England in “Not very good” shocker (World Cup Braindump #1)

by Steve

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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…
  5. 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…
  6. 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.
  7. 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…
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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…