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.