Saturday 19 June 2010

England 0 Algeria 0

Was this the worst performance by an England side in a World Cup?

It's certainly the worst performance I've ever seen from England in World Cup finals.

It wasn't just a case of England playing badly, but I was actually shocked at how awful both individually and collectively the team played. I couldn't help but think,

Who are these people?

The likes of Lampard, Gerrard, and Rooney, were totally unrecognisable from the players you see week in week out in the Premier League.

England players need a sports psychologist in the camp, and I say that half joking - half seriously. The players looked totally inhibited as if the pressure is so great and unbearable they just can't perform.
One of the most frustrating things was watching players fail to take responsibility, playing unnecessary passes in or around the box instead of taking a shot and making the goalkeeper work.

At the end of the game Wayne Rooney then had the cheek to criticise England fans for booing the team at the final whistle.

Nobody can question the support of England fans. Look at the numbers who have made the trip to South Africa. For many of them this is a once in a lifetime experience and when you think about the cost it's a huge sacrifice.

When you've made that kind of sacrifice and commitment you've got every right to make your feelings known.

A press statement released by the Football Association has now been issued in which he makes an apology. Obviously the PR machine has been at work here, with someone suggesting an apology needs to be issued to get the country back onside.

Earlier in the week Germany's football legend Franz Beckenbauer criticised England's performance against the USA, claiming England were returning to the bad old days of kick and rush. I even said in an earlier blog his comments were over the top. I take it all back.

Last night's performance was worse than kick and rush, nobody could control or pass the ball, and I had no idea what our game plan was or what type of football we were trying to play.

Reading on the BBC's website former England player Chris Waddle said:

'..we've got to question our technique. The foreign influence in the Premier League makes it more exciting but when you just take the best of England out, it shows up.'

I've been hearing about the lack of technique from England players since I first got into football back in the late 1980's. We've had an entire generation to sort this out but we're still having the same discussions we were having 25 years ago.

Since taking over as England manager Fabio Capello has been trusted and respected in his management. Partly because of his club record and also the success of England's qualifying campaign. But now serious question marks are being asked about his management of the team.

I know everyone is saying this, but why hasn't Joe Cole been given a chance? Is Capello flexible enough to really change things in the next game?

Back in Italia 90, England had to beat Eygpt in their final group game to make the next round. Bobby Robson decided to employ Mark Wright as a sweeper, a tactical change that at the time appeared quite radical, but it was dramatic change in formation that worked and we went through. Can Capello do something similar?

Can England make the second round?

Well yes, if we beat Slovenia, but can anyone say this will happen with 100% certainty? The biggest positive I can think of, is that there's no way England can possibly play any worse than last night.

Next week's game against Slovenia is absolutely massive! For me it's a real crossroads moment! If England go out, it could seriously take me years to regain the level of interest and emotional support for the team I have had for 20 years.

Next Wednesday at 3:00 is D Day for England.

World Cup - Day eight thoughts

Glad I'm not French

This was what I thought when I watched Thursday night's game between France and Mexico which Mexico deservedly won 2-0.

The French have some very good players, but collectively as a team are terrible. On paper their squad is realistically good enough to reach the Semi Finals, but it's unlikely they'll even get out of the group stage.

There's clearly something that's very rotten at the heart of the French national team, and it's been this way for the last three of four years.

France were poor in the 2008 European Championships, and were lucky to qualify for this World Cup.

I've been reading loads of stories about problems within the squad, particularly the players relationship with Domenech the coach. Florent Malouda apparently had an argument with Domenech before the game against Uruguay about playing in a more defensive role and William Gallas is upset having been overlooked for the captaincy.

It looks obvious that the players don't want to play for their manager. I'm sure all of this will come out after the tournamanet and laurent Blanc takes over.

When it comes to infighting and disharmony the French have taken over from the Dutch, who are notorious for this sort of thing.

I don't think France are going to make it. They've got to beat South Africa next week, and even that might not be good enough and to be honest the way they've played nobody will miss them.

* Nicolas Anelka was sent home from the French squad on Saturday 18 June 10, having refused to apologise to the French manager following an argument between the two at half time in the game against Mexico.

Germany 0 Serbia 1

I didn't see this result coming!

This group's wide open now which has implications for England, as we're likely to play one of the teams in this group in the second round.

I watched some of the second half on my lunch break of this match. Even with 10 men Germany could have got something out of this game, but they're not as good as everyone immediately thought following their win against Australia.

Germany might not top the group now, and supposing England to top theirs (still an assumption) we could meet Germany in the second round.

I've thought about this and although ideally you wouldn't want to face Germany in the second round, would it really be such a bad thing?

Just for the fact it's Germany I'm sure England would raise their game in way they would struggle to against the likes of Serbia or Ghana.

I don't know what to make of the Germans, I can't tell how good they are, but I wouldn't be overawed at the prospect of England playing them.

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