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Tranmere Rovers & Cheltenham Town Stare Into The Abyss
There have been times over the previous four or five days or so that this afternoon’s match between Germany and England has threatened to collapse under the weight of its own hubris. England, seemingly unable to wait for this afternoon to come around, has become a nation of tea leaf readers, swirling a cup which contains the history of the matches between the two nations in a desperate attempt to try and pre-determine what is going to happen. The coverage in the press has taken a turn for the weird. A Steven Gerrard press conference was the lead story for much of the press this morning, with the England captain being described in various organs as having “roared” at it, which will have come as news to anyone that has seen Gerrard being interviewed in the press before. This afternoon, however, any talk of “roaring” couldn’t be any more misplaced.
This particular match between Germany and England does carry an air of curiosity about it. Germany were a mixed bag in the group stages – neat and tidy against a poor Australian performance in their opening match, they came unstuck with the harsh sending off of Miroslav Klose against Serbia in their second match before doing little more but no less than enough against Ghana in their final match. England, meanwhile, started slowly and seemed likely to tear themselves apart amid talk of divisions within the squad. They got their act together enough to squeeze through the group stages of the competition, but it was a close call. The excitement that followed their 1-0 win against Slovenia was completely and utterly disproportionate when compared with the reality of what had taken place but who, realistically, would have predicted anything different?
England take twenty-five minutes to have their first shot on target, which would be all that one would need to know about their performance for the first thirty minutes of the match were it not for the fact that Germany have already taken the lead by this point. The goal comes from a move staggering simplicity. The German goalkeeper Neuer launches an almighty punt down the pitch, Terry and Upson are, well, doing something that quite plainly isn’t defending the ball, Klose gets between them and rolls the ball under David James and into the corner of the net. It’s hopelessly amateurish defending from England, and the warning signs had already been more than evident – James had already saved twice with his legs. The lead is nothing less than Germany deserve, and for the next ten minutes, the question becomes less one of whether they will win or not and more one of how much they will win by. They double their advantage after thirty-three minutes when Klose gets free again on the right-hand side and, with the England defence being pulled back and forth like an accordion, rolls the ball across Lukas Podolski, who shoots under James. The sky looks set to cave in upon England.
Then, however, everything goes a little crazy. On thirty-seven minutes, a corner from the right hand side is dragged back to Gerrard, who swings the ball into the penalty area and Matthew Upson, who has had a wretched half up to that point, gets to the ball ahead of Neuer and heads England back into the game. What happens next, however, is one of those moments at which you maybe start to think that it just isn’t going to be your day. With their tails up thanks to the goal, England are suddenly controlling the game. Frank Lampard collects the ball on the edge of the penalty area and lobs the ball over Neuer. The ball bounces down off the underside of the crossbar and about a foot over the line, but no goal is awarded. It’s a harsh, harsh decision and those that will undoubtedly call kismet over it for 1966 are missing the point that football matches exist only within themselves, and that two wrong decisions, especially at forty-four years remove from each other, don’t make a right, but it remains Just One Of Those Things, and the truth of the matter is that England would have been somewhat fortunate to get to half-time at just 2-0, so disjointed was much of their first half performance.
Still, though, the press have their scapegoats and the BBC commentary team spend much of the remainder of the first half discussing The Biggest Injustice In The History Of The World Cup, arriving at the somewhat peculiar conclusion that this non-decision was somehow “more” wrong than the decision in 1966 that more or less won them the World Cup. At half-time, however, the panel has to admit that while the call over the goal was a bad one, England deserve to be behind. It is striking that the “debate” over goal line technology (which isn’t really a debate, since there isn’t anybody on the BBC panel that will stick their head above the parapets at this particular time and speak out against it) peters out after just a couple of minutes, and the discussion has to revert back to England’s defensive shortcomings.
Presumably still running on the adrenaline created by the last ten minutes of the first half, England begin the second half very much on the front foot. Six minutes in, they come depserately close to drawing level. Having won a free kick at an improbable angle, Frank Lampard shoots, Neuer ill-advisedly lets the ball go and it twangs out off the crossbar. They have further half and quarter chances. Milner crosses from the right-hand side and Neuer gathers well, while there’s a scramble on the edge of the penalty area that sees the ball run away, just, from Jermain Defoe and Steven Gerrard. It looks as if they can find a way back into the game, but in the space of three minutes the match slips away from England, and that is that.
