Reds suffer through familiar tournament fall-out

It’s no so much that the English nation likes a scapegoat – although quite clearly it does – but that there’s  fundamental requirement to ignore the deep seated problems in the national game. In the 46 years since England won it’s only international tournament blame has been apportioned liberally after repeated, and frequently embarrassing tournament defeats. This is a cycle long-established, lasting roughly two years; wash, rinse, repeat. Euro 2012 has offered a fall-out so typically English that it ranks right up there with the finest national traditions. Like failing to pass the ball with any sense of authority, or repeatedly using the word ‘bulldog’ before bowing out to a technically superior opponent.

England’s national reaction is, of course, one that ignores every fundamental technical, tactical and mental failure inherent in the English game. How could it not, lest the authorities that govern these matters actually resolve to fix the inherent problems in coaching and culture that have contributed to repeated failure.

Indeed, the vitriol dished out to Manchester United pair Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young after England’s latest failure is no great surprise; there was always a certain sense of inevitability that the media, and by extension the public, would seek out individuals and ignore the root cause. Little surprise that two players from England’s most successful club should fall victim to the mob either.

While United’s striker Danny Welbeck emerged from the tournament with some credit, and Phil Jones is immune having spent three wasted weeks on the bench, it is Rooney and Young that have been singled out after penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy on Sunday night. Young for a series of lacklustre performances, and Rooney for being, well, Rooney.

Neither player’s performances genuinely stands out amid a tournament replete with English mediocrity, but, then, scapegoats rarely do. David Beckham, Paul Ince, and Rooney himself, each understands from personal experience the depth of national hate that is so often be meted out to the men in Red.

Young’s disappointing tournament was surprising in that the former Aston Villa winger had performed so well for the international team over the past year. Six goals in the player’s previous 10 internationals proffered a player in form, mature and ready to make a genuine mark on an international tournament. Yet, in four games at Euro 2012 Young was unable to deliver the goals, assists, or vibrant performances that had previously flowed so freely.

The criticism is in part supported by Young’s stats over the tournament, but then none of a poor English cohort will be proud of their attacking achievements. The United winger completed 76 of 92 passes over the tournament, at 82 per cent accuracy. Young made four shots, although none was on target, created two chances, and provided no assists.

There is mitigation, though. After all, at no stage was Young genuinely deployed in the attacking role he is accustomed to at United, nor with the freedom afforded under former England coach Fabio Capello, even in the opening match against France when the United man was nominally deployed ‘in the hole’.

Restricted by a system that placed emphasis on defensive shape over possession and attacking fluidity, too often Young found himself running from deep into increasingly lonely dark alleys. That less than 40 per cent of Young’s infrequent touches at the tournament came in the attacking third tells its own story. The 26-year-old was by no means culpable alone for failure in a highly dysfunctional English midfield.

Yet, for the all criticism Young has earned, egged on by sabre-rattling BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, it is Rooney who has garnered most headlines following Sunday’s loss. After all, the hype built pre-tournament by manager Roy Hodgson had reached it’s most fervent pitch by the time of Rooney’s introduction for England’s match against Ukraine last week. The nation expected Rooney to deliver the Pelé-esque performances promised by the team’s manager.

After scoring against Ukraine, Rooney was unable to influence England’s match against Italy – a fixture in which the Azzurri enjoyed more than 65 per cent possession; 75 per cent in extra time. It was, of course, always unrealistic to expect Rooney, without a game in more than five weeks, to drag England up from the gutter of defensive entrenchment. But, then, realism and English expectations have rarely been natural bedfellows.

Some, though, were very quick to lay the blame on England’s leading striker, including former manager Fabio Capello who claimed, with no hint of irony, that Rooney only performs for United.

“After seeing the latest (England) game, I think Rooney only understands Scottish,” Capello said.

“He only plays well in Manchester where Sir Alex Ferguson speaks Scottish. Look, when I spoke they did understand me. But every now and again, when I tried to explain tactics, things didn’t work out. You know what? Maybe it’s because Rooney doesn’t speak English. He doesn’t understand English.”

While Capello’s words smack of bitterness – the Italian having fallen on his sword in defence of John Terry – even the now incumbant Hodgson threw Rooney to the wolves, offering up a headline-writers dream in the process.

“I think we put a lot of expectations on Wayne,” Hodgson admitted post defeat to Italy.

“When he missed the first two games, we were all believing that what we needed to do was to get to the third game and Wayne Rooney will win us the championships. That maybe was too much to ask of him. Wayne certainly tried very hard, but he didn’t have his best game. I think he would admit that.”

In truth England’s failure is a collective; of tactical rigidity, technical limitations, and obsessive focus on ‘spirit’, ‘fight’ and ‘work rate’. Across four matches England enjoyed just 40 per cent possession, according to UEFA’s official statistics. Only Ireland and Greece claimed less. Other stats nerds, including OPTA, have the figure even lower. No wonder, when England’s players found a team-mate with just 67 per cent of passes made – the 13th lowest in the tournament.

