Tuesday, 29 June 2010

World Cup exit, 2010: England Lost 4-1 to Germany

in the round of 16 teams. They joined France and Italy to make three teams with big reputations and well-known players from the Premier and European Champions League teams to make an early exit.

The debate or investigation into what went wrong will go on for some time. Was it the manager's fault in sticking rigidly to 4-4-2 or the players' fault for some inscrutable reason like incompatibility as personalities? I suspect there is a lot more to tell about this. Were they bored living and training together for 5 or so weeks? Is that relevant? Wouldn't it make them more eager and enthusiastic to be actually playing?

The links below are two representative views from  Michael Owen and Roy Keane, both players with World Cup experience:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jun/29/england-world-cup-fabio-capello (Roy Keane)

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Four hours to go before England play Germany in the round of 16

World Cup in South Africa, June 27th 2010.

There is little evidence that England can play well enough to win this afternoon. Two shaky draws and 1-0 against Slovenia who didn't qualify. This result was received like a reprieve while playing out time instead of going for more goals to finish as top of the group and an easier route forward.

The Independent newspaper sums the situation up very well, as it often does. The Guardian and Telegraph go in for a mix of the vainglorious and the analytical. But fundamentally, they are all saying 'Can England suddenly find some form?'


Saturday, 26 June 2010

Italy and France left this week. There but for .....

...... the luck that every successful team needs Go England!

Yes, France lost to South Africa in their last group game. Anelka had been sent home and captain, Evra, was not chosen to play. One report said that the team went home 'economy class'. Domenech, the manager, seems to be an unyielding and opinionated character.  More to come on this soap opera as the French government orders an investigation to find out Who Is Responsible! Or maybe, who is more responsible than others.

Italy were in the same position as England going into their last match with two draws and had to beat Slovakia, compared to England's Slovenia. They lost 2-3, so home went the World Cup holders!! England with the win over Slovenia coming second in their Group play Germany tomorrow afternoon. Despite the confident English press comments I think the German mixture of mature and younger players will win......... but hope to be wrong.

Brazil and Portugal played an ugly boring match last night. 0-0, and both teams go through to the next round.

Netherlands, Germany, Brazil and Argentina: one of those four. One of the two latter?

But, wait a minute, Spain left some of their tiki-taka out of their play last night, were more direct with Torres in the centre. David Villa was the one who settled them with a first goal from distance into an empty net. The Chile goalie had charged out to hunt down a loose ball but only succeeded in scuffing it into Villa's path. Ended 2-1 to Spain. They have got the class to win the World Cup. But how would they fare against the iron men Maicon and Lucio of Brazil? (Two of the Mourinho's Milan Champions' League winning team)


Sunday, 20 June 2010

A Disheartened Team

I had decided not to write about the World Cup as there would be plenty of others doing so.

But .......... here we are just over halfway through the group stage with most teams having played two of their three matches and the situation with the England team is dire, miserable, stultifying, alarming and weird. Something is wrong after two draws when the second against Algeria produced little skill and no goals. Surely England have never been so completely downbeat and disheartened in a competition. Rooney seems to have taken over a media theory that he was the lynchpin (kingpin) of the team and all would depend on him. Now he finds that he cannot perform as we know that he can. Other players follow suit.

No doubt there will be some kind of investigation as there is a group psychological problem with the team. Thank goodness there are no penalty shoot-outs in this group stage or there would be players running away to the dressing room to hide rather than take a penalty. It would mean trusting the feet to make contact with the ball.
(In contrast, read Cool Foot Frank - when Lampard had to re-take a penalty twice in an English Premier League match)

This Guardian piece (see link below) expresses what happened in the last match (against Algeria) as well as any that I have read in the last two days

England have to play Slovenia next, the only team in the group to have won a match - each team having played two games. A win against Slovenia is needed but can this England team shake off their fear and actually turn up to play?

Group C

Monday, 7 June 2010

The World Cup, a near miss!

2010 FIFA World Cup logoImage via Wikipedia

Most English football fans remember the year that England won the World Cup even if  they had not been born when it took place. The tournament's  final stages were from 11th to 30th July. And the year was, of course, 1966.
In that year I was in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria, with my wife and three young children. I had a 3 year contract with the government there which had started on 31st Dec, 1963. I didn't realise when I signed the contract that the World Cup would become relevant. 

Our three years would not be completed until the very end of 1966. There was no chance of watching any of the matches in Kaduna even on television. And in any case it might never happen again in my lifetime that this competition could take place in my own country!  We might actually win the thing! How could I get back to England to see the matches?

I talked to people in the Ministry and it turned out that it was in the public interest that leave could be taken in early July, 1966!  It is marvellous how accommodating people can be. But it was a near miss! No sooner off the plane and the tournament started; the next three weeks were spent in a darkened  room where my father-in-law and myself watched England win through round after round to the final and a national victory.

My wife would have liked us to take a stopover holiday in the Canary Islands on the way home from Kaduna.  She has not quite forgiven me for not doing it and of course the current atmosphere of interest in the World Cup 2010 reminds her. But for me there was only ever one choice.

What did the 1966 England players do the day after winning the World Cup?