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Montenegro Shows The World Why England Is Still Cr*p At Football

The less said about England’s performance from Friday against Montenegro, the better. They qualified for Euro 2012, but it was a less than convincing performance.

When England walked out for the beginning of the second half, I had a feeling that the side wasn’t mentally ready for the second 45 minutes. Darren Bent walked alongside Wayne Rooney, and they were both chatting and joking about something that seemed unrelated to the game itself. The England players then stood around in a clump, waiting for the Montenegro side to leave their dressing room. Looking at the England side, none of them were warming up. The way they were acting was as if they were on holiday, standing around and chatting with their mates. After watching that, and seeing how Montenegro were creating some good opportunities in the first half, I knew England were doomed.

This was a game that England should have won convincingly in the first half. It wasn’t a good quality pitch and Montenegro defended in numbers, but it was obvious that England were the better side who were unable to put their chances away.

But the headline story from the game shouldn’t be Wayne Rooney’s red card for his street hooligan bump against his Montenegro opponent, and the way he viciously kicked the back of his leg. The story was the spirited performance that Montenegro displayed in the second half. As the game went on, Montenegro’s side grew in confidence and began making some mazy dribbling runs through the England defense. There were numerous crosses floated into the box that caused England problems, and after Montenegro scored their first goal, it only seemed a matter of time before the side would get an equalizer.

In the second half, England looked like the England of old. No self confidence. No system. No inspirational performances. And they lacked the hunger and desire to fight for a victory. At the same time that I was watching this match, I was watching Wales against Switzerland on split-screen via ESPN on my Xbox 360. And Wales, by far, looked the better side, playing with passion and self-belief.

So when Montenegro’s Andrija Delibašić scored their second goal after running to the far post to head the ball in to the net, it was everything that Montenegro deserved. The way the players ran to the crowd and threw themselves at their supporters was a sight to see. And after the final whistle was blown, the jubilant scenes of the Montenegro players and fans celebrating on the pitch were wonderful to watch. You could tell how much this draw meant to the players, to the fans and their country. The fans stripped a player of all of his clothes except for his underwear, as he wandered around the field. One fan dug a clump of the turf as a souvenir, while many of the other Montenegro fans rushed over to taunt the England fans who were fenced behind one of the goals.

The headline story, for me, was not Rooney’s red card, but it was the inspirational performance by Montenegro who thoroughly deserved the point and now have a chance of qualifying for their first major tournament. England, meanwhile, are in no better position than in previous years. They’ve qualified for another major tournament in the least extraordinary way possible. Based on their performance Friday, England has no hope in Euro 2012.

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  1. djelkovic

    October 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I think the media and articles like this that is causing the ultimate demise of the England team. Give them motivation, much like the USA give their team and maybe they can pull through. If the attitude the English have with their team doesn’t change, i don’t see why the team would either. the Bosnian team never plays up to it’s full potential, but we always give them praise in the media.

    Why should they play well for a country that only puts them down? I remember them doing very well. And all of the country had their back. I just don’t see the same anymore.

    • The Gaffer

      October 10, 2011 at 6:11 pm

      England gets plenty of praise. If anything, too much praise. How many World Cup tournaments have the press and fans built the team up so much only for their the team to play awfully?

      I’m a firm believer that teams need to play well to deserve praise, not the other way around. If England begins to play well, the fans and press will back them — and give them the credit they deserve.

      The Gaffer

      • Bentley

        October 10, 2011 at 8:28 pm

        I agree with Djelkovic. Teams do need to play well to deserve praise, but why tear them down so much? We English are way too hard on he players and teams in the press. It’s exactly why Torres isn’t playing well and Rooney too back when he was in a rut. It only makes it worse when theres no motivation. In fact, the only motivation is not being ripped apart by the media.

  2. Kem

    October 10, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Is it just me or did the Montenegrin players look more technically gifted with the ball at their feet than the English players??? Obviously the English are in a lot better shape and physically stronger, but i honestly believe the Montenegrins are better with the ball.

    • The Gaffer

      October 10, 2011 at 6:50 am

      I agree. I saw the same thing (mostly in the second half).

      The Gaffer

  3. Jason

    October 9, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Pete is an idiot. No one can argue that the English have more talented individuals then the US. However, soccer/football is more of a team game then any other game in the world and what the English fail to do when put on a pitch together is play as a team. Until they figure that out, success will never happen.