By contrast, there is little surprise that England places top of the ‘tackles made’ table, but achieved the fourth lowest shots on target per game out of the 16 teams at the tournament. This was an England side which sought only to not lose, anything else being a bonus. It was a system built for defensive “heroes” at the expense of attacking talent.

“We were being too conservative,” observed now former England defender Rio Ferdinand.

“It sends a message to the opponents that you are more interested in defending and playing on the counterattack than making them scared of you. The only time we really kept the ball properly was when Danny Welbeck dropped short to collect it and linked the play. But, usually, he was having to stay up and wasn’t allowed to drop too much because we had set out a certain way with a 4-4-2 which didn’t offer a great deal of flexibility.

“It’s OK saying we were very good defensively and hard to beat but if you set out to be defensive then that’s your first priority. It makes it very hard for the attacking players in the team. The most damming statistic of them all was that one which showed our best passing combination was between Joe Hart and Andy Carroll.”

Not that the critics will concur. It was, after all, Young’s fault. Or maybe Rooney’s. Or maybe a bit of both. But what’s defeat if you have that bulldog spirit? The spirit of yet another English failure.

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  1. Sean says

    Immediately after England’s inevitable exit came the thought of David Foster Wallace’s 1996 article for Esquire. Entitled The String Theory, Foster Wallace observes the tennis player Michael T. Joyce, a journeyman then ranked 79th in the world, in training. He remarks on “a man who, at full run, can hit a fast-moving tennis ball into a one-foot square area seventy-eight feet away over a net, hard.” In other words, at that time, Michael T. Joyce was better than most everybody else in the world at playing tennis, and yet was destined never to achieve anything in his career.

    What Joyce could do to the best player ever to come out of nearly any provincial tennis club in the world, is what the 50th best player could to him, what the 30th could to the 50th, what the 20th could do to the 30th, and so on, as ability rises exponentially towards the stratosphere at the very top of the game. It’s for this reason why Andy Murray will likely never win a Grand Slam; it isn’t that Murray is a bad player – he’s better than nearly everybody else on the planet – it’s that he’s not as good as the three men above him.

    Although the analogy between two different sports is never anything less than unsatisfactory, I do wonder really what people expect from England. They are not a bad team, and probably do deserve their ranking consistently in the ten best international sides. And yet, rather like Bill Hicks’ observation that the Iraqi Elite Republican Guard had the fourth largest army in the world, it should not go without mention that there’s a pretty big drop after the top three.

    England are what they have been for two decades: a decent side who can beat the likes of Norway but will always fail against the top sides in the world. I expected nothing more than failure in the quarters. If only the average chuckleheaded Ingerland fan could understand this too.

  2. Stevie D says

    The day Paul Scholes was played the wing to accommodate Frank Lampard was a sad day for the English national team. Ten years on, I think the philosophy that manifested in such a decision sadly still prevails.

  3. squigs says

    I don’t get this whole failure angle, it’s as far as England were likely to get with some people including me shocked they topped that group. They were penalty kicks away from a semi final weather they deserved to or not. They met reasonable expectations.

    Rooney and Young were both poor. Along with Milner they were probably Englands worst regular starters. Rooney was rusty due to his own stupidity in getting needlessly sent off for kicking someone, a trait we thought he had seemingly eradicated from his game. For his country apart from 2004 he has been really poor at finals tournaments.

    Young simply carried on his late season United form cheating throughout and in terms of crossing just wasn’t up to it. Not really scapegoats just the media stating the rather obvious. It’s hardly Beckham 98.

  4. bman says

    I fail to see how any forward player could have a decent performance in those circumstances. They saw very little ball, and a very poor quality ball. Rio has it right, Hodgson should have put Jones on in midfield instead of Henderson, and at least take a chance on him getting some barnstorming runs going. I also can’t understand why the Italians don’t play Di Natale, cracking player, and extremely clinical.

  5. Sidsidney says

    squigs said:
    I don’t get this whole failure angle, it’s as far as England were likely to get with some people including me shocked they topped that group. They were penalty kicks away from a semi final weather they deserved to or not. They met reasonable expectations.

    Rooney and Young were both poor. Along with Milner they were probably Englands worst regular starters. Rooney was rusty due to his own stupidity in getting needlessly sent off for kicking someone, a trait we thought he had seemingly eradicated from his game. For his country apart from 2004 he has been really poor at finals tournaments.

    Young simply carried on his late season United form cheating throughout and in terms of crossing just wasn’t up to it. Not really scapegoats just the media stating the rather obvious. It’s hardly Beckham 98.

