Football / World Cup: England show little to frighten Norwegians: Gascoigne may join Ince on the sidelines in Oslo as Taylor berates his headstrong hard men for falling prey to provocation

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Poland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

AFTER all the hype and hullabaloo it was time for some straight talking, and England's captain, David Platt, came up with the perfect phrase. The second leg of their World Cup odyssey in Norway on Wednesday is now a case of the brown stuff or bust.

Having spent much of the preparation counting chickens (two defeats were 'impossible'), Graham Taylor found himself betrayed by the headless variety in Katowice on Saturday night, when only the poverty of their finishing deprived Poland of a handsome win.

England, ragged and indisciplined, in every sense of the word, were flattered by a 1-1 draw which was just enough to keep alive their prospects of qualification. The minimum requirement from these two ties was always three points, which Taylor and his players had expected to secure by beating the Poles and drawing in Oslo. Seeking them the other way around represents a daunting complication of their task.

They will have to play much better against the Group Two leaders if they are to emerge with anything other than ruinous defeat, and the likelihood of them doing so is scarcely enhanced by the suspension of Paul Ince, for collecting his second booking of the series on Saturday, and the lacerated shin which threatens to remove Paul Gascoigne from the hub of the team.

David Batty will deputise for Ince on Wednesday, when the absence of Gascoigne would see Platt withdrawn into midfield and Ian Wright promoted to the starting line-up to partner Teddy Sheringham in attack.

Withdrawn 11 minutes from the end against Poland to have five stitches inserted in his leg wound, Gascoigne is in need of extended

R 'n' R rather than a second high- pressure game in five days. He was never at his best here, the uncharacteristic sloppiness of his distribution suggesting the famous mask had slipped over his eyes.

Not that he was alone in his deficiency. Far from it. Several reputations suffered on a night when a season of fitful progress slipped out of gear and into neutral, if not reverse. Logical changes would see Lee Sharpe preferred to John Barnes on the left and either Gary Pallister or Martin Keown replace the suffering Des Walker in central defence.

Half-time in Poland found the previously imperturbable Taylor ranting at his players in disbelief after as shoddy a 45 minutes as he cared to remember. The second half brought a welcome improvement, the cavalry coming over the hill in the shape of Wright's priceless first goal for his country, but the performance overall was not one the manager enjoyed, or would care to have repeated.

The gist of his complaint, delivered with rare venom, was that too many players had been distracted by the baleful atmosphere on and off the field, to the detriment of their football. 'I accused them of running around like headless chickens,' he said. 'You could never say our players lacked commitment, but you have got to play the game with your head as well as your heart and I don't think we did that in the first half.

'I thought the goal we gave away was an absolute disgrace. You don't give those away on a Sunday park. We played a free-kick square across the pitch, then knocked the ball back in behind our own defence. We did everything I preach against, and the players have been told that in no uncertain terms. At half-time I was very angry and one or two of the team saw me as they'd never seen me before.

'I had to tell them: 'We're here to play football, no matter how intense the provocation. We've spent the season putting together improving performances, only to get carried away by 50,000 people and a side intent on intimidation.' I was very annoyed because we'd been trying to work to a pattern, and I felt that went out of the window. One or two players were more interested in creating war than playing football, and you can't play the game if your head goes.

'The intentions were good. They went out there determined that they were going to compete, not lie down, but a couple got themselves more wrapped up in that side of it than playing the game.'

Ince was one culprit, Carlton Palmer another. 'Carlton got himself over-involved,' the manager said. 'You don't win by making war, you win by playing football. It's not all about shaking your fist. It's about having desire, but also using your head.'

In mitigation, it has to be said that the climate was hardly conducive to studious, composed play. For much of the first half there was a full-blown riot going on, with Polish spectators ripping out wooden seats and using them as missiles in protracted, vicious skirmishes with police, and among themselves. Mercifully, the small English contingent was blameless, looking on in bemusement as factional fighting between fans from Warsaw and Krakow had the police retreating in disarray and leaving it to the riot squad to restore order with no-messing baton charges.

It was not much better out on the field, where the Swiss referee, Serge Muhmenthaler, was in laissez-faire mood, preferring carte blanche to the carte jaune when the Poles were balking, kicking and shirt-tugging England to distraction.

Enough excuses. The performance was no better than mediocre. Intimidation can hardly be held responsible for the continuing disintegration of Walker's form, the shortcomings of England's passing or the lack of intelligent movement off the ball.

Poland were better in defence, where their sweeper, Roman Szewczyk, and his attendant centre-backs were rock solid, and also more penetrative from midfield, where the energetic infiltrations of Jerzy Brzeczek and Piotr Swierczewski made England seem static and staid by comparison.

With Ince and Palmer in warlike mode, Gascoigne subdued and Barnes little more than a passenger, there was never a cohesive link between midfield and the attack, where Platt and Sheringham were forced to forage for starvation rations.

