Sunday, July 02, 2006
Down and out...
It's over, for another four years at least... The high hopes of a successful World Cup campaign for England have been shot down in flames, and now, as the tears are wiped away, the inquests will start.
This team was supposed to be the one; the players that were at the peak of their form and experience, and with the heirarchy to take on the World. How did we do? Pretty poorly, once again knocked out in the quarter finals. So what went wrong?
Without writing a ten thousand word dissitation, it's tough to put down everything that is incorrect with English football, and the English football team in one blog post, but here's a few of the main criteria...
How much can I write about Sven? Lots, but the facts are that he has ultimately failed to take the team forward. When Keegan quit, he was the new Main Man - respected thrughout the World as a top coach. In the end, the English way of building someone up, and then knocking them down can have few greater examples than the Swede. If he bedded someone, it made front page news; if he talked to someone about another job - it's all over the media; he was easy to dupe, and guess what, that made headlines too. Sven leaves the England coach role now, and most fans will say good riddance. The memory of Munich and beating Germany 5-1 all those years ago is long gone (and my socks gloryfying that result have holes in them...); he will be remembered as a womaniser who made lots of mistakes when it mattered.
They really haven't helped either - faffing around with changes at the top; middle, and bottom. No structure and the leaders almost as good (or bad) in bed as Sven! The way they have handled the replacement of Sven is shocking - the unsettling of clubs like Charlton when Curbishley was (or wasn't) approached as terrible, and the same for Middlesbrough and Bolton. The Scholari saga was a farce; heads should roll, but I doubt they will...
Becks; great beer, crap captain. It is unnacceptable for a player to get one free kick (or corner) right every five attempts; how England can put up with that is beyond me, because if it happened at The Valley, the crowd would go mad. Can you imagine Rommedahl hitting the front man with 80% of our corners? No, nor can I... Beckham makes millions through sponsorship, has had a good career, and should now be politely asked to step down and make way for players like Lennon, Wright-Phillips, Walcott, etc. STOP PRESS - as I type, Beckham has quit as captain, so there one good thing!
The biggest single area of inquest will be the Premiership. UEFA have already said that they want to reduce the number of competing clubs down to 18 (from 20), but that means reducing the income from gate receipts, which most clubs will not vote to do. It probably wouldn't effect things though, as the TV money would be spread out within a tighter bunch, and anything lost from matches made up from TV revenue. This in turn should help fitness (with fewer games being played), which should help the England team. But it doesn't work like that... As soon as the season is reduced, other games will be arranged, either through UEFA extending the European competitions, or through clubs arranging lucrative friendly matches, that compromise the games played/fitness equation.
I said it prior to the squad being announced, and again when the names became known, that Sven got it majorly wrong in taking only four forwards. When we now think that two were injured (or recovering from injury), one was a shock tactic, and one only there ultimately for experience, we were asking for trouble. With Owen being injured and Rooney sent off, our potential semi-final with France would have seen Crouch start up front on his own, and be asked to do up to two hours there. He's slow as it is, so how he could have done a whole game and extra time is beyond me... As for Walcott, well I hope he has gained from the experience, because if he isn't in the team/squad for the next Euro championshoips, then it's just been wasted. The lucky ones end up being Bent and Defoe, who haven't been tainted by the mistakes.
4-5-1? Rooney up front on his own? When was this tried and tested? Holding player - well set before the trip? Oh yea, let's try something in a live situation. Sven, you wouldn't last five minutes as a project manager in the real world!
We've seen some good refs, and awful ones. Please, please, please, FIFA, allow challenges but not fouls. The game is not a contact sport, but you have to be allowed to tackle, that is part of the game! The refs who have gone home (Poll, the Russian who did Holland/Portugal, the Mexican who did the first England game...) were awful, yet you insist they were among the best in the world. Sorry guys, I cannot believe that. We need to sort this out so that the correct decisions are made consistently, or the game is ruined (and I'm not just saying that as I'm down...)
We need to be winners, yet our media is run by an Aussie who takes heart from crushing our every decent star. Get rid of the Sun, News of the World, and Times owner, and the country can move forward.
The players all get huge salaries, yet what will they end up telling their grandkids - I could've been a contender. But actually, Frank, Joe, Ashley, Paul, etc, you weren't, because you didn't believe...
Pluses - Hargreaves in midfield (not full back!!!), Cole at left back, Rio, Gary Neville showing what we could do with a proper right back in the team, Lennon, and not much else.
Steve McLaren - oh dear. But hopefully, no Beckham; a switch to 4-4-2; Lennon, Bent, and a young hungry team; no favourites; positive tactics.
Bring on Andorra...