    People can blame individual performances – Rooney, Young etc. – but its the collective that’s shite

  6. squigs says

    People aren’t really blaming individual performances though. The main complaint has been about the formation and the inability to keep the ball. All this week we have had the likes of Glenn Hoddle talking about how England have to reinvent themselves and how we should abandon 4-4-2. I’ve obviously been reading the wrong papers.

    But honestly look to your best players to perform, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney are Englands two biggest attacking threats and they did not show up. Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck who are rookies at this level had better tournaments. Also Rooney’s tournament form at international level is mediocre at best.

  7. Sidsidney says

    squigs said:
    People aren’t really blaming individual performances though. The main complaint has been about the formation and the inability to keep the ball. All this week we have had the likes of Glenn Hoddle talking about how England have to reinvent themselves and how we should abandon 4-4-2. I’ve obviously been reading the wrong papers.
    But honestly look to your best players to perform, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney are Englands two biggest attacking threats and they did not show up. Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck who are rookies at this level had better tournaments. Also Rooney’s tournament form at international level is mediocre at best.

    I meant the inevitable comments like ‘Young is shit for England because Fergie told him to be’ and all that bullshit. His problem was that he had a couple of good games before the tournament. He should have kept his head down.
    But aye, there has been some decent, productive comment made on the state of the English game by some pundits and journos. It’s become a feature of international tournaments now. We’re in the post-scapegoat era. I heard one theory – I can’t remember where or who said it – that when you’re a kid in England and you go outside to play football, it’s often fucking freezing, so you play kick n chase to get warm. In Spain they do the opposite because it’s hot; they play a slower, pass orientated game in order to cope with the heat. There might be some truth in that. But then it doesn’t explain why some countries like Russia with much colder winters still manage to play miles better slick dynamic football than England.
    I have a better theory: England’s football is representative of Social Darwinism; the triumph survival of the fittest, strongest individual – literally… and that’s what we see on the pitch; 11 fit, strong individuals with no real togetherness and no real collective style.
    Whereas Spain, inspired by the revolutionaries of Barcelona-Catalunya, believe in Mutual Aid; the triumph of teamwork and cooperation… And that’s what we see on the pitch; 11 players of individual quality, all appreciated, all working together, and progressing together.

  8. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    “that when you’re a kid in England and you go outside to play football, it’s often fucking freezing, so you play kick n chase to get warm. In Spain they do the opposite because it’s hot; they play a slower, pass orientated game in order to cope with the heat. There might be some truth in that. But then it doesn’t explain why some countries like Russia with much colder winters still manage to play miles better slick dynamic football than England.”

    I read a theory put forth by an Italian once… that in Italy, like Brazil… a lot of the kids have to play football in the side streets, or empty back lots, and it develops into a lot of tight passing and control… where as in England, kids have a wealth of expansive parks to play in… and develop the long ball game.

    Don’t know if there’s anything to that… but it sounds about right.

  9. squigs says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    “that when you’re a kid in England and you go outside to play football, it’s often fucking freezing, so you play kick n chase to get warm. In Spain they do the opposite because it’s hot; they play a slower, pass orientated game in order to cope with the heat. There might be some truth in that. But then it doesn’t explain why some countries like Russia with much colder winters still manage to play miles better slick dynamic football than England.”

    I read a theory put forth by an Italian once… that in Italy, like Brazil… a lot of the kids have to play football in the side streets, or empty back lots, and it develops into a lot of tight passing and control… where as in England, kids have a wealth of expansive parks to play in… and develop the long ball game.

    Don’t know if there’s anything to that… but it sounds about right.

    The theory was from Gianluca Vialli when managing Watford. He also had observations onto how a video tactics session wouldn’t last 10 minutes at a premier league club where Italian counterparts would go into 3-4 hour sessions regularly. Things have improved since then it must be said.

  10. Sidsidney says

    Redknapp on English football http://m.skysports.com/article/football//7852084

    “It’s no good having a kid who’s going to be the new Andrea Pirlo and he goes to a club that keeps lumping the ball from back to front 60 yards.”

    “Unless you’re going to encourage more teams to play from the back and start to play football then we’re always going to have a problem.”

    That’s what I was saying

  11. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    its only a week ago he was claiming he wouldn’t swap our front six for anyone in the tourno, and before that hailing our defence as the best in international football

  12. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    I still maintain, that it’s not the talent, it’s the mentality.

    We produce some very good players… players that could play in any league if they chose to… look at Beckham… very good, but not the best player England has produced… he was a regular starter at both Real and Milan… Lampard, Gerrard, Scholes, Rooney… these players would have been a success at any team in the game.

    When England play with confidence in themselves… they play very good, cohesive football… it’s more direct than some of the continental stuff… but it’s also quicker, and very exciting to watch… and very effective.

