England – It’s Armageddon all over again

by James Baker

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Ok, it isn’t quite the end of the world but I think a few of us feel like that this morning. The usual knee-jerk reactions are gracing the airwaves and the newspapers this morning. The usual cries of “sack the manager” and “you let your country down” have been wheeled out and the nation is in mourning. I don’t know about you, but I am getting a bit fed up with this reaction after every tournament we play. I think we need to have a look at the deeper problems that beset our national team.

Firstly, let us start with a damning statistic. Since 1966, Germany has bettered England’s performance at every World Cup. Many will tell you that the Germans and the British (not just the English) are similar people and from my experience of working and socialising with Germans, which is quite considerable, I cannot really disagree. So, for nations that are so similar, how can it be that one nation seems to always be there or there about in major competitions and how can one be the perennial chokers?

According to most “experts”, yesterday’s game should have held no fears for England. Apparently, you would only swap one or two Germans for English players when looking at the teams’ man for man. If this is so, how can England have been so outclassed? I remember years ago watching Gary Mason box Lennox Lewis for the British and Commonwealth Heavyweight title. Mason was the current champion and was a good honest pro and a thoroughly decent chap by all accounts. He was undefeated in about 30 odd bouts and was up against the little known at the time, Lewis. Mason went for it whole heartedly and tried to dominate the ring. Lewis just stayed back and picked him off at will. I was around 15 at the time and it was the first time I really understood that is wasn’t always the person who took the fight to the other person that would always come out on top. When I watched West Ham in my younger days, I just remember good old swash-buckling football where we would have a go at teams and try and play good football. We would lose a lot but we would always entertain in those days. Lewis showed in that fight that sometimes it was smarter not to walk on to the jab but to stay away from Mason’s weapons are when the time was right, pounce. Yesterday’s game was a throwback to that night. The Germans identified our weaknesses and just picked us off.

Can Capello be blamed for yesterday? I think he has to take some criticism. His senior players seem to lack any discipline. Gerrard, Terry and Rooney all tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck as they often do in the Premier League but it rarely works against top class opposition. With the score at 2-1 and with about 65 minutes on the clock, Lampard took a free-kick on the edge of the box. The Germans broke away and scored the crucial 3rd. Why was there only one player left defending? If it was the 85th minute, I could have understood it. The naivety of our display was awful and Capello must take some of the blame for this. Every time the German’s came forward, they looked as if they would score. Upson was predictably outclassed yesterday but I thought Terry was by far our worst player. The midfield was overrun and it was just a thoroughly awful performance.

Did Capello stick with a 4-4-2 formation because he didn’t trust his players with anything slightly more complicated? The German team were excellent. They do look vulnerable in the centre of defence and Boateng certainly isn’t a left back but I thought the rest of team looked sharp, inventive and pacey. England looked very one paced and very one dimensional. Is the Premier League stifling the national team? The Bundesligua is still predominantly full of German players. Is it a coincidence that their players seem to make the transition from club football to international football so easily? They are playing at the highest level in their country and the Champions League and they translate this to international football. Of course, many of the English team are playing in the Champions League but are the foreign players playing for English teams stopping younger English players from getting a game?

I know most will say that if they are good enough, they will come through. I agree with this to a degree. However, whenever it comes to international football England very rarely get the better of the Germans and certainly not when it matters. There must be a reason why their current, supposedly weaker players form a better team than ours. There was coherency to their play and they exposed our many flaws. Our team had no coherency, just players trying to do it all themselves. It was amateurish.

Yes, Capello must shoulder a lot of the blame but he is one of many England managers who have not been able to go further in the competition that the Germans. Good old Harry and Roy are now being suggested as Capello replacements but do you really expect them to do better with this egotistical set of players we currently have, which seems to be the norm for our game? I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe a few of the senior players should now be left out as we look to bring through a new generation. However, the new generation looks worryingly thin on the ground. Players have got to stop believing their hype. The football reporting in most papers in this country is shocking. It seems that most of our players and fans seem to believe all they read. It is time to go back to basics and start again without Terry, Gerrard, Lampard. I worry who will replace them but we must look to the future, with or without Fabio. The Germans would do it and we have to as well.

One more thing. I hate Sepp Blatter!!!

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  • http://dexysden.com Bill

    Your right James, England looked very one-dimensional. The English had no cohesion or chemistry as a team, especially in the latter part of the match. All the credit in the world to Germany, who came into the match with a better game plan and looked very strong and organized.

  • Dave

    It just proved how rubbish the English team are at this moment in time. Cant score,cant defend.

