England's World Cup preparations are not going to plan at present, but it could be worse - the spell they are going through could be occuring this summer. In some ways it could be a blessing in disguise. After playing so well last year the nation it seemed, thought that it was almost a foregone conclusion that England would return from France with the World Cup. Glenn Hoddle though was under no illusion that the team still have a lot of work to do to rule the world, and this week admitted that in terms of preparation for France, Brazil were much more advanced. At least England left Switzerland with a draw.
With a number of changes made to the team, either through injuries or tesing various systems, England struggled throughout the first half. Owen partnered Shearer up-front for the first time but Liverpool's youngster was kept out of the game for the much of the opening fourty-five minutes, through good defending, which prevented their pairing paying dividends.
Dominating the first half, Switzerland, playing their first game under coach Gilbert Gress, pressured the visitors mainly through Sforza. After a number of threats, Switzerland found the net in the 37th minute through Vega. Sesa saw Vega in the box, delivered the ball, which the Tottenham Hotspur player rose to meet and headed passed Tim Flowers. Deservedly the home side were ahead.
England tried to equalise but their efforts were unfruitful. Ince came close to scoring but his shot was blocked.
At half-time Hoddle decided to change the format, and moved Lee wide right and pushed McManaman inside. However, Switzerland were the first to look like scoring with Vogel and Wicky combining with Sforza but Southgate and Ferdinand cleared away any threat. McManaman did have chance to put England on level terms but he put the ball over the bar.
In the 69th minute England replaced Owen with Teddy Sheringham. Moments later England had equalised. Shearer in control, played the ball to Merson, who was unmarked on the left and then with time, the Middlesbrough player hit the ball with this right foot passed the Swiss 'keeper. It was Merson's second goal for his country, coming six years to the day since his first goal.
With twenty minutes remaining Switzerland tried to win the game and almost did through Chapuisat, but Flowers and Keown denied him glory.
England continued to plug away for a second goal. Shearer connected with Hinchcliffe's centre ball but Yakin cleared.
After a disappointing performance by England, they must go away from this match and re-group. There are just four more games remaining before they attempt to become World Champions.
Corminboeuf, Vogel, Fornier, Henchoz, Vega, Yakin, Sesa (Kunz 88 mins), Wicky (Lonfat 81 mins), Grassi, Sforza, Chapuisat.
Flowers, Keown, Hinchcliffe, Ince, Southgate, R Ferdinand, McManaman, Merson (Batty 81 mins), Shearer - Captain, Owen (Sheringham 69 mins), Lee.
Referee: P Garidian (France)