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Author Topic: England's exit - why was anyone surprised?  (Read 21054 times)
Abrahammer

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« on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 14:49:49 »

By Nick Hornby, nail hit directly on the head IMO.

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The truly remarkable thing about England's two defeats to Italy and Uruguay is that they took the nation by surprise. We are always taken by surprise, every time we are sent packing early; and we are sent packing early just about every time the World Cup is played outside England. In 1950, the first time we entered the competition, we were beaten 1-0 by the dishwashers, hearse drivers and English teachers of the USA, and failed to get out of the group. We didn't get out of the group stage in 1958, either; England won precisely three games in their first four tournaments. We failed even to qualify in 1974 and 1978, so the introspection took place long before the finals in these years; we missed out on USA '94, too.

Even those who try to maintain cynicism about the England national team's chances might be astonished by some of the facts thrown up by an examination of our World Cup record. We have won precisely five knockout games in any World Cup played outside our own country; the very first was a 3-0 win over Paraguay in 1986. Two of these wins came during Italia '90, a 1-0 win over Belgium and a 3-2 win (courtesy of two Gary Lineker penalties) over Cameroon. A 1-0 win over Ecuador in 2006 was our last victory outside the group stage.

Denmark, Belgium, Paraguay, Cameroon and Ecuador are not, with all due respect to those countries, the kind of conquests likely to impress rival superpowers -- over the same period, (West) Germany have won 25 games on foreign soil in the later stages of the tournament. We have never beaten Brazil, Italy or Spain at any stage of any World Cup, and though there was a decent 3-1 win over a very good France team in a 1982 group game, France were seeded third in the four-team group, just as Scotland and Northern Ireland were in their groups.

So the first point to make about the failure of the 2014 campaign is that progress into the last 16 would probably have necessitated one of England's most impressive World Cup results, a win over either Uruguay or Italy in the group stage, two teams they have never beaten in the finals of any tournament. And as nobody believed that we were going to Brazil with one of England's most impressive teams, it was baffling to listen to the "realists" predicting exit in the quarterfinals. How were we supposed to get even that far?

The other thing to note is that many of the reasons given for England's failure are built around the notion of long, sad, national decline. This is a myth: We have, with the glorious exception of 1966, always failed. The foreign players, all of whom arrived in the 1990s, can't help us with the desperate inadequacy of the 1970s; Mrs. Thatcher and wage inflation do not illuminate the hopelessness of the 1950s, when there were playing fields for everyone, and Stanley Matthews was paid peanuts. Dutch kids have access to video games and junk food, and yet that tiny, Northern European country, with a population two-thirds smaller than ours, consistently produces world-class players.

This much seems clear: Whatever is wrong with English football now has always been wrong, ever since we began playing the game at international level. Maybe we simply don't like the kind of football that usually wins international tournaments. (Most English fans find the canny, slow, tactical Italian game unwatchable, for example.) Maybe we prize the wrong sorts of footballers: It's difficult to imagine a place for big, rugged, passionate and slow centre-back heroes like John Terry, Tony Adams and Terry Butcher in many other national teams. (Lionel Messi is 5-foot-6, and you wonder whether he'd be on the bench at West Ham or Sunderland if he'd been born English, a "luxury player.")

If England are ever to play in a World Cup final again, you can bet that the team will not include anyone who is now playing professional football. We need to begin with our 8-year-olds, and we need to start telling them that technique and intelligence, not strength and the will to win, are the qualities they need most.

What are England's best World Cup performances? The 1966 final would be top of the list, of course, and the semifinal against Eusebio's Portugal would have to be at No. 2 -- games played within four days of each other, in London, nearly 50 years ago. You might include the slightly surprising 1-0 group-stage win over Argentina in the 2002 tournament, even though Argentina were poor and failed to reach the knockout stage that year. And the last-ditch 3-0 win over Poland in 1986 is remembered fondly for Lineker's goals, and his emergence as a world-class striker.

But anyone who can't remember anything about 1966 would make an argument for the famous night in Turin, in 1990, when England played West Germany, and fought heroically, and ... well, they drew, actually. And then lost on penalties. Arguably, England's best performance in the 13 World Cup tournaments to which they have travelled was a defeat.
Perhaps when we have stopped hating our players and our manager and ourselves, we should look at that plucky, slightly unlucky 2-1 loss to Italy last week again. It wasn't that bad. We may even have to find room for it in the top 10.
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Reg Smeeton
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« Reply #1 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 15:14:03 »

By Nick Hornby, nail hit directly on the head IMO.


I'd disagree insofar as I don't think too many people have been surprised by what's happened...one interesting thing to come out of this tournament though, is the notion that you can chuck decent higher end Prem players, like Jagielka, Johnson and Baines in and they will step up on effort alone.

It will be instructive to look at say the last 4 teams standing in Brazil and see how many Prem players are in them...I'll hazard a guess it wont be too many.
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kerry red

« Reply #2 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 15:33:23 »

You have to ask why such bit part players in the PL appear to blossom for their countries in the WC.

Off the top of my head, and excuse the spelling, Medal (Cardiff), Asamoah Gyan ( can't remember who he plays/played for), Tim Cahill. There are plenty of others, too.

