Were England half asleep in 1-1 Poland draw? Er, yes actually

Oct 18, 2012
Bill Mann

Was that such a brilliant idea to give sleeping pills to players who couldn't sleep after Tuesday comedown?

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Poland 1 England 1. There were times during Wednesday's rescheduled World Cup qualifier that England looked half asleep – and apparently they were.

Having downed caffeine stimulant pills on Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of playing that evening, when the game was abandoned because of a waterlogged pitch several players were too hyped to sleep - so the management authorised the distribution of sleeping pills.

According to The Sun, the effect of the sleeping pills was the reason for the lethargic display. The paper described the Football Association's decision to dish out the pills as "dozy".

The Daily Mail says "questions will be asked about the impact taking sleeping pills can have on a player's performance", one of which may be directed the way of Joe Hart. The England keeper made a bad error of judgement midway through the second half when he left his goal unguarded to punch away a Poland corner, only to be easily beaten to the ball by Kamil Glik. His header cancelled out Wayne Rooney's first-half strike and it was nothing less than the Poles deserved.

England manager Roy Hodgson admitted he was surprised by the lack of urgency shown by his side. "I had the impression earlier in the week that the players were looking sharp and lively. I didn't have that impression today," said Hodgson. "I don't know if that's due to the extra night, the sodden pitch or that we didn't play well on the day."
Captain Steven Gerrard was also disappointed by the team's performance, conceding that the postponement probably played a factor. "When you're fired up, pumped up and you've had your massages and you're ready to go and then don't play, that's not ideal," said the Liverpool midfielder. "But we're professionals. We're playing at the top level and we had to get ourselves up for this - but I didn't think we were totally at the races."

The delay seemed to have less effect on the Poles, who looked livelier throughout the game despite the poor condition of the pitch after a day's worth of heavy rain. Despite their point, Poland remain third in Group H on five points, two behind Montenegro and three behind England at the top of the table.

Montenegro have a game in hand on the English, however, and if they trounce San Marino next month they'll move above England. The two nations meet in Podgorica in March, a match that will have a crucial bearing on England's chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

"Eight points under the circumstances is a fair reflection of what we've done so far and we've got a lot of football to play," admitted Hodgson. "We leave here with a point, on an unbeaten run, and hopefully we'll continue to progress and get the points we need."

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I don't trust the England team. Except for the pills they would have suffered defeat. Bravo to the FA.