Sunday, 13 June 2010

One humiliation accomplished, two to go

We played America. Not at baseball or basketball but at what they like to call "sacker". Some say America is a force to be reckoned with in the game of ball-kicking, after all four of the team have played in the English Premier League and most of the others have experience of playing (usually in the reserves and lower leagues) in Europe.

Our boys all play in the Premier League. We have defenders who know how to defend against good players, the American team has defenders who struggle to get a game for their clubs when the forwards who would oppose them are no great shakes. We have midfielders who control matches against the best sides in the world, they have two chaps of no interest to any big club in the world. We have strikers who score goals from impossible positions, they have a man with the first name Landon.

We scored early on, a very good goal. Perhaps it was the worst possible start because it encouraged the overpaid nancy boys to think it would be a stroll in the park. Mr Rooney, a player of even smaller brain than his star predecessor Mr Gascoine, couldn't understand why the lesser beings of the American opposition were not moving out of the way to let him through and stopped trying. Mr Lampard, a fine player and one of the few articulate chaps in the squad never got going - as is so often the case when he plays alongside his footballing clone Mr Gerrard. No one seemed to know what to do and the team simply did not play as a team.

The goalie will get the blame because of his Sprake-esque error. In truth it shouldn't have mattered had he let in three flukey goals because England should have scored enough to ensure a comfortable victory.

I have had a feeling of doom about this World Cup campaign for several months. Of course you never know what will happen next because many a side has performed badly in its first match only to improve enormously with each further contest. Somehow I can't see it this time. There is no sign of a core strategy, a style of play that reflects both the combined talents of the players and the style of play that has made them successful in domestic football.

Alf Ramsey had a strategy designed to bring the best from the squad. It was a reflective strategy based on the qualities the players showed every week for their clubs rather than being an idealistic plan with which the players were forced to comply. He adopted that strategy by observing how most of his available players played best and selected his squad with that strategy in mind, leaving out some very good players because they were too individualistic whereas those he selected played best when adopting the same team format. Bobby Robson did the same, albeit with the exception of picking Mr Gascoine and forcing him to comply to the pattern that was natural to the rest of the squad.

Against America England did not play as a team. There was no sign that they were playing to a collective plan nor that they were playing together in a way that felt natural for them. To draw 1-1 against a side with one of the weakest central defensive formations in the tournament is nothing less than abject failure. Next we face Algeria. I will be in the curry house, which has installed a telly at the back of the restaurant. We might scrape a win, my guess is another 1-1 draw with Rooney getting a yellow card by kicking a small Arab in retaliation for a gibe about his ears. The final match might result in a slender victory against Slovenia but the USA will beat both those teams and score more goals than us; so Slovenia v Algeria will decide the fate of our brave lads.

Oh well, there will be another one in four year's time.


john miller said...

Blimey, who'd a thought it? TheFatBigot a football fan!

If you're watching some matches in the curry house I'd recommend a trouser and shirt coloured co-ordinated curry in view of the inevitable spillages that will occur...

TheFatBigot said...

I'm far from a footie fan, Mr Miller, but always follow England's abject failures at the World Cup. Yesterday was just embarrassing.

On Friday I plan to eat before the match starts by reason of the very peril you identified, and then sit in the garden at the back of the restaurant watching the game through the door, smoking ciggies and drinking several pints of Strongbow. Any necessary top-up solids will not involve sauce. The establishment's no swearing policy will be lifted as from 7.30pm.

Anonymous said...

Surely it shouldn't be an embarrassment, it could only be so if they were actually expected to win.

Andrew W

Anonymous said...

Mr. FB, perhaps this article will provide a modicum of solace.

England have no cause for hanging their heads. USA, on the other hand...