Apart from their own PL form they are, supposedly, playing with worse players in the WC as well.

There are certain to be some who will look world beaters, get snapped up by a PL club and are then absolute shite.

Hornby may well be right saying nothing much has changed over the years, but these last 2 WCs have been a total disaster for England - well below par as far as England are concerned
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DMR

« Reply #3 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 15:36:18 »

All 3 of the players you reference there are a) class and b) not "bit-part"
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Reg Smeeton
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« Reply #4 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 15:52:48 »

You have to ask why such bit part players in the PL appear to blossom for their countries in the WC.

Simple really, the requirements of playing succesfully in the Prem, are very different to those required to play WC football.

It's true though there will be players who stand out in this tournament, get hoovered up by Prem clubs and then disappoint.
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kerry red

« Reply #5 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 15:54:48 »

All 3 of the players you reference there are a) class and b) not "bit-part"

Well, the Cardiff fella is now in the Championship
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Tails

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« Reply #6 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 16:08:48 »

I don't know a single person who was surprised we went out at the groups
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pauld
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« Reply #7 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 16:11:24 »

You have to ask why such bit part players in the PL appear to blossom for their countries in the WC.
Team > Stars
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jonny72

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« Reply #8 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 16:11:37 »

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If England are ever to play in a World Cup final again, you can bet that the team will not include anyone who is now playing professional football. We need to begin with our 8-year-olds, and we need to start telling them that technique and intelligence, not strength and the will to win, are the qualities they need most.

This is bollocks.

If you look at the teams that have or will qualify for the knock out stages, the England team is better than a lot of them on paper. For me the problem is what goes wrong when you go from on paper to on grass. You can blame some of it on tactics, some on bad luck but there is something else major at play.

Continually picking individual players that excel at club level, especially those that play for big clubs, rather than the best team doesn't help. Why is Lampard playing today? Why haven't Gerrard and Lampard been told to do one already? The only experience they've got to pass on is how to fail at every major tournament they've played in.

Whether Redknapp was bullshitting or not, it's pretty obvious we pick players that don't view playing for England as being the ultimate career achievement. Anyone who doesn't hold that view should be told to fuck off and not picked again.

The pressure that is placed on the players also doesn't help. Why the fuck Dyke thinks it's a good idea to proclaim we're gonna win the World Cup in 2022 is beyond me. We need to start afresh with young players and tell them to go out and play football and not to focus solely on winning a major tournament.

The more the tournament goes on the less I'm convinced we have actually failed. Better teams have already gone out and the chances are that others will follow in the group stages. We were in a tough group with two countries ranked higher than us, not really surprising we've gone out.
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kerry red

« Reply #9 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 16:19:20 »

Team > Stars

So why do Spain, Italy, Germany etc excel at WCs and their leagues are just as competitive and important to the nations as the PL is to England.

Some people seem to think that the overwhelming of football in this country by the PL big boys is a small price to pay for a shite national team
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DV Canio
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« Reply #10 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 16:45:54 »

So why do Spain, Italy, Germany etc excel at WCs and their leagues are just as competitive and important to the nations as the PL is to England.

Some people seem to think that the overwhelming of football in this country by the PL big boys is a small price to pay for a shite national team

Because they have teams with stars.

Team with stars > team > stars.

Steven Gerrard, most overrated football, ever...
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Reg Smeeton
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« Reply #11 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 16:46:00 »

So why do Spain, Italy, Germany etc excel at WCs and their leagues are just as competitive and important to the nations as the PL is to England.

Take Italy as an example, their domestic football is based on a slow paced possession game, well organised defences....going right back to Helenio Herrara's Catenacchio.

King in Italy is the "fantastista" or number 10, of which Andrea Pirlo is the latest, and maybe the last as far as I know in a long line going back.  Pirlo wouldn't last 5 mins in the Prem....in England we crave the big number 9.

When it comes to end of season tournaments, being able to play variable paced possession football is a big advantage....being able to mix it up a bit like say a Germany ideal....Thomas Muller could probably do alright in England as he's a sort of number 9.
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kerry red

« Reply #12 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 16:52:20 »

Ah well, let's sit back and watch in awe the footballing master class that is Chris Smalling and Phil Jones
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DMR

« Reply #13 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 17:00:04 »

Andrea Pirlo, wouldn't last 5 mins in the PL?

Reg mate, time for a lie down.
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chalkies_shorts

« Reply #14 on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 17:06:42 »

Part of the problem is our perception. Part of the problem is reality. Our terms of reference is the Premiership and we can regularly see the players in it. For example Suarez, not many people would have come across him at Ajax but we realise what a good player he is when he plays consistently well for Liverpool. Most people don't see enough foreign football and when they do their terms of reference are that it is an inferior league. Thats the perception.
The reality is that our players are overpaid shit. Why don't foreign clubs want to sign our players. First of all, they are shit. Secondly they are expensive....and shit.
The problem for me isn't the Premiership which doesn't actually give a flying fuck about a successful England team. It still makes shitloads regardless of how well England does.
The problem is England players staying in the English league and not having experience of different cultures, tactics etc. It doesn't seem to hurt Brazil or Argentina that their players don't play domestically.      
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