Another World Cup, Another English Defeat

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.

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10 Responses to Another World Cup, Another English Defeat

  1. JoeBlow says:

    Not giving a brass farthing about sporting matters in general. but….

    The amount of bilge down here about ‘the goal of the tournament’ or ‘the goal that was heard around the world’ is truly retch inducing….

    Getting their arse handed to them by Chile has been sent to the memory hole.

  2. Honestly, I don’t think anyone in England went into this tournament thinking England were going to win the tournament, or even do especially well. This mistake was made four years ago and England turned out to be awful, and expectations went the other way this time. It was “England are not very good and are going to lose” this time, and that is what happened.

  3. Bardon says:

    I watched the England Uruguay game and enjoyed it. England and their players can actually play good scooper, they always have and lets not forget this. As far as I can see the biggest problem is not palying football but is this major expectation that everything is major and England are top.

    If you boil it down England might not have their mojo because of the usual modern reasons, who cares. its al about football and if we got back to that I think England would perform better.

    This tournament is bloody good as far as good games go so far.

  4. dearieme says:

    They might have got out of an easy group. Alas, they were drawn in a hard one.

    I found Uruguay interesting: nine journeymen and two genuine stars can be enough to beat England if (i) you organise them well, and (ii) the stars are attackers.

    England were just not good enough, which is an improvement from some past competitions when they were a ruddy embarrassment.

  5. bilbaoboy says:

    Having lived nearly 40 years ‘overseas’ in Spain and despite having been rubbish at footy, I enjoy the ‘noble’ sport. I hardly follow the Premier League except to see how Mata, Cazorla, Torres etc are doing. although I recognise that I enjoy the high-speed direct style.

    My thoughts on England entirely. Over-hyped prima donnas who aren’t all that good. every championship they over-rate themselves, their short-comings painfully exposed on the pitch.

    However, this time, for the first time, I saw a sea-change in the England team. They were a little unlucky BUT, without being brilliant, they move the ball differently and there is somebody up-front with talent and ability rather than brute force.

    It was the first English team to try and play 21st century football. A long way to go, but a start.

  6. TNA says:

    @Dearime re. the Uruguay paradox,

    But isn’t that the nature of wendyball all over though; it’s always struck me as the sort of game where a weak team can beat a strong team against the run of play with a lucky goal. At least far more so than in contact sports.

  7. Tim Newman says:

    Honestly, I don’t think anyone in England went into this tournament thinking England were going to win the tournament, or even do especially well.

    True, expectations were especially low this time around.

  8. Tim Newman says:

    But isn’t that the nature of wendyball all over though; it’s always struck me as the sort of game where a weak team can beat a strong team against the run of play with a lucky goal.

    Hence its appeal: any team can cause an upset, unlike, say, New Zealand playing England at rugby, to name a random example. The simplicity, low scoring, and injustices of football are what makes it so damned popular.

  9. Tim Newman says:

    However, this time, for the first time, I saw a sea-change in the England team. They were a little unlucky BUT, without being brilliant, they move the ball differently and there is somebody up-front with talent and ability rather than brute force.

    I missed both games, so didn’t see England play at all. But I heard that they were more exciting up front than they had been previously. Given that “previously” includes strikers such as Emile Heskey, this cannot have been difficult.

  10. dearieme says:

    Wellbeck is the Heskey de nos jours.

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