Friday, 18 June 2010

This Realm

Some thoughts on England's performance, last night and across both

The first thing that came to mind was a scene in Blackadder Goes
Forth - from distant memory - it involves the high eschlons of the
British army discussing their tactics. Someone questions the worth of
doing the same thing again, the same tactic that they have used tens
of times and which hasn't worked. The General agrees that it hasn't
worked, but then suggests that because it is such a bad tactic,
surely no one will expect them to use it again!

So where did it go wrong?

Has Capello basically said to the players "kick the ball to no one in
particular, defend too deeply, stroll around rather than pressing and
hope that something goes our way"? Seems unusual a choice of tactic
for a man who is sold as being methodical in his preparation.

England have been incredibly unimaginative, making it easy for teams
to prepare to face them, and easy to kill their game off. The same
substitutions, more or less, were made yesterday as those from
Saturday, both times leading to nothing. Over-reliance on players not
quite fit enough has led to the need to use substitutes to cover
this. Substitutions should be used as emergencies, someone is injured
or risky, plan a isn't working or so on. Capello wasted his
substitutions, filling holes in the squad with bigger holes.

The players have come off of a long season, some will till us. These
are the same people that say that the Premier League is the best
league in the world, the fastest, most exciting league. The players
did look tired, certainly, but more in a 'do we have to be here' way
than a 'one game too many' way. Mentally something is very wrong with
the England squad. There are players at this world cup who have
played equally tough leagues, equally long, who look at worst like
they are just finding the pace of the tournament, at best like they
are steeping smoothly from one big stage to another.

England seem happy to have made it, and have no ambition beyond that.
The FA will probably pocket a healthy amount of money regardless of
how far we go, so could care less - as long as their lunches and
expense accounts keep ticking on... It was telling watching the team
come off of their bus before the USA game - it was a good couple of
minutes and a good ten or so people in the team suit that exited the
bus before a single player had appeared, all of them some part of the

Also, once again, the FA have awarded a manager an extension to a
contract before a tournament has begun. Why? Surely you want to see
how the manager performs at the tournament before you do this? Where
is the carrot? At this standing Capello should not be in charge - he
has failed miserably in his game plan and team (and indeed squad
selection) - so why keep him around? The team isn't going to change
that much in two years - the FA seem to have to much say in who plays
(names on shirts, keep the people back home happy?) - otherwise, how
can anyone explain Lampard getting so many chances?

Last nights game was one of the worst international matches I have
ever seen, with one team trying but lacking quality, the other team
lacking everything. Once again, England seem to have convinced the
world that they are something they are not. Once again, we all fell
for it.

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