Same old story.

Once again England leave the World Cup all to early, but quite frankly, we deserved to. The performance against Germany was abysmal, barring a little ten minute spell in the first half, where we scored twice. One counted, one didn’t.

There’s no way we can use the Frank Lampard ‘goal’ as an excuse. The fact is, we weren’t good enough. Nowhere near good enough. We didn’t play as a team. We didn’t defend well enough and for all the possession we had, we didn’t attack well enough either.  The lack of defensive solidity was actually quite staggering. Our centre backs got pulled out of position all too often, which left huge gaping holes for the Germans to exploit. I’m not just blaming the centre backs though.  The midfield didn’t give the back four anywhere near enough protection. Ozil dropped into the spaces between the lines at will, giving the centre backs the dilemma of whether to go and close the ball down and leave space in behind, or back off and let Ozil have the time to pick out a pass. We didn’t press the ball well enough either. I noticed quite a few times, that one player would go and close down the player with the ball on his own. This doesn’t work if your team mates don’t shut down his passing options. It just left the player out of position as they passed it round him all to easily.

Germany on the other hand, played as a team. When we had possession they sat behind the ball and kept their shape. We weren’t good enough to break them down. We didn’t move the ball fast enough. Our players were too static. It’s hard to break teams down when you don’t give the player in possession an option for a pass.  How many times did we actually get in behind their defence? We didn’t play with nearly enough width.  Milner gave us width at times down the right, but I can’t remember us getting too many crosses in during the 90 minutes. I was very surprised we didn’t take Adam Johnson to the tournament. The lack of a left-sided wide player really hurt us in my opinion.

From pretty much start to finish, we were out played. The Germans knew how we were going to play and planned for it. They made good decisions. They counter attacked us with pace and width. Time and time again they had a man over on the break. I actually think they should have won by a bigger margin. They had a better game plan, they were more organised. They were a team. I can’t say that about England.

It’s not for me to say where we go from here and if it was, I wouldn’t have a clue. We have good players, of course we do, but how many great players do we have? In my opinion, none. If you were to pick a World XI, how many of this England team would be in it? Maybe Ashley Cole at a push. Other than him, I don’t think anyone else would make it. Lack of great players however, is not the biggest problem. We’re not a team. We’re not on the same page a lot of the time. We need a find a way to gel these players together, or we need fresh blood. I don’t know if Capello is the man to do that, but if he does go, can we find anyone better? I’m really not sure.

All that being said, what it really comes down to is this… They wanted it more on the day. That’s the most disappointing thing.


The Old Enemy!

Warning: This post is about the World Cup. If you don’t give a shit about it, I wouldn’t bother reading on. 😉

So here we go again. Come Sunday afternoon, most people up and down the country will be glued to their screens to watch England take on the old enemy… Germany. Who else is excited? I know I am!

This World Cup has been full of surprises up to now. None more surprising than the performance of Italy, the World Champions of four years ago, who are on their way home after finishing bottom of a group that included those well known footballing giants; New Zealand and Slovakia. I know they were missing a few players; Their talismanic goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and midfield playmaker Andrea Pirlo to name two, but I would have thought they would still have had more than enough quality to qualify for the last 16. As for the French… Well… I’m sorry, I don’t think I can write much about their 2010 World Cup campaign without pissing myself laughing. Needless to say they didn’t make it through their group either. Spain and Germany also suffered surprising 1-0 defeats to Switzerland and Serbia respectively. This is just part of the reason I love football; You just never ever know what’s going to happen.

Now, moving on to England’s campaign. I think everyone will agree with me that it’s been far from impressive to date, but the England players are all good players. They play in the best league in the world (Apart from League One obviously, as any league that contains Brentford is clearly the best!) week in week out. Our manger is one of the best around, although you may not have thought that if you’ve picked up a newspaper in the last couple of weeks. He’s had to endure endless criticism. His squad selection was wrong. His treatment of the players is wrong. His tactics are wrong. Fabio Capello knows what he’s doing. If he didn’t know what he was doing there’s no way he would been as successful as he has managing some of Europe’s elite club sides. He’s won more or less everything he could have with the clubs he’s been at during a long and distinguished managerial career. People have forgotten all too quickly that we qualified for this World Cup comfortably. The same players. The same tactics. No one was complaining about his management style then were they? I saw Terry Butcher on the television (I really wish I hadn’t) after the Algeria game slating Mr Capello’s tactics. This from a man who very nearly dragged my beloved Brentford kicking and screaming out of the football league and into the conference a couple of seasons ago. Before the Slovenia game people were desperate to see Rooney up front on his own with Gerrard behind. I won’t lie, I was pretty keen on that too. I felt it would give the side more balance, providing that he also selected Joe Cole to play down the left. Did he listen to any of it? No he didn’t. He brought in Jermain Defoe up front alongside Rooney and James Milner on the right side of midfield. What happened? Milner put in a great cross for Defoe to score the goal that took us through. That’s what I like about Capello. He has confidence in his own decisions. Right or wrong, he chooses what he thinks is best and sticks to it.

Fabio Capello

The fact is though, it doesn’t matter how we did it. It doesn’t matter that we failed to beat the USA or Algeria. None of that matters. In the last game against Slovenia we got the result we needed to get out of the group. It wasn’t enough to win us the group, but sod that. All that matters is we did make it out of our group and into the lottery of the knock-out stages. Everything that’s gone before should be thrown out of the window. It’s in the past, and now we can all look forward to our clash with Germany.

There’s no doubt about it, Germany are a good team. They always are. They’re strong, well organised and excellent in possession. Major tournaments always seem to bring out the best in them. Do they have better players than we do? I don’t think so. We’re more than capable of beating them. One game.  That’s all it is. 11 v 11. Yes, it’s Germany. Yes, they’re a good side. Yes, it’s the last 16 of the World Cup. Everyone knows we don’t like each other, but it’s all about who can perform better on the day. Who can keep a clear head under pressure. Tactics will play their part, of course they will, but anything can happen in one game of football. A red card, a penalty, a last ditch goal line clearance. In the end, it comes down to which team wants it more. I hope against hope… It’s England.

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