I think it was fairly hypocritical of England and the English media to patronise the butcher, baker and candlestick makers of the San Marino team, when we’ve got a goalkeeper who moonlights as a shampoo salesman and a striker who endorses Benson and Hedges cigarettes.
But after putting the part-timers in their place, the Three Lions go back to their proper day job with a football match against Montenegro in Podgorica tonight and anything other than a win will seriously jeopardise England’s chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup without taking the elongated route.
As it stands, Montenegro are two points clear at the top of Group H with England still needing to travel to the Ukraine and host Poland, as well as negotiate the return leg against Montenegro. Failure for Roy Hodgson is not an option, but these Montenegrins are far from another one of those Balkan states here to make up the numbers.
The two previous clashes between the pair have resulted in draws and that outcome would be good enough for the hosts again, whilst England could do with all three.
Branko Brnovic has built upon the good work of Zlatko Krancjar as head coach, and unlike England who shoehorn their best players into a system which may work, this lot have a tried and tested system involving nine organ grinders and a couple of monkeys.
I take a look at the men who can hurt England tonight.
Stevan Jovetic: The Brian May lookalike puts the rhapsody into Montenegro with his lively running and darting dribbles somewhere around the top of the formation.
Jovetic stands at 6ft 1″ but he’s far from an orthodox striker, and his movement and intuition will thoroughly test an England backline lacking a first choice centre-half.
The Fiorentina forward can play anywhere across the front and will drift wide and deep to receive and will also drop into midfield as part of the greater plan to stifle.
With ten international goals in just 21 appearances, he boasts a better strike rate than anyone Hodgson can turn to, and he’s also scoring at better than a goal every other game in Serie A.
He’s yet to find the net during this qualification campaign, but bwin still have him 9/4 to open his account at any time tonight, and a massive 8/1 to get things going in front of his adoring public.
Mirko Vucinic: Jovetic may be the prince of Podgorica, but his strike partner Mirko Vucinic could arguably be the more potent of the pairing.
Vucinic will likely be the spearhead with Jovetic roaming behind, and he has the physical attributes to ruffle whichever duo England pick to placate him.
Again, his 14 goals in 30 caps have been scored at a better rate than any England striker, and he’s also got a decent return despite being used sparingly for Juventus. A couple of goal laden seasons for Roma prior to shifting to Turin highlights his prowess, and the bookies share my opinion that he is indeed the biggest danger to the Three Lions.
bwin have Vucinic as the shortest priced Montenegrin on the goalscorers market, but he’s still a relatively distant 7/1 to score first and 2/1 to score at any point.
Filip Kasalica: If The Beatles needed Ringo, then Vucinic and Jovetic need Filip Kasalica.
The 24-year-old is a relative new comer into the national fold and has only been capped five times. However, he plays a pivotal role with his energy and enthusiasm down the left wing and neither Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker have wholly convinced in that position.
The Red Star Belgrade player has only scored ten times for his club in two seasons, but he’s more of a creator than a finisher and his lively work down the wing could do enough to pull defenders apart and make space for the others to move in to.
This unknown quantity has the quality to have an influence on the game, and he’s well priced in all goalscorers markets.
A quote of 10/1 for first-scorer is on par with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and 11/4 for him to score at any point could be worth a shout.
All in all though, I reckon Vucinic for first scorer at 7/1 is about the best and most likely on offer for the hosts, and anyone putting that bet on as part of bwin’s offer of a £20 free bet to new customers, could end up pocketing £160.
To keep abreast with the very latest in Montenegrin football, including a 12,000 word preview on next Saturday’s second division clash between Bratsvo and Igalo, follow me on Twitter @bainesyDiego10