England in “Not very good” shocker (World Cup Braindump #1)
After a long four-year wait the World Cup has begun! And…well, it has been a little disappointing, really. But still, in the spirit of blogging my brains out, here is my first World Cup Braindump. Yes, just what you’ve been waiting for – my thoughts, badly organised, poorly considered, and spewed across your monitor! But now in easy-to-digest numbered form!
- There really hasn’t been a great deal of quality football so far. I wouldn’t mind so much if this had, in turn, led to plenty of goals. However, it seems that the attacking players have been just as incompetent as the defensive players. But, we are only a couple of days in, and I’m sure things will improve. It does show, though, that there still is a big gulf between the top sides and the others. I don’t think I buy the whole “There are no easy games in international football” argument. There is plenty of rubbish out there.
- South Africa/Mexico had a cracking goal, but was far too nervy and disjointed to be truly enjoyable – I doubt it will be remembered as a great World Cup opening game.
- France looked as uninspired and unmotivated as ever. My bet on them not qualifying still looks good to me, but even if they do go through they’ll have to improve plenty.
- Nigeria’s goalkeeper had a hell of a game didn’t he? Argentina didn’t look to be world-beaters, but they did look like they might eventually warm up to be…
- Germany have been the one truly impressive side so far. Australia are no slouches, but Germany made them look very poor. Cahill’s sending off didn’t help, and seemed a little over-the-top from the referee, but Germany were cruising even then. If Germany continue to look so good, then England winning their group will become a big priority, in order to avoid an especially difficult second round. Which brings me to…
- England/USA. Not a good game, at all. A draw was very much the fair result, but it could have been a whole lot different. In those first few minutes England looked great, and looked like they could kill the game off at any time. Gerrard looked inspired as captain, Heskey was justifying his selection, and Johnson looked excellent going forward. However, England retreated into their shell, rather than taking the game to the US.
- Then, of course, came Green’s calamity. Truly great teams and great players don’t make fundamental errors like that. While I can sympathise on a human level, professionally, Green wasn’t good enough. Saving a shot at his near post later on wasn’t ‘redemption’, it is what any decent ‘keeper should be able to do. Following Scott Carson’s and Paul Robinson’s howlers for England in the recent past, that old joke about Scottish goalkeepers might need revising…
- Capello should take some criticism too. Picking an unfit Milner and King horribly backfired. Now, if King is ruled out of the tournament, we’re already a player down. You could call it back luck, I’d say they were more unnecessary gambles. Throwing on Wright-Phillips ahead of Joe Cole seemed a strange choice too.
- There just wasn’t the quality or discipline required. Lampard needs to stop his speculative shots from 25 yards out, particularly when teammates are in a better position. Lumping the ball forward to a big man up front won’t win the World Cup. The wingers need to learn how to cross a ball. And how hard is it to keep the ball?
- Optimists point to World Cup winners making slow starts in previous tournaments. I point to England making slow starts in previous tournaments and never really improving. Must do better.
- As for the USA, a great result for them, without them having to play well. But, should they qualify (and barring disaster, they should), I think they might encounter trouble against a stronger side than England.
- Today is Day One of Operation Watching Football At Work for people around the world. I may take a late lunch to see the second half of Holland/Denmark, then go for the radio for the second game. Damn this monitor pointing out into the room…
Much has been made of England’s disappointing start to the World Cup but some of the flack has been over the top. One guy on 5Live today was calling for Capello’s resignation! USA are only a few places behind England in the world rankings so they’re not going to be a pushover. Having said that, England possess far better players and I kept feeling they ought to have found the killer pass to set up a winner. Well, the killer pass did come but it fell for Heskey who did what Heskey does best – hit it at the keeper. It was a pity as he’d had a great game otherwise and justified his selection.
As for the other teams on display so far, Argentina reminded me of Arsenal – all tippy-tappy passes but seemed to want to walk the ball into the net at times. Germany were very impressive but a stronger team will cause their defence far more problems. Just watching Holland brush Denmark aside without breaking a sweat but wondering where the flair is. Little flair apart from Messi, throughout so far and I always doubt Brazil will offer much samba football with Dunga managing. So my money’s on Spain, not necessarily to win but to be the most entertaining side this summer.
As I said here:
“I was pretty wary of the US going into the game, and am sick of English supporters underestimating them because of pre-conceptions of the US and football (soccer). The US are one of the top 20 national sides in the world, and should be respected as such.
