Owen saves Eriksson

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Two second half goals from captain Michael Owen overshadowed a poor performance by England and kept the bloodhounds from Eriksson’s door.

England 2-1 Slovakia

One of the phrases which was repeatedly heard in post-match interviews was: "There are no easy games at this level any more." The overall standard of international is rising but that is no excuse for England struggling to beat the likes of Slovakia and Macedonia, especially at home.

Eriksson must shoulder the blame for sending his team out completely clueless of how to operate the formation they played. There was no cover when the full backs pushed forward, and the ineffectiveness of Phil Neville forced Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes to come deep for the ball. Wayne Rooney showed that he is human, and his international inexperience was plain to see.

The defence missed the aerial dominance of Sol Campbell, and the midfield was lacking the drive and determination of David Beckham.

England need to be far more positive against teams at home and press higher up the pitch. The final factor that contributed to England’s performance was the friendly against Serbia-Montenegro.

If Eriksson had given his starting eleven more time to play together than perhaps a more cohesive performance would result. Eriksson is living on borrowed time and he is fortunate that his tactical errors are going relatively unnoticed because of the endeavours of Owen and Beckham.