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Where did England go wrong?
FIFA World Cup
Member Name: Mauri
FIFA World Cup
Advantages: Some good players
Disadvantages: Youth system not producing at top level and too much hype surrounding the team
The world cup is almost over and on the whole it has been an exciting tournament with some great performances by many of the teams. I support Italy and Iím delighted theyíve got to the final. I always thought they had a good squad with a few world-class players but I didnít think we had the beating of Argentina who impressed me the most in the competition. However the world cup is a tournament and anything can happen in the knock out stages. Argentina failed tactically against Germany and Italy took advantage by playing a great game in the Semiís, a real team performance.
But now let me turn to EnglandÖ Once again the England fans (although I support Italy I do follow England having lived here so many years) have been let down by the players, the managers and the media. The hype that surrounded the team before the world cup did nobody any favours. England were not potential world-beaters this time around and while they had a descent enough first eleven the squad overall was weak.
So many times before the competition I heard that England had the best player in the world Rooney, the best midfield and the best defence and that they were amongst the favourites to win. Lets get a reality check for a secondÖ
Rooney is a good player, but he was coming back from injury. Is he the best attacking player in the world? Well on the evidence of the last month Iíd have to say that Messi, Teves, Torres, Klose would all be challenging for that title. Now lets look at the midfield Gerrard is a fine midfielder who can score goals, so is Lampard although I think he is overrated at this level, Beckham is past his best and Joe Cole is an exciting player to watch but he often squanders possession, the biggest problem all these player have is that they canít keep the ball and this inability puts pressure on their own defence. The midfield is also out of balance Iím not convinced that Lampard and Gerrard can play effectively together and Sven shouldíve dropped Lampard in favour for one of the younger squad players.
In defence Cole, Terry, Ferdinand and Neville are a good solid unit but they had a nightmare against Sweden and Robinson in goal might be Premiership class but is not world class on the bench James we all know about and no disrespect to him but who is Scott Carson?
I heard Shearer on the TV last night still putting forward the opinion that England was unlucky to have been knocked out when they did blaming a combination of Sven, Christian Ronaldo and the ĎArgieí ref for the collective failure. This might be a case of heart over head on Shearerís part. He also went on to say that none of the last four teams had impressed and that not many of the players from those teams would get into the English squadÖExcuse me what world cup has he been watching!?
Are we seriously saying that Cannavaro, Nesta, and Buffon from Italy and Thuram or Viera from France or Podolski from Germany or Ronaldo from Potugal would not get in to the English squad?
Are we saying that Crouch would be first choice over Klose, Henry, Toni, Gilardino, let alone some of the other strikers that have been knocked out in earlier stages?
Are we saying that Ballack, Pirlo, Gattuso, Makelele, Deco Zidane (of the last few games) wouldnít be in contention for a place in the English midfield.
Are Neville or Cole really better than Zambrotta, Lahm, Sagnol, and Grosso?
An what about Lehmann and Khan compared to Robinson and James?
Iím not trying to knock English players I think we do have some great individuals but the best squad in the competition? Not by a long way.
Failing to see these deficiencies in the talent we have available does the English cause no favours and putting all the blame on Sven or the refs doesnít make it any easier to challenge for the next cup. This time around with the players available, I think England was a QF team and they reached that stage without having to play well because they had a very fortunate draw. Would England have got through the group stage if they were in with Netherlands, Ivory Coast and Serbia or Ghana, USA and Czech Rep? On the performances Iíve seen Iím not so sure.
The most obvious failing that England showed was a complete inability to retain possession, which made them struggle to win matches they should have strolled through. This made Paraguay, Trinidad & Tob.and Ecuador look like world-beaters instead of the very ordinary team that they were. Does this mean that the English canít passÖoff course they can but they arenít comfortable doing it, the Premiership game doesnít encourage this and our young players especially are deficient in this area.
Graham Taylor (hardly a distinguished ex England manager himself I know) did make one good point, when he observed that the up and coming English U21 talent is all from the lower divisions rather than the Premiership because of the number of foreign players at the top level. This is fair comment and the future for England past Euro 2008 doesnít look so good. As a country you ignore your youth at your peril, itís no coincidence that Italy have won the U21 European championships regularly over the last few years and that some of those U21, Gilardino, De Rossi, Pirlo, Barzagli, Zaccardo, Amelia are now fixtures in the squad that has taken us to the final.
Will things improve for England? With McClaren Iím not so sure. He had a hand in the Sven years and Iím not convinced by his managerial skills at club level. Middlesbrough have spent a huge amount of money (the fifth highest in the Premiership) on players and apart from some limited cup success their league standing has been worsening year on year.
Iím not so sure what any manager can do. There are some very high profile players that have reached the end of their sell by date but will need a strong hand to push them out. The best thing a new manager can do is to invest in youth, aim for the Euro 2008 as a Ďtry outí for good young talent, if they donít win it doesnít matter as long as the team gets the experience it needs and then see what happens in 2010. As fans we also have to play a part in not hyping the chances of the team and not feeling too despondent when a young side, which is being built for the future has some bad results.
Will this be enough?ÖIím not sure, we canít hope to address the real problem in the short term namely the nature of the typical English game that is at odds with what is needed to win major tournaments.
Our club football maybe thriving once again but it is worrying that the most successful English team in Europe this year had few if any English players on the pitch.
Summary: Not all bad but changes are needed