Remember that 9-1 at White Hart Lane? Was it really any worse than this? Could anything be? Of course there was controversy. England don’t ever get knocked out of the World Cup without some kind of injustice involved, but despite the inevitable and increasingly louder calls for video technology the bigger shock this afternoon came not from the linesman who decided to put his head down and sprint when he should have just stood and looked at a beautiful finish, but from the eleven men that contained the last of England’s supposed golden generation.
Yeah, I know how that sounds and no, I haven’t succumbed to the “England Expects” fever. I’m under no illusions that if Fabio Capello’s “team” managed to get past Germany that they’d do anything but struggle against Argentina, Spain or Brasil. I know England’s World Cup was over when they failed to win their group but surely I’m allowed to feel a little bit peeved that this team of Premier League multi-millionaires went out on a whimper backed with school yard defending?
To paraphrase what I said a few nights ago, you’re lucky if you get ten good minutes in a football match, it’s how you handle the other eighty that matters. For ten minutes in Bloemfontein England might have looked like the side that Shearer, Hansen et al had told us about before the game, in the other eighty they looked like my lad and the other four year olds running around a hall on a Monday night, pretending they’re really playing football.
Do you remember 1982? In footballing terms I struggle, but I’ve an abiding memory of Mick Mills walking off the pitch after England got knocked out. To me, he was a proper man, he had a ‘tache and was going bald what more did you need in the way of manly badges? oh, he was a centre half, the most masculine of positions, and there he was walking off the pitch in tears a good eight years before Gazza cried because his world cup ended with a booking.
I wasn’t for hanging around to see if anyone broke down yesterday, I’d missed enough of the cricket as it was, but Mrs Perm decided that she wanted to see if anyone had anything to say for themselves. What a contrast there was with the USA the day before. The Americans were pretty much inconsolable; a couple of exceptions aside, England looked fairly pragmatic about the whole thing. A few of them even had a “meh, what do you expect, it was Germany?” looks on their faces.
No tears though, not even from those with previous, That’s right, the man who can draw tears after a Chelsea defeat didn’t get the fuss after seeing his team sent home from the World Cup. Understandable I guess, it’s not like they’d got knocked out of the champions’ league or anything, eh JT?
I’m focusing on John Terry not because he used to be captain, not because he shagged Wayne Bridge’s missus, not because he’s been one of the worst on the pitch and off not because of his mental press conference ahead of Algeria and definitely not because he didn’t cry. I’m focusing on John Terry because in his post match interview he denied the lot and blamed who he could. Whether Gerrard and Lampard were lying or not, at least, in their interviews, they could be bothered to pretend that they thought there were issues to address, they looked like this wasn’t just another game; you’d be forgiven from Terry’s reaction that this was a pre-season friendly, not a knock out game in the World Cup finals.
And that got me wondering, and I came up with the following. Kirkland, Taylor, Baines, Bramble, Bullard, Moses, Watson, Cattermole, N’Zogbia and Heskey. Ok, so Charlie boy is strictly French and I’m missing a centre half (mostly because Matt Jackson has retired) but I refuse to believe that that side, maybe even with Jackson in place, could have done any worse across this world cup than the actual side did. The links are obvious. They’ve all been through the Latics revolving doors and they’re all a bit short (excepting maybe Kirkland) on international class, but I really would back them to give the side that Capello put out on Sunday.
If nothing else then they’d look like they cared after getting beat. I think what is most clear in the wake of the Germany defeat was that England’s “golden generation” ended with the loss of Beckham and Owen, that their heirs might have ability but that the likes of Terry and his mate have big enough pockets to carry the rewards of club football, but not broad enough shoulders to carry the weight of a nation.
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