    Also, it’s important to remember that the best players in the world are not English… currently they are Portuguese, Spanish and Argentinean and the reason Spain is having so much success recently as because despite being amazingly talented they play very unselfishly and very team orientated soccer/football.

    Until the FA as a whole including the governing board, Capello and the players themselves get their head out of their as#$s then the will continue to fail. Until then we’ll hear idiots like Pete who have about as much perspective as the FA, Capello and company and will continue to think they’re better than they are.

  4. oldfootyfan

    October 9, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Great article Gaff. I’m a lifelong England fan, and I’ll always love the team, but as you said, the team is just not that good.

    Pete, sure the players play in the top league in the world, but that doesn’t make them the best players in the world! The Spanish, Italian, German, Argentinian, Brazilian… leagues are not the best leagues in the world, but they all produced and continue to produce world class players who then move into the top league(s).
    Many of us England fans think that English players are great, because we see them more often than the other players. Seriously, apart from Rooney, who’s really world class on the England team? I mean really world class. Who’s the creative midfielder that can take players on and split a defence like Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Modric…

    Sadly this bunch of players is just not that talented. Start with the youngsters, teach them the skills and don’t worry about winning being everything until they make it to the top.

    Pete there are smaller countries that do a lot better at tournaments than England, so it’s not just the population base that makes a team.

    Don’t mean to offend anyone. Come on England 🙁

  5. nathan

    October 9, 2011 at 2:38 am

    No trickbrkn, no one gets the picture. Its incomprehensible how the U.S. mens national team would be any better if the likes of Lebron james,Vick, and Kobe Bryant played the beautiful game those guys couldn’t kick a football to save they’re lives, much less run around for 90 minutes especially with all the time-outs & unlimited subs in U.S. sports. But by your dumb logic I guess Messi,Rooney, & Ronaldo would tear up the basketball courts & baseball fields & don’t realize what they’ve been missing out on!

    Returning to the actual topic England does suck at Soccer and have no hope of winning Euro 2012 or any tournament for that matter. As they would say in England they’re absolute rubbish!
    The Epl is only good due to foreigners & the England national team’s lack of tangible success at all levels is proof of that. And as the inventors of the beautiful game that’s a damn shame!

    • Pete

      October 9, 2011 at 3:27 am

      Strange how Man Utd is the best team in the Prem and quite often fields 7 English players,

      Where a team like Arsenal suck and contain a lot of non-English players.

      So your logic is wrong and more teams are actually working out that they need more English/British players to compete in the Prem.
      So you might as well start looking for a new league to watch if you don’t like English players as no one in England will care whether Americans watch or not
      There’s always MLS, 🙂

      Anyway, well done gaffer, your trolling has finally got one of your articles into double figures, although my contribution to this sad article is over

      • The Gaffer

        October 9, 2011 at 8:59 am

        Pete, I’m not saying that the English players are not good. It’s just that they perform much better for their club than their country. Wayne Rooney is a good example.

        The Gaffer

    • Jamie

      October 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      troll, his point is that if all America’s athletes went towards ONE sport (like football) America would be aces. It isn’t necessarily that LeBron or Vick, or Kobe would be great footballers it’s just that their wealth of athletes could dominate.

  6. Pete

    October 9, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Howard is getting old and coming to the end of his time so no, I wouldn’t take him over Hart. As for Dempsey, he would not get in the side ahead of Rooney, Bent, who occupy the positions where Dempsey would play if he could get in the side.

    How many Americans know that Florida is bigger than England? The way these yanks talk about England you would think it was a huge country. Yes, I know it ran the world for about 300 years but come on.

  7. Liam

    October 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    England suck because their players suck. They could bring in any manager and they would still not win anything. When will people realise that the problem is not with the manager but the players. They just aren’t good enough at international level.

    • bayou

      October 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm

      Agreed. This is the same issue the US has. You can’t win major titles when your talent is weak.

    • Pete

      October 8, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      ‘their players suck’. you must be a troll. You’re talking about players who play in the best league in the world and play for the best 6 teams in that league, name me one player playing for the fantastic USA that plays in a top 6 team in the top league in the world? While you’re at it name me one USA player that would get into the England starting 11?

      If we are crap I don’t know what to call your players and team, the blog probably wouldn’t allow it.

      This is a country that isn’t even the size of one of your states, lets see Delaware take on the world.

