Sam’s big night not the stuff dreams are made of

5 things we learnt from the new Eng­land man­ager’s first match

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORTS - By Barry King @Bazk­ing8 barry.king@7days.ae

So Eng­land’s bright, new fu­ture un­der Sam Al­lardyce started with a laboured 1-0 win over Slo­vakia in their open­ing World Cup qual­i­fier on Sun­day.

Here’s what we learnt from Big Sam’s first game in charge...

Same old Eng­land

It was hardly sur­pris­ing that Eng­land looked as dis­jointed as they were at Euro 2016, given that Big Sam started with eight of the play­ers who played in that de­feat to Ice­land. They had a bit more shape, but some of the pass­ing, par­tic­u­larly in the first 60 min­utes was woe­ful.

No lead­ers

The role of a cap­tain in modern-day foot­ball is a de­bat­able one. But you still need some­one on the big drag­ging the play­ers along, ril­ing them up, try­ing to in­still some fire and pas­sion in them.

There’s none of that in this Eng­land team. Wayne Rooney isn’t that char­ac­ter. Great player, but he’s no leader. But then there’s no­body else to take on the arm­band. Of­ten at times it looked like the play­ers were too scared to talk to each other.

No Plan B

The prob­lem with this Eng­land squad is there’s few op­tions avail­able to the man­ager. All the play­ers are much the same. The clos­est thing they have to a gen­uine goalscorer is Jamie Vardy, yet against an age­ing Slo­vakia he was sat on the bench. All the other for­ward op­tions are the same – they all want to be on the ball dic­tat­ing play but there’s no one get­ting on the end of that play. Summed it up when Sam sent on road­run­ner Theo Wal­cott to try and change the game…

Is Sam a man to gam­ble?

On the one hand, the fact Al­lardyce picked vir­tu­ally the same team that lost to Ice­land is rather wor­ry­ing. What hap­pened to chang­ing things up? Not be­ing afraid to make big calls?

How­ever, on the other does he re­ally have any op­tions?

The sad thing is, other than Ross Barkley, the play­ers on duty are prob­a­bly the best English play­ers at his dis­posal – and that’s wor­ry­ing.

Lal­lana could shine un­der Sam

One of the few pos­i­tives in Slo­vakia was the per­for­mances of at­tack­ing mid­fielder Adam Lal­lana.

The Liver­pool man was busy through­out the match as he was given li­cence to roam the pitch by the new Eng­land boss.

He was Eng­land’s only real goal threat and his per­for­mance mer­ited his win­ning goal.

There’s ques­tions over his best po­si­tion, but if Al­lardyce al­lows him a free role, Lal­lana could be­come a key player for Eng­land.

1. SAME OLD ENG­LAND

2. NO LEAD­ERS

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