    The problem is, England lose their nerve easily during a game… and abandon the good passing football and resort to panic football…

    It amazes me how often England “TRY” to play the European game of patient buildup from the back… and as soon as there’s a bit of pressure, the ball goes back to the keeper, who then just hoofs it long… inevitably… to the opposition… what’s the point of that?

    Instead of trying to play European football, which we’re rubbish at… in no small part, because we play English, Premier League football, week after week… why not stick to what we are actually good at?

    Build a team around Gerrard, and Rooney, with pace on the wings, and focus on disciplined defending without the ball… and fast tempo passing, with it…

    I believe the long ball game is the result of panic, at our failure to play the possession game… fuck it… play what we know… and what we’re very good at… that will put confidence back in our game and eliminate the gutless, chicken shit attitude that creeps in when things aren’t going right.

  13. Sidsidney says

    You say we play Premier League football, but what is that? What is it that we’re good at? You can generalise and say stuff like ‘pace and power’ and ‘strength and grit’ and all that, but it’s not enirely accurate. Each team has their own style and approach to games.
    The best Premier League teams play many different styles (none more so than United), but they all revolve around dominating possession, dominating midfield and actually passing the ball.
    International tournament football is closer to Champions League football. The format is the same and the football is slower, more technically/tactically minded than league football. In the Prem you can be more creative, give the ball away, and get it back pretty quickly. In Europe, and in international football, you might not see it for another 3 or 4 minutes. United, Chelsea, City, Arsenal don’t play Premier League football in Europe because of lessons learned from the past. They use different formations and styles – but they all revolve around sensible use of the ball i.e. pass, move, dominate possession.
    You’re right when you say the mentality has to change. None more so than the England fans who are as much to blame as everybody else. It’s those muppets who boo when the team try and exert some control by passing the ball between defence and midfield. We have some players that are capable of playing the kind of football that the rest of the world is playing. They do it for their clubs often enough. But we left our best footballers at home in favour of a defender and Scott Parker. And nobody kicked up a fuss. A proper ‘footballing nation’ would have kicked off, and it would have been headline news.

  14. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Possession is pointless until you put the ball in the net…
    If you defend well, the other team can have 90% possession and still not score… and who says that United play the more European, possession football? United at their best play exactly the type of football I think England should play.
    You seem to be reducing what I’m saying to mean I think long ball is the way to go if you do it right… I’m not… good passing and ball retention is essential to good football… but attacking is what results in goals, and ultimately, that’s what people want to see. Premier League football is the most popular in the world, because it has a reputation for exciting attacking football… where did this idea that it’s all about big physical cunts, that can’t actually play come from?
    The problem is everyone goes on about England not being able to pass the ball, as if they can’t actually pass the ball… which of course is nonsense… the problem as I see it, is England do have a problem trying to play a style of football that is foreign to the way they play week after week in the PL… everyone knows the PL is quicker, more physical and more direct that the Spanish, Italian game… so why, when it comes to international football should we ask the players to change their style??? and then piss and moan when it seems they’re not very good at it?
    United don’t pass it around 20/30 times just to retain possession the way Barcelona do… and I still say that, even with all that great possession, Barcelona would not have had so much recent success without Messi…
    I’m not talking about the “pace and power”, that you seem to be taking the piss out of… but quick tempo, direct attacking football can be very effective, if the passing is accurate and incisive… this is what players in England are raised on, and what the best players like Gerrard, Rooney, Giggs, Lampard, Scholes, Torres, Drogba, Shearer, Zola, DiCanio, Beckham, Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Keane, Van Nistleroy, Ronaldo, Cantona play, and have played in the PL every week for years… focus on that… develop it further… and let them get on with it, instead of getting them together once or twice a year, for some pointless friendly, and saying “right, you’ve been doing this all year, but today I want you to do summat else, and don’t shit yourself, and resort to hoofing it long when you discover you’re no good at it”.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  15. Sidsidney says

    Alf, when United, Chelsea, Arsenal and City play against top opposition, and against top European opposition in a knock out tournament, they don’t play Premier League football, they play possession based football in order to control the game and minimize he risks (Barca being the exception) because Prem football results in an arse raping.
    It would be the same for England in a tournament. Many of the England players come from those teams too – those teams who play cautious football, although they are complimented by quality foreigners.