The third goal comes, almost predictably, from an England free-kick on the edge of the German penalty area. Lampard’s shot flies straight into the defensive wall, and Germany break on the left-hand side. Bastian Schweinsteiger carries the ball into the penalty area and passes across for Thomas Mueller to reinstate Germany’s two goal advantage. Any chance that England might have of getting back into the match effectively ends with Germany’s next attack. Joe Cole, just introduced as a substitute, gets caught in possession, Mesut Ozil outruns Gareth Barry in a race that calls to mind the start of the fabled race between the hare and the tortoise and his pass finds Mueller, who beats James at the near post. Tor! And game over.
As the final twenty minutes play out, the post-mortem starts in the commentary box. “Why don’t they just give managers contracts between tournaments?”, howls an anguished Mark Lawrenson, who, it would seem, is starting to try to shift the blame for Gareth Barry having a 100m sprint time of seventeen seconds and the fact that Matthew Upson and John Terry put in performances more worthy of Hackney Marshes than the World Cup finals upon Fabio Capello. On the pitch, meanwhile, it starts to feel as if Germany have a little sympathy for England and slow the pace down a little. With ten minutes to play, Steven Gerrard gets into the penalty area, but his low shot is brilliantly saved by Neuer, Barry has a shot from a low cross by Rooney blocked and Lampard fires in a speculative shot from twenty-five yards out, but it’s far too little, and even further too late.
The writing for today was on the wall with the lifeless draw against Algeria, John Terry’s press conference, Wayne Rooney’s lack of performance and, most significantly of all, what we already knew about this team. There will probably be some that will continue to squeal about what might have happened had Frank Lampard’s first half shot that bounced over the line been given as a goal, but this is a highly selective interpretation of this afternoon’s events. Germany’s pace and fluidity was too much for England from the beginning to the end of the match. They outplayed England to such an extent that most people watching will have spent the majority of the match hoping for no more than for the scoreline to stay at 4-1. They are more than deserved winners of this match and, as scorers of four goals in two matches now during this tournament, can move into the quarter-finals with the deserved belief that they can go on and win the entire competition. England now go home, and there cannot be anybody that wouldn’t agree that they deserve to.
Perhaps this result is what English football needs. A dose of humility will do England – the team and the country – no harm at all. Perhaps the Football Association will learn from it, will put all other projects on hold until the broken youth development system is fixed. Perhaps the press will learn a bitter lesson from their tone towards Germany (which has – and if this sounds like damning with faint praise, it’s because it is – only moved from being abusive to borderline abusive over the last decade and a half or so) and will treat their opponents with a little more respect in the future. Perhaps the clubs will see the potential benefits to the game in Britain from working with the national team rather than seeking control of the FA for their own malign purposes. Or perhaps the Premier League will start again in seven weeks time and all of this will be forgotten.
Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.
I’m actually looking for to Premier League action, but only because my local is packed with World Cup watchers and I can’t get a seat anymore.
I was surprised to hear a call for Capello’s resignation already, but he did pick the team that fell apart. Ledley King lasted a half a game, and England lacked width and creativity. It’s time to give Michael Johnson and a few others a shot now that Lampard et al have shown they don’t have what it takes.
Well said (written).
Sadly for England the post mortem will undoubtedly focus on the one incident when really it should be focused on the four.
Aside from the obvious match ups this game was a contrast of selction policies too; a youthful Germany who selected form players because they had to (due to injuries), up against the same old suspects for England and the same old problems.
Something needs to change drastically for England, whether it be the way the game is taught at the grass roots level, the way players are developed, right through to the way the national team is selected.
Perhaps, dare I say it, England should look at copying the German model because they continue to amass an enviable record at World Cups whilst England continue to dissapoint.
“a youthful Germany who selected form players”
– you mean like Klose and Podolski who have really torn up the bundesliga in the four years since the last world cup.
There are some players that are great club players, some are great for their country, and a special few that do it for both. Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney fall into the former group, Klose, Podolski into the latter. Only Spain and Argentina seem to have an abundance of great club and international players. And hence, one of them will win it.
