A worst home defeat in 94 years for England is a collective failure than can’t be pinned on one player, but here’s their individual rankings, regardless.
Beaten with his first shot, and that’s not a strong look, even if whether he had much chance of saving it is debatable. There’s a case for saying that Ramsdale shouldn’t have got beaten on his near post by Roland Salloi’s 16th minute opener, but it was from fairly close range, and it was hardly as though the defenders in front of him hadn’t had plenty of opportunity to get it away themselves first, as well.
But things deteriorated from there. There was little he could do for the second, third or fourth goals, but it doesn’t look much as though he’ll be replacing Jordan Pickford as England’s first choice goalkeeper in the immediate future on the basis of this performance. There were bigger problems in the England team than Aaron Ramsdale this evening, but he did concede four goals as part of England’s worst home defeat since losing 5-1 at home to Scotland in 1928, five months before a World Cup finals. The best we can say for his evening is that he’s young enough to know that there will be other chances in the future.
Normally the most dependable England defender, Kyle Walker can still bring an element of calm into a game by getting his foot on the ball, but when Hungary did break on this occasion, they caught him out more than once. Solloi was behind him and he couldn’t get across in time to block the second goal, while the third and fourth goals both saw successive mistakes and a team that didn’t seem to know, positionally speaking, which day of the week it was .
Instigator of England’s first decent chance, with some fluid interplay on the left which resulted in a cross to the far post for Jarrod Bowen which was blocked, and headed a Hungary cross away at the far post under pressure from an attacker. James switched sides at half-time and did manage to get a couple of half-decent crosses in from the other side of the pitch, but his delivery in the second half couldn’t find anybody to get on the end of the ball and, just like everyone else, he faded away to a husk over the last twenty minutes.
The margins are so narrow, but when Kalvin Phillips slightly delayed reaction was called out as being responsible for the first Hungary goal by the Channel Four commentary team, this felt a tiny bit harsh. None of this is to say that England’s defending for this goal wasn’t utterly calamitous. It’s more than this was a collective calamity, rather than anything that could be pinned on any one individual. Much like everything else in this match, really.
Otherwise, Phillips was caught through the middle for the second goal, and was nowhere to be seen for the third or fourth. He is capable of much better than this, as can be seen from Manchester City’s interest in signing him at the moment. Tomorrow morning at The Etihad Stadium, there may be an emergency meeting to discuss whether Pep still thinks pursuing him is still a good idea or not.
A mildly disorganized first half, punctuated only by a low downward header that was comfortably by the Hungarian goalkeeper, Denes Dibusz, and a yellow card. Didn’t really look comfortable all evening, and completely lost the goalscorer Zsolt Nagy for the third Hungarian goal. Was harshly sent off for second yellow card over a challenge which didn’t even really look like a foul, never mind a second yellow card, but this was not a good evening for Stones, regardless. .
It’s only his third appearance for his country and Guehi almost certainly won’t be starting in the World Cup finals, but giving experience to the squad players is important and just about everybody in the England squad has been looking like they could do with a break by the end of the first of these four matches. The entire England defensive unit came up wanting when Hungary pushed at its centre, and Guehi cannot be excluded from this collective responsibility. Hasn’t made the best case for going to the Middle East in November.
It was unsurprising to see Bowen back in the first eleven, given that he was arguably the team’s biggest goal threat against Hungary when they met in Budapest, and he had England’s first half-chance, stretching to head the ball down, only to find it blocked by a defender. But for all his energy, he couldn’t really find a way through and was withdrawn at half-time in favor of Raheem Sterling.
A spritely and impish presence in England’s midfield, Gallagher is the subject of increasingly feverish transfer speculation at the moment, though why Chelsea would want to offload him remains something of a mystery. He turned up both in the center and on the right in the first half, and had one surging run that got Molineux back on his feet after conceding the open goal and the underwhelming response that followed it. Withdrawn ten minutes into the second half, to make way for Mason Mount, and can take considerable satisfaction from an extremely positive performance, certainly England’s most positive of an otherwise dismal evening. If anything, England lost a considerable amount of their shape when he was withdrawn.
Swung at thin air in attempting to clear for the first Hungary goal (there really is a lot of blame for this goal to share around) and had a very, very quiet first half indeed as England played what often seemed to be their only tactical trick , to try to pass the ball in behind the defenders for their wingers to run onto. When he did get the ball his class was, as ever, immediately apparent. From the raking, diagonal cross-field ball to the switch and slide-rule pass between two defenders, his footballing intelligence remains of the top drawer, but strikers need to get the ball, and Kane didn’t see anywhere near enough of it. He rattled the Hungarian crossbar with a header with thirteen minutes to play and spoke well to the post-match interviewer, considering that this must have been a pretty chastening evening. An evening he’ll definitely want to forget.
Failed to show up for much of the first half, but came into the game increasingly as it wore on, first with a bundled half-chance just wide, and then with a delicious turn on the left side of the Hungarian penalty area which left one of their defenders having to untie his legs like shoelaces. But Bellingham faded in the second half, and he was practically invisible by the last twenty minutes if the match. It still feels as though he could do with a little more time before being thrown into the national team.
Saka was lively in the early stages, but as the first half wore on England seemed to focus more and more of their attacking on the right, leaving him making increasingly frustrated-looking and futile runs towards little in particular. One first half cross curled into the Hungarian penalty area brought about a diving header that almost resulted in an own goal, but Saka faded significantly in the second half, and there was booing when he was withdrawn five minutes to play, though whether this was for him or the player coming on to replace him was not clear.
Raheem Sterling (on for Bowen, 46)
Introduced at half-time to little significant effect. England looked little more likely to score in the second half with Sterling on the pitch than they had in the first half, and although Sterling can turn a decent hand at getting into a halfway position, but his delivery was dreadful this evening, to the point of looking lazy. He’s capable of much better than this.
Mason Mount (on for Gallagher, 56)
Was apparently on the pitch for the last thirty-four minutes of the game.
Phil Foden (on for Bellingham, 68)
Dragged a low shot wide with fourteen minutes to play, a sudden burst of energy that may have had Gareth Southgate wondering why he didn’t pick him to start, and then another wide as the game descended into being a lost cause.
Harry Maguire (on for Saka, 85)
Booed when he came onto the pitch – it seems unlikely that England will be playing at Molineux again fr the foreseeable future – and within four minutes of coming on was broadly left standing static as the ball was threaded through for Hungary’s fourth goal. It feels as though his descent into meme-hood might be approaching terminal velocity. Maybe bringing on the most booed England player of the 2021/22 season with five minutes to play and the crowd having already turned mutinous wasn’t Southgate’s greatest ever idea.