• 27 . 06 . 10
  • England’s performance at the World Cup 2010 was an embarrassment, and I’m glad that it’s over.

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Fabulous Capitulation

And so England bow out of a major competition yet again with a whimper, not a roar, and a defeat so ignominious that it erases all of the good will generated during the impressive qualifying campaign. Yet again, England flattered to deceive, and yet again, the English supporters fell for it. While they were hardly stellar in the run-up to the competition, they did at least possess that hard-to-beat quality, the “winning ugly” ability which is an absolute necessity at this level. Not so tonight. Tonight, the mask slipped and they were just plain ugly, put to shame by a youthful and inexperienced German team who schooled them in every area, in every position.

The disallowed goal before half-time will surely be over-analysed by the talking heads in the coming weeks, and ruminated on in the pub for years to come. The truth is, even had the goal stood, the result probably wouldn’t have changed, and would have merely put a plaster on a compound fracture. Had England limped on, they would have surely been embarrassed by the next team. Better that they be put out of their misery early.

The litany of mistakes in this tournament is too long to list, but there were notable low-lights. Tactically speaking, in the first game, fielding half-fit players and a goalkeeper with a history of mental weakness portended the tenor of the games to come. There was no tempo, no urgency, from any of the players. The “defending” of Germany’s first goal would have been considered poor on the schoolyard. Steven Gerrard’s captaincy was remarkably insipid, and a far cry from what he does for Liverpool. Captain Fantastic, he was not. It’s virtually impossible to write about Wayne Rooney’s contribution, because that would imply that he’d played in the tournament, and I’m not entirely convinced that he did.

It is surely one of the most puzzling mysteries in football; how a team of undoubtedly world-class players, the vast majority of whom regularly play in the fastest and most intense club competition in the world, can come to a tournament such as this and play with less intensity than New Zealand. The disinterested nature of the players, jogging around the field, waving a foot here and there, and pouting when decisions didn’t go their way, was frankly embarrassing. There was a smell of entitlement about each performance, as though the players were surprised that the opposition didn’t just hand them the win. “Don’t you know who we are? Just lie down will you, there’s a good boy”. As it turns out, the only team to capitulate was Capello’s.

Now is not the time for solutions. Now is the time for anger. Cleansing, righteous anger at a team who have let down their country, not because they didn’t win, but because they didn’t even compete. England has a proud footballing history, littered with glorious and noble defeats, and even the odd spellbinding win. To go out in such a tepid fashion should be considered beneath us.

The only positive you could draw is that with England out, the average quality of the remaining teams has gone up. The competition has lost a squad of 23 anonymous millionaires, and is richer for it.