For Abject England, Expect More of the Same

 England's Fabio Capello looks on dejected..FIFA World Cup 2010 Group C..England v USA..12th June, 2010.

England fans have traditionally been guilty of the sin of not really looking.  Reading the English press, there seems a general sense of shock about how their team performed in their first game yesterday.  But to a neutral observer, the result, and England’s sorry, tired performance, was not really all that much of a surprise.  And while they are still a smart bet to get out of this group, it is hard to imagine an English team with so many obvious deficits advancing very far in this tournament.

Those deficits were visible during England’s disjointed freindlies since they qualified for the World Cup out of the easiest qualifying bracket.  Those deficits were on display during a wholly undeserved victory over Mexico at Wembley last month and even less deserved victory over Japan after that, let alone the preposterously close game against a lower South African club team last week.  Those deficits were on display as Fabio Capello struggled to appoint a captain who was both mentally stable and physically fit.

Many of those deficits were on full display in their first game against the US.

England has a highly fragile back line.  The fact that a continually injured past-his-prime player like Rio Ferdinand needed to be replaced by the even more injured Ledley King who in turn needed to be subbed by someone who had “retired” from the team like Jamie Carragher says all you need about how thin the central defensive talent is in England.  That fragility kept Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson from venturing too far forward for much of the game, which meant that the midfield partnership needed to work perfectly.  Unfortunately…

After spending the better part of a decade trying to make it work, Steven Gerard and Frank Lampard are still a lousy mid-field team.  Other than his opening goal – which was served on a silver platter from some lousy US defending – it seemed like the next time we heard from Steven Gerrard was when he smartly talked himself into a yellow card in the second half.  No matter how many coaches employ it, Gerrard and Lampard are not in synch with each other.  This pairing is so poor that Capello is trying everything he can to rush a questionable Gareth Berry back onto the pitch for England’s next game and move Gerrard farther out.  Although Gerrard does not have the pace necessary to be a great winger, anything would be better than what they currently have, because….

Milner and Lennon were woeful.  In Milner’s defense, it is no easy task to take on a great international superstar like Steve Cherundolo (all sarcasm aside, Cherundolo had a good game), but when Capello subbed Milner out after 30 minutes, it was because Milner could only stop Cherundolo by sticking out a foot as he ran by.  Milner was so poor that it obscured the fact that both Lennon and later Wright-Philips struggled so mightily to do what wingers are supposed to do – take the ball down the side and send it into the middle.  Both English wings were having trouble keeping possession and their crossing almost never hit a target.

Which meant that Rooney and Heskey had to ply their trade outside the box.  Simple question for the England fans – why is Wayne Rooney so much better with a Red Devil over his heart as opposed to those Three Lions.  Simple answer – because at Manchester, Rooney can stay closer to goal and let those exceptional wingers and strike partners find him.  Without those guys, Rooney has to venture out, pick up the ball 25 yards away and try to create something out of nothing.  Rooney is a great player, but the English passing game is a giant step-down from what he is used to and it is tough to compensate.  As for Heskey, he had a solid enough game to confirm his status as the greatest striker who never scores.  Admirable, but it won’t help England to win much.

Finally, in goal, oomph.  Robert Green is not Capello’s first choice keeper.  Neither is David James.  Nor Joe Hart.  Unfortunately, that is all he has got.  Putting aside Green’s howler, about which enough ink has been spilled, Capello still has the same basic choice to make – should he go with a middling keeper from a poor team (Green or James) or a very young keeper who has little experience at this level  of play (Hart).  Those are some bad options, and they will not get better anytime soon.  I don’t expect any English keeper to serve any more gifted goals up to their opponents during these games, but I also do not expect any of them to single-handedly prevent good teams from scoring.

None of these issues are new.  All of them have been obvious for months.  When Fabio Capello managed Real Madrid, Juventus, or AC Milan, he was always a quiet, stern figure on the sidelines.  In England’s game against the US, Capello looked a little un-hinged – yelling, remonstrating, and stomping the sidelines like an angry bear.  It is not a surprise – in order for England to meet the wildly over-sold expectations of their fans, he needs this team to be much better than it actually is.  Unfortunately for Capello, he has to play the cards he has been dealt, and the fans that are expecting greatness despite the fact he is holding nothing better than a low pair.

27 thoughts on “For Abject England, Expect More of the Same”

  1. I think your being too hard on the English wings (other than Milner). Yes they blew some chances but niether rooney nor heskey is a notable header of the ball. they sent some dangerous balls into the box but the english runs from midfield were lacking. they werent staggered. so when lennon or glen johnson would put a ball into the box at the six or on the penalty every england player was ahead of the ball. Where were the guys lurking at the back of the box who would have had the goal at their mercy? I think with Crouch in the game longer England might have produced on the crosses. He had some relatively free headers while he was in.

