Monday, June 28, 2010
England's World Cup woes
"Maybe England were not prepared for this game as they should be," said the Germany captain, Philipp Lahm. "Maybe they underestimated us because our players are not as famous as the England players".
But it wasn’t just the England team who underestimated Germany yesterday. What about the media pundits who, conveniently forgetting how abysmal England were against Algeria, repeatedly assured us that England were ‘superior’ to a ‘very average’ German team?
On the radio, Alan Green told us how confident he was that England would win.
Ditto the tv ‘experts’. No member of the ‘very average’ German side would get into the England team, we were told. Incredibly, Germany were available at odds of 21-10 before the match. Surely the bet of the World Cup.
Depressingly, even when England were 4-1 down the myth that our players are world class performers was still being parroted. ’We know how good these players are' remarked the BBC’s commentator- adding how galling it was to know that come the autumn Wayne Rooney would be banging in the goals again for Man Utd. But he forgot to add that there is quite a bit of difference between Rooney playing alongside world-class international players at Old Trafford and scoring goals against Sunderland and West Brom, and performing alongside other English players against top quality international sides like Germany and Argentina.
The simple truth is that England’s players are not world-class. In horse-racing terms they are handicappers, who are found out whenever they race in Listed or Group company. It’s time we accepted that fact and lowered our expectations accordingly.
That said, Fabio Capello had a nightmare tournament. You’ve got to question the sanity of a coach, who when his side is trailing and urgently needs goals, brings off Jermain Defoe, and replaces him with Emile Heskey. Recognising his players’ technical limitations, Capello should have played a more direct style: making the most of Peter Crouch’s height in attack. Instead, Crouch, who has an excellent scoring record for England, played just 17 minutes in the whole tournament. What a waste.