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Abject England Draw Algeria and Face Elimination in 2010 World Cup Group Stage

 Abject England Draw Algeria and Face Elimination in 2010 World Cup Group Stage

As the three lions bow their heads in shame and continue to yawn and whimper their way through what was supposedly the easiest group they’ve ever encountered, I feel the need as one of their biggest fans, at least on this site, to step up and face the music and admit my passions exist for a team that simply isn’t good enough.

I may in fact spend the rest of my adult life trying to figure out why some of the best players in the best league in the world, managed by one of the best managers in the world are unable to string a consecutive number of passes together. But at least for today, England lacked more than just the ability to out pass their opponents. They lacked desire and heart, something they could learn a thing or two about from their opening round opponents, the USA.

After watching the first two matches of the day, and more specifically the US v Slovenia match, I got the feeling that England would easily lay their heads to sleep tonight being top of group C with one match to play. Surely a win was in order, possibly even by 3 or 4, but what had I based that prediction on? Where was the proof from recent performances and tournaments that allowed me to so easily brush aside Algeria? Where are these imaginary great England displays myself and other England fans conjure coming from?

Because of how exciting and entertaining the other matches were, I somehow mistakenly figured that the ability to play GOOD football, to score goals and to work together as a team were somehow contagious – that England could maybe learn a thing or 2 from the States about desire and the will to win, and the ability to not give up and really have a go at things when all the chips were down. Boy was I wrong.

It turns out my preconceived delusions of grandeur are being replaced with the very real possibility that England will be on a plane back to Old Blighty by next Wednesday having popped and deflated my big red balloon yet again.

Is it even worth my time picking through player by player and dissecting their woeful performance like so many else will? No. Everyone was poor. David James was OK, but didn’t have much to do. England’s abject performance put a stamp on the encounter with Algeria so distinct and familiar to fans of International football that the game very well may go down as one of the worst in recent World Cup history. A deserved fate for a team that seemed to care so little.

With one group game left, England are widely considered the biggest flop of this tournament along with France who really don’t seem to care how they’re viewed either way. With their pockets overflowing with cash, I’m wondering how much England really care either.

So who’s to blame? Is it the brilliant Capello? The world class players? Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard and co. couldn’t hold a candle to the most average of performances on Friday. England were a shell of the team that so easily blazed their way through World Cup qualification, unbeaten until tickets to South Africa were already punched. I have never in my life witnessed a team of players so slow and lacking in ambition and purpose. A team unable to prove to anyone they deserve the next round as they failed in creativity, pace, spark, and imagination.

England gifted possession to Algeria all day by hoofing it up front in hopes Emile Heskey could hold up the ball for England’s great white hope, Wayne Rooney. Only problem, it didn’t work and England kept trying. When David James attempted to play the ball short to a central defender, England passed sideways and then back to James with no clear way forward for another attempt at the hoof. Was this the tactic implemented by Capello to conquer the world?

Although the reasons for England’s inability to play together effectively, at least in my mind, will never be known, at least now I’m finally realizing that it really doesn’t matter why they’re so bad if the players don’t seem to care.

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36 Responses to Abject England Draw Algeria and Face Elimination in 2010 World Cup Group Stage

  1. Jose says:

    It’s amazing how much better England players play individually for their respective club teams than for their country. I think that they don’t want to be made the scapegoat by the English press.

  2. Kevin says:

    Pretty clear that Gerrard and Lampard don’t work together. We’ve all known that for years. They are elite players but not when they are paired in the midfield. Outside of them and Rooney the rest of the squad is incredibly overrated. The English press makes these guys out to be heros, but if they were from Baltic or African countries they could all be had on the cheap. Decent enough players for the Premier league, but not world class in any way, shape or form. It is like worshipping idols. They don’t underachieve at tournaments like most people think they do…..they perform to the level that they should.

    I think most rational fans of the US and England (harder to find rational England fans) realized that the draw last Saturday was due to two teams playing poorly. The delusional England or US fan thought it was a great match and we would both roll our lesser known counterparts. Slovenia were up for the fight against us and Algeria the same v England. I am sure over the next 5 days we will all convince ourselves that England will thrash Slovenia 3-0 with the potent strike force of, well, nobody and that we will run Algeria off the park. Then we can all be shocked when we are embroiled in absolute barn burners because those teams are actually as good as we are.

    • Shaun says:

      Kevin-I think there is just a deep stubbornness in every England manager that players as great as Gerrard and Lampard are good enough to coexist on the field. How much longer do we have to be subjected to the fact that it just doesn’t work? Square peg round hole. Over and over and over again.