  2. If you only have a low pair and you need to win the hand, then you play Hart. You have to play Hart to have any chance of going deep. His inexperience might burn you but at least you have a chance.

  3. I agree TGP. Either I was watching a different game to andy Townsend et al -or their expectations of Heskey are now so low that a reasonable pass or a solid header counts as excellent play. I thought the sole reason Heskey was there was because it allowed Rooney to ‘flourish’ – apparently.
    What actually happened was that the USA defence didn’t see much danger in Heskey and so were able to mark Rooney out of the game. With two threatening strikers there the game would have been different. How many times did a cross come across the six yard box and there was no-one there able to head it??
    I wouldn’t for one minute blame Green – if the rest of the team had done their job – they would have won comfortably and the howler would have just been a mild irritaion
    I also think the team look tired,strained and are clearly not enjoying their football – no-wonder they can’t play with freedom. When are the FA going to realise that we need to play the English way – for all its faults and not have some continental system imposed on us? Why are we playing them at their own game? Could you have ever seen Capello organising the ‘Take One for the Lads” shoot out that the Argentinians had this week? They need to go and play without fear and with freedom and fun – without some banshee yelling at them even when they celebrate a goal. It must be hell in that training camp – did you see any player even smile last night except in embarrassment??

  4. I agree with the post. We are simply crap. Nothing more too it.

    We have one world class player and that is Rooney. And unfortunetly the boy cannot do everything.

    Green is fully to blame in a sense ‘catch the ball, mate’. Yes if Ingerland done a proper job we would have been alright but the fact the team are crap means we cannot mess a simple catch.

    Gerrard may have scored but he also let Dempsey get the shot away!

    To hell with showing anymore excitement in supporting these muppets. Who cares if we progress from the group. We won’t get any further.

  5. I love this. Leading up to this for 188 days, England fans say how they will “comfortably” win, “outclass” the US, “destroy” the US even and “handle” the US. A uninspired draw later, and it’s all doom and gloom. You English fans truly are living up to your reputation. Hot & cold, it’s not good for your health man.

    Why couldn’t the lead up to this game have been more civil? Say we “hope” to win, “will give it our all”, “try hard”? You set yourself up to fail, and it puts the entire country in disbelief.

  6. You are being way too hard on England. The only reason there was a draw is because of Green’s mistake. I think Joe Hart should be given the starting job– and an “un-proven” goalkeeper is never going to be “proven” if he doesn’t start!

    1. No, that was one of the reasons. They are good enough to score more than one goal and had over 45 minutes to do so. The amount of trouble you English fans said the US was in didn’t seem that evident. At the end of the day the game was pretty well-balanced both statistically and to the eye on the pitch.

  7. Another crap article trying to provoke a reaction. The bottom line is the U.S were lucky to win so you can say what you want, however far we go it will be further than the U.S.

    1. What am I writing ‘win’. I mean lucky to draw. It must be all this talk from the U.S fans that must have made me think for a second that they had actually won the game.

      Like I’ve said in a previous post, You drew the first game in the last world cup and how far did that take you. I’d be careful if I were you lot all this back slapping might just come back to hurt you when you leave South Africa in 2 games time with your tail between your legs

      1. You drew the first game in the last world cup and how far did that take you.

        You know, it really isn’t that difficult to look this stuff up. We lost our first game in ’06 to the Czech Republic, badly. We drew Italy in the second game, and lost to Ghana in the third. With all due respect, our next two opponents aren’t Italy and Ghana.

  8. Last night’s game showcased two poor teams playing kick and rush,and who will both be eliminated as soon as they play a decent team. England are going backwards, no doubt about it. Tired, lacking in ideas and any sign of quality. No wonder Capello was losing it. His reputation is going to take a major hit before this tournament is over. But the USA were no better. Sure, a draw might be looked at as a good result. But Howard aside, Donovan and the others were as anonymous as Lampard and Rooney on the other side.

    1. Make no mistake, England has the players. These players play for the top teams in the world and do well within those teams. It’s up to Capello to come up with the formation and the tactics to get the best out of them. That’s why the guy gets paid a stupid amount of money. If England fail it will be because he has failed with his tactics and formation to get the best out of group of players that should do very well

      1. Last I checked the best players from England play in the Premiere league, the Best players in the Premiere league are foreign and the best players in the world play in Spain (and aren’t English) 😉

        Enough with the delusional thoughts of England being the greatest football country in the world. You created the game, you have the most popular league because there is more parity than other european leagues. Other countries are better… get over it. You don’t have the players. Sorry!

