This is the way England’s World Cup ends; not with a bang, but a whimper.
Watch the highlights on the BBC of the England’s worst-ever World Cup Finals defeat, and keep an eye out for…
- When I was a child, I played centre-back and was always told to make sure the Back Four hold the line, stay in shape and keep together. How often were the England defenders even in the same postcode? (hint: NOT OFTEN)
- When England have the ball, they often look comfortable, until they start having to create something. The paucity of ideas is frightening.
- How much faster than England do Germany play when they move forward? (hint: MUCH)
- How many of England’s passes are poorly controlled, how many first touches go astray, how many passes are over- or under-hit? (hint: MOST)
- Who was that man masquerading as Wayne Rooney, who only a few short months ago was apparently the best striker in the world and would define this year’s World Cup?
My preferred writing in the aftermath has tended to steer clear of the hyperbole around Frank Lampard’s goal that wasn’t and other such distractions. Matt Slater’s excellent blog on the BBC and Kristian Jack’s blog are both well-thought-out and coherently argued, addressing the wider issues.
England’s performance stats are shocking. The last time England reached the semi-finals (let alone final) of anything was in 1990. We like to refer to Spain or Portugal as perennial chokers at big tournaments, failing to fulfil their potential; but England have never really had the potential.
And so now, while the FA has a leadership vaccuum at its core, IMHO…
- Keep Capello on board as manager
- Rebuild technical playing and coaching skills from the ground up
- Make brave decisions and do away with the sacred cows of this so-called ‘golden generation’. Gerrard, Terry and Lampard have under-performed, and must surely not be at the heart of the future of England.
- Do something about the relationship between the Premiership, the FA and the national team. Of course I don’t know what that is, but how about…
- …something, anything to make playing for England the pinnacle of a footballer’s ambition, rather than being something players do for pin money and a nice weekend away in between earning their serious money doing Nike commercials
If you want to see the definition of corporate and personal arrogance, which explains a lot about what is wrong with football, check out the Nike ‘Write the Future’ film on Youtube. Rooney ran harder in that advert than he did in 4 matches in South Africa. None of Nike’s flagship stars in that ad got past the first knock-out round, and indeed the only Brazilian (Ronaldinho) didn’t even make his national squad.
Football’s global appeal has brought in unparalleled wealth, but this seems to benefit a self-interested and largely self-appointed oligarchy of committees and players at the (ahem) ‘top’ of the sport – especially those in the (ahem) major European leagues and club sides. However, in the sport’s flagship event, the 2010 quarter-finals will be contested by four South American sides, one African team and (just) three from Europe. The past three tournaments have seen six, four and six European quarter-finalists (if you count Ukraine & Turkey).
Apparently the salaries of the 24 players in England’s dismal squad would pay for over 3,300 British Soldiers. Don’t get me started on what that says about our priorities and values, and which group of individuals know more about teamwork, pressure, and feeling tired.