One hundred and eighty minutes is all it takes to send a nation into despair.
Watching England against Uruguay was a confusing experience. Knowing you are watching some very good players but feeling there is something missing, something not quite right.
Just like everybody else, I’ve been enthralled by this World Cup, enthralled by the dynamism, the speed at which the ball is being moved, the devastating counter attacks, the professional abandon that most teams have shown and just ‘gone for it’.
England ‘went for it’ — just not with the same quality.
The interesting point here is the lowering of expectation that has occurred.
Sven was lambasted when we reached the quarter finals. Now that would be seen as a triumph.
The last World Cup showing in 2010 has had a lot to do with shaping the nation’s current mood before this tournament.
We went into the tournament with a squad full of experienced Premier League quality and left it as quite possibly the worst team in the whole tournament.
Fabio Capello came, saw, took and left nothing behind.
He took £6m per year in wages, for which you would expect a coach to leave behind some kind of soccer ‘legacy’ from his time in charge, something we could say yes we learned from that, we could use that, follow this.
But no. Capello left nothing and worst of all, he left not even one positive memory from that last World Cup.
Being an ex player, you understand the game and how it works, how difficult the game especially at that rarified level can be, but the general lack of pleasure and joy in that particular England team at that World Cup was shocking.
The general feeling after that was that ‘we have had enough’ – everybody had looked forward to the tournament and then to endure that, yes endure – because it was tortuous, made a lot of people shrug their shoulders and lose interest.
Consequently leading up to this World Cup, it has seen an attitude of ‘oh well we won’t get far let’s see what happens.’
The feeling is bad at the moment. We’ve crashed out after two games but at least I feel better than I did last time around as in each of the two games there was something to get excited about.
We ‘went’ for it, maybe not always in the right way (but that’s a debate for another day) but at least we gave the fans watching some excitement and that’s far more than can be said for Capello’s dour, expensive and ultimately unsuccessful (however you define success for England) reign as England coach.
Editor’s note: Mark Burke is an English former footballer who played as a midfielder. A player skilled at retaining the ball, he enjoyed a 15 year professional career in England, the Netherlands, Japan, Romania, and Sweden. He played for clubs including Aston Villa, Rapid Bucharest, Middlesbrough, and Wolves.