      • trickybrkn

        October 8, 2011 at 11:49 pm

        USA drew England last time they played… that said one state close to the size of England is New Jersey. And New Jersey could actually field team that could … well be Wales. But… You make football the American game, take away baseball, American Football, basketball etc …. The USMNT would be a world killer. LeBron James and Michael Vick as strikers…. Kobe Bryant in the midfield…. you get the picture…

        ohh and tell me England wouldn’t love to have the Everton #1 as their keeper. The Fulham #9 …


  8. Jason

    October 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I agree that England is crap at football because they have the most overhyped players in the world. They lack technical ability which most of the top nations possess. That’s why England won’t win anything anytime soon. But it’s good to have them in any tournament bcause it guarantees us having discussions about how crap they are or about the personal lives of their players. They provide entertainment value, nothing more.

  9. Alan Knut

    October 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I merely think England underperforms. They are quite frustrating to watch. I think not having Adam Johnson in the side really hurts the team, he is something that is willing to run directly at the other team instead of trying to get a cross in to the strikers. Rooney is not that type of striker. England’s problem, in my opinion, is its striking options. Ronney is the striker in England that I would consider World Class(and I hate him). They’d be better off playing five in the midfield and Rooney up top. I know he likes to drop deep, but why put a waste a striker(who is worthless) by just sticking him up the pitch. If you can get fullbacks up the pitch, and have 5 in the midfield, you really don’t need two strikers.

    England doesn’t really have a lot of talented youth either, they are decent, but not as good as they need to be to make England a force. Alternatively, I don’t think Capello gives enough players a chance. Playing John Terry and Rio Ferdinand around is just hurting the future of this team.

  10. Pete

    October 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Undefeated and qualified top of the group, I’ll take that kind of ‘crap at football’.

    Seems like England have to win 5-0 every game to keep the haters from hating.

    • The Gaffer

      October 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm

      Pete, against sides that even Wales beat (Montenegro and Switzerland). And Wales are pretty awful (this coming from a Welsh person).

      Let’s see them win a tournament, and then we can talk 🙂

      The Gaffer

      • Pete

        October 8, 2011 at 7:40 pm

        Wales aren’t that bad, any team with Bellamy, Ramsey and Bale can give someone a game. The Swiss and Montenegro are not bad teams, The Swiss were the only team to beat Spain in the World Cup.

        I don’t hear people calling Man Utd ‘crap’ when they struggle to beat the SWISS team Basel in the Champions League despite them being lucky to get a draw at HOME.

        Also your argument is pathetic, you aren’t ‘crap’ just because you don’t win a major cup competition, if that was the case we might as well just call every player and every team outside of Spain and Barca ‘crap’.

  11. Jon Sharp

    October 8, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    England are not cr*p: the two goals England scored inside the first half an hour were well constructed and clinically finished, and that was without really getting out of third gear. But England are frustrating. Rather than go for the jugular (I wonder how many goals Germany would have bagged by half time?), England took their foot even more off the gas and allowed Montenegro to begin dictating the game. As Montenegro stepped up the pressure, England’s players suddenly seemed unable to keep their feet at critical moments (don’t they have boots with proper studs anymore?) and unable to keep the ball in midfield. I lost count of the times Parker, Barry, Rooney gave the ball away in midfield needlessly. Why is it that these highly skilled, highly trained footballers are able to ping the ball around in practice, stop it on a sixpence, spin it on their big toe, do five stepovers blindfold, flick it over their heads and back heel it into the top corner of the net, and yet, in the game itself, they seem unable to execute the most simple of passes to a team mate 15 feet away? Montenegro meanwhile seemed unaffected by the conditions and could actually pass to one another (well, mostly).
    Based on the first 30 mins England have the raw ability to do well in international competitions (agree with trickybrkn on many points) if they can only get a manager and a squad of players that doesn’t always find some way to self destruct.

    • bayou

      October 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      “if they can only get a manager and a squad of players that doesn’t always find some way to self destruct.”

      Then exactly how is England not crap? You say they’re not crap and then you want a wholesale change? You can’t have it both ways.

      I watched the game. England looks like England. Inconsistent, vulnerable, and pompous. And I like England.

  12. Rob McCluskey

    October 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I’m surprised at the outrage regarding this result.

    Montenegro have a lot of top players like Vucinic, Jovetic and Savic. All England needed was a point, and sure they threw away a commanding position, yet they are still undefeated and that was one of the hardest games in the group. Reactions like the ones seen here are one of the reasons England may always struggle for the foreseeable future.

