Toothless Lions coming home early..

Pampered lions have no fight..

I said before the World Cup commenced that I couldn’t get in to watching England like I do with Forest.  If one ever needed justification for it, the group of individuals (note the lack of using the word ‘team’) provided it with another abject showing, and a deserved trouncing at the hands of Germany.

It’s true that the refereeing team made an utter howler in denying England an equaliser when Lampards shot clearly crossed the line, it’s also true that Lampard later when on to hit the bar from a freekick that could have made it oh-so-different, but well, these things didn’t happen – and ultimately Germany profited from two frankly awful performances in defence from Matthew Upson and John Terry.

And that’s what pissed me off most – not to take anything away from Germany, they weren’t that good – but we seemed to make it so easy for them to break and hit us on the counter-attack with some awful positional play from our defenders, and a complete absence of covering.  I really hope that nobody turns up to see them return from South Africa, that they arrive to an abandoned terminal with a few photographers.

Watching Argentina vs Mexico as I type, I am reasonably sure that either of these sides would make mincemeat out of us in the next round anyway – indeed, I think the Germans might struggle against them too.  They too looked ropey in defence when pressed (not that it happened much), and will meet a more solid defence against either of the South American countries (Argentina 2-0 up as I write).

Arguments about goal-line technology (which I think should exist, indeed, all events should be subject to video replays – possibly incorporating a tennis style appeal system) are rendered fairly pointless by what followed, and opens up the massive can of worms that is the state of English football and what needs to be put right if we want to be competitive – rather than just announcing we are contenders and hoping for the best.

That Rooney couldn’t understand why fans were booing after the Algeria game sums it all up for me – these players are so many million miles away from reality that they can’t comprehend what an honour playing for England should be to them.  And I can’t really find myself supporting them in these circumstances, it’s going to be an over-used phrase I feel but really they are such primadonnas it’s untrue.

As for Capello, when the chips were down and we needed goals, he chucked on Heskey and Wright-Phillips – two of the most ineffective players we’re seen in previous games, two players who shouldn’t have been in South Africa – basically, what the fuck?  Why not chuck on Crouch whose goals went some way to getting us in to the World Cup?  Why persist with a clearly unfit Rooney?  Why Upson and Carragher over Dawson?  Just why?

Five million quid a year for that – awful decisions, no cohesion in his squad, bust-ups with the players and numerous bruises for poor Psycho who had to ensure a series of elbows from him when he was getting worked up.  Five million pounds.  And he’s signed a new contract.  Why the fuck are we paying someone that much to manage the national team?

Our national game requires a dramatic overhaul, from top to bottom, if we are to ever ascend to the levels that our media like to tell us we might just reach one day.  Starting at the fusty jobs-for-the-boys FA, and that, my friends, is why such things will never happen and we will continue to spiral into this malaise of perceived under-achievement in international tournaments.

For what it’s worth, I for one wish Germany well in the tournament – a young side who do play as a team – as I said above, not that good just yet despite our efforts to make them look so, but I feel more affinity for them than their likely next opponents.  As for our self-styled Golden Generation, what to do with them?  Well, there’s a plethora of ‘Cash for Gold’ retailers at the moment – let’s cash the useless bastards in and start again!

Sepp Blatter can piss off as well while we’re at it – whilst it might not have made any ultimate difference, you have to say we’d have had a better chance at 2-2 in that game!

Capello, here is the answer to your dilemma..

Stand down from your team talk duties and get a certain somebody to fill in…

…. oh, and please dear God put Joe Cole on in place of Wright-Phillips, don’t play Carragher any more, get Heskey off the pitch and give Rooney an almighty kick up the arse.


Cowardly lions really must win, now!

Cowardly lions need to stop moaning, and start playing

England’s start to the World Cup continues to falter. With all due respect to Algeria, we should be looking to beat them – and we didn’t, we didn’t even score – and didn’t really deserve to, to be honest. Another very frustratingly disjointed and unproductive performance, and tantrums from the ‘great English hope’ Rooney after the fans showed their disapproval.

Not too good is it?  I know a few people who flew out for the game, for a very fleeting visit to South Africa.  It cost them a lot of money, and whilst any football fan knows there’s no guarantee of a result no matter what lengths you go to to follow them, they do have a right to see something a little more effective than that was from the supposed cream of the crop for English football.

Of course, that can all be forgotten if England can beat Slovenia on Wednesday.  Beating them would leave us with five points, meaning we’d be above Slovenia who’d be on four, and of course above Algeria who can only achieve a maximum of four points should they beat the USA.  So we’d be through to the knock-out stage of the tournament.  If we win and better USA’s scoreline against Algeria then we top the group.

So all’s not lost, and really there’s no need for Shrek to be throwing his toys out the pram – I can understand his frustration though, he’s a passionate player and it must be galling for him too.  At least I hope it is, you can never be too sure – these lads have been so far removed from any tangible reality that the likes of us understand you can never be too sure.

