I’m not, and never been one of these deluded people that think every England match should end in a 3-0, 4-0, 5-0… I KNOW that other countries are learning the game, aren’t necessarily there to win, they’re there to draw, even to lose with grace and respect, with a performance they can hold their head up high. To most countries, a 1-0 loss is as good as a draw.
Other countries, the “minnow countries” like Andorra, Tanzania, Bolivia, Cook Islands, they don’t turn up to make up the numbers. This 2010 World Cup alone, teams like North Korea, Nigeria, New Zealand, Honduras.. Greece THEY won the 2004 European Championship as a result of heart and drive, not technical ability. These teams are not there to make up the numbers, they’re there to uphold their countries honour and respect. I thoroughly believe the days of the “minnow easy game” are gone. Teams know what they have and what they don’t have, and focus on the strengths.
So when England drew with the USA and Algeria, I know the media said England “should win these easy games”, but there’s no such thing, games can’t be seen as easy as the other team doesn’t want to lose easily, they throw people in front of a vicious shot, “park the bus” i.e. Defend as a team, all 10 players behind the ball defending, anything to stop a drubbing. Only the most elite of football teams can score 3 goals or more in international football, doesn’t happen half as much as people would expect, so when the media said these were “easy games”, I failed to see it.
Out of all the group draws, sure ON PAPER England were drawn in quite a straight forward group, but tactics and player performance come into it as well as “quality”. This tournament, no one player has stood up and been counted, no player has taken a game from the scruff of the neck, no player can say they’ve played as well for England as they have their club team.
There will no doubt be an inquest, was it the tactics? The club teams and how THEY don’t or do utilise the player? The manager and players not on the same team? These are all the same questions as England’s exit in the 2002 & 2006 World Cup’s, and the 2004 European Championship. I merely think England are not good enough, it doesn’t matter on the system or the manager, it’s the standard of the players. You look at the England substitutes bench, players like Joe Hart, Michael Dawson, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Peter Crouch are there, simply not enough strength in depth, and those that DO play, aren’t in the same sense as Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi or Bastien Schweinsteiger, they’re seen to be on the same level, but are they… REALLY?
I think if the English FA has any sense, they’ll step in and try and say to the clubs, a quota of national players has to come in. Also this team of 28 and 29 year olds will be past it for the next World Cup, who can SERIOUSLY come in? Gerrard and Lampard have been in the debate of “England’s attacking midfielder is…” England haven’t nurtured the next generation since 2001. England have a team that picks itself… That speaks volumes.