      • Cuba Rebel says:

        simple answer as to why they cany play togeter, nothing to do with each other, its the person thats lacking(a dm, solid workhorse who does the dirty work) mascherano, essien(ballack to a lesser degree) barry doesnt cut it, period and without that man opening up lanes lamps and gerrard are useless. same thing why messi cant play for argentina

        • Shaun says:

          Cuba-well, it does have to do with each other. They don’t complement each other because they both occupy and play the same role. I agree with you that england lack a quality player to sit in front of the back four the way masch or essien do. we do have one. one of the best in the business in fact. unfortunately, he spends more time on the injury table than out on the field. no prizes for guessing who i’m talking about.
          with that said, messi looks like he’s finally coming good for argentina. maradona seems to have figured out how to tweak his rotation so that messi has the freedom to run at players the way he does at barca.

  3. ovalball says:

    While the England result was good for the U.S., I was sorry to see them play so badly. I don’t want to see the U.S. and Slovenia advance. I want it to be the U.S. and England….and I don’t care in what order.

    I would be interested in the comments of our friends across the pond as to what they think is going on. Can the media make you lose? Don’t the Italians, Spaniards and Germans pretty much play each other in their own leagues, like the English? Why can’t the English seem to gel?

    One thing I’m pretty certain of….U.S. fans have hope. English fans have expectations. I’m not sure that’s an answer to anything.

  4. lucas says:

    that’s what happens when you underestimate your opponent. Go Algeria!

  5. Mark says:

    ” trying to figure out why some of the best players in the best league in the world, managed by one of the best managers in the world are unable to string a consecutive number of passes together. ”

    Jesse, have you considered that your thesis is wrong?

    I suppose “best” is open to interpretation. The EPL is certainly the richest and the most well promoted, but it is neither the most technically skilled (La Liga) nor the most competitive top to bottom (Bundesliga).

    How many of these players are “some of the best in the world”? Of the players on the pitch today Rooney, A Cole, Gerrard, and Lampard are the only ones of the highest caliber. Terry was at that level 2 years ago, but no longer is. Glen Johnson has the potential to reach that level and has been England’s best player along w/ Gerrard. As for the rest, how many of James, Carragher, Barry, Lennon, Heskey, Crouch, SWP, Defoe would start for the top teams in La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga? Only two of those even have a shot at playing in the Champion’s League next season, if Spurs get through their qualifier.

    EPL teams have done well in the Champions League recently because they have lots of top talent foreign players, not because they have a lot of English players that are top talent. Arsenal play the most technically high quality football in the EPL, but they have 0 players at this tournament for England. MU is probably the second most technically gifted team and they have only contributed Rooney and Carrick to this team.

    I think its a development problem with the English system. Players aren’t being taught how to play the game in skilled manner, rather players are taught early on to be strong in the challenge, run hard and hope the ball pigns into the net. Nothing wrong with that style, but its not going to teach you to string passes together. The academy system in England could use an overhaul as well. Young English players would stand to benefit if clubs were allowed to have a second team in the lower divisions as they do in Spain. That way promising young players get the training from the top clubs but also get match action. Rather as it is now the best that young talent at the big clubs can hope for is to get shipped out on loan to play for Swindon, where (no offense to Swindon) they’re not going to develop into more skillful players.

    I got into club football via the EPL, I still follow my team, but for entertaining, quality football, I’d rather watch La Liga or the Bundesliga.

    But you’re right, this collection of players should be able to beat Algeria and the US. I doubt they’ll beat Slovenia at this rate.

    Expecting to get attacked

  6. Jon Sharp says:

    @ Mark
    Well it’s a thoughtful response, but I am beginning to think it isn’t about the ‘best players in the world’. To begin with, based on a number of poor performances/results from teams/players that should do better (France, Italy and Spain included), it is clearly a lot harder down on the pitch than we up in the peanut gallery give credit for. Players are suffering a lot of nerves and missing the supporting players they have at their clubs (how else can you explain Rooney’s performance). In such circumstances the simple basics of ball control, passing and running off the ball become crucial. Clearly some of the players seem to be handling this better than others. But it is up to Capello to devise a system and pick players who can do the basics right in the pressure cooker that is the world cup. This isn’t necessarily the big name players like Rooney and Lampard. For example, Joe Cole was one of the standout players in 2006. He played well in the games leading up to the world cup and he could probably link up better with Gerrard than Lampard in midfield. He seemed to thrive in 2006. Capello had the courage to drop Green in favour of James. He also picked Heskey because he felt he helps the team gel. In my humble opinion he needs to look at players who can do the basics right and use the excitement of the world cup to lift their game, rather than pin his hopes on the stars of the EPL.

