Wednesday, 30 June 2010

England expects too much

England were humbled on Sunday in a 4-1 defeat to Germany in Bloemfontein. This result, together with other abject performances in the group stage, has led the English press to erupt in a fit of rage, spewing stinging criticism at the manager and the players. Fabio Capello has been accused of getting his tactics wrong, of picking the wrong players and wrong formation. The players have been lambasted for their apparent lack of ‘spirit’ and ‘desire’, and their inability to replicate their Premier League performances. The England team is now seen by the majority of English football fans as a complete failure and disgrace to the country, but do England fans expect too much?

The majority of the media seem to spend months force feeding the masses false hope, presumably in the hope of selling more papers. Advertisers churn out faux-patriotic beer commercials and ex-professionals are constantly on television telling the camera that they think we have ‘a real chance of winning it this time’. With all this hyperbolic rubbish constantly streaming into the nation’s sub-conscience, it is not hard to understand why so many people feel let down or devastated by England’s comprehensive defeat in South Africa. If only people were told the truth about our chances before the tournament began, it may not have been such a surprise to so many.

England certainly have a selection of experienced players that play in big pressure situations for their clubs. Lampard, Gerrard, John Terry and Ashley Cole should have contributed more to helping the team be more intelligent with the ball and more solid without it. Wayne Rooney also clearly did not play to his potential and may have buckled under the weight the pressure. Rooney was seen as England’s hope and his performances were sadly very cumbersome, wasteful and somewhat out of character. However, even if Rooney had been more on form, the England team would still have come up short. Matthew Upson, Jermaine Defoe, Gareth Barry and Glen Johnson are not International class players. This balance of irrelevant experience and lack of quality is not exactly a recipe for success. England have no problem creating box to box midfielders who are energetic and direct, neither do they have a problem making big, lumbering centre halves. However, England simply do not seem to produce players who are creative or skillful, players who can control the ball, keep possession and make defense splitting passes. The current England team even lacks real defensive midfielders, who protect the back four and win the ball back for their team. Germany showed England how to play with imagination, precision and speed. They continually overran England in midfield and broke time and time again through their lackluster back line. If the England players believed their own hype, the Germans certainly did not. After being told that they were young and inexperienced, Germany went out and played as though they had been set free. Germany enjoyed the game, England became tight and ragged.

The English media continually portray the England team as World beaters, and the English public lap it up. England were ludicrously third favourites to lift the World Cup before the tournament with British bookmakers. This collective delusion is the reason why people cannot seem to comprehend why England came up well short against a bright, if not brilliant German team. The simple truth is that Germany have better players and a better team than England. Portugal and Holland also have better teams than England, they are smarter in possession and while Portugal are far more solid defensively, Holland’s attacking options easily out-gun the English. On top of this, England also fall desperately short when compared to the real favourites for the World Cup. Brazil, Argentina and Spain are streets ahead of England in almost every regard. They have squads full of genuinely world class players, and unlike England they have a team of square pegs in square holes. These teams have real depth in reserve, mouth watering attacking options, intelligent ball players, tactical defensive strategies and marvellous technical ability. Why should it be a surprise that England always come up short? It seems perfectly obvious to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment