Saturday, June 19, 2010

The World Cup of Football; Engerland's nadir; Week 2

When 'Aussie' Guss Hiddink was in charge of the team from Down Under, he brought all the players together for a pre-World Cup camp.

He found that while the players from teams on the European continent were in good shape, the Premiership ones were unfit. He reckoned that it wasn't the fact that they played so many games was the problem per se; it was that they just didn't have time to work on their fitness. There were so many games in such quick succession that players recovery time was too great. And they ate all matter of convenience store crappy food, as young Brits do.

So he ran the legs off them pre-2006, and it worked. Look at those goals Timmy Cahill scored against Japan at the death.

Anyway, the England players looked tired yesterday. And fed up. David James pretty much let the cat of the bag in a hilarious, quietly-scathing, sarcastic post-match interview on Radio 5 Live. Capello may strike fear and respect into some, but clearly not James. I like him, and think he's good. The players dislike Capello. And if you listened to Danny Baker this morning, that great man reckons Capello dislikes them equally. He can't understand why they aren't as good as he thinks they should be.

I feel that too much has been made of the 'only naming the team two hours' before thing. But - would you like to be young Dawson this week, if Capello pins your name up on the cork board 5 minutes before you climb on the coach? Interesting.

Another thing - this 'burden of expectation' bollocks.

Every big team has a huge burden of expectation on them.

Do you think the German, Brazilian, Italian or Argentinian teams don't have a burden of expectation from fans and media?

If England secured a series of boring, scrappy 1-0 wins, got to the final and then got knocked out on penalties, statues would be erected in the players' honour at every shopping mall & precinct in the land. They'd be lauded.

If Brazil secured a series of boring, scrappy 1-0 wins, got to the final and then got knocked out on penalties, the natives would be burning wax effigies of the players in the street. They'd be pelting them with rotten mangoes as soon as they stepped off the plane.

(The Italians might just shrug and blame the referee, though.)

Anyway, in a fantastically bad England performance, I just want to single out one player for especial opprobrium. For some reason, maybe cos they were all sh1t, I haven't heard his name mentioned, but:

Glen Johnson. Hang your corn-rowed head in shame. You were truly effing awful. You kept asking for ball and then butchering it. I had to turn away. You have stunk the World Cup up. But your mates weren't much better.

Sorry England fans, but I'll be cheering on Slovenia. I like them. They play a lovely brand of football. If England come out and attack and play with some sort of verve, they might swing me back again. But who in their right minds, as a neutral, could put up with that load of tawdry old bollocks?

Anyway, I've missed a fair bit of the tournament this week. I have seen none of Mexico or Argentina. But here are

My dearest of World Cup teams, week 2

1. Germany - They won't get the credit they deserve, but they continued to play great, attacking football after they went down to 10 men.

2. Slovenia - Lovely footyball, great young playmaker, great game with USA.

3. USA - For playing how England are supposed to play. Balls, courage, fire in the belly. Wonderful game with Slovenia.

4. Brazil - they really did play like they were supposed to. I like them. I like Robinho. Kaka will improve.

5. Switzerland - I'm a defender and I like defenders. Good ones. Swiss have a few. They played this match perfectly. Total concentration at the back with a smash and grab raid up front. I thought this match was great spectacle for the 'football purist' and I am very very pure. I'm human puree.

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