  7. Mark says:

    Jon, I don’t disagree. I’d argue that England doesn’t possess enough of those players who can do those things well to make them a top 5 or 6 team. I think you can lay the Spain and France disappointments at the feet of the managers. For England its down to the best players not performing and the supporting cast not being of sufficient quality. I’d like to see Capello drop Heskey, play Gerrard off Rooney and Joe Cole on the left flank. Unfortunately there’s no fix for the midfield problems (Carrick is not an upgrade from Barry). I doubt Capello has the gumption to drop Lampard for Milner. Not sure it’d work, but Lampard has been poor. I suppose it will be Upson at CB since Carragher is suspended.

    As for Rooney – he’s missing Nani, Valencia, Giggs and Scholes ability to put him into good spaces. Heskey has won a lot of headers, but at least in the US game, those balls he won fell to US defenders, not Rooney.

    England don’t have the players of a top 5 team, but they do have better players at club level than the other teams in this group. *shrug*

    • Jon Sharp says:

      I agree England don’t have the players to make them a top 5 team. But I think we now need to add Italy to France and Spain that don’t look like top 5 teams either – at least so far. This WC is certainly turning into an unpredictable competition.

  8. Poker Rakeback says:

    I think the two big problems are square pegs in round holes. Gerrard and Lampard are the same type of player. The only way they can play together is in a midfield 3 with a holding player behind them. The rooney could play up on his own.
    Fabio doesn’t want to do this, he seems to always want to play 4-4-2 so he’s basically gonna have to get some balls and drop one of them.

    The second biggest problem is pressure of a country and media, I know it is no different for other countries who are considered top 10 but England players do not seem to cope well with it. They seem scared.

    I think England over-rates their players, I think we have 5-6 top class players and decent ones around them. The only problem is that 2 of them are lampard and gerrard and as i’ve already pointed out, one of them needs to be benched if fabio plays his 4-4-2. As no England manager has had the balls to bench one of them or play a 4-4-2 we are always gonna come back to this until they retire.

    I think some will retire from International football after this comp, they will get murdered in the press and they will probably think to themselves that it just isn’t worth it

    • Poker Rakeback says:

      Sorry that should be:

      ‘As no England manager has had the balls to bench one of them or play a 4-3-3′

      • Jon Sharp says:

        @PR. “They seem scared” (England). I agree. Juergen Klinsmann seems to be on to something when he points out the teams that are doing well are the ones that seem to be enjoying themselves out on the pitch. Win or lose, I hope the players get the lineup they asked for and just go out and enjoy the occassion. It’s painful to watch otherwise…

  9. James Dean says:

    I’ve always wondered why there aren’t any supposedly top class English players in other leagues. Now I know. Technically they are not very good. Today, Algeria’s players looked to be a class above the English players. None of the English players know how to dribble. All they do is use pace to get past the opposition. Very few passes are short because they are not comfortable with the ball at their feet for more than a few seconds. Fast and furious doesn’t always win over slow and measured.

    • I don’t think that is it. The likes of Rooney, Gerrard, A.Coel and Lampard play for Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool and I doubt any of them would consider any other club apart from Barca or Real Madrid as being bigger than those 3 English clubs. Therefore why would they want to play anywhere else?

      • Cuba Rebel says:

        true but I dont see any english players in seria a or la liga or ligue 1 while the others have players sprinkled about(italy not so much but they play technical football) england however play mostly boot ball minus a few(arsenal, man u, spurs) and when they play technical teams they fall apart usually(or the foriegn players take over) usually

        • Well i don’t see many italian players playing in the prem or la liga either. There aren’t that many spanish players playing in the prem or seria a.
          If your own league is one of the best an pays well then why bother leaving. It’s not just English players that don’t move spanish and italian ones don’t tend to either.
          If the prem was a crap league and didn’t pay well i’m sure more players would move to other leagues but they just don’t need to.

          • Cuba Rebel says:

            true, but when any englishmen moves abroad, it doest end well usually(owen); thats what I mean, I love the pl, its my favorite league but as Im not a three lons fan I see through the film

          • Pakapala says:

            Even when the EPL was not the richest league or the one that pays the best, there were few english players succeeding in foreign leagues

  10. Scott Alexander says:

    Not all of the players performed with the listless disregard that you describe. The point of infuriation to me is that Capello waited so long to change tactics. And even the players who were trying were handicapped by the system. Simon Kuper talks about how the Russians disabled the Netherlands by forcing the ball onto the Dutch player who broke down their own system. The same thing is going on with Heskey. It has become evident that there is no reason to mark him which is enabling less talented teams an extra defender on the players who can score. Starting Heskey in a surprise cap or two probably would have notched a few surprise wins but the other teams have already figured out this current incarnation. Its time for Capello to move on. He should have moved on by the 55th minute but England can still get out of the group assuming they do something different.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I guess I should have said, mark him when he doesn’t have the ball as you want the ball go to him

  11. Des says:

    England is an overrated country. Everything about it is overrated.

