You won’t hear me say this often, but I admire the French, or at least the way the French FA handled their exit of the World Cup. The players weren’t taken back to their five-star hotels and pampered for another day at the FA’s expense, no they were transported via coach straight to the airport and flown back economy. We can look at where, how and why England have failed in South Africa but our problems do not stem from ‘player fatigue’ alone, they stem from the very top, from the English Football Association.
Firstly we have Lord Triesman proclaiming to his mistress that ‘Spain are looking for help from the Russians to help bribe the referees in the World Cup’, then we have the FA extending Fabio Capello’s contract two weeks before the tournament starts. Two massive blunders made by the top brass at the FA. Are these people even on the same planet as us? The Chief of the FA, brought in by Gordon Brown to clean up the organisation from the past sex scandals has one of his own and puts England’s World Cup bid in jeopardy, then having seen how much it cost Liverpool to get rid of Rafa Benitez after giving a massive contract extension decide to do the same with Capello. Unbelievable. This incompetence runs from the top, straight down through Capello and finishes off on the pitch.
Enough about the FA for now. I was concerned when I saw Capello announce his final squad of 23. The usual suspect were there, Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Cole, Ferdinand, but there was no depth at all. There was nothing to change a game, no way to change the system. We have some promising young players, namely Adam Johnson, but even he was overlooked and the likes of Shaun Wright Phillips and Aaron Lennon were selected over the ex-Middlesbrough academy player. SWP and Lennon have has many chances at international level and haven’t produced. Johnson can change a game. Then the strikers… Emile Heskey was chosen over Darren Bent. Heskey is not a goal scorer, he is unable to hold the ball up, does not contribute assists and has struggled at his club all season. Obviously a far better selection than Bent who has scored 24 goals in 38 Premier League appearances compared to Heskey’s 3 goals in 16 appearances (15 of those as a substitute). What I would like to know is how is Heskey not good enough to start for Aston Villa, but good enough to start for England?
Peter Crouch has 5 more goals to his name for not many more starts, but Capello amazed England fans with his bizarre team selections in the group games. Neglecting Defoe and Crouch and starting with Rooney and Heskey was not what the England faithfull wanted to see – we wanted Rooney up front on his own, as he has played for Manchester United all season, scoring 26 goals in the league. The other shocking decisions were playing Carragher (whose legs have gone), Gerrard on the left, Upson instead of Dawson, King’s inclusion having not been fit his entire life etc etc but as fans we have become all to familiar with England managers knowing better than us fans, then the team crashes out of the competition without even a whimper (or not qualifying at all).
To top all this off, after two miserable performances Wayne Rooney decides to insult the fans who have paid £1000’s to go out and follow the three lions. We then paper over the cracks with an average performance against Slovenia, then bomb out against Germany. I’m not surprised that the team were booed, I have never seen such a gutless display from England.
So with the team knocked out it was nice to see Ashley Cole and Ledley King enjoying a laugh and a joke shortly after the Germany game, and it was nice to see that the FA had provided the England team with a private jet landing early in the morning at Heathrow to avoid angry fans. This again is more incompetence from the FA. Those England players should have been made to travel back economy, landed at Heathrow at lunchtime and if there was fans there to vent their anger so be it. The players obviously don’t know what it means to support England, to follow your team all over the world, having maybe saved for years to afford it.
So what now? I think the likes of Heskey, King, Carragher, Barry, Upson, A Cole, Gerrard, James & SWP should never play for England again. Rooney will need to buck his ideas up to remain in for me, he has been woeful of late and looks unfit. We need to sack Capello as well. I would appoint a coach with a contract to the 2012 Euro’s and no more. His job would be to build a capable young squad with a view to get to the quarter finals on the Euro’s, and leave the team able to push on for the following World Cup. The selection policy should be clear – If you are too old to play in the 2014 World Cup you are too old for the England team now. We need to build a solid group of players, who don’t take for granted their England call ups.
Well that’s my thoughts / rant over with. No more England talk for me, I now can enjoy the rest of the World Cup without worrying about how England are doing. For the record I think it will be a Argentina v Brazil final, and Argentina will sneak it. Now to look forward to the start of the domestic football season, and seeing who Gordon Strachan signs in the next few weeks.