Jan Molby

England will qualify but are a quarter-final team at best

Jan Molby

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I felt before the Montenegro game on Friday that England would do enough in these final two games to qualify for the World Cup and nothing has changed my mind.

Poland have nothing to play for on Tuesday night and England are more than capable of getting the win they need.

However, whereas in the last month we have been talking about the commission being set up to fix the problems in English football, now, after just one match, everybody seems to be excited by young players likes Andros Townsend, Ravel Morrison and Ross Barkley and everything seems to be okay.

I'm not sure that is the case because when England go to major international tournaments they are still, for me, at best a quarter-final team.

The expectations, good or bad, are always very difficult to deal with when it comes to England because it seems everybody is waiting for them to be world beaters or massive failures – there is no in between.

People will now start thinking that if they qualify for Brazil they will have a chance of winning but they are not at that level yet.

When you go into these qualifying tournaments, England are usually a top seed and get groups they are expected to get through and more often than not they do just that.

They do their job, get to the tournaments, but it is there where they get found out by the slightly better teams.

Countries like Spain, Brazil, Holland and Germany just look better equipped than England to play tournament football.

To win a World Cup, you have to play seven games in quick succession and win the majority of them.

England don't look capable of doing that to me because they don’t play clever tournament football. They're too inconsistent, they are either right up there playing really well or else playing really badly, and they use up too much energy because they have not been able to grasp how to control a game with the ball.

Teams like Spain use very little energy in their group games which makes them so much fresher come the really important games and then of course you also have the tough Premier League programme that always seems to work against England when the tournaments come around.

Having said all that, I do think Roy Hodgson has done a good job since taking over from Fabio Capello. He has only lost one game after all – and that was a pointless friendly against Sweden.

He will never be an exciting manager because he plays football in a very controlled manner but it was a brave and unexpected selection from him against Montenegro.

I thought he would have gone for James Milner to occupy one of the wide roles, but Roy obviously had a look at the opposition and thought 'let's keep them back and pinned in' – and I expect him to play the same players and system against Poland.

Everyone will have been lifted by that performance and I feel they will be ready for more of the same on Tuesday night and England should win by two or three goals.

I doubt very much Roy will be so attack minded in a World Cup though. You have to be adaptable, it would have been a disaster if England had lost in Ukraine, so his tactics in earning a bore draw there when he didn't have many attacking players available is looking like a wise move now.

If you were to give him a rating out of 10 I'd say eight would be a fair mark but you can only work with the players at your disposal, and I'm afraid, taking everything into consideration, while England should secure their ticket for Brazil on Tuesday, the same old problems will likely resurface next summer.

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