Glenn Moore: Wayne Rooney looked hungry and ran hard but he failed the challenge of reinvention

Striker was asked to adapt and improve but, like his team-mates, he was not up to the task

This was not an England performance that should have been broadcast before the watershed. Nor before it was decent to reach for a stiff drink. If the DVD ever gets shown at St George's Park it will be as a cautionary tale. Then it will be tossed into a large box along with so many other palsied displays down the years by a national side that continues to disappoint.

"A decent point," was Steven Gerrard's immediate reaction. While winning away is never easy in international football (unless playing in San Marino, Moldova etc) England should have won this game. Roy Hodgson's team featured four players who have won the Champions League against a Polish one shorn of their captain and with a bare handful of players regularly involved in major European leagues.

Instead it was as if England had spent the previous night watching re-runs on Polish television of the seismic shock of 1973, when Jan Tomaszweski's heroics meant England failed to qualify for a World Cup finals for the first time. For any Englishman of a certain age and above the realisation that the day's delay meant this match was played on the anniversary of that game sent a shiver down the spine. That qualifying programme was the end of an era, ushering Sir Alf Ramsey and Bobby Moore off the international stage and England into a long period of introspection.

Yet this team are far too young to remember that. They, like their opponents, have grown up with England dominating the Poles, winning nine and drawing four of 13 meetings, all competitive, since Gary Lineker's hat-trick at Mexico '86. Which made England's nervous first half perplexing. England have superior players and the game was played in the capital's beautiful, modern, National Stadium – a far cry from the grim Silesian coalfield venues England used to be sent to, or even the decrepit old Warsaw arena in which David Batty was dismissed as fans fought on the terracing in 1999. The atmosphere was described as electric, but it was not intimidating. What the Under-21s experienced in Serbia the previous night was intimidating. True, the going was soft underfoot, but England should still have expected not just to avoid defeat, but to win.

When Hodgson took over amid chaos in May, being hard to beat was his priority, which has long been a virtue of his teams. Having achieved that, he is seeking to evolve his England XI into one which is more oriented towards winning matches. The rigid 4-4-2 has been replaced by a more fluid 4-2-3-1. Moreover, in line with recent tactical developments, the midfield anchors are not holding players in the mould of Batty or Scott Parker, players who win the ball and give it to someone nearby who can pass it, but all-rounders capable of starting moves as well as breaking them up. As yesterday underlined, Michael Carrick is no Andrea Pirlo, but he is a similar player, theoretically able to dictate play from deep. Alongside him was Gerrard, once a box-to-box, flank-to-flank, action man, determined to influence play everywhere on the pitch but too often drawn out of position as a result. Age and the armband have persuaded Gerrard to play with greater responsibility, as shown at Euro 2012.

This pair should have been able to impose themselves on an opposition still under a cloud, as well as a roof, following their failure to escape the group stage at Euro 2012 despite home advantage. But England never got going. Tom Cleverley looked uncomfortable on the left, Jermain Defoe was isolated in attack, Ashley Cole was overrun by Poland's vibrant right-flank. Even the usually reliable Joe Hart was drawn into error.

After Gary Neville's call to arms on the eve of the match the onus was on Wayne Rooney to deliver. Given his physique, which needs constant training to remain in condition, and an outlook on life which too often seems joyless or needlessly aggressive, one has wondered whether his best days may already be behind him. Neville, who maximised his ability throughout his own career, challenged Rooney to challenge himself. He was hungry enough yesterday, chasing back to tackle in the left-back position, dropping deep to get the ball, looking for space between the lines, but in possession he made little impact. Even his goal seemed slightly fortuitous, and was to a degree overshadowed by his miss when set up by Welbeck. Finally, as England retreated into 4-5-1, he was withdrawn.

The most creditable aspect of England's performance was the way they showed enough composure and character to quell the Polish spirit after the equaliser. But character has rarely been a problem with English footballers: unlike passing to a team-mate, making the right decisions in possession, and attacking with imagination.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
All British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
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.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game