Often Partisan

Post Mortem

So it’s been a few days now since England ignominiously crashed out of the World Cup, and I thought I might reflect on a few things now the meedja has had it’s say.

Firstly, I have to pick up on this: http://bit.ly/cNkYFm (thanks @brucedaisley). It’s true, the internet never forgets, and this is proof that the national press will criticise you no matter which way you jump … because they are always right and the England manager is always wrong. I think Capello tried to get it right; but for me 4-4-2 only works when you’ve got wingers/wide midfielders who can get the ball into the box, and even with Milner’s efforts we just didn’t have that. Lennon seemed scared to take “the man” on, and don’t even talk to me about Shaun Wright-Phillips, who I continue to believe is one of the most overrated footballers known to man. If we weren’t going to take Adam Johnson (for my money, the best English left winger we’ve got), and with Beckham being injured, then we have to think of a different route to goal other than “get the ball wide, to the by-line, fire it into the box”. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Steven Gerrard didn’t insist on trying to play the “Hollywood” ball every time, or to shoot from distance. There wasn’t enough penetration into the box – Defoe and Rooney are both excellent goalscorers in the  18 yard area, so why not give them the ball where it matters? I do like the idea of a 4-3-3, with Rooney and Defoe supporting a big man up front (Crouch or Heskey), with Lampard, Gerrard and Barry playing a tight midfield three, and the full backs detailed to bomb on – but I have no doubt that would have been exposed down the wings by some of the better teams and I think Glen Johnson would have been punished for his defensive failings.

There has been much criticism of the England team for not showing enough “sorrow” in their defeat – apparently any attempt by any of the 23 to smile in the next six months is going to be hit by the press as more proof that they don’t give a flying fuck at an airborne doughnut about England. This I cannot agree with – yes, the team were poor and substandard but I don’t think for a moment that they don’t care. I think it was more a case that they bottled it in the face of some pretty major hype and expectation. As other bloggers such as my fellow bluenose Ron (http://ronsatossa.wordpress.com) have pointed out, it’s the players who haven’t spent their pre-World Cup preparations raking in the cash through merchandising deals who seem to have excelled; indeed, if I was Capello (and I was staying in charge) I’d put the kibosh on any more of that bollocks until they actually won something. If it costs the FA money, tough shit – it’s time to get back to what they’re supposed to be doing, which is playing football.

I’ve seen mention of people saying that we need to rip up the team and start again; whilst this is dramatic, I think they have a point. Lampard and Gerrard are both the wrong side of 30, as are Upson and Carragher; Heskey is older than me (although by a very small amount); for fucks sake David James is 40 in a month’s time. Whilst I’d have taken Beckham to this World Cup if he was fit, I think the time has come now to look at younger players. I’d spend the next few friendlies giving caps to some younger talent, and to completely drop the old guard to see who can cut it and who can’t. Ashley Cole got fast-tracked into the England team as a younger player, and I think it’s part of the reason he’s one of our few world-class players. Ditto with Wayne Rooney – although his performances in the World Cup belied what he can actually do.

I think the witch-hunt for Capello has to end though. He’s a good manager; probably one of the best around – and if we got rid of him who would take on the poisoned chalice? The first person to mention ‘Arry Redknapp gets a kicking – for reasons I won’t go into on here, I cannot see him ever being given the top job in this country. Hodgson seems to be going to Liverpool – who does that leave as flavour of the month?

Also – one final note on England flags. The amount of people I heard about who took down their flags as soon as we lost to the Germans is incredible. I heard of people taking them down as the fourth went in; people who were all of a sudden not so proud to be English. Jesus Christ people – is that all your patriotism amounts to? Four goals from the Germans and you surrender your nationalistic beliefs quicker than a Frenchman at war? As a Birmingham City fan, I’m used to being kicked in the knackers every time I expect us to do well – see the Portsmouth FA Cup result last year – but it never stops me being a Birmingham City fan or being proud of it. I don’t fly an England flag from my house (I don’t have a car) because I’ve never been that patriotic – but I can’t say that losing to the Germans has made me feel less proud to be from England.

There’s always next time. At least that’s what they tell us Birmingham City fans.

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