Sunday, July 04, 2010

Observations on England in the World Cup

OK, it was rubbish. But, do I really, really care? I don't. And that has to be wrong. Here are a few thoughts on popular theories about the wretched performance.

The manager
I don't agree with any country having a foreign manager. The World Cup should be about the best that country can come up with against everyone else. That said, I don't particularly blame Fabio Capello. He made some selection mistakes: Why no Paul Robinson? Why pick Shaun Wright-Phillips and not the man keeping him out of the City team, Adam Johnson? He has had success doing what he does, but it didn't work here. Now, why is that? The players he chose to play didn't do as he wanted.

The players
A set of ocean going, grade A assholes. Failed in every regard. Every single one of them. Spoilt, stubborn, lacking in intelligence. The worst thing is they genuinely believe they are playing in the best league in the world for, so it goes, the best teams in the world.

The media
I don't take much notice of the tabloids, but I sensed this time they were supportive but not hysterical. The problem, to take Match of the Day as an example, is that this uncritical nonsense about the Premier League feeds the myth. David Hepworth makes a very good point about it on his blog How the BBC can start saving English football. Today.

The style of play is not suited to World Cup success
Germany and Holland. Fast, high impact, competent. Semi-finals. Enough said.

Grass roots football
Pundits and journalists berate the system. They talk about how kids are coached as if they know. I've been on a FA Coaching course and am fairly immersed in kids football. All the messages from the centre are about passing, loving the ball, movement, reading the game. But does it work? Only to a point. There has been a quiet revolution in football development, but success is measured in trophies at tournaments and not numbers of completed passes. I've seen small kids play a passing game, but the teams that win the leagues do so with power and pace. I don't know what happens once the best kids get whisked off to academies and play for professional clubs. But I keep hearing great things about the Under 17s, maybe we should just play them.

The fans
Wasn't it refreshing to see England fans behaving themselves at a major tournament? They seemed much more like cricket and rugby fans on tour - middle aged and well fed - than what we'd been used to. I just hope they don't bring those vuvuzelas home with them.

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