England 0 Germany 1: Joe Hart's rush of blood at Wembley will not have impressed Roy Hodgson

This was potentially the last match he will play until March unless his City team-mate Costel Pantilimon loses form

Wembley

“Phoney war” is a somewhat unfortunate phrase to use in the context of an England-Germany match, but that is the stage both these teams are at as they build towards next summer’s World Cup finals. Roy Hodgson knows this. The England manager was dismissive of the impact of Friday’s defeat to Chile: “It won’t stop us winning our first game of the World Cup, will it? I don’t see the relevance,” he said.

The same, up to a point, could be said of this performance. With most of the Germany team having half an eye on Saturday’s showdown between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, the first half was especially pedestrian. The second, for England, was dispiriting, and Hodgson will hope come next summer that it, too, has no relevance.

Anglo-German friendlies do have a habit of being misleading, though usually in producing false dawns for England in delivering results that are not repeated in the competitive environment.

As far back as 1975, after Don Revie had sent his team out with the exhortation, “Remember, these buggers bombed our homes”, England beat the then world champions 2-0, with Alan Hudson producing one of the finest ever England debuts.

Hudson played one more match, a 5-0 win over Cyprus, and was then cast out by Revie, whose team subsequently failed to reach the 1976 European Championship. West Germany reached the final.

A decade on, during a pre-World Cup fact-finding tour, England went one better, defeating West Germany 3-0 with Kerry Dixon scoring twice. In Mexico a year later, England went out in the quarter-finals, Dixon having played for six just minutes… and the Germans reached the final.

In the last friendly, in Berlin in late 2008, England won 2-1, with Gabby Agbonlahor making a sparkling debut and centre-halves Matthew Upson and John Terry both scoring. Germany went on to reach the semi-finals in the 2010 World Cup, having thrashed England 4-1 on the way. Upson and Terry were playing at centre-half; Agbonlahor was at home in Birmingham.

Given this history it would be foolish to read too much into this result, but for one man the exercise had real relevance. Joe Hart has had a miserable season, beginning with the goal he conceded here against Scotland.

It was potentially the last match he will play until March – and the next England friendly against Denmark – unless Costel Pantilimon loses form at Manchester City, Hart secures a loan move in the January transfer window or Manuel Pellegrini decides to give him the consolation of playing in FA Cup ties.

As a goalkeeper who sometimes looks too eager to join the action, he will have found the first half-hour frustrating. Desperate to show that his ability remains undimmed, he was a spectator as both teams floundered in midfield.

Then Per Mertesacker rose to meet Toni Kroos’s corner and Hart twisted acrobatically in mid-air to claw the ball away. Quickly to his feet, he saved a follow-up shot at the near post. True, Mertesacker scored when the subsequent corner was played back in by Kroos, but there was nothing Hart could do about that.

Another save early in the second half, when he stood up well to deny Marco Reus, further bolstered his belief – but then came another mad rush from goal, reminiscent of the one at Stamford Bridge which finally snapped Pellegrini’s patience.

Chris Smalling had dithered but Hart had no need to leave his area; instead he clattered into the Manchester United defender and was grateful that the loose ball fell to Phil Jagielka, not an opponent.

He made a sharp save from Mario Götze soon afterwards, and then came out to good effect when Sidney Sam broke through. But that rash impetuosity will be hard for Hodgson – and Pellegrini – to forget.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker