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Five Reasons Why England Will Fail in South Africa

 Fans And Features - Day 23 - FIFA World Cup 2006

Many English fans have a schizophrenic sensation going on every fourth May.  On the one hand, every four years English fans enthuse how this team is the “best in a generation” with all their great players having their career peaks at just the right time.  On the other hand, international tournaments have brought nothing but pain to England for over 40 years, and there is always this nagging feeling that England is just not as good as the rest of the major nations.

Sadly, I have a message to give to English fans – there is no reason to be of two minds about this.  England is simply not good enough, and if you want to avoid a lot of pain this summer, I suggest unplugging the tele, avoiding the pub, and lounging in the backyard with a good book.  The fact that England will almost surely get out of its group says far more about its group than it says about England.  As soon as they play one of the big boys, England will be exposed and headed home.  Why?  Here are five of about 50 reasons:

England will not be facing Bolton in the World Cup.  Want an interesting fact?  There are only two teams in South Africa that do not have a single footballer playing its club football outside its borders.  One is North Korea.   The other is England.  As Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski point out in Soccernomics, this single fact holds England back more than any other in international competitions.  By playing all their football in England, its players are trained, oriented and experienced to play an English-style game against English opponents.  Over the past 20 years which national team has had more of its players playing in greater variety of leagues?  Brazil.  The difference in results is very telling, and it is one of the subtle reasons why England always disappoints.  If Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and others always seem to shrink on the international stage, if England always seems to struggle against European B teams like Croatia, if they can never conjure up that telling goal when they really need it, it is this lack of varied international experience that is the sub-rosa reason why.

England has problems on the wings.  I don’t remember any English team with less talent out wide than this English squad.  Shaun Wright-Philips, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon, and Joe Cole have all struggled with fitness or form this year, and none of them look like international world beaters.  Of this crew, only a healthy Aaron Lennon is an automatic starter for their club team, and he has had only a handful of minutes since Christmas.  James Milner looks like a more reliable pick for the Three Lions but only because of the form of others – not because his play has been so outstanding.  This is a giant problem for England because in the World Cup, if you are not playing with width, you are not going to succeed.   Going down the middle or relying on set pieces against high quality opponents with outstanding centerbacks is not a formula for success, even if you have an outstanding striker corps, speaking of which….

England has Wayne Rooney and ???? up front.  This English team is more reliant on one racecar than just about any other major team in this tournament, and that car has been leaking oil and spitting out smoky fumes for the past two months.   Wayne Rooney has been pressed into action despite injury all spring as Manchester United battled deep into the Champions League and the title race.  This is a man who needed several weeks on the physio table and has barely gotten one.  If he is not 100% for South Africa, he is going to have problems because the other England striker is, well, I’m not sure, but whoever it is will be a big drop-off from Rooney.  Bent, Defoe, Crouch and Heskey are not exactly the players who will strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.  Villa and Torres.  Klose and Podolski.  Van Persie and Robben.  Those are duos that can advance a team.  Whoever is paired with Rooney will not exactly be a terror out there. 

The 2010 versions of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry are a bit of a mess.  Even before Ferdinand missed all but 12 games of the EPL season this year with a variety of injuries, it was clear that he was not the dominating, intimidating presence he has been.  He has lost a step and in both foot and mind, and many opponents were getting the better of him.  Sadly, Ferdinand may be the most reliable center back England has with John Terry coming off his poorest season and looking like a man in the middle of a breakdown.  His two yellow cards against Spurs after he was stripped of the England captaincy reflect his litany of late, violent tackles that may be allowed in England but will lead to cards and expulsions by international referees in South Africa.  Like Ferdinand, Terry has had a drop of form in the four years since the last World Cup, but Capello has so few options in the spine of his defense that jalopies like Jamie Carragher are getting a serious look again.

You cannot win without a quality keeper.  Even the most partisan English fan knows this is a great weak spot.  The best English goalkeeper is probably Joe Hart, but at 23, he has neither the experience nor the caps to take over that position in South Africa.  Can Hart really direct Ferdinand, Terry and the rest of the back line with authority and properly position himself when the best strikers in the world come marauding towards his goal?  Doubtful.  Beyond that, you have David James of the relegated Portsmouth, who has rarely inspired any confidence among the English faithful, and Robert Green of the nearly-relegated West Ham, who has never inspired confidence among the English faithful.  In a knock-out competition like the World Cup, having a keeper get red-hot and go on an intimidating streak is almost a requirement for success.  That player simply does not exist in England at the moment.

None of these reasons begin to touch on the shallowness of the English bench, the poor record England has against any opponents of worth over the past five years, the way the EPL season leaves players depleted, how the right back position looks dire or a myriad of other reasons why this team is set to disappoint.  It may be winter in South Africa in June, but it will be a long hot summer for the English fans who are expecting far more than this team can deliver.

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  1. Elthamaddick

    May 19, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Did someone seriously suggest that England, Scotland, Wales and NI should be forced to play in the same side ?

    Ignorance isn’t even the word for that.

    And here was me thinking American’s we’re starting to “get” football.

    Good rebuttal here,17033,8749_6160882,00.html

  2. Peter

    May 19, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Cuba Rebel, Scotland and England are different countries, the UK is a sovereign state. Spain is a country, Catalunya is an autonomous community (one of 17) of that country. That is why Scotland and England (and Wales and NI) play as separate teams, and Spain play as a single team. If you think the Catalans should have their own team, then you presumably think Spain should be split up into 17 different national teams?

  3. Obsi

    May 19, 2010 at 4:03 am

    We won that world cup 4-2 so even if that goal was disaalowed we still would have won.

    I am not really bothered what you call it but this article is a load of tosh. It seems to me it was made purley to annoy Brits which is pretty sad.

    Also Calcio translates to football not soccer.

    • Cuba Rebel

      June 20, 2010 at 11:00 pm

      and we translate soccer to football, it doesnt matter to me either, I just hate when people bust out that argument

      • Obsi

        June 24, 2010 at 5:04 am

        No I do agree if I am honest, it is a pointless arguement but it is something that just annoys me without any good reason.

        Glad to see England got thorugh (by the skin of our teeths though), many teams do so and go onto the final (though I now am very worried as we have Germany next).
        America put on a good fight and are top of the table because of it, good for them, though its Ghana next not an easy team to beat! Good luck.

        Your comments that Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland should play together probably makes sense from your point of view but as an Englishman sport is the only thing in which you are allowed to be English and not offend. Also most Scotts hate the English with a passion based on prejudice and things that happened in the past. I would HATE our players to have to play together in the world cup and I am sure that they feel the same.

        • Cuba Rebel

          June 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

          thanks for being reasonable; Im happy you guys advanced though but we both face tough roads to advance, germany I think could cause you alot of trouble; I dont really expect you all to play as one team it was more of a random thought

  4. Obsi

    May 18, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Well this article is a load of rubbish. Firstly know one knows what will happen in the world cup. Predictions based on what country the players play in is just insane. Yes the entire England squad plays in the UK, this means they are very used to foreign football, all the managers are foreign and so are most of the players. In fact going on that argument it bodes well for England, most of our squad has played with or against, on a regular basis some of the best players in the world. We have a high standard of club football in England and because of that we have many of the best teams and players in the world.

    Our team this year looks pretty good, yeah we could do with some better or more consistent players but what team couldn’t? As for the writers comments after this is not much better, he mentions France as a team who don’t disappoint yet they are only in the world cup due to a hand ball.

    Also from reading the comment it would appear it is a yank who wrote this article, lets just put this into perspective. Football is Football, not soccer. Also America have never won the world cup the closest they have ever been was 3rd in 1930 not a record that matches Englands. Just a point I wanted to make.

    I can never believe we won’t win the world cup I wait 4 years for it and every time I think we are going to win, so far I have been bitterly disappointed but that’s football without passion and belief fans are nothing.

    The main point though is who knows what will happen? We may win we may loose but our fans will support the lads all the way through.


    • Cuba Rebel

      May 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

      to bad the only WC you did was scored by a goal that didnt happen
      and we can call it soccer; the italians call it calcio, get over it

  5. Ben

    May 18, 2010 at 8:43 am

    First off, England probably won’t win the World Cup, and having a go at American’s for watching/having an opinion on football is ludicrous; its the best sport in the world, I’m glad that the USA has started to absorb it in the last 20 years or so. However, that does not change the fact that the points raised in the article are predicated upon faulty logic. On the first point, various people have brought up Italy in 2006, and the reply was, ‘ Looking across all international tournaments and results for a large number of years, there is a correlation between the diversity of a national team’s club experience and success’. Well, for a start, any scientist can tell you that correlation does not prove causation. Why? In this case, because the figures are skewed. Brazil are the team who have won the most world cups, and they also have a high percentage players plying their trade abroad, which largely accounts for that correlation. But Brazil do not win World Cups so often because their players work abroad, obviously. the statistics in this case are misleading, and its a poor argument. I can’t really be bothered to go through the other points, they range from patently obvious, ie. England don’t have a top quality keeper, which is true, to bizarre, ie. that none of our strikers are any good apart from Rooney. Seriously, Klose and Podolski are better than Rooney/ Crouch? If you say so pal. Also, England’s qualifying group had the highest number of UEFA coefficient points combined of any group, so UEFA seemed to think it was a reasonably strong one, which we won by scoring more goals than any other European country, and our 9-2 aggregate defeat of Croatia was at a time that they were ranked 8th in the world…..England are not the best team in the world, but we are one of 6 or 7 teams who can legitimately believe that they COULD win it. The opinions of the majority of the top players asked about their contenders have earmarked England (Iniesta, Cannavaro, Daniel Alves etc You can look that up). My prediction, England to lose in the semi finals to Holland, after extratime. Holland vs Spain final. Peace out.

    • Cuba Rebel

      June 20, 2010 at 10:58 pm

      hows that working out for you?

  6. Rob McCluskey

    May 17, 2010 at 8:18 am

    I’m English but i’m a bit more of a realist this summer and don’t think we will win the World Cup, unlike many who have been excitited by the media making us believe, it is still very possible though, but we’re not aas strong as we’re made out to be I don’t think. Its also true that England is no exception in the diving departmant, its just not as highlighted as other nations, i’ve seen Rooney, Gerarrd, Lampard et al. all take dives, maybe just not as dramatic!

    The team does have a lot of fitness problems, but loads of nations do, just the way of modern football. I do worry about our two central defenders though, I can see us getting atleast one injury when we get there.

    On the subject of a goalkeeper, Brazil have won the world cup countless times with rubbish goalkeepers, in 2002 they had Dida in nets! And on the subject of A.C Milan how many years did they dominate football with Gernnaro Rossi in nets, and he wasn’t the greatest. On the same subject, i’ve never rated Victor Valdes that highly, he flaps at everything and always looks nervous, but he has such a good defence in front of him that he rarely needs to make challenging saves.

    And the Great Britain team, it’ll never happen. We tried to organise a GB football team for the 2012 olympics, but it was rejected, mainly by the Scottish who felt that it would make their nation ignored. Basically we all hate each other ha ha.

  7. brn442

    May 17, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Soccernomics has to be one of the most over-rated books in recent football history so it takes someone with truly shocking naiveté to use the “they all play domestically” statistic the way the writer has.

    English players, ( like their Italian Serie A counterparts 20 years ago,) all play domestically because the wages and the prospect of Champions League football is almost unmatched anywhere else. That can’t be said for 95% of the other WC countries’ players who play abroad because they have to. Would you have used that ridiculous theory if Beckham (who plays “abroad” for the world famous L.A Galaxy) hadn’t crocked his Achilles?

    And another thing, like the above poster said 2-3 N. Korean players do play abroad.

    To say you can’t a cup competition without an ok keeper is nonsense. Go ask Tafarel and Bartez.

    I think David James has done just enough in the F.A Cup to probably start.
    James is a decent keeper if he can keep his brain on for 90+ minutes but that’s a big if.

    • Gaz

      May 17, 2010 at 11:28 am

      Brazil generally don’t have much in terms of a keeper.

      • Scott Alexander

        May 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm

        Barbosa. Gilmar. Emerson Leao. Taffarel. Cesar.

        or if you mean for this World Cup, Cesar, Doni, & Gomes

        Either way, you could do a lot worse.

    • Frank

      May 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm

      That book is a joke. The author is anti-English and trying to find any justification for English failures when he would be better served to ask Platini, and FIFA. We would have won the last World Cup if not for Ronaldo and his dive.

  8. evan

    May 16, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    north korea actually have a few players on the national team playing elsewhere. one in russia and another in japan.

  9. Will

    May 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    The real problem is that England, Wales and Scotland all play as separate countries and not as Great Britain, as they do in the Olympics. Imagine if Gareth Bale was on Great Britain’s football team this year at the World Cup and you’ll see what I mean… Gaffer, apologies in advance if I set off a major political discussion on your website 🙂

    • Cuba Rebel

      May 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      they should have too, catalonia cant play seperatley from spain, why should scotland be able too

    • brn442

      May 17, 2010 at 12:03 am

      The only discussion you may set off is the year you were born.

  10. Eric Altshule

    May 16, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    I never said that the US would beat England. England is better than the US, but I do believe that the US stands a decent chance of getting a result. That all being said, if you think England does not dive and whine, you must have never seen a game. Please put “Gerrard Diving” into the YouTube search engine and see what you find. Furthermore, if there is a bigger whiner and harasser of referees in football than John Terry, I would like to know who it is.

    • BBC

      May 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm

      Gerrard, Rooney, Barry, Terry . . . they all dive.

  11. Eious

    May 16, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Very simple

    No goal-keeper
    Older at most spots

    They are a good team….far from great

  12. Darren

    May 16, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    those latin and euro countries do not play the sport the way it was meant to be. diving, whining, slowing the game down. cronaldo cheated us out of the last world cup, and now we must attack and attack.

    the yanks i am around drive me batty. they know nothing about football and constantly harp on how the english are not very good. we always beat the dumb yanks. they have done nothing. have you seen the game at wembley or the game in chicago before that? kieren richradson scored twice on them for fs sake.

    we beat croatia by a combined 9-2 in qualifying. would brazil even do that? this yank writer makes you look bad gaffer. just like the other yanks associated with this site. all the yanks on the podcast and writing in such a yank way saying yank things. if this is a football site it should be staffed with football people not baseball people.we live and breathe football every day even when we are in america and canada. the yanks and the canucks they do not know football except from the telly and get manipulated by the number of people watching the wrong football from others places.

    • Cuba Rebel

      May 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      why!!!? because we live in north america we cant love soccer; i hate baseball and football; I breath soccer every day and night; and of course you play the right way you invented the dport(snark)
      boring 442 and CA WOOOO!!!
      and if ronaldos such a pussy, why did he torch your great league with his strenth and speed and you beat a eduardo and modric less croatia; two best players gone

      • disco

        June 20, 2010 at 5:00 am

        here we go again cuba rebel.think back,ronaldo spends more time lying down on the pitch crying foul.that is the only way he knows.thats how he can bring other team down the wimp.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      May 16, 2010 at 10:56 pm

      Wow. Maybe you were the punk that started shouting “you are gay” to me in a US kit on the Bakerloo Line train after the friendly at Wembley two years ago. After words a few German guys were very defensive of me and complimented American soccer. Or maybe you were the guy going on the bus who said “I don’t break change for yanks.”

      I don’t know why you consistently have such a problem with us participating and commenting on this sport. Fear, or simply ignorance?

      • Gaz

        May 17, 2010 at 11:22 am

        I won’t defend “them” other than to say that I don’t think American football fans would treat a team of English players with any higher respect.

        The US has to earn respect and they’re getting there. Another decent World Cup run or three (at least out of the group) and some a lot more Americans playing abroad will get that last bit.

        Until then, you have to understand that you’re not helping by being arrogant when you have no right to be.

    • David O'Connor

      May 18, 2010 at 8:19 am

      I agree with you Darren. We smashed Croatia home and away. Am i right in thinking Croatia were unbeaten at home in 34 games before we beat them 4-1? They also played Brazil in those 34 games.

      Hopefully this website doesn’t pay Eric. Otherwise they want to think about getting a refund.

      • Cuba Rebel

        May 18, 2010 at 7:25 pm

        no modric no eduardo; thats like no rooney and no lampard

  13. Jenks

    May 16, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I disagree with your comments about Lennon, he skins any left back put in front of him, including arguably the two best in the world (Cole and Evra), I think you’re underestimating the influence he could have.

  14. BBC

    May 16, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Best midfield in the world? not even best in their group. Outside of Rooney, the entire team has had subpar seasons compared to their lifetime performance. They’re a name team, a paper tiger.

    • UpTheBlues

      May 16, 2010 at 8:39 pm

      Um…Frank Lampard ring a bell?

      • BBC

        May 16, 2010 at 9:30 pm

        He won’t be taking penalties for England

        • ABC

          May 16, 2010 at 10:17 pm

          Uh, yes he will.

          Lampard’s had a fantastic season, 22 goals and 17 assists in Chelsea’s Premier League campaign. Plenty of those goals from open play.

          • Kartik Krishnaiyer

            May 16, 2010 at 10:42 pm

            The World Cup sees a far smaller percentage of goals from open play than club football. David Beckham being out for England is a big problem. He’s had a hand in over 50% of England’s goals in the last two World Cups.

      • Kartik Krishnaiyer

        May 16, 2010 at 10:52 pm

        Lampard was simply scintillating in the last World Cup, wasn’t he?

        • Frank

          May 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm

          The point about set piece goals vs open play goals is well taken, but as a typical yank you have never heard of any of our players other than Beckham. Gerrard is a great set piece taker. Who do you have? A bunch of average Premiership players and journeymen? What have they ever done at this level?

          • Cuba Rebel

            June 20, 2010 at 10:49 pm

            and our low level journeyman took your all stars to the brink; its called heart and determination, something not one of your players have shown; and gerrards set pieces have been great alright, our backup cms delivery has been better

        • lee

          June 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm

          india were simply scintillating the last world cup

  15. Caroline

    May 16, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    In order for England to win it they have to play an up-tempo, fast paced game like it is played in the Premier League. England have trouble playing teams that slow down the pace of the game. Think Manchester United vs Barcelona in last year’s CL final. United got off to a good start playing fast-paced football but couldn’t score. Once Barcelona got control of the game United were overwhelmed. Once in the knockout stage I think England will have difficulty controlling the pace of the games when up against the other European and South American powerhouses.

  16. timF

    May 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    England won’t win it cause they are the biggest bottlers in the world. Other than Wayne Rooney, nobody on that team has enough heart to rise against the tough times they will face during the knockout stage.

  17. Three Lions

    May 16, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Typical Yank opinion. Go back to watching Baseball or American Throwball you poser.

    England have the best midfield in the world and has an entire team playing in the best league in the world.

    I do not know why I come to this site to be lectured by Yanks about a sport they do not understand and in whose hands it would be destroyed.

    Gaffer, can you delete this post or set some rules as the editor of the site for your writers to stop this kind of nonsense?

    • The Gaffer

      May 16, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      Three Lions, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion — whether that’s the bloggers here or the readers. Let’s wait until after the tournament is over to serve judgment! We’ll see who’s right then!