    • The Gaffer

      October 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      One thing to remember is that Montenegro fielded a weakened side and purposefully left out three of their top players (although Jovanovic did come on as a sub in the second half).

      The Gaffer

  13. Ivan

    October 8, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Best headline ever. I’ve been saying this forever: there’s a bigger chance of a green Martian with big ears landing at, say, the White House, than England winning a major trophey in our lifetime.
    This time around England were competing in a joke of a group.
    Now, the always drunk part of England will talk for 9 months how England will win the European championship next summer before crushing out of the group stage or in the quarterfinals with yet another underwhelming performance or humiliating defeat. Capello, Elvis, God, I don’t care who coaches the team; the talent is not there, and it hasn’t been for decades. (que in another flattering article on this blog about thugs like Ryan Shawcross and the “honest” footballers of Stoke City, and then tell me how and why England will do well next summer). Maybe Andy Carroll or Peter Crouch, or Scott Parker will step up and get England to the final next summer. Ha! Adam Johnson, Walcott, when he is on, Young, Rooney with a brain, do give England a chance, but, come on, England is a superpower in football only in their own eyes.

  14. Tarek

    October 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Gareth Barry and Scott Parker in the middle of a 4-4-2? Please, someone tell me why that is. Please.

  15. raok

    October 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Call it football for christ’s sake.

    • Bill

      October 8, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      Soccer’s an English term anyway. Comes from the old distinction between Rugby Football – ‘Rugger’ – and Association Football – ‘Soccer’. The Americans learned it from us, then we forgot about it, and act like they’re the weird ones for using the name when we came up with it in the first place…

      • The Gaffer

        October 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm

        Here here, Bill!

        The Gaffer

      • Guy

        October 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm

        Thank you, Bill. I always find the “argument” tedious. Everyone understands why some call it soccer and on this site it is usually a non-issue, thank goodness. We have plenty of other things to irritate each other about. 😉

  16. Trickybrkn

    October 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Sucks at soccer had bit more zing. 😉

  17. trickybrkn

    October 8, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Gaffer, really?

    Sure it was a game that was there for the winning… And Rooney was well Rooney again. And they lacked shape and determination in the 2nd half… But they don’t suck.

    Wales sucks, Scotland sucks. They will not be at the dance. England will be.

    So lets be constructive. Under Capello and with a youth movement at foot, can England get to the level of the Holland, Germany, Spain or even Italy or France. And the thing is they can. But they have to stop playing like England. Beyond Rooney’s soft red, there is John Terry. Terry has clearly lost a step and now backs off players as opposed to stepping in and taking ball. You just can concede space in international football like this. Then you have the Lampard factor. Frank is not the Frank that was once one of the best players in the world, and NOT a player you take a striker off for… Taking Bent off and leaving Rooney alone up front was just giving up on any sort of attack.
    So there are a lot of negatives. But there are positives. Terry has cover, Cahill, Jagielka, Jones and Walker all could and should step up. The midfield is also strong and by summer will feature Wilshere, Walcott, Young and Johnson as players all ready to take over from the mainstays of the last world cup…. With Welbeck and Carroll there is a feeling that England have options…
    And Sure, Caplello will most likely not have a footballing epiphany in half a year… He’ll continue to play it safe. etc etc etc But lets get beyond the gut reaction to say they suck. There is promise in that national side, and with Fabio leaving after Euro 2012… things look brighter then then they have since Beckham sunk Greece.

    Its coming home. someday.

    • The Gaffer

      October 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      Tricky, I agree that there are some positives for England but it’s mostly the club performances by the players you mentioned (Welbeck and Jones for United, Wilshere for Arsenal and Johnson for City, just as a few examples). I haven’t seen many of England’s bright prospects actually put in meaningful performances for their country. Club, yes.

      Under Capello, I don’t see England bringing home a trophy. And I don’t see The FA being gutsy enough to put in a manager who would be willing to make drastic changes to the squad selection and system that would help improve this team. Everyone wants to play it too safe.

      The Gaffer

      • trickybrkn

        October 8, 2011 at 11:11 pm

        Thing is the FA may well be forced to go to say a Redknapp. And as you an imagine I have mixed feelings about that…. Harry would do well with England. He’d pick the best 11 regardless of where they played, who they played for… and He wouldn’t take the bullshit that Capello, and the rest have…. cause he’d been there. and he’s ‘Arry.

        All I’m saying is… the talent is there.

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