Hopefully (although I can’t really see it), this result will be something of a wake-up call for England players and fans. More likely, they’ll focus on the goalkeeping error and ignore the rest of their limitations.”
England’s supporters need to get some perspective on their own team’s limitations, and the strength of teams such as the US. The result wasn’t the end of the world, but it does suggest there hasn’t been enough improvement for England to be anything more than quarter-finallists at best.
I like the Argentina/Arsenal comparison – very fitting – and think you may be right about Germany. I just caught the second half of the Holland game, and I’m not entirely convinced yet. They looked good in the last 10 minutes (with Denmark chasing the game), but they lacked real inspiration prior to that.
So, that post you owe me…I guess I need to think of something. Maybe you and some buddies should buy a bottle of Brewdog’s Sink the Bismarck and write a review. You could write a scathing piece on college football’s superiority over international “footbol”. Ah, you could write about the obsession Brits have with American indie rock, particularly Pavement. The possibilities are endless. Let’s flesh this out in the comments.
The English medai are bizarre when it comes to most sports. Instead of acknowledging what fifty-odd years of fairly dismal performances from most of our team and individual sports stars when it comes to games played with balls the press look to the one or two exceptions – 1966, 2005 Ashes series, Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon in 1977 etc – and demand that we go into any tournament at any time and win it. The knock-on effect is that great swathes of the English population start to think we should be superstars of football, rugby, tennis, cricket, whatever. We’re not historically a great nation when it comes to these sports. We’ve had some brilliant racing drivers, currently have a fantastic crop of runners, swimmers, cyclists and other Olympic sports performers, yet these are always regarded as of less importance. Any in-depth analysis of just why it should be that the English expect to win at ball games despite all the evidence to the contrary would make for an intriguing read, wouldn;t it?
Steven – I’m sure there is a lot to be said about the misplaced English superiority complex. My theory at least begins with the fact that we invented (or at least codified) a huge number of popular sports. Yet, we never progressed our ideas and looked down on countries that did (with better tactics, professionalism, youth systems). We’ve never really recovered. Maybe I’ll try to flesh it out one day!
Re: the bet – I hadn’t forgotten, and I wasn’t dodging it, honest! Some great suggestions there. I’ve looked up ordering Sink The Bismarck, but there’s no way I can afford it at the moment (£40 for one 330ml bottle!), and my only buddy likely to chip in lives miles away. So, that might have to take a backseat for now. College football? I know next to nothing about it, but that has never stopped me spouting off before! And American Indie Rock Obsession – well, I think I could ramble on about that for a bit.
Maybe I just need to get some craft beer in, watch some college football on YouTube, while listening to some Pavement or similiar, and see where it takes me?
Or failing that, I’m sure we can hone something better. As the loser of the bet I am entirely in your hands.
You’re probably right about this. After all, we still har back to being shocked by USA 60 ears ago. Or to e footballing lesson we were taught b the Hungrians several ears before that And we persistently bang on about 1966 as though winning the World Cup once gave us a divine right to win it every four years. Perhaps we ought to take up baseball and other sports invented elsewhere?
“Maybe I just need to get some craft beer in, watch some college football on YouTube, while listening to some Pavement or similiar, and see where it takes me?”
That sounds like a great idea. It could help you channel my blog and actually build that international coalition for which I long or something like that. Maybe live-blogging a day dedicated to craft beer, football, and Pavement would be a good idea. And since the match was a draw, I will certainly write a response at International Coalitions.
Oh, you could do a post on the conference expansion in college football. It would be an interesting read to get a Brits point of view on the whole mess. Think about it. I look forward to your post.
All sounds good – I’ll do some research and try and get something up in the next week or two!
[…] Building international coalitions through beer, American indie rock, college football and other delights Posted on July 14, 2010 by Steve A little over a month ago England drew with the United States at the World Cup, and I lost a bet with Zac from the fine blog Building International Coalitions Through Beer And Pavement.1 Luckily, losing the bet just involved writing a blog post, rather than parting with huge wedges of cash or undertaking embarrassing forfeits. However, being the terrible, lazy, busy man that I am, it is only now I have got around to the task at hand…Yep, as pretty much agreed I just need to get some craft beer in, watch some college football on YouTube, while listening to so…. […]