      The Gaffer

      • Phil McThomas

        May 16, 2010 at 9:18 pm

        Saying England ISN’T going to win the world cup is hardly going out on a limb, and our almost-guaranteed failure can’t be used as proof that the author has written anything worthwhile.

        The problem with the article is its sneering voice, the “five of about 50 reasons”.

        The term “sadly” is used in conjunction with England’s ejection, but that hardly rings true with the rest of the article.

      • Scott Alexander

        May 16, 2010 at 11:29 pm

        Gaffer or Richard,

        Are you going to interview Jonathan Wilson again? I’ve got a release date of this week for “The Anatomy of England, A History in Ten Matches.”

        • The Gaffer

          May 17, 2010 at 12:42 am

          Scott, yep the plan is to interview Jonathan again. Hopefully he’ll have time to talk about his new book which I’m looking forward to.

          The Gaffer

    • Cuba Rebel

      May 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm

      so just because yu live in america you cant understand soccer(ya I said soccer get over it) I can guarantee you Ive watched more match es than you and I live in america; your typical iggnorance shows you for a fraud, open your eyes my friend; best league in the world on what grounds might I ask?(seriously) best players? prove it best midfield in the world, I can name 4 with better mids easily(spain, argentina, brazil holland, germany, italy hell even france)
      how about we cancel your post for being completley idiotic with no reasons to back any of your points
      Eric Altshule great post, I think a follow up after the world cup is in order, 5 reasons they didnt win and you would still recieve all this hate

      • disco

        June 20, 2010 at 4:46 am

        yea right,go back to the states and get your basket ball gear on cuba rebel.a game you would understand more than football.

        • Cuba Rebel

          June 20, 2010 at 10:39 pm

          hmm judging by the game and this article, WE KNOW MORE THAN YOU DO!!!!!

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      May 16, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      England have the best midfield in the world and has an entire team playing in the best league in the world.

      What exactly do you base your statement about England having the world’s best midfield on?

      I do not know why I come to this site to be lectured by Yanks about a sport they do not understand and in whose hands it would be destroyed.

      We did pretty well with World Cup 1994. I’m sure you missed it because you did not qualify. We have exposure to more leagues on TV here than you have on English TV, and we sold more tickets for this World Cup than any other country.

      • Frank

        May 17, 2010 at 12:44 pm

        Does anyone have a combination like Gerrard and Lamps? I have not even heard of most of the Brazilians playing now. Elano could not make it in the Premiership yet he is playing for Brazil. Gilberto Silva? You are having a laugh, mates!

        World Cup 1994 was terrible. It was too hot and the matches were all played in large American Football stadiums. Too many empty seats. That is why the World Cup should be in Europe for good.

        • The Gaffer

          May 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm

          Frank, every single game of the 1994 World Cup was sold out. Every single seat was filled. Yes, they were American football stadiums. But American football stadiums tend to have much larger capacities than soccer stadiums. FIFA made a mint from that World Cup. And will definitely return to the States soon. Saying that the World Cup should only be in Europe is ridiculous.

          The Gaffer

          • Eric Altshule

            May 17, 2010 at 1:17 pm

            To second the Gaffer, you are deluded. Over 3.5 million tickets sold in 1994 eclipses every other World Cup. Every seat sold. It was held in football stadiums because those were the only stadiums big enough to handle the demand. When the World Cup comes back to America, they will sell more than 4 million tickets, about double what was sold in Germany 2006.

            Your view on tickets sold in 1994 colors the validity of your take on Lampard and Gerrard.

