Ok, Ok. The world cup is heating up. Business end. Quarter final and semi final and all that. But, personally, I am yet to get over England’s performance this time around. Really disappointed. And angry. And confused.
I tried hard to think how such a spectacularly assembled team filled with spectacular players can fail so spectacularly.
Maybe I found the answer. :P
(if the image texts are not readable, click on it for a bigger size)
What Xavi thinks when he gets the ball in midfield?
What an English midfielder thinks when he gets the ball anywhere in the pitch?
Ok that was meant to be a joke. But, shockingly, or rather more worrying is that it isn't too far from being accurate. :P
Quiz question : Who are the most skillful players in the world? Technically most gifted. I would think the Brazilians and Argentines. Wouldn’t you? Their past record would suggest so atleast. Have we ever seriously thought why these players, when moving to Europe always go to the clubs of Spain, Italy, Holland etc. And hardly ever to English clubs. I am not talking about now. Now a lot of them come to England, well we know money talks. But over the years, since my early days of following football, I have read loads of interviews of such players dismissing the English game and choosing to showcase their talent in the more skillful leagues of the continent.
I read this on an opinion piece on a site i cant remember right now.. Summed it up perfectly for me.
" ... problem lies in the belief that 'getting stuck in' is of overwhelming importance in England. An 'if in doubt, boot it out' culture has existed in England for too long and it is imperative for young footballers to be taught to be comfortable on the ball with more emphasis on playing their way out of trouble."
England crumbled. Had fear in them. In the eyes, in the legs, in the minds. Clint Dempsey and Fabio Capello agree. Please don’t think all this is an excuse for the loss against Germany. I don’t even want to bring the goal that was never given issue too (its importance doesn’t diminish though).I would have, but the awful football displayed by the team right from the first game tells me, this team dint deserve that rub of the green.
Apart from the fear factor, team selections by Capello, the 4-4-2 that never works nowadays etc etc are there. Those are the immediate problems.
And, the bigger picture has the long term solutions.
There is a striking similarity over the problems of English football on the international stage, and the condition of Olympics sport back in India. We all know the issues. The problems. They are clichéd beyond belief. We will take the formality steps. And forget it just about there.
Similarly, the English Premiership won’t have THAT smallish winter break. They will play an EXTRA league cup. They will think of a 39th game abroad. They will not have mandatory number of English players in a team rule. They will not have a watchdog on new owners taking over clubs, and going berserk. They will only look at the TV rights money. They will think about the fan base in Asia that includes me and you. And so on. English players in the Premiership constitute around just 40 percent. Need I say more? Compare that to any other league in the world.
Italy’s dismal performance in Euro 2008, and this world cup has seen the Serie A take drastic actions. And fast. Now there can be only one Non EU player in an Serie A team. Whether it is right or wrong, I don’t know, but I sure like the intent shown by them. Never gonna happen in England. Here, this linked piece shows what Ghana are doing with their kids. And, England, well they are STILL building their National Football Academy, and in the meantime giving Professional contracts to players from the age of 17, allowing clubs to entice a wave of young foreign kids and their families to England. And on and on.
Why then do the clubs do so well while the national team fail so consistently? From 2005-06 the clubs have gone on a rampage, while the national team have nosedived. Surely the clubs must be doing something different. Or are they? How many English players actually start in these big club teams? Also, English football is direct, that’s their tradition, and they are great players in that system. But at the world stage, they are woefully exposed by ‘better football players’. You can’t bulldoze past the opposition faced in world cups. In Europe club games, over two legs, you still can, but in international tournaments, I am sorry. You can’t. Plus you don’t have a Jose, Fergie, Rafa or Arsene.
Those who know me personally know that I am a big lover of the English Premiership. And the way the football is played. Physical. Tough. Referee allowing play to flow. No whistles at every fall. I love it. But there are issues in the English game that need to be solved. The superstars are probably not the super humans we are now accustomed to believe. It just doesn’t feel right.
Some startling facts now, well known. But not given significance. Since its inception in 1991, there has been only one FIFA World Player of the Year, who was from an English club. There have been just TWO English based players to have won the European Player of the Year in the last 41 years. 41 mind you. In the 2006 World Cup Final, 3 out of 22 players who started the game were based in England. In 2002 and 1998, that number was 2 out of 22. It was ZERO in 1994. And I dint bother going further back. Maybe I am just reading too much into it, but I just can’t resist doing so. It just doesn't feel right.
Lastly, England have exited major tournaments prematurely in the past. Just like this year’s world cup. Having seen some for myself, all I would say that just one thing was glaring in its absence when we compare this exit to the years gone by. Spirit!!
I wish I could show my frustrations in the following manner.
Or by swearing live on camera like this.
But unfortunately, I am no superstar. So I got to settle for letting it all out on my blog. :) :)