Injustice can’t overshadow England’s failure

I said yesterday that England needed to produce a credible performance to match the bold claims made by the likes of David James and Joe Cole.  They didn’t.  What they produced against Germany was as bad if not worse than the display against Algeria.  The stats might show that England had more possession and more shots on goal but the gulf in class was obvious.

The early signs are that the media post-mortem is going to separate the absurd decision that denied Frank Lampard a perfectly good goal to even things up at 2-2 and the observation that England were comprehensively outplayed for large portions of the game.  In the grand scheme of things the Lampard “goal” is irrelevant.  For the good of the English game the strategists need to leave the official complaint to the bureaucrats and find out how they get to the root of  England’s serious problems.

Irish television pundits have been highly scathing of England’s efforts.  This YouTube video of their broadcast after the Slovenia game has become a breeding ground for anti-Irish sentiment from English fans who obviously saw the punditry as being anti-English.  As it turns out Johnny Giles, Ronnie Whelan and Eamon Dunphy were spot on about everything.

While Lee Dixon, Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker were highly impressed with Rooney, Gerrard and England in general against Slovenia, Dunphy called Rooney “a shivering wreck”, “could not believe how bad Gerrard was today” and labeled the performance as “shocking…absolutely incredibly bad…pretty awful stuff.”  Would you trust the opinion of the old boys club or a bunch of jumped up foreigners?  Well it depends on whether you believe that England did deliver one quality performance sandwiched in between three awful ones … or take what I think is the more reasonable view that the BBC pundits were employing a serious dose of hyperbole and trying not to upset anyone.

But what’s the harm in them acting as cheerleaders for the nation you might ask?  Well, while Fabio Capello was cementing this positivity and optimism by declaring that England were “back” in the post-match interview, Robin van Persie was announcing that the Netherlands needed to improve their performances in spite of impressively topping their group with three wins.

And maybe that’s a difference in mentality: England seemed to genuinely believe that their performance was good enough.  Well if they did then it was a short lived euphoria.  Today England came up against their first decent side and they were humbled.

James Milner is supposedly a £28m target for Manchester City.  If he’s worth that money then I can only think that Mesut Özil – who was part of the German U21 team that beat Milner’s England equivalents 4-0 a year ago –  is worth about £100m.  I don’t mean to pick on Milner who is a decent player but Özil (21 years old), Thomas Müller (20) and Sami Khedira (23) were a different class to anyone in an Engalnd shirt today.  Bastian Schweinsteiger is only 25 and he has 21 goals in 78 appearances.  He dominated midfield with Khedira.  These players have pace, technique, vision and passion.  Based on what we’ve seen at this tournament England simply have nobody with these qualities.

If we found out that Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard were all going to retire tomorrow (and unless they pull a Beckham they should be all out of the picture in 2014 anyway) who would replace them from the under 21s?  Sure, we can talk about prospects like Dan Gosling, Jack Rodwell (both of Everton), Micah Richards (Manchester City) and Lee Cattermole (Sunderland) but if they are simply shoved in to the same rigid system, are unable to find each other with passes or create chances then it could be a demoralising and humiliating experience.

It’s too late for the Golden Generation but let’s hope the FA’s Director of Football Development, Trevor Brooking, is able to push an agenda of radical reform.

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4 comments

  1. Agree with most of that. I think it was a better display than against Algeria though, and the 4-1 score flattered Germany.
    No doubt that a wholesale overhaul of the English footballing system is required. With Capello, they either need to give him everything he asks for, or dump him and come up with a new plan – but an actual ‘plan’ as opposed to just hiring an English manager.

  2. I think the only reason people might say that the scoreline flattered Germany is due to the Lampard incident skewing how we think the game might have turned out how it not occurred. Germany could have been 4-0 up before England scored their first goal. David James kept the score down.

    Capello is responsible for it all regardless of whether he is a weak manager who surrendered to the political power of Terry, Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney or he’s a manager who has been shown to be a decade behind the times.

    His team really had no plan or purpose and now (as my next blog will outline) he (or the next manager) have some huge decisions to make for 2012.

  3. Can’t agree that Capello is responsible for it all. It runs much deeper than that. No doubt he made tactical and selection errors.

    I think England need to back him though. What alternative do they have? Who out there is better? Who can radically alter things, as they need to?

    Maybe now he can have to ammunition to say to the FA “Now, you have to let me do things MY way”. Drop any players he feels like dropping, and pick the players who fit how he wants to play rather than shoehorning Gerrard and Lampard into the same midfield 4.

    REally, what are the alternatives for England? Redknapp and Hodgson both play 4-4-2 and the big time charlies in the team will run rings around either of them. They won’t get Jose/Arsene or Sir Alex.

  4. Well I mean he’s responsible because he either went along with the status quo (abandoning his principles) or he really thought that the squad that failed in 2006 would not fail this time. Clearly the major problems are endemic in the game and go right down to under 7s grass roots levels (maybe under 6s).

    There are no alternatives per se. I do wonder if Jose Mourinho could make something out of the England team but with no Drogba, Robben or Essien Chelsea would have been a far poorer team. I saw a guy post on the Guardian comment section today that he knows a Chelsea player who tells him that DD is the true leader of that squad, not JT.

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