  16. Sidsidney says

    I can expand on what I’m saying now I have more time… There is probably no such a thing as Premier League football – certainly not in the big clubs that the England players come from because they play with so much variation.
    I know what you’re getting at though; slick, quick, incisive football that – in theory at least – United play (although it varies on the opposition). I would like to see England play like that, for sure, rather than the Spanish approach. A few countries do; Russia springs to mind. But one thing you’re forgetting is that those teams (and United) also sit on the ball for large periods. They knock it between defence and midfield for 5-10-15 passes… And this happens often. Then, they burst into life with some quick passing and moving – sometimes one touch – or play a ball into space if the movement has pulled an opposition player out of position. But like I keep saying, the England fans boo when the players knock it around casually; when they’re probing, allowing everyone a touch etc. because they want it played early all the time which results in the players trying to force it. This is the English way IMO. The cliched Prem way. It’s all about getting it forward, early balls, long balls into space, a leg race, personal battles etc. You get long balls down the line, long balls forward, long diagonal balls, and against quality teams they get eaten up by the opposition because you have to try harder. You have to be more creative and clever. If this is the more direct route you want then it’s only going to fail. That’s why none of the top Prem clubs bother with that shit in Europe because you’re not going to beat a top team by forcing it.
    Like I said earlier, we do have players that can knock it about – even without Scholes and Carrick. Joe Hart has quite good distribution for City. He often lays it off to a defender, or a midfielder, and City build from the back. But how many times did he do that for England? Hardly ever. Instead he had the most completed pass ratio… to Carroll. So long goal kick hoofs. Why did he do that? It must be be on orders from the staff, and its my bet that they’re simply acting on the mentality of the English game because getting it forward early is default, it’s correct, it’s what we know is right.

  17. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    No, see that’s where I disagree… we seem to agree on the way England should play… but I think we disagree on the reason that we don’t play that way.
    The Italy game is the best, most recent example… if you isolate the first 20 minutes of that game, England was excellent… that is exactly the type of game that England is capable of, and it very much resembles the game played every Saturday in the PL… it was quick, aggressive, direct and very threatening… and it wasn’t luck or a 20 minute one off… it’s actually a regular occurrence of many England games… they start a game playing well, passing well, competing and often even taking the lead… and then… the wheels inevitably come off, England retreat into their own half, and stop playing… out comes the long ball, and that’s it for the rest of the game… and it’s not because England “CAN’T” play, as they’ve just shown they can… but they lose their nerve, and that turns into panic football… some players go missing, and become hard to find, as if they no longer want the ball, and when they do get it, they can’t wait to get rid of it.
    Like you said, the fans and the press have a lot to answer for as well… we’re always hyped up, with so much pressure put on the shoulders of one or two players before a tournament, but there’s always an underlying sense, that the optimism is actually tongue in cheek… “England can win this… ha,ha,ha”…
    A few years back we gave Germany a right pasting… in Germany… in a game we were expected to lose, but one that we actually HAD to win… the pressure was off, because it was deemed a hopeless cause, but what the hell, burn the boats… we played brilliantly… and then when the tournament came, we bottled it, like we always do… and funnily enough… everyone tried to claim we only beat Germany because they were rubbish… they went on to play in the final… and that just about sums up my whole point…
    I believe England and Germany produce very much the same calibre of player/team… but England shits it when the pressure is on… Germany just gets better.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  18. sheesh says

    England beating Germany means little to me. In years gone by, England have also beaten Argentina and Spain albeit in friendlies (although we did also beat Argentina in 2002) but we wouldn’t say that England are remotely comparable to those sides in terms of talent. We would only really compare ourselves to Germany and Netherlands in the sense that they play a similar style of football.

    Talent-wise I think we are behind the likes of Germany and Netherlands. I’ve mentioned before how their kids learn/practise the game from a young age.

    How many English players would fit in playing in a La Liga side? Hardly any. Compare this to Dutch and German players:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foreign_La_Liga_players

    I do agree that the Germans have that winning mentality which also sets them apart from us. It’s why, when they have a bad tournament they find out what went wrong and then implement changes (whether that would be grassroots, in the academies, wherever). They don’t change the manager and expect different results which is what we’ve been doing post-1966. The Germans’ preparations going into tournaments are also first-class from sorting out their training bases and so on. Attention is given to the minutest detail in order to give their players the best possible chance of performing.

    So, for me, it’s a question of talent AND winning mentality/knowing how to turn it on in big tournaments.

  19. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Fuck sake Sheesh… that stats table goes back to the fuckin 1920s… and it shows that Jermaine Pennant was good enough to play there… so what?

    It’s also a fact that the PL has generally paid better than either the German or Dutch leagues… so what?

    Many of the best players Germany or Holland have ever produced felt the need to prove themselves in bigger and harder leagues… the best English players by and large didn’t… but that doesn’t mean that England haven’t produced good enough players.

  20. sheesh says

    So what? FFS.

    Look at the number of Germans and Dutch playing in Spain in recent years particularly for Madrid and Barcelona. The finest Dutchman (Cruyff) was a Barca man. They are well ahead of us in terms of quality of talent.

  21. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    That’s bollocks Sheesh… you seem to equate playing in Spain with ability… how many great Dutch players can you name that actually spent their careers Holland?

