England flounder after the downpour

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According to the Bible, Noah prepared for the storm by shepherding his animals onto the Ark two by two.

England’s reaction to last night’s deluge in Warsaw also came in a pair. Only theirs were the two points lost on the road to Brazil.

Roy Hodgson’s men have now encountered two of the decent teams in Group H. And beaten neither.

And whilst they have cause to lament the miserable couple of minutes when Wayne Rooney skied a glorious chance over and Joe Hart failed to punch clear a corner, England’s players will acknowledge a share of the spoils was the least their opponents deserved. Now the World Cup goes into hibernation for five months.

When it wakes up, Hodgson and his players will need to have dried themselves off, freshened themselves up and be ready to go. Otherwise they will be going nowhere in 2014.

Football can be surreal at times.

The Polish Federation’s response yesterday to an almost full day of rain was to leave the roof on this magnificent stadium open.

Today, with the sun beaming down from a bright blue sky, they shut it.

You do not need to be a member of the Royal Horticultural Society to know that is an incorrect way of tending to a garden. Maybe they should give Alan Titchmarsh or Monty Don a ring.

The legacy of yesterday’s carnage were a number of suspicious dark patches indicating the recovery was by no means full. There were flat patches where bounce of the ball was inconsistent, although thankfully there was nothing to show where the two fans who embarked on a comical slide through the puddles as England got ready to leave and Poland prepared to play had been.

England were right of course. No-one would have contemplated a proper game of football on Tuesday night.

But the attitude spilled over. Tentative and wary, far too often possession was surrendered with no pressure applied.

On Monday last week, FA chairman David Bernstein, who lost his own big match at Wembley prior to kick-off, delivered a new code of conduct for England’s players.

There was lots of advice about what kit to wear, when to Tweet and how to behave.

No advice was offered about handling hot potatoes though. The age old English failing, something we never seem to be able to manage, no matter how enticing the rest of the menu.

England’s travelling contingent had been reduced by over a half but those who had navigated their way around the internet to sort new rooms or flights watched their team’s defence get threatened by Kamil Grosicki and Robert Lewandowski.

It was heart-in-mouth stuff at times.

Lewandowski seared through England’s defence in the same easy manner he did at Manchester City seven days ago. He could not find the net there either.

Indeed, the Pole’s contribution was almost the exact opposite of Rooney’s.

A little bit out of touch, largely on the periphery, the game was passing the Manchester United man by until Steven Gerrard curled over a corner that looped in off his shoulder.

After leaping over Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer with his double on Friday, Rooney is now within eight of his former Manchester United team-mate Michael Owen, who is England’s fourth highest scorer with 40.

Given the 26-year-old’s remarkable record, 15 wins and only one defeat in the 16 competitive matches he had scored, England seemed set fair.

Rooney is not perfect though. And how might England reflect on his woeful miss from Danny Welbeck’s cut-back when this qualification campaign is over?

Within a minute, Joe Hart was blundering and Kamil Glik accepted the present.

If there is a consolation it comes from that single loss from the Rooney statistic, in Russia, five years ago today.

Then England led, were pegged back, eventually lost and a month later were ejected from Euro 2008 and Steve McClaren was out of a job. Today they held firm, and got their draw.

It is not going to plan though. In what is effectively a four-team group, England have lost ground on Montenegro, who provide the next meaningful opposition in Podgorica next March.

On their last visit, England lost a two-goal lead and Rooney was sent off.

There can be no repeat of that.