Tag: England

The 200% World Cup: So What Can England Expect, Then?

Two of England’s World Cup group opponents were in international “action” this weekend. And Mark Murphy was there for 200%. Well, more “there” than BBC Northern Ireland, anyway… Uruguay 1 Northern Ireland 0 I’d all-but-overlooked this potential humdinger. Northern Ireland are on a two-match South American tour. And before Wednesday’s trip to Chile they were in Montevideo to provide cannon fodder for give “English-style” opposition to Uruguay. If such a far-away trip seemed expensively-grandiose for a normally cash-strapped Irish FA, then the BBC weren’t about to make the same mistake. After co-commentator Chris Morgan let slip that it was “one o’clock in the morning here in Belfast” there was none of the “the conditions are really humid here” claptrap that pervades so much studio-based commentary – such pretences usually exposed by an inability to spot offside flags and off-the-ball incidents. But during his commentary Michael McNamee blamed mistakes on (1) it being the wee small hours; (2) there being no researchers about as he & Morgan “are the only ones in the building at this time of night”; and (3) the picture quality being poor, suggesting that “if you are watching this on a hi-definition telly you’ve probably got a better picture than “here in the studio,” which can’t have pleased his employers. Still, here’s to not wasting the licence-fee. For an hour, Uruguay were as poor as the...

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The Tactics Tank: England vs Denmark, Exfoliated

With just a matter of days, weeks, months and minutes until England fly out to Brazil before flying back again either having done well or not so well at the FIFA World Cup, Wednesday’s friendly fixture against Denmark afforded boss Roy Hodgson the ideal opportunity to not only evaluate potential candidates for places in the squad, but also test and tweak the tactics with which he will either baffle or amuse the world. Hodgson, of course, has long been derided as a kind of football conservative, the entrenched view of many being that he is to football tactics what Michael Gove is to education – namely a universally loathed, luddite Puritan mired in dark age thinking and possessed of a face that resembles an animal. While Hodgson’s failure at Liverpool hardly helps the cause of mainstream supporters prepared to defend him against his more vociferous detractors, his tenure as England manager – and particularly his record in recent games – has provided a more positive visualisation of what may lay ahead in Brazil. Born in 1947, Hodgson’s has certainly been around the block a few times. His managerial career has been wildly varied, taking in domestic titans and smaller, obscure clubs, as well as a storied international career spanning several decades. This poses a big problem for soccer academics and tactical analysts trying to establish his heritage as a...

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England’s World Cup Draw Should Demonstrate Their Limitations

At least, we might reflect, expectations had already been lowered to such an extent that there can barely be anybody left on the face of the entire planet who believes in any seriousness that England will win the World Cup in Brazil next summer. It’s not a matter of being fatalist or of showing false modesty. The evidence has been right there before our very eyes for a considerable amount of time, and England supporters now making their plans for the tournament next summer can do so with a carefree attitude, finally freed of the last vestiges of that old albatross called Expectation. As if having perhaps their most mediocre squad of players in living memory wasn’t enough to recalibrate the expectations of those who have never quite gotten to grips with the fact that those pesky foreigners are now considerably better at playing association football than the English themselves are, the prospect of a difficult drawin difficult conditions now awaits. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. The overwhelming majority of England supporters and well-wishers have long watched their national team’s matches through the gaps between their fingers, whilst accusations of “English arrogance” frequently come from those who are desperate for the English to live down to their expectations of them, with very little other supporting evidence other than the worst excesses of the tabloid press and what...

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Sixty Years Ago Today: England Brought Down To Earth By Magnificent Magyars

Seldom has there been one match that has come to define the fortunes of two football nations as appropiately as the afternoon in November 1953 when the Hungarians landed in London. The shock and horror with which the result that afternoon was greeted, however, also indicated the begnning of another trait in the history of the English national team, a brief period of turbulence followed by relative inactivity and plenty more of the same, underwhelming football and – with one, brief, glittering exception – a familiar feeling of relative under-achievement. In short, the twenty-fifth of November 1953 was the English national football team was found out, by a mass audience, for the first time. For those who paid close enough attention, the signs of decline had been clear for several years. In 1949, the Republic of Ireland became the first non-Home Nation to beat England away from home, when they won by two goals to nil at Goodison Park. A year later, a considerably more seismic shock should have hit the Football Association when the United States of America beat England by a single goal during the World Cup finals in Belo Horizonte. A complete lack of television coverage and minimal newpaper coverage, however, meant that the myth of innate English superiority was allowed to further fester. On the other side of Europe, however, a sporting revolution had begun...

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