Saturday, June 19, 2010

(We're on a) Road to Nowhere

Like most everyone else (who follows football), I'm still reeling from last night. Part of me almost thinks that a defeat would have been both justifiable and a blessed release. We wouldn't have been on the plane home, but we would have by next Wednesday night.

I can't help but feel sorry for the thousands of England fans who saved up thousands of quids to travel 6,000 miles, to a southern-hemisphere winter, to watch a bunch of over-paid prima donnas fail to even look like they wanted to be there.

I don't care if he is the future of English football, Wayne Rooney should be dropped from the next game - not because he was noticeably pissed off with England's fans for booing the team off the pitch, but for looking the least equipped person at the tournament. His contributions to England's opening two matches has been non-existent and last night he couldn't even master a first touch.

And the fan who found his way into England's dressing room to vent at his team? Well done to him, I hope he was articulate and put his point across before he was bundled out. These footballers earn more in a week than most of us earn in year; after an abysmal performance like that, every paying fan should be allowed to line up and verbally berate their team - it might make some of these twats wearing an England shirt realise that there is more to the English than just supporting their club team. We had national pride once; it's going to be a long time before we regain it at football.

Slovenia on Wednesday suddenly looks as dodgy as fuck. They beat the team we failed so spectacularly against last night and for most of the game against the USA looked like winning. They showed invention, neat passing skills and I hardly saw one long ball played in the entire match. This is a country with 2million people in its population - what the TV commentator didn't mention was that 53% of Slovenians are women, which means that the football team is selected from under 1 million men. As the Americans are keen to say - you do the maths.

There are now calls for Capello's head; while others are saying we can't just discard our managers' every time they have a bad result. But isn't the World Cup the event that every team in the world builds up for? It's the pinnacle of footballing achievement and surely one would expect a manager to get his team ready to peak just as the thing kicks off? England have looked a shadow of the team that almost steamrollered qualification; the manager has become increasingly flaky in the last two months. First he handed his squad a real vote of confidence by trying and succeeding to lure Jamie Carragher out of international retirement, then compounded it more by asking Paul Scholes and being turned down. What message did this send to England players whose names were not Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard, Gerrard and Barry?

The decision to take Ledley King was a sound one, he is a star footballer who just happens to have a dodgy knee. The thing is King hasn't actually been sidelined with his knee for over 18 months - it's all the other niggling injuries he picks up because he can't train like other professionals. It was destined that King would miss the world cup because of a groin strain and perhaps Capello should have noted that King only misses games now at Spurs because of his propensity to injure the less fucked up parts of his body. Feel a little sorry for Matthew Upson; he was Ferdinand's able understudy for 5 of the qualifiers; he has more pace than all the other central defenders (apart from maybe Dawson) and his confidence has all but been destroyed. Why are he, Dawson, Joe Cole, Stephen Warnock, Joe Hart and a few others even there?

I can't help thinking that certain players possibly shouldn't have missed out. I wouldn't have taken Heskey, I would have left SWP at Heathrow, plus Carragher, and controversially Frank Lampard, who continuously fails to perform for England at major tournaments. In their place I would taken Adam Johnson, Ashley Young, Tom Huddlestone and maybe even Gabby Agbonlahor, who after a rest would have scared opponents with his pace and ability to steal behind players. I would also have taken Micah Richards as a cover for Glen Johnson, despite him not being that regular for Man City - after all, he gets more games than SWP.

I would also be looking at inventing a time machine to rush back 22 years and make sure Gareth Bale's mother gives birth to him in England, rather than Wales (that said I'd also go back 37 years and make sure Mrs Giggs has her Ryan in London and not Wrexham). But that is clutching at surreal and impossible straws. England's problem is quite simple - they struggle to play as a team and that is because the manager picks only his best players! This might seem an odd thing to say, but look at the number of teams who have left players considered as shoo-ins for a national team at home? There's at least 6 Argentinians who would walk into an England team were they English, who have been left at home - among these Esteban Cambiasso and Juan Riqueleme, who four years ago were being talked of as two of the best players in the world.

Just look at Greece's win at Euro 2004. No stars, but a team that played together like a unit; players who supported the other players for 90+ minutes a game. Listening to Terry Butcher's experiences of Spain in 1982, when England went out of the competition without losing a game and only conceding one goal (because of the bizarre way that FIFA opted to conduct the competition that year). He said there seemed to be more camaraderie and bonding between the squad, something that seems to be lacking from this current regime. He thinks there are two many club divisions and players who are happy to dislike other team mates. The current team play for themselves, they don't play for each other.

You could argue that the Premiership now has too many foreigners and there is only a small chance for good English players to make the breakthrough, but this is a weak excuse; because there is no evidence to suggest that if there were more English players in teams, it would improve the standard of the England team. There are teams such as my own Spurs, who have squads full of British players and they can finish 4th in an increasingly difficult Premier League. The problem at the moment is all the real rising stars in the Prem at the moment seem to be from anywhere but England. look at Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, both Welsh and both destined for big things; Graham Dorrens of Scotland and WBA is a player who seems to have been crafted out of another former WBA man - Bryan Robson, an overrated player who gave 200% for England and was a worthy captain of the team, despite his own injury problems. Dorrens can also take a free kick like Beckham.

It's been a bleak day to be an England supporter and many now believe that our Golden Generation is more of a joke than a serious accusation. It's time for some changes; it's time to get rid of anyone from the side that is over 32 years of age, or will be by the time Euro 2012 starts. Joe Hart needs to be told he is the new England #1 and he should start and be built up to hold the job for the next 10 years at least. He's 23, he could be England keeper until he's 39. It might be time to say goodbye to the old guard as well, with only really Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole staying. Terry and Ferdinand should retire, as should King and Carragher. Michael Dawson, Gary Cahill, Matthew Upson and Phil Jagielka should be the next group of centre backs to lead England.
Out also should go Frank Lampard, Shaun Wright-Phillips and possibly one or two others. Players such as Milner (although I fail to see just where he would play for England), Young, Huddlestone, Everton's Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell should also be blooded - there isn't much more to choose from after these. Plus up front, we need to stop relying on Rooney. Crouch does a job in qualification, but fails to get support at major competitions; the same can be said for all the strikers really and it might be time to get rid of some of them and replace them with the likes of Dean Sturridge and Gabriel Agbonlahor. The England team needs a massive overhaul, because the current shower of shit couldn't get a hard on in a bucket of clunge!

1 comment:

  1. Twenty three puffed-up, Marsy-mouthed, anemic Danish shandy-sodden, Marks & Spencer floozying, grand Ailurophobia afflicted, fully-grown prima ballerinas fussily pirouetting around a plum-red pig's bladder stitched together with Mick McCarthy's monobrow in the middle of a muddy meadow.