    If you made a name for yourself in Holland… you left to play where you could earn more money… that’s all…

  22. sheesh says

    Perhaps I am not expressing myself clearly.

    All I am saying is that these German and Dutch players are that talented that they are highly sought after and purchased by the top clubs in Spain (which was just an example).

    I take your point that they earn more money playing in Spain than their home countries but that’s not what I am getting at, at all.

    Comparatively few English players in the modern era would attract anywhere near the same sort of interest from the elite European clubs like Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Inter, Milan et al because, by and large, English players are not as good.

    Forget about money and ask yourself how many English players would be ‘good enough’ to play in a top European club abroad compared to their European counterparts? Not many.

  23. Sidsidney says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    No, see that’s where I disagree… we seem to agree on the way England should play… but I think we disagree on the reason that we don’t play that way.
    The Italy game is the best, most recent example… if you isolate the first 20 minutes of that game, England was excellent… that is exactly the type of game that England is capable of, and it very much resembles the game played every Saturday in the PL… it was quick, aggressive, direct and very threatening… and it wasn’t luck or a 20 minute one off… it’s actually a regular occurrence of many England games… they start a game playing well, passing well, competing and often even taking the lead… and then… the wheels inevitably come off, England retreat into their own half, and stop playing… out comes the long ball, and that’s it for the rest of the game… and it’s not because England “CAN’T” play, as they’ve just shown they can… but they lose their nerve, and that turns into panic football… some players go missing, and become hard to find, as if they no longer want the ball, and when they do get it, they can’t wait to get rid of it.
    Like you said, the fans and the press have a lot to answer for as well… we’re always hyped up, with so much pressure put on the shoulders of one or two players before a tournament, but there’s always an underlying sense, that the optimism is actually tongue in cheek… “England can win this… ha,ha,ha”…
    A few years back we gave Germany a right pasting… in Germany… in a game we were expected to lose, but one that we actually HAD to win… the pressure was off, because it was deemed a hopeless cause, but what the hell, burn the boats… we played brilliantly… and then when the tournament came, we bottled it, like we always do… and funnily enough… everyone tried to claim we only beat Germany because they were rubbish… they went on to play in the final… and that just about sums up my whole point…
    I believe England and Germany produce very much the same calibre of player/team… but England shits it when the pressure is on… Germany just gets better.

    England’s opening 20 minutes against Italy were good, yeah. They played some nice stuff at a high tempo, and caught Italy on the hop. But I don’t think the game changed because England suddenly lost their nerve… I think the game changed because Italy’s midfield got hold of the ball and exerted control – total control in fact, which lasted for the subsequent 70 minutes of normal time and the 30 minutes of extra time.
    Once their midfield got into the game, they passed their way forward and forced England deep inside their own half. Italy did the sensible thing and gave the ball to their best player, Pirlo, who got to work passing, moving, probing, bringing players into the game, pulling England players out of position etc. And before you say that ‘if we’d have pressed him, he’d have been shit’, Germany pressed him and he still managed to make things happen because like all top midfielders he can find space and play one touch to get him out of trouble.
    When England were camped inside their own half they could have relieved the pressure by playing their way out of trouble like the top Prem teams do, and most nations do e.g. simple balls, triangles, one touch etc. until it reaches a player in space who can then move forward and allow the rest of the team to push up. But they didn’t. When they got the ball back, they instantly gave it away. There was a period in the first half were over the course of about 2 minutes we gave the ball away 7 times in a row because we were trying to force attacking play, because, like I said in my other post, that’s the English way. High tempo football might work for the first 10/20 minutes of a game when you can catch teams on the hop – and thinking about it England have always come flying out of the blocks and blitzed teams – but inevitably the frenzy dies down and the opposition assume control because they work the ball better than we do. Our quick, energetic Prem football becomes an impossibility once the players have had the energy sapped out of them by a team who have had them chasing shadows.
    It’s at that stage of the game when the opposition are dominating possession and piling on the pressure where you want your ball players on the ball to keep it and move the team farther up the pitch. Parker can’t do that because he’s shite, Gerrard can but you want him farther up the pitch, and the wide players aren’t worth talking about. Scholes is the man – he does it for us every week – but they didn’t take him because they wanted a lionheart instead. There lies the problem.

  24. says

    Sorry but the talk of culture, politics, or even the weather influencing the quality of player that is produced by any nation is a nonsense.

    An assembly line of sporting talent doesn’t happen serendipitously. It doesn’t happen out of some accident of genetics or a freak toxic waste spill creating mutant footballers

    It happens by increasing the number of quality coaches teaching kids from a young age (5 – 10) drills that increase their technical competence, focusing on a way of playing the game (pacey, technical, adventurous like the Germans, or tiki-taka like Spain) that is consistently coached across the entire country.