        1. This Poker dude is the epitome of disillusional. He can’t help it and he’s exactly why the English fans and media set their team up to fail.

  9. This is both a wind up and classic yank reaction.

    We have the top players in the top league in the world and if not for Green we would have won 3-0 or 4-0.

    Eric A., Kartik K. and all these other Yanks should never be taken seriously in judging our three lions. They do not know or understand football, calling the sport soccer and yesterday result a “tie,” which is something Fabio Capello and Sven wore, not the result of a match.

    Gaffer, please stop all the Yanks from being allowed to write or talk about England. Let them stick to their own sports including Yank “soccer.”

    Thanks for getting us into Iraq and Afghanistan. The families of the dead Englishmen were more motivated than anybody at home yesterday to see your stinking war mongering country go down.

    1. “We have the top players in the top league in the world and if not for Green we would have won 3-0 or 4-0.”

      [sarcasm] Yeah if Robert Green hadn’t been clogging the midfield and pushing Rooney deeper and deeper England would have won 3-0 or 4-0. [/sarcasm]

      As for the rest of the jingoistic post, I’ll just point out that the word soccer was coined by Charles Brown of Oxford to delineate Association Football from Rugby Football.

      Go back to reading The Sun

    2. Three Lions – go have a lay down fella, like it or not, Eric actually makes sense. If you don’t see that then you’re delusional. Also, try to show a little bit of class by avoiding off-base comments by speculating on the thoughts of grieving family members. You simply have NO idea.

  10. @Three Lions, what the …. are you going on about mate. Shut up.

    If you can’t see for yourself how shit Ingerland are you must be blind.

    Green made a mistake, yes. But the 10 players in front of him done nothing to win the game. Nor did Capello improve anything to change it.

    Ingerland are shit-as.

    1. Bunch of F**king idiots on this site and I doubt I’ll be coming back to it. I hope your team goes out so you can forget about the game and go back to your own shit sports.
      The world of football has never needed you and certainly does not need you now.

      Come on Slovenia, It’s England and you in the knockout stages.

      1. Dude, relax.

        This is just a game. England and USA have too much common history and sacrifice for us to get that worked up. And to the USA fans, please stop gloating. It’s a game…

        With that said, good luck to England moving forward. As a Yank, I wish you guys all the best in the next two games.

        And to the USA team – great job yesterday. You guys played with heart and determination. That is all I can ask for.

    2. “the 10 players in front of him done nothing to win the game”

      What are you talking about? England had plenty of chances to win the game. The problem was a lack of finishing: Lennon should have scored in the first half instead of trying to cross it when he got into the box. Heskey should have scored his one-on-one, but no surprise there. Wright-Phillips put the ball down Howard’s throat when he really should have scored. Johnson should have scored from Lampard’s corner where his first touch was excellent but then he just snatched at it. Rooney was a whisker away from scoring with his shot from about 25 yards out.

      1. Should have done this, could have done that…. yes, the US backline shouldn’t have fallen asleep. Josey could’ve put away a goal. Findley should not fallen down like a feather.

        It’s not a game about what should have been done. It’s a game about decisions and you can’t go back and say what if… if you could do that than maybe Australia should have won today… they would have to just go back and rework how they played those 4 goals and not missed by a whisker on a couple shots.

        Really?? People are ridiculous. It amazes me everyday. Get real, it was a draw, it should have been a draw and both teams should advance to the knockout stage and neither squad has a chance in hell of winning the thing.

  11. Gerrard was one of the few players who did a decent job. I wouldn’t put him into the problem category, but I would put Lampard there. Him and Rooney did little to help England win.

    A switch to the 4-5-1 would enable them to play together. Capello needs to make a change.

  12. The good news for both England and the US is that the other two teams in their group were awful in their match today. That means both England and the US should make it to the round of 16. The bad news is that they will be playing against Germany who have been the best team of the tournament so far or Ghana/Serbia who both will cause problems for either the US or England based on current form. What yesterday’s match revealed was that neither team will go very far in the tournament.

  13. I thought England were fine. They could have just as easily won the game… about as much as the U.S. could have.

    What was good about it for England is the bench got used early and wisely. And that bodes well for later matches. England knows it’ll progress from the group and playing the U.S. was a good way to kind of gel as a team and learn about themselves.

    England is fine and will have a good World Cup.

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