England Football Team Euros 2016

England beat Malta in Gareth Southgate’s first game at Wembley

Gareth Southgate started his reign as England’s interim manager with a win, but the pundits were unimpressed.

Beating Malta 2-0 at Wembley is frankly a bit feeble. It is easy to say that there are no easy World Cup qualifying games these days but Malta are ranked 176th by Fifa.

Southgate will have to do better if he is to have any chance of being taken on permanently. Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring after 29 minutes and Dele Alli scrambled home a second before half-time.

And that was it. There were boos for Wayne Rooney. Rooney played in midfield and did little to suggest he was worth a place there. Dare one say he is almost looking pedestrian these days?

Critics accused Rooney, who is 31 later this month, of spraying “Hollywood” passes left and right to the flanks but not providing any killer creativity.

You might almost say he is learning a new position and ask whether he should be indulged in such important games for England, particularly as currently he can’t get in the Manchester United first team.

So onwards to Slovenia tomorrow who beat Slovakia 1-0 on Saturday. Having missed out on Euro 2016 after finishing third in England’s qualifying group and losing a play-off to Ukraine, Srecko Katanec’s side have four points.

At home, they won’t be overawed so this will be a stern test of England’s credentials.

Bojan Jokic, Slovenia’s 30-year-old defender who played for Championship club Nottingham Forest last season on loan from Spanish club Villareal, said: “We are not a big country like England but we will not fear them.

“People always expect England to be the best and the players think they have to beat everybody. But we are confident.”

To be fair, England do have maximum points from their first two matches.

But they have on paper an incredibly easy group, and need to start showing who is boss.

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