    Simple as that. Yes, someone must have a pre-requisite amount of natural talent to succeed, but as long as you supplement that with regimented, quality and focused coaching you get your assembly line of talent.

    And that is what needs to happen in England – not sitting about waiting for a generation of talent to spring up (we did that, and then dropped Scholes onto the left wing – hahaha /facepalm).

    Look at the Olympic athletes – we were quite quite dump about 15 years ago. Then someone said “Hey why don’t we invest in proper coaching and some structure around the way we do things, and pump some cash into it.” The same happened with Rugby Union, and cricket. Suddenly we don’t suck (as bad) at those sports.

    HEY LET’S TRY SOMETHING REVOLUTIONARY AND TRY COACHING KIDS AND STUFF, AND MAYBE GETTING SOME FUNDING TOGETHER FOR SOME DECENT COACHES WITH STUFF LIKE UEFA A / B LICENSES AND THEN GET THEM ALTOGETHER OCCASIONALLY AND FORM A NATIONAL VISION FOR FOOTBALL.

  25. Bill says

    Get the process right and the result will take care of itself.

    There is an obsession about winning at all costs in England, but in the midst all this passion there is no proper gameplan or strategy.

    Britain is an island and its geographical position & rampant tribalism has left us with a false sense of our own self importance & a lack of recognition of true quality.
    Scholes & Carrick pushed aside by Lampard and Parker, totally backwards. Inestia & co rate Scholes & Carrick highly & that says it all.

    Even at junior level there is an obsession with winning, out fighting the opponent physically ahead of technical ability. I doubt that mentality will ever change, football in the UK is about village vs. village, town vs. town and city vs. city. Bragging rights in terms of the score not the skills. Bully the opponent into submission.

    A major jump in the right direction will be if England play 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders who are good on the ball. If that England side became successful then we “might” see a change but even then its unlikely.

    ING-ER-LUND!

  26. Sidsidney says

    The win at all costs mentality has to change, aye… I live opposite saturday/sunday league playing fields, and I’ve seen Dads screaming at their kids during a kick about. One bloke kept shouting ‘tek his fucking legs!’… I mean FFS.
    Also, the use skill & tricks is considered a reliable indicator as to ones sexual preference. If you do a bit of skill then you’re gay and foreign and getting above yourself and you need taking down a peg or two you utter utter cunt.
    Another thing we do in England is go to games to whinge and be outraged. It’s the Daily Mail syndrome; actively seeking out things that piss you off in order to be enraged.
    United doesn’t seem that bad because the fans are more educated in good football, they trust in Fergie, and they trust that a goal will come… but a shithole like Hull is different. The moaning is unreal. From kick off its ‘oh for fucks sake’ for every ball kicked and every idea tried. If they pass the ball around too much the moaning becomes ferel rage, and you see people red in the face, screaming, almost shitting themselves with rage, telling the players to get the ball forward. Not doing this is perceived as not caring and not being passionate enough, and quickly people start talking about how much they have paid for a ticket etc. Then there’s the racism.

  27. Bill says

    Definitely, the masses are looking for football for their dopamine kick and the main rush is from winning (read conquering), not admiring decent skill or teamwork.

    We are an isolated rock with poor weather, a history of questionable habits (colonialism, drinking, smoking, high calorie food) & getting over somebody else makes us feel a bit better.

    Interestingly there were few problems with English hooligans this time, maybe because their knew they would be vastly outnumbered by fans who have the sophistication of ours in the 80s!

  28. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Oh come on… this argument is getting silly… “We are an isolated rock with poor weather, a history of questionable habits (colonialism, drinking, smoking, high calorie food) & getting over somebody else makes us feel a bit better.”

    Sweden has much better weather, the Yanks eat much better, the French know fuck all about colonialism, and the Italians don’t drink or smoke… get a grip mate.

    And bullying our kids, isn’t an English problem either… it’s an asshole father problem, and every country has asshole fathers… Canadian hockey… “come on Stevie, hit him, don’t be a pussy”… American football… “you gonna play like a man Tommy, or are you a little faggot?”… Australian Cricket… “come on Nigel, you’re batting like a Pom”…

    And as far as this… “Also, the use skill & tricks is considered a reliable indicator as to ones sexual preference.”

    I disagree with that completely Sid… the problem isn’t, “don’t do the tricks, that’s not how a man plays”… it’s “if you’re going to do the tricks, don’t fuck it up, or you look like an idiot”… and that’s what I’m saying… the kids in England grow up afraid to express themselves, for fear of fucking up.

  29. Bill says

    Might be a bit deep but there is nothing wrong in looking behind the scenes.

    Its shades of grey, everyone has their moments but we have some of the worst figures for the questionable habits listed, and we should know better. Our media gives us enough information!

    “the kids in England grow up afraid to express themselves, for fear of fucking up.”

