I did not watch all but the last 10 minutes of England’s inevitable defeat at the hands of Uruguay last night, which effectively ends their world cup campaign after only 5 days. Instead I found myself at a bar with a Scottish colleague who is leaving for distant shores, and weighing up the options I decided it was better to remain with him than go home and watch the football. After all, I might not see him for a while but a “heroic” England defeat comes along at every major championship.
And so to save time, I’ll merely repeat what I said after England bombed out of the last world cup:
Theories abound as to why England are performing so badly, but I believe I know why and the answer is frighteningly simple: the players are simply not good enough. And that’s about it. There are many factors which go into making a player good: fitness, skills, mental strength, etc. and James’ site is an excellent source of discussion on sports psychology, but the sum total is failing England’s players and has done so for years. An old boss of mine in Manchester who had been watching live football every weekend for years told me this over ten years ago. See those world class players? They’re not.
See also this post from around the same time, and Chris Waddle’s remarks:
Why don’t the FA look at other countries and say ‘how do they keep producing this talent?’ Where is our Plan B? We haven’t got one. The back four can’t control the ball, can’t pass, we lack so many ideas it’s frustrating.
Has anything changed since then?
Of course, the problem is compounded by the English media, which I can only assume is a reflection of the population, having expectations which far exceed reality. Like the BBC and NHS, the England football team is one of those institutions which is considered world class – inside the country. Outside, they are regarded with a contemptuous “Hah!” You will know when England stand a chance of winning a major football competition when foreigners start talking about the likelihood of England winning, not just the English press. And that hasn’t happened in my lifetime.