The cliche is that only the result counts, but Manchester United were again miserable in victory at St James' Park. Van Gaal has to the find the right formula soon...
Sherwood's cringeworthiness, Matic's Wembley celebrations, why LVG must show balls - it's all here in your Wednesday afternoon Mailbox...
Commanded his area well and raced out to deny Robert Lewandowski on the hour mark. The Borussia Dortmund striker must be sick of facing England's number one.
Looked nervous in the opening stages and conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box with a clumsy challenge. Roy Hodgson is clearly a big fan, though, despite Smalling's lack of football at Manchester United. His versatility and mysterious hex over Hodgson should see him make the plane for Brazil, but it's time for the 23-year-old to force himself past the rapidly ageing Rio Ferdinand at Old Trafford.
The less you notice Jagielka and Gary Cahill, the less you have to worry about the stark decline in quality of England's centre-back options. That's perhaps a slight disservice to Jagielka, who is the better of the duo, and extremely prudent in possession. As England pressed in the first half, the Everton man stepped up to support the midfield, providing the third-most passes and recording a joint-high accuracy of 94%. Perhaps we should thank Roberto Martinez for that.
Made a crucial block to deny Mateusz Klich immediately after half-time but then allowed Lewandowski to evade him for a brilliant chance at 1-0. Fortunately Hart came to the rescue and the keeper will need to maintain his level of awareness to mop up after Cahill's occasional brainfades in Brazil.
The left-back has given Hodgson real food for thought with his performances against Montenegro and Poland, providing a beautiful cross for Wayne Rooney to head England into the lead on Tuesday. Baines was guilty of being caught out of position in the first half as Poland counter-attacked at speed, but there is little between the Everton man and current first choice, Ashley Cole. Baines' quality of delivery could see him shade this particular battle over the next seven months.
Provided the platform for England's attack to express themselves and sprayed a perfect first-time ball to Baines in the build-up to the opening goal. As well as offering everything we expected - most passes in the first half, highest accuracy, etc - Carrick's presence allowed Gerrard to push on and link with Rooney, which is such a crucial advantage for England. It was a surprise to see him replaced by Frank Lampard with 20 minutes remaining, but perhaps Hodgson was worried about those lost leads away to Poland and Montenegro when Carrick was overrun.
It wasn't his tidiest performance in the second half, but it was fitting that Gerrard fought his way through the Polish defence to score the goal that sealed the win and secured England's place in Brazil. The tedious tribal nature of football means that Gerrard is never given the credit he deserves for his England displays, but the captain has been the Three Lions' most influential player during Hodgson's reign. "I'd be the proudest man in the country if we get the win we're after," said the skipper before his gut-busting 90 minutes. We're lucky to have him.
A second helping of humble pie for Football365 after Townsend embodied England's intent before the break in another impressive performance. He may have lost the ball the first time he had possession - and twice more in the opening ten minutes - but he showed smart movement to drift inside and test Wojciech Szczesny with a low drive and later thumped the crossbar with a fantastic strike from the edge of the box. With three of his five crosses in the first half finding a teammate, perhaps Townsend isn't the wasteful so-and-so we've seen in a Spurs shirt so far this season.
A poor night that settled Tuesday's debate with Daniel Storey. As if I had anything to fear. Welbeck failed to hit the target with any of his five attempts, looked hesitant and clumsy in possession and blasted wide when it was easier to score on the half-hour mark. He may have worked hard, tracked back and done all the other things we expected, but Townsend's rise should be as much a concern to Welbeck as it is to James Milner. It should be, but that won't necessarily be the case owing to Hodgson's faith in the Man United forward.
Quiet for the first ten minutes before bursting into life and playing a key role in England's victory. His understanding with Gerrard was exemplified by his volleyed pass to the captain in the first half, who then returned the favour for Welbeck which predictably saw an encouraging move break down. Rooney underlined his importance with a well-placed header to give England the lead and nearly added a second with a curling drive that brought a stunning save from Szczesny. Fingers crossed he's in one of his purple patches when England land in Brazil next June.
Seemed to take more touches than necessary at times, but has provided a real focal point to the attack ahead of Rooney and forced Szczesny into two smart saves as England sought to extend their lead. The beetroot-stained Rickie Lambert love affair was short-lived.
FRANK LAMPARD (on for Carrick, 71)
Presumably introduced to provide some composure as England began to look a little ragged. Failed completely in that respect, recording a pass accuracy of just 67%.
JACK WILSHERE (on for Sturridge, 82)
Three touches, all good.
JAMES MILNER (on for Townsend, 86)
Had a shot and created a chance for a teammate in four minutes on the field. Who said functional can't be sexy?
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.