Sheringham, typically, had a competent rather than eye-catching debut. He did well with a shot on the turn, which demanded a decent save, but should have done better with the header he directed wide from a David Bardsley free-kick.

Bardsley, drafted in for his first start at right-back when Lee Dixon dropped out with a kidney complaint, was one of few unqualified successes. Sound and comfortable defensively, and economical in his distribution, he deserves another chance.

Judgement on Sheringham should be reserved until he is properly supplied. Passing judgement on the match is much easier: Poland should have won 3-1. Apart from the goal they scored, Dariusz Adamczuk profiting from Barnes's careless pass, Marek Lesniak wasted the best chances of the game - one at the start of each half.

Lesniak's panicky reaction when he had Chris Woods at his mercy went a long way towards explaining how the Poles scored only one at home to San Marino and Turkey.

Reprieved, England pinched a vital point with six minutes left when Tony Dorigo and Barnes linked up nicely on the left and Wright drove the full-back's cross past Jaroslaw Bako's flailing hand.

England's reaction at the end said it all. They had got out of jail.

Norway have called up the Lillestrom midfielder Lars Bohinen to replace Jahn-Ivar Jakobsen, who has a thigh injury.

Goals: Adamczuk (34min) 1-0; Wright (84min) 1-1.

POLAND: Bako (Besiktas); Czachowski (Udinese), Szewczyk (GKS Katowice), Kozminski (Udinese), Lesiak (Wacker Innsbruck), Brzeczek (Lech Posnan), Swierczewski (GKS Katowice), Adamczuk (Eintracht Frankfurt), Furtok (Hamburg), Kosecki (Osasuna), Lesniak (Wattenscheid). Substitute: Wegrzyn (Hutnik Krakow) for Lesniak, 73.

ENGLAND: Woods (Sheffield Wednesday); Bardsley (QPR), Dorigo (Leeds Utd), Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Walker (Sampdoria), Adams (Arsenal), Platt (Juventus), Gascoigne (Lazio), Sheringham (Tottenham), Barnes (Liverpool), Ince (Manchester Utd). Substitutes: Wright (Arsenal) for Palmer, 70; Clough (Nottm Forest) for Gascoigne, 79.

Referee: S Muhmenthaler (Switzerland).

----------------------------------------------------------------- THE STORY SO FAR IN GROUP TWO ----------------------------------------------------------------- Norway. . . . . . . . . . . . .10 San Marino. . . . . . . . . 0 (9 September 1992) Norway. . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Netherlands. . . . . . . . .1 Poland. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Turkey. . . . . . . . . . . 0 (both 23 September 1992) San Marino. . . . . . . . . . . 0 Norway. . . . . . . . . . . 2 (7 October 1992) England. . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Norway. . . . . . . . . . . 1 Netherlands. . . . . . . . . . .2 Poland. . . . . . . . . . . 2 (both 14 October 1992) Turkey. . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 San Marino. . . . . . . . . 1 (28 October 1992) England. . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Turkey. . . . . . . . . . . 0 (18 November 1992) Turkey. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Netherlands. . . . . . . . .3 (16 December 1992) England. . . . . . . . . . . . .6 San Marino. . . . . . . . . 0 (17 February 1993) Netherlands. . . . . . . . . . .3 Turkey. . . . . . . . . . . 1 (24 February 1993) San Marino. . . . . . . . . . . 0 Turkey. . . . . . . . . . . 0 (10 March 1993) Netherlands. . . . . . . . . . .6 San Marino. . . . . . . . . 0 (24 March 1993) Turkey. . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 England. . . . . . . . . . .2 (31 March 1993) England. . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Netherlands. . . . . . . . .2 Norway. . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Turkey. . . . . . . . . . . 1 Poland. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 San Marino. . . . . . . . . 0 (all 28 April 1993) San Marino. . . . . . . . . . . 0 Poland. . . . . . . . . . . 3 (19 May 1993) Poland. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 England. . . . . . . . . . .1 (29 May 1993) ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts ----------------------------------------------------------------- Norway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 4 1 0 18 3 9 England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 3 3 0 16 4 9 Netherlands . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 3 2 1 17 8 8 Poland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 3 2 0 8 3 8 Turkey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 1 1 6 7 17 3 San Marino . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 0 1 7 1 32 1 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Remaining fixtures: Wednesday: Norway v England. 9 June: Netherlands v Norway. 8 Sept: England v Poland. 22 Sept: San Marino v Netherlands; Norway v Poland. 13 Oct: Netherlands v England; Poland v Norway. 27 Oct: Turkey v Poland. 10 Nov: Turkey v Norway. 16 Nov: San Marino v England. 17 Nov: Poland v Netherlands. -----------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)

Comments