England's bid to qualify for UEFA EURO 2008™ is hardly on the rocks just yet but they are sailing in choppy waters after Saturday's stalemate in Israel.
The Group E stalemate in Tel-Aviv marked England's fifth successive game without a win and they have scored just once in those five outings since beating F.Y.R. Macedonia 1-0 in September. Manager Steve McClaren, whose side next face Andorra in Barcelona, accepts the performance was not what England's fans had been expecting, saying: "We should have won the game. It is two points dropped. We need to regroup and make sure we collect three points on Wednesday but there are still plenty of games to go."
History, rankings and the quality of the players taking part suggest England will end their winless sequence against Andorra. However, confidence will not be running high in the camp after failing to find a way past Israel, leaving England in third place after five matches, trailing frontrunners Croatia and Russia by five and three points respectively.
McClaren's task of harnessing the undoubted individual qualities of some of the world's finest players into a cohesive force ready to take on Europe's best is proving as difficult as alchemy. If he hoped to find the Midas touch upon taking over from Sven-Göran Eriksson after the FIFA World Cup last summer, ex-assistant McClaren has been as disappointed as England's long-suffering supporters.
"If you don't take your half chances at this level, you don't deserve to win," said the former Middlesbrough FC manager. "It feels like a defeat. It's hard to put your finger on why we are not scoring. In the last four or five internationals, we've struggled in front of goal. You just can't just blame the strikers. You've got to blame the six or seven players in the final third."