finally shed, morphing England into a dynamic attacking team, one that plays quickly and urgently.