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Steve Mclaren used one word in his first press conference as England boss – \’Evolution\’. He used two after England slumped to a 0-0 draw with Macedonia – \’Reality check\’. Lets get one thing straight, England were poor in the world cup and they are poor after the world cup.

Deemed potential world cup winners, England played well below expectations against teams that should have been discarded with ease.

The level of opposition England faced on saturday, was something not mentioned by Mclaren, Macedonia are ranked 51st in the world, a whopping 47 places below England, yet we still couldnt score. It can be understandable when teams play England with 11 men behind the ball, but they didnt. They had 3 strikers. At times it appeared we were tactically outclassed.

The simplicity of Mclarens tactics are questionable. 4-4-2 with 2 orthodox wingers. That may be affective in a fast paced premiership game, but it clearly is not as affective in internationals. There is not one other top international team that employs that approach, not even a certain Mr Eriksson did it. The midfield were outnumbered and outclassed with an unnevring ability to lose the ball, something the likes of David Beckham never did.

Englands crossing of the ball was simply woeful, appalling. Would we have seen such crossing opportunities wasted by former England captain Beckham? The man has the best delivery of a football of his generation. With 17 goals and 33 direct assists during his 94 caps, Beckham had an influence on every other game he played for his country, an influence that seems to have been immediately discarded by Mclaren. Thats not to mention the experience Beckham can offer the rest of the squad.

Aspects of a Sven hangover appeared very evident, we again only put in a somewhat decent performance in one half of the game, the second half. Why cant an England team put in a full 90 minutes? It is a question that remains unanswered.

Mclarens assisstant manager, Terry Venables still believes England will get it right.

\”We have got to take up the challenge and look forward to it\”

Venables has also underlined the need for quick learning.

\”I think we have already picked up some of the areas we can improve and we must learn all the time – but we must learn quickly\”.

The areas to improve have remained the same for the last 5 years, our passing and our tactics. But still no England coach or manager has had the ability to sort that out and now add to it our crossing ability, or lack of.

Croatia boss Slaven Bilic has had plenty to say about England, blasting their world cup campaign.

\”England were shit at the world cup, they were no good, they were nothing\”.

No nonsense words from the former West Ham defender, who went on to say,

\”They were so boring, they just didn\’t play as a group, they played as individuals and I really thought they had a great chance to win the world cup\”.

The words \’reality check\’ were surely more apparent after the World Cup, not after a 0-0 draw at home against Macedonia. The words \’no excuse\’ come to mind.

Mclaren has to go to Croatia and prove he is the correct choice to manage the nation credited with the beautiful game. There can be no excuse. England fans have been fed with excuses for the last decade. It\’s about time the England manager had no excuse as the fans have heard them all.

Croatia are undefeated in Zagreb in any competitive match, a daunting record.
Mclaren must show his pedigree, as must his players. Having great individuals means nothing, England have phenomenal individuals. It is up to the coach to blend them together.