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Reviewed by ANDY NUTTALL

Not good enough, and simply not good. England drew with Sweden in their long awaited and much hyped World Cup opener. The result of a draw is not unexpected against the Swedes, but the manner of the performance did not meet any expectations.

The expectations were that England would play a better game of football - even without a fully fit Beckham who was missing his ally, Gary Neville, and without the driving force of Gerrard. England relied almost exclusively on the long ball from Beckham, or whoever, to release the new forward line of Owen and Vassell. Where was the ability to ‘mix it up’, to change the pattern of play? Sweden showed they could defend against the diagonal long ball, and there was no variation. I counted twenty long balls that wasted possession - which at this level is the biggest crime. At times, England represented an ugly throwback to the old days. It was worrying that when balls were aimed towards Heskey's limited heading ability to earn throws, corners and scraps, they represented the very worst of Scandinavian tactics.

Eriksson urged the players to show no fear, but the apparent fear of the ball, of using the ball, and of changing the pattern, showed a fear of their own abilities to play a game that can compete at the highest level.

Undoubtedly, England will be very dangerous at set pieces, as personified by Beckham's delivery to Campbell's head, but what else can it offer? Where were Ferdinand and Campbell pushing forward with the ball to commit a player, allowing Hargreaves to cover? Where were the rapid inter-plays in mid-field between Beckham and Scholes that could again commit opposite defenders and mid-fielders, and create options? Diagonal long passes were not proving incisive, and no one appeared able to display variation. A change in personnel? Heskey is not a left-sided mid-fielder, though no doubt he could be. Vassell and Owen - too similar? Probably. Butt for Hargreaves, so club relationships can be utilised - possibly - but all the eleven on display are capable of better things. At least, a nation hopes so.

Ice-man Sven will not panic, and will look at the positives. Vassell showed enough trickery to come off the bench and have an impact. Ashley Cole and Mills got forward into good positions, on several occasions, a positive tactic let down by poor distribution. Plus the ability at dead balls, and England have options. Options, only if the players, or their coaches, take it upon themselves to adapt during a game. The game was crying out for variation, possession, control, and to a degree, urgency. Let's use Beckham's rockets to Owen, but let's also have the courage to come and get the ball, and keep it.