We can only hope that the players will finally stop believing their own publicity, but somehow I doubt it – even post-match it sounded like they really thought they would have gone on to win if Lampard’s “goal” had been awarded.
The main problem for me is that the Premier League wields too much power and automatically oppose any moves that might force them to actually try and develop young English players rather than signing another European player. Even the academies at some clubs seem to be full of non-England qualified players – how then can England prosper?
@ tom hallahan:
Fair point Tom, you’ve picked the two players who don’t fit my generalisation of the German squad.
Unfortunately I could name a dozen in the England camp that fit yours, hence I made the comparison of the two squads in that way to prove the point.
Wonderful post. Apart from the Slovenia match, England have been lifeless. It would have been better for them if they had talked less and worked more. Capello didnt know how to make his squad into a team that works together, he doesnt suit the way England play. I think with the squad he had, he could have beeten the Germans and maybe Argentina in the last 8. He is a big coach and didnt suit the English type of play. The English players where probably tired after a long season and didnt work enough to play as a team, that all ended up in the shameful performance they managed to kick up. Just wait for the Premier League and enjoy Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Lampard to star again, they’ll go back to normal type of play they are used to and a beautiful type of play it is too. Argentina have the points England need, they have stars who star for both their country and their clubs and they dont even have a good manager. Germany played well and deserved the win. History just made stuff fair the goal that was never scored in 1966 was counted and the goal that was scored wasent counted. Though, I am sure if it was counted England could have won. I wish there where robots instead of our human referee’s who make terrible mistakes.
Just found this website yesterday and love it, Great post! I’m still in disbelief that England couldn’t see this coming though, taking into account their woeful group performances. A humiliating defeat at the hands of ze Germans was probably the best outcome as it forces the realisation that they cannot just pick the big names and hope for the best. However, they will predictably blame it on the Lampard goal that could’ve been and keep on being mediocre…ignoring the fact they were outplayed from kickoff. I’m glad you also noticed Mark Lawrenson getting more irate as time went on, it made for humorous listening that was better than his usual inane punditry.
Anyways keep up the good work dudes, looking forward to more posts!
Germany was still the better team. Yes they were younger but they played way better anyways.
[…] World Cup 2010: Germany 4-1 England | Twohundredpercent […]
Top post. Poor decision. Terrible England. You said that a lot of people watching the game where glad it ended 4v1, but I wanted a fifth or sixth to knock some more sense into England. England have been coasting for the past 4 years, avoiding an out and out humiliation like I witnessed yesterday. We had been dire in the previous World Cup, and had never meet a team of true quality, and I am including Portugal, only making it to the Q/F. Had been dire in the qualification of the 2008 Euro Championships, and finally we were undone by a rather good German side in 2010. We can’t say we never saw it coming, in fact its about bloody time.
Germany, by the way, for the win. I think they’re up for the cup.
The facts are as follows;
1) The England players have a superiority complex, brought in at a young age whilst coming through the ranks, and go around thinking they just have to turn up to beat teams on the international stage. They believe the EPL is the only league in the world and dont understand the game. This is as much the fault of the coaches at Grassroots as the players themselves. Of course the media have a lot to answer for aswell but anyone who reads those rag papers and watch Sky TV are disillusioned individuals.
2)The players are not that good! Wayne Rooney had an excellent season but comparing him to Messi, Ronaldo or laughably, Péle, is a joke. Gerrard has played one good international game in his career. Terry is overhyped, looked upon as a hard man and die-hard player, which is another joke, expecially considering his last season for chelsea. The list can go on.
The coaching system in England needs to be overhauled completely. The next generation will be the same useless mess as this one so it is down to the following geeneration to be brought up with an understanding of the real world, appreciate what they have and recognise they fans are the only reason they are anything.
I would suggest that the english squad open a fund and put money in, all of which shopuld be used to compensate those poor english fans that paid to go and watch that tripe.
Ollie -Irish man
“Perhaps this result is what English football needs. A dose of humility will do England – the team and the country – no harm at all. Perhaps the Football Association will learn from it, will put all other projects on hold until the broken youth development system is fixed. Perhaps the press will learn a bitter lesson from their tone towards Germany (which has – and if this sounds like damning with faint praise, it’s because it is – only moved from being abusive to borderline abusive over the last decade and a half or so) and will treat their opponents with a little more respect in the future. Perhaps the clubs will see the potential benefits to the game in Britain from working with the national team rather than seeking control of the FA for their own malign purposes. Or perhaps the Premier League will start again in seven weeks time and all of this will be forgotten.”