Capello has a few things to consider – I think Carragher is now suspended which sorts out the first problem.  My god he’s awful, he’s had a bad season in a club that has struggled (by its’ own standards).  James didn’t have too much to do, but that he did he did well I thought – so a good call for nets.  Midfield is the problem, neither Gerrard nor Lampard recreate their talismanic domestic form in an England shirt, and Wright-Phillips is – frankly – bloody awful.

Up front Rooney is – despite struggling to get involved in games – a must pick for me, but this flimsy suggestion that Heskey + Rooney = Goals is clearly a fallacy.  I admire Heskey’s willingness, his workrate – he was integral to the one goal we have scored in the tournament, but well, all that doesn’t make up for what he lacks.  I think Crouch can cause as many problems as him and more, and is more likely to score – I’d like to see him more involved than being a late sub.

These of course are dilemmas for the gaffer – also, in a side with wingers who struggle for end product (Wright-Phillips and Lennon, plus the wingers-that-aren’t-really-wingers like Gerrard), and nobody with a right foot – why on Earth he hasn’t given Joe Cole a run I’ll never know.  He’s right-footed, but plays often on the left – and has a great understanding already with our left back.  It’s a no-brainer isn’t it?

Maybe not – either way, naturally I’ll be tuning in at 3pm on Wednesday for our clash with Slovenia and hope that things can click enough to at least get the win we need to get in to the next stage of the tournament.  Whether Fabio is thinking along similar lines to me or not doesn’t matter – I’d be more than happy for a scrappy 1-0 thanks to an excellent Wright-Phillips cross bouncing in from Heskey’s arse!

What will you remember most about South Africa 2010?

The third day of the World Cup isn’t yet over, but I can probably conclusively answer, it’ll be the constant drone of these badboys.

Particularly during ITV’s coverage the noise like a million swarms of angry wasps is really rather prevalent.  The Vuvuzela has probably been cause of as many headlines as any on-the-pitch action, originally a tin instrument in Mexico it was popularised in plastic form in South Africa in the 1990s.  So whilst they annoy me intensely, I do have some grudging acceptance that they’re part and parcel of our hosts way of watching the game.

Many broadcasters tried to get them banned for the World Cup due to making it difficult to hear their commentators (a blessing, if you’re watching ITV coverage I suppose!), but without success.  The authorities have only expressed an interest in banning them if they find themselves on the playing surface – meanwhile players have to tolerate them not only during the games, but in to the night when partying fans continue with the soundtrack to this tournament.

It does make a nice difference to the usual discussion point during every international tournament I can remember – and that’s usually some controversy surrounding the design of the football being used for the games.  Whilst I can just about tolerate feeling like a tinnitus sufferer during the World Cup, I really do hope that none of these accursed instruments make their way to the City Ground next season!

With a bit of luck the football will start doing the talking more and more – the Germans have just put in an impressive first half against Australia, which is a relief for me as it seems to me so far that every match I’ve managed to see has been dull as hell!

Green fingers?

I must admit that the discussions around our gathering before England took on USA were largely centred around the goalkeeping selection.  Our straw poll seemed to favour David James as the best option, with Joe Hart second and Robert Green – who’s had a not particularly impressive season with West Ham – a fairly distant third.

But still, Mr Capello knows his onions, we reasoned – and well, were soon distracted from an excellent start from England where the oft-maligned Emile Heskey teed up captain Gerrard to finish with aplomb to give the Three Lions an early lead.  Maybe too early, maybe we relaxed – certainly the fatal shot wasn’t the first hopeful pot-shot from range by the Americans.

That said, a draw probably isn’t such a bad result – having suffered Algeria and Slovenia fight out a spectacularly dull game in which the Slovenians managed to profit from another goalkeeping blunder to give them a first every win in a major tournament.  That puts them top of the group, and frankly, if England can’t register points against either of these two teams, then there’s something fairly seriously wrong.

Certainly Green will need the support of his colleagues, who’ve all said the right things after the game.  Let’s face it, all players make arse-ups of things – unfortunately for the goalkeepers, their cock-ups generally end up as goals.  Whether the mistake is sufficient for Capello to replace his ‘keeper remains to be seen- but certainly the start of our World Cup hasn’t exactly gone according to plan.

Of course – perhaps a brief reminder that we’re not invincible might be welcome.  Robert Green’s mistake doesn’t excuse the distinct lack of decent chances we created in the game, it doesn’t make up for the lack of ideas – it doesn’t hide the fact that we really need to see more from Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard as key senior players.  Perhaps this could provide the wake-up call they needed.

Oh, and aren’t those vuvuzela horns the singularly most irritating contraptions we’ve seen in a while?  I really hope that we don’t see them starting to infiltrate our own league games!