  12. dazu says:

    Well, that was that. There are no underdogs, that is what we learned. Algeria made themselves worthy of this contest. They looked absolutely good. England are an inflated bunch of toads, like I said before.

    Sorry if you are their fans, no pan intended but they are not worth the hype. Always hyped beyond what they can deliver. Starting with their league, England and the English people, the country as a whole is all hype no substance. Its a tiny, common, run of the mill European Island.

    • Gaz Hunt says:

      Then why are you visiting, reading, and commenting on a site that concentrates on the football of a tiny, common run of the mill European island? Could it be that when most people (you included obviously) think about top football they think about the Premier League? Anyway, if you really believe this leave us to our unsubstantial football and visit a site about a better league.

      Rant aside, England were terrible today. Good players but bad team.

      They’re scared of the media and the fans. They look like they just don’t want to do anything bad as opposed to doing anything well. When a player gets the ball, he doesn’t think about how he can make a great play. He thinks about how he can just not do something terrible.

    • Dan says:

      Typical xenophobic American; looking down on any country that isn’t the U.S.

  13. matt glazier says:

    Well, that was a shock. In 30 years of watching football that was the most disheartening display by an International football team I can remember. The England players simply don’t want to be there and seem to be completely uninterested. I have a feeling this over-control by Capello is part of the problem, not allowing mobile phones etc and no contact with the players spouses is ridiculous. Such discipline may have worked in the relatively unsophisticated world in Sir Alfs day but Capello is treating these men like kids who can’t be trusted and that’s how they’re responding.

    He may have been a great coach elsewhere in Europe but I don’t believe an Italian can understand the motivations, humor and character of an English national team. This romantic notion that all European coaches possess some magic ingredient that so easily seduces the FA has to come to an end now. Capello is a hard nosed business man and he still collects his £4mill whatever happens, so what does he care? Part of me even thinks his little mafia is doing our players heads in on purpose: What would happen if we played Italy? Jose Mourinho may be the exception but otherwise we should have a Roy Hodgson or Harry Rednapp in there. Remember Robson Italia 90?

    • Shaun says:

      Matt-I don’t know if Capello’s “over-control” is the issue here. It seems like that’s been mentioned recently when results haven’t been going our way. Are we just looking for something/one to blame? Isn’t he the same strict authoritarian that ruled with an iron fist during the qualification stages? During that time, wasn’t he applauded for that when England breezed through their group? It just seems that the sentiment toward Capello has soured after 2 subpar (and thats being kind) results and all the things that were viewed as a positive in the past are not being spun in a negative light.
      Also, the notion that the FA are easily seduced by foreign/European managers isn’t entirely true. Prior to Capello and Sven, England were managed by a whole list of Englishmen. That didn’t do any good. Look at the last English manager that was hired. I think we all remember the brolly. The fact that there aren’t a strong list of English managers to pick from further diminishes the argument that only an Englishman can manage England. At this point, I would only dare trust in Roy Hodgson to be given a shot.

      • matt glazier says:

        Shaun, something has deeply affected those players, and sure I maybe looking for something to blame because I simply can’t understand why our talented players, winners at club level, are displaying such dire mediocrity against average competition . Like everyone else, I also can’t understand why Jo Cole isn’t playing on the left and why Wayne Rooney looks like he has lost his will to live. Capellos judgement and what we thought was a talent for intuitive,instinctive decision making looks seriously in doubt after these two games in the pressure cooker of the World Cup.

        Managers do and can make all the difference: Look at the contrast of the brilliance of Mourinho at Inter this year and the crap that Maclaren served up during his tenure at England.

        We’ve got one more chance to redeem ourselves and reach the next stage. The least we should expect to see is our players going out expressing themselves fearlessly and enjoying themselves win or lose.

  14. youcy says:

    i wish that england beat slovenia 3-0 and our team(algeria) beat usa.i can’t see the quarter final without the English team

  15. Gaz Hunt says:

    Could England fans be jumping to conclusions here?

    All that needs to happen is they get their act together for one game. One win. That’s it.

    Don’t you guys know England always leave it to the last possible moment to show up?

  16. Wilbur Watson says:

    I think you have to face the fact that the England team is not very good. It is often said that Lampard and Gerrard do not play well together for England but they do not play very well individually for England either. They are over rated. Rooney is a good player but not a great one – where would he be if he had to rely on just skill without his physique. That said they should beat Slovenia but the quarter finals is probably the best they can hope for.

  17. liam uk says:

    what happens if usa and england draw again
    and the 2nd place is tied by gd ???

    • Mark says:

      The second tiebreaker is goals scored. US currently leads that tally 3 – 1, so unless England score 3+ goals more than the US in their respective draws, the US would advance. If both games are draws and England score 2 more than the US, leveling the goals scored tally, the tie will be broken by drawing lots.

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