    And all those players will start the first game of the new season and play outstanding.

    There just isnt enough young players coming through and any managers.

    To many foreign players and managers in the premier league have stunted the growth of English talent.

  • mike

    Ze Germans deserve tons of credit, they did their homework on us, which is what I thought Capello was paid to do?

    Franz Beckenbeur was 100% right, we have gone backwards

  • Darren

    it all comes down to one word


    and we haven’t got one.

    to many egos in one pot.

  • martin Tibbetts

    We had no captain. Gerrard has none of the attribbutes needed of a captain, he is selfish, doesn’t communicate and doesn’t listen to anyone. In the second half his way to take control was to shoot from anywhere everytime he got the ball, it was embarrassing, and that after a first half where he left our left side hideously exposed by refusing to play in the position he was given. The lack of on pitch leadership was evident from the USA match. When Green made his blunder where were the pats on the back, the words of encouragement? The whole team turned their backs and left him to dwell on it. It was over from that moment.

    Too many players don’t have to earn their places. Lampard until yesterday has never turned up for England, I think the fact he played well shocked everyopne else into inaction. Terry has been poor since he shagged his team mates missus, but frankly has never had the pace to perform at this level. Rooney is out of form and ineffective. Yet they are on the team sheet in ink for every game before the plane has taken off. Why?

    Fabregas doesn’t fit into the Spanish starting line up as Xavi and Iniesta are better in his role, so he is left out. Lampard and Gerrard play in the same position, so only one should start. It is wonderfully simple.

    Who manages doesn’t matter, what he does is what counts. I think we need to drop, not rest but drop, Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard and Terry for at least the next 3 or 4 games, and make it clear that they need to earn their places back. Bring in a young captain for the long term – I’d go with Dawson, and build for 2014. With Hart in goal, a defence of Brown, Lescott, Dawson and our only world class player Cole, midfield of Milner and Carrick in the middle and Johnson and Young on the flanks, we have a solid basis of youth and experience, with Ferdinand there to slot in when fit. Theo Walcott was striker, and a good pacy one, before Wenger got his hands on him and decided he was a winger. Get him up front with a bigger guy, Crouch is the obvious, and we could have a team that achieves things.

    Don’t tell me there are no options, we just need to see past the golden boys who couldn’t really give a toss…..get a team rather than a collection of players

  • dexylongshot

    Yep, Team, i’m not sure about Brown at right back though. As i said in a previous post, I would write of the Euros and get a young squad to have a full 4 years of preparation all playing in their best positions keeping the same formation, talking to each other, working as a team.

  • Darren

    bang on Martin, It is wonderfully simple!

    I think you’re missing out a few decent players in that line up though.

    my team for the next few years would be

    GK Hart
    LB Cole
    CB Dawson
    CB Jagelka
    RB Richards

    LM A Johnson
    CM Hargreaves
    CM J Cole
    RM Ashley Young

    CF Rooney
    CF Crouch

    drop the oldies, it’s time for change

  • hammed hassan

    i think the problem england has is that they are rating the players that are playing in big club than the player that don’t play in big club, my point is that england like using the player that has big names, there supposed to be replacement for wyne rooney not every time he will be playing, just like JOHN TERRY cause a lot of problem for england in this world cup and there is no replacement for him, so england should try and come up with youth players and some matured player so that the team will be strong enough

  • http://www.myspace.com/svenalike Svenalike

    We didn’t manage to win a trophy but the Sven/Becks years were absolutely brilliant in every other respect compared with 2000 and what has been seen since???? Many talk about the “facts” of England’s history while ignoring a brief era when success looked more than possible with Eriksson as coach?
    The biggest fact of all is that some in the media continue with the nonsense that it was Sven who “held back” England’s “golden generation”. It’s strange that they are so stupid they can’t connect with the fact that some of them labeled these players as “mediocre” and England always failed dismally before (and since) Sven. It isn’t rocket science to connect the addition of the “Eriksson factor” with a team of pretty ordinary players coming to look like a “golden generation”?????
    Last night I was stupidly consoled with the thought that someone with a clear memory and some small actual knowledge would make a comparison with the last time England got knocked out of a world cup. Rooney sent off early and ten men battling valiantly for the coach they loved and their team mates for an hour and holding the opposition to a draw at full time only to be really unlucky (and totally, absolutely exhausted after working so hard!) in the penalty shoot out. Not a mention of that or the other moments of glory that Sven inspired in what the international media called “a mediocre team” after Euro2000 and that only Sven made look like a “golden generation”, or the absolute FACT that Sven was the only coach in decades to make England even look like we had a chance and actually go to the wire in three international tournaments.., or a comparison with the virtually the same team that shone under Sven failed to qualify for Euro’08 and looked lead footed, unmotivated and totally disheartened before they even kicked the first ball in this tournament under Capello!
    England only lost 5 competitive games under Eriksson so why do some continue to rate this as “failure” when compared with the previous and current dismal performances?
    There is even an England fans “bring back Sven” movement to add to that of Man City and the Ivory Coast captain is gutted at losing him after he worked “miracles” in the short time he was with them. Sven would obviously be totally mad to even consider taking on the job of England coach again after the way he was (is?) treated and with so many other nations and top clubs seeking his talents….
    As for Capello’s future…..????

