Monday, 28 June 2010

England the insignificant?

I am a huge England fan, patriotic,ardent and unrealistically hopeful when it comes to our national team. This is not the rant of one who deserts them at the slightest hint of defeat, nor will I desert them over this world cup debacle but let's have a heavy dose of reality as we perform the autopsy of another 'dead in its tracks' world cup campaign. There are probably 3 key issues that need to feature in the dissection:
1 the use of technology
2 the quality of the players
3 the belligerence of the manager

None of us will have failed to notice that FIFA, and particularly the moron and his cronies at the top, have no aversion to the use of technology that brings in the billions for TV rights and advertising. No, they have a personal love affair with technology at that level, so my initial feeling of calling them 'luddite idiots' was 50% wrong! One can only conclude other, perhaps more personal, reasons why they have not pursued the technology route as has every other major sport? One cannot fail to think there is some personal benefit being derived somewhere, or perhaps they really are just idiots? It would be foolish to suggest that all of our woes were down to one wrong, albeit serious,misjudgement by the ref. Our players were far too bad to hide behind that excuse but it would have changed the character of the game.

As we heard from some of 'our boys' at the end of the hammering they realised they had 'not performed well'. Apart from being the understatement of the century and the fact the same could be (and probably was) said after each of our matches it is the implication that, because they know they have not performed, this should somehow be repercussion enough!
This, of course, is such an insult coming from people whose WEEKLY salary is up to 5 times more than the annual wage of many fans who saved for months or years to be there! We could have lost with pride, performed well but been beaten by the better team, we could have got a 3-3 draw and lost on the final penalty and any number of other scenarios that would allow them to have walked away with pride - but not the abject, amateur, display of Sunday league errors that we have been subjected to for most of this campaign ( apologies to 'Sunday league' players).
I realise that certain changes are unlikely ever to happen whilst such easy access to the TV and advertising billions is available but how about sensible contracts, curbing the power of agents and a culture that expects to be paid on team and individual performance? Or, perhaps more achievable, how about playing key players in position, being flexible with our shape depending upon our opponents and never, ever, bringing Heskey onto the park! And better players maybe - or is that a little harsh? Our ball control, first touch, innovative and creative play and passing skills were so clearly sub standard compared to so many other teams, and I'm not just talking about the South Americans! In our analysis, which will doubtless rumble on, let's compare and contrast ourselves to the best in order that we might improve rather than to the worst in order that we could take comfort.

Which of course brings us onto the manager - and where to start on this one? Generally I am in favour of giving managers serious time to get to grips with the issues and being the manager of this or any other national team is clearly a different beast to club management. That said, when you get someone as stubborn and belligerent as Capello appears to be, who seems incapable of flexibility despite the circumstances, context and the weight of informed and expert opinion you have to wonder if the leopard can change its spots? I'm not jumping straight onto the 'he should go' bandwagon, but that does have to be an urgently and seriously considered option, followed by contractual arrangements that make some kind of sense.
Anyway - let's get on with the Euro qualifiers should we???

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