Wednesday, 14 July 2010


So the World Cup has been and gone.  The half-filled in wall charts can be taken down and the hopes and dreams of fans (apart from the Spaniards, whose majestic side triumphed) can be picked from the puke-filled gutter and recharged ready for the 2012 European Chamionships, in hooligan paradise Poland/Ukraine.

England did not perform very well at all.  They were knocked out in the last 16 by my favourite team other than the aforementioned Spanish, Germany, who played like vanquishing stallions.  Their brand of counter-attacking, precision passing füssball enthralled all who had the pleasure of watching them.  Against England they showed us up for the unimaginative footballing laggards that we really are.  We have a great league, but unfortunately our club sides don't seem to have English players who can really perform at the highest level without help from superior foreign imports (or so it seems judging by the way they played at this World Cup).  The strange thing is that I have seen Rooney play in many games demonstrating a good touch, but I lost count of the number of times it pinged off his boot when he tried to control the ball in this tournament.

Typically, swathes of the English media also performed very badly.  Journalists hyped up players who really didn't deserve it only to crucify them when the performed to their true ability, and 'papers drew on archaic stereotypes and jingoistic hyperbole, especially when playing Germany (the War ended over 60 years ago, and Germans really don't care that much about playing the English, get over it).  Adrian Chiles got in on the act before the USA game with a frankly embarrassing skit about Americans eating burgers and playing baseball, telling them to essentially naff off and leave everyone else to play football.  It was cringeworthy to the extreme.  Meanwhile, over on the BBC, the Alan brothers had the cheek to moan about having to sit through some games!  These are people who are payed to watch football and get a nice free trip to South Africa.  Unbelievable.  They couldn't even be bothered to research players, instead resorting to repeatedly calling di Natale (top scorer in Serie A) the "Number 10".  Clarence Seedorf, who played for a long time in Italy, didn't even know his name.  IT'S YOUR JOB TO KNOW PLAYERS' NAMES.  Pathetic.

During the build up to the Germany, pundits pointed to a 1-0 win over Slovenia as proof that England had progressed enough from the 0-0 draw with lowly Algeria to be be able to destroy Germany.  "No German player would get in our team", chirruped one pundit.  "This is an average German side", trumpeted Alan Hansen.  No-one seemed the slightest bit ashamed about their bombastic predictions of an easy England win being proven to be built on lazy cheerleading to sate the chest thumping idiots who feel that passion will win games.

The whole charade taught me a few things:

1. England's players weren't up to the task.
2. People shouldn't have been surprised about lacklustre performances after seeing the opening game.
3. Certain sections of the English media have come out of the tournament in a worse light than the team.  Any other profession wouldn't stand for such a lack of quality as was demonstrated by some pundits and journalists.
4. We shouldn't sack Capello.
5. We should overhaul the system of youth coaching, using the Dutch/German models as a guide.  I had a kick around with some youngsters at a village barbecue last weekend.  Only one of them looked up when he had the ball.  The others shouted for the ball without making any movement and when they received it they ran, head down, and kicked it as hard as they could towards the goal.  They should be taught in school and by parents that this is wrong.
6. The transfer policy of English clubs is damaging our game.  More chances should be granted to young English players at the top teams.
7. I sometimes wish I was Spanish.
8. I dislike Mark van Bommel.
9. I like Andres Iniesta.
10. Hansen and Shearer should resign.

The official Fifa ranking of teams' performance in the World Cup sums everything up:

Fifa 2010 World Cup standings:

1 Spain, 2 Netherlands, 3 Germany, 4 Uruguay, 5 Argentina, 6 Brazil, 7 Ghana, 8 Paraguay
9 Japan, 10 Chile, 11 Portugal, 12 United States, 13 England, 14 Mexico, 15 South Korea, 16 Slovakia
17 Ivory Coast, 18 Slovenia, 19 Switzerland, 20 South Africa, 21 Australia, 22 New Zealand, 23 Serbia, 24 Denmark
25 Greece, 26 Italy, 27 Nigeria, 28 Algeria, 29 France, 30 Honduras, 31 Cameroon, 32 North Korea 

England's past World Cup rankings:
1950 (8th), 1954 (6th), 1958 (11th), 1962 (8th), 1966 (1st), 1970 (8th), 1982 (6th), 1986 (8th), 1990 (4th), 1998 (9th), 2002 (6th), 2006 (6th)

One thing to take note of is France and Italy's respective positions.  Ouch.

One thing that I enjoyed thoroughly during the England v Algeria game was an incident in the pub I watched the game in. The place was populated by morons on the whole, and within 1 minute of kick off a large group of braying quasi-fans began to sing 'No Surrender to the IRA'. At this point an Irishman who looked like he was carved from a piece of granite and could have easily been a bare knuckle boxer took one of the singers to task, berating him and threatening to do all sorts of things to him. No surrender to the IRA quickly became "sorry mate, sorry. I didn't mean it".

Now we have to wait 4 years until Brazil. Come on Germany!

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