  • dexylongshot

    I think Capello was doing a very good job up until Spring, we were looking better with every game and sailed through qualifieing. Then something went on behind the scenes and the squad lost something. Joe Cole said there was some serious issues going on behind the scenes. I think the John Terry shag factor has a lot to do with it. We haven’t looked the same since that came revelation came about and it must still wrangle with some members of the squad. The supposed harmony of the team that was looking good 6 months ago has been well and truly destroyed and think JT’s arogance has a lot to do with it. I’m sure it will come out in the next few weeks, (along with some Stevie G private life revelations). Watch this space.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    you say that but he was still playing Gerrard & Barry out of position. Barry is not a holding midfielder, Gerrard is not a left winger.

    The only time we came up against decent opposition we got beat without scoring a goal too. Spain, France & Brazil. It was the sign of things to come I’m afraid

    This whole tournament stunk of Sven & McClown. Bottlers who were shit scared to drop the so called stars

    Joke and the debate gets more boring after every tournament

  • Mike

    Capello press conference, he says all the English players were tired?

    Joe Cole had hardly played for Chelsea, as for Peter Crouch for Spurs, yet neither started a game.

    Sorry Capello, but your time is up.

  • Mike

    Keep Capello. He’ll learn.

    Waste of a good manager if we sack him

  • Mike B

    I disagree, he doesnt know what it’s like to be English, would you ever see an Englishmen managing an Italian, Spanish or German side? Never!

    To say the main reason why we lost is that our players are tired stinks of desperation. Both Messi & Tevez seem to be doing ok!

  • http://dexysden.com Bill

    Mike B-

    For ℑ5 million a year I bet plenty of Englishmen would be happy to manage any national team!

  • Mick Robinson

    Beckham and Rio getting injured – Too leaders gone
    Wrong players in squad – Heskey, SWP, Lennon
    Players missing from squad – Wingers who can cross a ball – Downing, Johnson.
    Starting with Milner – Too much pressure on him
    Percerveering with Rooney even though he clearly wasnt in form
    No plan B (not much of a plan A either!)
    No settled keeper
    Too many easy friendly/qualifying games.

    And now the FA cant afford to sack him, if Capello had any decency he would resign if the FA had a vote of no confidence in him. He wont resign cos he wants his £10m. Greedy bastard.

    Only positives, Milner made his debut, Dawson got to go to a World Cup (bet he wish he had gone to Florida with his missus and kids instead).

    I really believe we have enough good players, we just dont know how to play as a team.

  • Mick Robinson

    Beckham and Rio getting injured – Too leaders gone
    Wrong players in squad – Heskey, SWP, Lennon
    Players missing from squad – Wingers who can cross a ball – Downing, Johnson.
    Starting with Milner – Too much pressure on him
    Percerveering with Rooney even though he clearly wasnt in form
    No plan B (not much of a plan A either!)
    No settled keeper
    Too many easy friendly/qualifying games.

    And now the FA cant afford to sack him, if Capello had any decency he would resign if the FA had a vote of no confidence in him. He wont resign cos he wants his £10m.

    Only positives, Milner made his debut, Dawson got to go to a World Cup (bet he wish he had gone to Florida with his missus and kids instead).

    I really believe we have enough good players, we just dont know how to play as a team.

  • Conor

    The excuse of the players being tired is pathetic. Tevez and kuyt have both played just as much in the premiership as some of our stars such as Gerrard and Lampard. The team lacked in pace and could of used Walcott well. He could definitely made a big impact coming on from the bench to get late goals and help keep the team going forward quick on the counter attack.

  • dexylongshot

    Hindsight is a great leveller.

    As I said, watch this space, Capello hands have been tied, trust me.

  • Dave

    The idiot’s at the F.A. are fucking up our national game by doing nothing to improve the state of grassroots football.

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