If only – the only part of that paragraph likely to come true is the last sentence.
By August we’ll have had 6 weeks of Sky-hype to remind us what genuis, world-class players the likes of Stevie G, Wazza, JT and Lamps are and the deluded masses can convince themselves that Euro 2012 might as well be cancelled as there’s only one contender …
Only Spain and Argentina seem to have an abundance of great club and international players. And hence, one of them will win it.
Brazil may also be among the possible contenders.
Looking at the achievements of this squad over the course of their international careers, it has done no more and no less than the sum of its abilities. While the squad has a few players of quality, there are not enough for England to be real contenders. The deficiencies of the team have been glaringly obvious for some time: no first-choice goalkeeper, a slow defence, non-defending full-backs, a dearth of imagination in midfield, no reliable goalscorer, and so on. If the football establishment in this country wants success (ie. trophies, rather than increased viewing figures in Singapore), there must be a radical overhaul of the entire system. Unfortunately, short-term thinking pervades the English game.
Given the age of many in the German team, how good are they likely to be for the Euro’s in 2012? On the World Cup in 2014? By that time Ozil will 25 with 4 more years of experience behind him; Mueller will be 24! Good God, what are WE going to put up against them?
@ Alex: Argentina will win Germany in the last 8, and they will win the World Cup, Brazil and spain can win the tournament. But I think Argentina will win it :-). If Germany win they’ll loose in the Semi or the Final.
Changing the coach will make no difference. We’ve tried the best, the most expensive. We tried Mclaren, who had done very well with Middlesborough, and has proved again with Twente Entschede he is a great coach.
So the common denominator is what? We’re not good enough? We’re too tired by the time the WC comes round? (even though no English players got beyond the CL quarters, and had 4 weeks rest & prep before the WC started). The media pressure?
Reality is, we’re not so good, really. We just about beat Slovenia and we were getting excited. Hello? We have a very expensive domestic league, which can buy in the best players in the world. There are only 2 or 3 world class Englishmen in that League – A. Cole, Rooney & Gerrard for me.
Beneath that, a lot of average players, who are not well coached – very fit, very powerful, but no touch, and no brains.
Only solution is long-term – stop subscribing to Sky, stop giving the PL your money, the foreigners will stop coming in such numbers, and English players will get the chance to come through.
Then it’s about what those English players learn.
Ensure, not that all coaches have UEFA ‘A’ or whatever it’s called, but rather that the content of any mandatory coaching badge forces coaches to give young players 75% ball time, rather than practicing set pieces endlessly, and running them round the pitch. If the UEFA ‘A’ doesn’t stipulate this, the FA can insist on extra requirements in England.
It will take 15 years – but where else do we go?
There’s an excellent video on youtube with the legendary Craig Johnson talking about the state of the English youth set-up. He says how he did a two year study and handed it to the FA who completely disregarded it. Tells you a lot.
I’m going to leave this article here.
Brilliant dissection of the New English Disease.
ENGLAND WILL NOT WIN A WORLDCUP FOR AT LEAST 20 YEARS EVEN NOW AFTER ALL LESSONS GIVEN THEY(FA AND CAPELLO)JUST IGNORE THAT.
ENGLANDS U19 LOST IN SEMIFINAL AGAINST SPAIN BUT HAS CAPPELLO BEEN TO LOOK AT SOME POTENTIAL YOUNG PLAYERS NO HIS ANSWER IS THEY NOT READY.HE WILL BE ASKING EX PLAYERS LIKE PLATT,GASCOIGNE SHEARER LINEKER SCHOLES GORDEN BANKS HESKEY LAMPARD TERRY UPSON GERRARD AND THE SUPERSTAR ROONEY TO PLAY IN 2012 AND 2014 AND THE ENGLISH MEDIA WILL OF COURSE WIN BOTH TOURNAMENTS BECAUSE ENGLISH FANS ARE LIKELY TO BELIEVE THIS HYPE THEY LIKE SHEEP EASY TO GUIDE BY THE SHEPPERD FA.