        • Cuba Rebel

          May 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm

          so what if they couldnt play in the premiership, messi couldnt, does that mean he sucks; arsenal can vouch to his greatness; by your logic schevchenko sucked too; xavi and iniesta and fabregas make england look like new zealand

      • lee

        June 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

        sold more tickets than any other country ha ha did u see the stadium yesterday,m90% england fans your tickets were sold to minoritys ,mexicans ,brazilians etc spain,brazil argentina, arg only the forewards who else has a better team eh no1 your just a bitter indian who dislikes england c%$t

        • Cuba Rebel

          June 20, 2010 at 10:45 pm

          are forwards are better than yours if you base on production; and who are call and indian c$%t you bigoted son of a bitch; learn how to play football and stop being a child; im from english decent and wqould never think of rooting for you misinformed delusional wannabe fans!
          (Im sorry for the language moderators, but he crossed the line for me)

    • Scott

      May 17, 2010 at 1:13 am

      “England have the best midfield in the world and has an entire team playing in the best league in the world.”

      Spain would like a word with you.

  18. Jesse Chula

    May 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Wow! Don’t know if I should be insulted by that or complimented. Great stuff!

    Seriously? There’s more holes in some of those ideals than a dozen doughnuts. Since when was beating a team like Croatia 4-0 away and, what was it? – 5-1 at home considered struggling against them? Please answer.

    Do you watch football?

    Did you see some of the saves David James made against Chelsea on Saturday? We’re talking about a solid keeper who played for the worst team in the league. It’s plain to see he’ll easily preform that much better with a solid central defensive pairing in front of him. If not, Joe Hart can easily step in and deputize. Remember, just because a player doesn’t have loads of international experience doesn’t make him worthless and inept. Sorry, that’s a bad generalization.

    And the point made about English players not playing abroad is weak and even a little misleading. The majority of the England starting 11 have European Champions League experience (that tests them against different styles of continential play) just as much, or more so than players from Brazil, Italy, Spain or whomever else you want to throw in.

    Simply making a point that English players can only play in an English style in England is a poor example and frankly untrue. I really could go on, but time will tell who’s right in this debate.

    I also get the strange feeling that this post wouldn’t have been conjured had I remained in bed this morning. Guess we’ll never know.

    Still, a bit honored.

    • Eric Altshule

      May 16, 2010 at 9:13 pm

      You are right – your post inspired mine, and I do enjoy the point/counter-point on all of this.

      To answer you more directly –

      * Croatia beat-up England in the Euro qualifiers two years ago. Yes, they beat a depleted and Edurado-less Croatia this time around, but other than that, England has looked poor in its friendlies and has taken far too much confidence from qualifying in the weakest group in the European WCQs.

      *I did see David James yesterday. The goal post played terrifically well against Chelsea, blocking about a half dozen shots. James was just OK. The keeper that keeps out Drogba’s free kick is the keeper that plays for a team that goes far in South Africa. I don’t think Joe Hart is worthless and inept (I think I said he was the best English keeper). I just think he is not ready, and I bet Capello agrees.

      *Champion’s League experience is nice, but it is not the same thing as spending a year or two or five gaining the experience of how football is played in a different country in a different system. Having a mix of players with different experiences from different leagues is a great advantage. England always disappoints, and teams like France, Argentina and Brazil that send their players all over always seem to do well. There is a link.

      You are right. We will see. But I don’t think the weather or Fabio Capello’s brilliance or estimated at who is peaking when will make much difference. I see a lack of quality on the English team, and that lack will undermine whatever other advantages people can conjure up.

      • Patrick Dresslar

        May 16, 2010 at 10:07 pm

        I like how you dodged the criticism that Italy won it all in 2006 with no players playing outside Italy.

        That fact eliminates all credibility for the post.

        • Eric Altshule

          May 17, 2010 at 10:30 am

          I replied to this point in an earlier comment.

