England Reaction

So.... all was going so well for Steve McClaren but a trip to Russia later and now everyone is calling for his head once again as the England fans point the fingers of blame at various players.

For what my opinion is worth, I don't think England played particularly well, but the performance wasn't as bad as some of the knee-jerk reactions are claiming it was.

We were pretty comfortable in the first half. The dogged determination and the organisation of the England side reduced Russia to few chances and reminded me of how Pompey played at Fulham and Blackburn.

We didn't show much going forward but Wayne Rooney's goal was top class and I don't pin the blame solely on him for giving away the "penalty" in the second half.

The foul was commited outside the box but the other issue here is that Joeleon Lescott was nowhere to be seen in the left back position and so we were exposed.

It would be easy for me to criticise Paul Robinson as a Pompey fan who wants to see Jamo given another go in goal, but I'm not going to rip into him for his save before the second goal.

Yes, he could have parried it further to the corner but it wasn't a bad save if you look at it on its own, and I think both Sol and Lescott could have reacted quicker to stop Pavluchenko from striking the rebound.

As for Sol's performance on the whole I thought he was one of our best players out there today. He made some crucial blocks and tackles but maybe should have scored the free header late on.

I thought he performed better than any of our other defenders. Micah Richards was caught out of position far too often, Rio Ferdinand made a couple of errors whilst Lescott was poor in a role he has exceeded for Everton in.

As for the rest of the players, they were verging on anonymous weren't they? Shaun Wright-Phillips, Gareth Barry and Joe Cole didn't do anything of note whilst Michael Owen was invisible almost all game apart from that flick on for Rooney's goal.

Steven Gerrard should have notched a second goal for England yet managed to miss a chance even my Nan could have scored. Apart from that, his performance was very average.

Steve McClaren will no doubt take some deserved stick for making his substitutions too late into the match. Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch didn't have enough time to turn the game back in our favour whilst I still wonder how Stewart Downing manages to get into the side.

As you've probably heard a hundred times already, our qualification fate realistically lies in Israel's hands now. Croatia are as good as qualified in my opinion, as I'd expect them to take the point they need at Macedonia before their trip to Wembley.

Everyone also expects the Russians to beat lowly Andorra before their game in Tel-Aviv. Israel are a good side at home and I don't think the Russians will win there, meaning we'll just need to beat Croatia on the final day.

Sol Campbell could well earn his third cap in a row as Rio Ferdinand is banned for that game so maybe he can have a word with Pompey colleague Niko Kranjcar and ask him nicely to go easy on us!

Whatever happens, if we do manage to qualify then we would have got out of jail big time. I obviously hope we do qualify, as I couldn't bare a summer without England playing in a major tournament.