So, England head home earlier than expected and once again everybody’s clamouring for the manager’s head. Continuity is key in football and to keep changing managers after World Cup disappointments just ignores the problem. England simply aren’t good enough to compete at international level.
We could rattle on for hours about why but it comes down to a few harsh home truths. Ball retention is absolutely imperative both at the top of club football and when you are representing you country. Fabio Capello has clearly tried to change the brutish English mentality and get his side comfortable at knocking the ball around, playing slow patient possession football, but the midfielders just kept giving the ball away. The philosophy is simple: if you’ve got the ball, the other team can’t score. And if you keep the ball, your opponents have to tire themselves out to win it back. If the likes of Frank Lampard were truly world class, they’d be able to locate a team mate with a crossfield ball.
Successive World Cup campaigns have been undermined by amateurish defending. Here, Capello was unlucky. Having a fit Rio Ferdinand available would have helped him as the Manchester United defender was comfortable on the ball as well as a cultured centre back, but his tournament didn’t even start. Bringing a clearly over-the-hill Jamie Carragher and gambling on the fitness of Ledley King demonstrated the dearth of quality English centre backs, but it was quite astonishing that both of those two and Matthew Upson were picked ahead of Michael Dawson, comfortably the best English defender in the last domestic season.
Regular readers will know I like to aim my fire at John Terry but he and Upson gave a display that wouldn’t even have graced park football yesterday. The gaps between the two of them were alarming, particularly when Terry was caught ridiculously out of position when a long punt forward from the goalkeeper sailed over his head. Upson thankfully thought better of bundling over Klose in the penalty area, but the damage was done by the German’s cool finish. Terry was trying to win the ball back high up the pitch again with Upson nowhere to be seen as Podolski exposed some gaping gaps to make it 2-0.
The talking heads will no doubt hound Capello out, but who would want the England job? Your players can’t kick with both feet, none of the top sides in the country have a nucleus of domestic talent and the media think it’s their job to destroy you. Until the laughably inept FA get a grip on the game in this country – and they might make a start by reforming our antequated coaching system – they’ll be plenty more bemused head-scratching by England managers in years to come.