Holland paint Wembley Oranje
In the end it was a night that will have done little for Stuart Pearce's job application for Euro 2012.sports Updated: Mar 02, 2012 00:49 IST
In the end it was a night that will have done little for Stuart Pearce's job application for Euro 2012.
For all the late drama, it was a subdued Wembley by the final whistle and even if there were mitigating circumstances, as there always are when key players are missing, the crowd could be forgiven if they are contemplating the summer with a sense of foreboding.
For a few brief moments the team that appear to have devised their plans for Poland and Ukraine on the theory of chaos had deceived us into thinking they could pin down the side rated third in Fifa's world rankings.
A two-goal deficit had been wiped out courtesy of late goals from Gary Cahill and Ashley Young and, from virtually nowhere, it was promising to be a comeback that might undo some of the negativity that has been whistling through the England camp.
Yet every time Holland tired of being obliging opponents and moved up a gear it was alarming to see the imbalance of talent between the two sides.
The moment, for example, when an impatient Arjen Robben ran two-thirds of the pitch to open the scoring, quickly followed by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar heading in the second. Then, finally, Robben curling in the left-foot shot that deflected off Cahill for the final flourish.
For long spells this was a Dutch side that seemed only half-interested but in those devastating bursts when they gave it their full attention they found England to be a side lacking shape and knowhow.
For that, Pearce is entitled to point out this was always going to be a night of experimentation and, with a new-look side, that it was unreasonable to expect it to be a seamless performance.
No other team in this summer's tournament have endured such a wild and eccentric preparation and the English FA surely has to accelerate the process of finding a permanent manager. A sense of order is needed, an end to the uncertainty.