  19. mark

    May 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    i don’t really want to answer to this nonsense but i’m compelled to. the fact that the english clubs can adapt so well in the champions league shows that it has nothing to do with players not playing out of england. there are many other reasons. and your examples for strikers are pretty poor. podolski has had a poor poor season. robben is not a striker and i’m a chelsea fan so please take my word for it. the keeper reason is pretty obvious but i disagree with the defence. you look at other countries and england’s pretty good even comparing the likes of spain, italy, france, and germany. and you forget to mention that a. cole has been fantastic and johnson has done well. i do think we lack a true defensive midfielder to free lampard to do his stuff that he does so often at chelsea and yes we only have one top class striker-no big deal, just please gerrard behind him shift adam johnson to the left and have a midfield of lampard milner and dm (enter your choice of barry carrick et al).

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      May 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Podolski has been more effective at the international level than any current England striker including Rooney. You don’t just take the club level and transfer assumptions to the international level.

      • Tom

        May 17, 2010 at 8:13 am

        But by that reasoning, you must accept that Crouch is a formidable international player. The fact you have included klose and podolski of other nations striking prowess is laughable. The fact is, of course Heskey is a limited player, but when utilised in the way he is for england, it is a very effective team strategy. The value is greater than the sum of the parts.

  20. BayVol

    May 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Sometimes it boggles the mind that the editor of this site posts this type os stuff. Agree Kevin.

  21. Kevin McCauley

    May 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    “Want an interesting fact? There are only two teams in South Africa that do not have a single footballer playing its club football outside its borders. One is North Korea.” This is false. Three North Korean players play their club football abroad.

    Additionally, none of Holland, Germany, or Spain is likely to play a 4-4-2 with the listed strike pairings as 2 strikers up top, but that part of the article was not nearly as bad or inherently false.

    It’s very telling when someone just writes something and throws it up without bothering to do any research, especially on a website that gets some decent traffic.

    • jose

      May 16, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      ahh man not germany 2006 world cup again. everybody was playing a 4-5-1. man that was boring.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      May 16, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      If you feel can do better why don’t you offer your writing services to this website instead of ripping those who make the effort to contribute?

  22. Jordan

    May 16, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    didn’t read after your first point.
    the last team to win the world cup was italy. how many players did they have outside italy that season?

    • Patrick Dresslar

      May 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm

      Excellent point. Zero players played outside Serie A.

      • Cuba Rebel

        May 16, 2010 at 10:23 pm

        what was the dominant league in o6, Italy; wht is the dominant league now; not england

        • Eric Altshule

          May 17, 2010 at 1:35 am

          It is a fair question about Italy in 2006, and I will give it as serious an answer as I can. The analysis in Soccernomics, which I found very persuasive, talks about effects that hinder or help a team’s prospects. Looking across all international tournaments and results for a large number of years, there is a correlation between the diversity of a national team’s club experience and success. Does that make this an iron-clad rule? No. In the same way that there is a likelihood that I will not roll snake eyes with an average roll of the die, that does not mean that I will never roll snake yes. Italy 2006 was probably a snake eyes event. Had Italy not gotten a dubious penalty against Australia or Zidane not lost his mind in the final, things may have worked out differently, but they did not.

          That does not change the fact that England’s lack of diversity is a great hindrance. Statistically speaking, having 100% of your team play in one league hurts you in international play. When you think of all the players on this team (like Lampard and Gerrard) who seem less effective every time they put on the English jersey, and you think about those rare exceptions to the rule (like Bayern’s Owen Hargreaves, who was a revelation in Germany 2006), this theory rings true to me.

          • brn442

            May 17, 2010 at 2:20 am

            Statistically speaking? You can argue the same point based on the brand of a country’s team shirt or the month their goal keeper was born.

            It should be an advantage the more players play a certain type of football together, especially if its at a high level.

            The fact is that most Top English players unlike 20 years ago now play week in week out with a majority of foreign teamates and an overseas manager. Plus, they play much more games in Europe than before. Your feeble stats don’t account for the massive changes in, especially “English” club football the last 10 years.

            The reason the US in the late 90’s, started to develop way ahead of most of its concacaf neighbors is because their core players played and trained together whilst the likes of Trinidad, Honduras, and Jamaica had players playing in different leagues with different systems, thus making it harder for them to gel for international matches.

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