    Because its win at all costs and if you lose then its the end of the world. Lose and you are nobody. Pretty moronic.

    We are stuck in the past, clinging onto the WC win fifty years ago on our own patch or a Euro SF 15 years ago on our own patch.

    Its called delusion, reduced neural pathways due to lack of exposure or interest in other ideas or other cultures. Its largely down to ignorance, we still think our methods are the ones that are the best. Well in this instance they factually are not and haven’t been years.

    Britannia rules the waves….!

  30. Sidsidney says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Oh come on… this argument is getting silly… “We are an isolated rock with poor weather, a history of questionable habits (colonialism, drinking, smoking, high calorie food) & getting over somebody else makes us feel a bit better.”
    Sweden has much better weather, the Yanks eat much better, the French know fuck all about colonialism, and the Italians don’t drink or smoke… get a grip mate.
    And bullying our kids, isn’t an English problem either… it’s an asshole father problem, and every country has asshole fathers… Canadian hockey… “come on Stevie, hit him, don’t be a pussy”… American football… “you gonna play like a man Tommy, or are you a little faggot?”… Australian Cricket… “come on Nigel, you’re batting like a Pom”…
    And as far as this… “Also, the use skill & tricks is considered a reliable indicator as to ones sexual preference.”
    I disagree with that completely Sid… the problem isn’t, “don’t do the tricks, that’s not how a man plays”… it’s “if you’re going to do the tricks, don’t fuck it up, or you look like an idiot”… and that’s what I’m saying… the kids in England grow up afraid to express themselves, for fear of fucking up.

    I may have been exaggerating but that mentality does exist today – still. You only have to look at the criticism of Ronaldo when he was in England to see it. Words like gay, foreign, greasy, etc. were often used to bash him.
    Middlesbrough fans fuelled by Southgate’s comments went to see United in the hope that one of their players would smash him – and they did. I remember he was taken out after 85/90 minutes as a consolation for the fans who had seen their team beaten (2-0, I think) and comprehensively owned by a masterful performance from Ronnie. And afterwards the pundits basically said ‘Yeah well, if you’re gonna do all that fancy stuff be prepared to get smashed’ like he should be punished for practising skills & tricks and getting really good at football. This was the common theme in the national press too who thought Ronaldo was showing us too many skills; that he was taking the piss.
    I’m sure other countries don’t think like that. I’m sure they pay their money to see talented footballers entertain because that’s what football is all about.
    What I would like to know from older Reds is this: did the TEKHISFUCKINGLEGS mentality apply to George Best? Because we often talk about talented players taking the piss… For example Alan Shearer often says things like ‘Be good, but don’t take the piss’. Well, when I look back at footage of Best I see someone who took the piss more so than any other player e.g. taking his boot off to pass the ball, beating a player once then going back and beating him again etc. If Ronaldo did that today he would be lynched. So was it the same for Best? Or were people more appreciative of his skill. And if so was it largely down to the fact he’s white and from Northern Ireland, not greasy foreign Euro land.
    Also, Alf, I agree that kids are scared of expressing themselves. Absolutely. Apparently the last thing Fergie says to his players before they go out onto the pitch is “express yourself”… because creating an environment where players are free to try things – and fail – is crucial to winning football matches and entertaining the punters.

  31. kramer says

    sidney said:
    I may have been exaggerating but that mentality does exist today – still. You only have to look at the criticism of Ronaldo when he was in England to see it. Words like gay, foreign, greasy, etc. were often used to bash him.
    Middlesbrough fans fuelled by Southgate’s comments went to see United in the hope that one of their players would smash him – and they did. I remember he was taken out after 85/90 minutes as a consolation for the fans who had seen their team beaten (2-0, I think) and comprehensively owned by a masterful performance from Ronnie. And afterwards the pundits basically said ‘Yeah well, if you’re gonna do all that fancy stuff be prepared to get smashed’ like he should be punished for practising skills & tricks and getting really good at football. This was the common theme in the national press too who thought Ronaldo was showing us too many skills; that he was taking the piss.

    heh, yeah, i remember that. the best thing about ronaldo was, after all that fucking bullshit he faced, he was man enough to shove it right up the oppositions’ backsides with a goal or two.
    i think it was michael ball who stamped on his chest when we were playing city at their stadium in 06/07. ronaldo’s response was to win a penalty, and score it for a 1-0 victory and clinch the league. fuck, i miss him sometimes.

  32. Bill says

    The main issue is getting over this preference for power & size over balance & skill. For years the bigger less skillful players were picked over the smaller more skillful ones. Swansea and Norwich have showed how you can succeed with a playing philosophy of passing, teamwork and expression.

    Basically it is going to need those in positions of influence, ie coaches/managers from grassroots to the top putting aside this kick and rush in the name of winning mentality and picking players on skill and not size. Its a more difficult tasks that it sounds.

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