England top Group F but will get found out in Russia. Again

Marcus Rashford should play on the left, as he does for Manchester United.

Rashford tried to dribble in the rear third and lost that ball against Slovakia because he was on the wrong side of the pitch, not because he’s inexperienced.

Kyle Walker sprinting beyond Rashford magnified the problem.

Lobotka tackled Rashford, then raced onto a pass by Adam Nemec to score a goal that shocked Wembley.

Score after 2min 35 seconds : England 0 Slovakia 1

A very good break and finish by the Slovaks, with Lobotka slotting sweetly under Joe Hart’s armpit.

After that it was déjà vu all over again as I watched England being outplayed for half an hour by guys who were able to pass the ball to each other, sometimes producing ensemble moves that made us look stupid. They knocked the ball around, found spaces, made time for each other, did the things footballers should do.

We don’t have the basic keep-ball habits to needed to play international football, so I just sat there saying, “Slovakia know how to play football, we don’t!” and “Phil Jones is a hammer-thrower” and shouting, “Oxlade should never play for England again!”

Inevitably, I was reminded of my 20 years in the Wembley press box. One night I came in at half-time and spoke to a pal and said, “They’re playing more intelligently than us!” His weary reply was, “Every team plays more intelligently than us.”

After 37, Rashford’s corner was shinned home at the near post by midfielder Eric Dier, who has a happy habit of scoring when Engerland really need a goal.

Just before the hour, the electrifying Rashford scored the winner with a 20-yard thunderbolt that flashed just inside the post.That shot would have beaten any keeper.

So we beat Malta 4-0 and Slovakia 2-1 and now top Group F by five points.

In Russia, we will get found out, as we did in France, in Brazil, in almost every tournament since 1998.

England’s results in qualifying games have often been better than our performances.

We are energetic and determined and usually get the job done. But we don’t have a lot of flair, rhythm or intelligence. We beat Malta and Slovakia with running power, energy and perseverance.

Most of the flair and personality at top English clubs since WW2 came from Irish, Scottish and Welsh players like Dave Mackay, Danny Blanchflower, Cliff Jones, John Charles, Phil Woosnam, George Best, John White, Denis Law and Jimmy McIlroy.

Realising he needed class and creativity, Ipswich manager Bobby Robson signed Arnold Muhren £150,000 from FC Twente in 1978, and bought Frans Thijssen for £220,000 a year later from the same club.

After the 1978 World Cup Final in Buenos Aires, Spurs manager Keith Burkinshaw pulled off an amazing coup by signing Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa.

Ardiles, a very mobile and perceptive midfielder, played for Tottenham for the next ten years.

English football doesn’t have enough skilful players, so we import them from abroad.

That syndrome predated Sky Sports by decades.