I am still reeling from the awfulness of England in the game against Italy. The greatness of Pirlo notwithstanding, Italy was/is not that good. Consider what the Italian team would have been like without his constant orchestration; consider how bad Balotelli was/is, ever eager to show the extent to which he is overrated. But Italy, such as it was, was all over England and the lads could not string two passes together for two hours or so. Apart from the tactics that would be more appropriate for West Bromwich Albion and its struggles against relegation than for a team of fantastically overpaid lads, there was amazing ineptitude on the part of England.
How is it that these young men, playing in arguably the best league in the world, cannot produce a decent stretch—never mind a game—against a mediocre team? Rooney, who continuously failed to drop back to cover Pirlo, as he has been failing to have any impact in any major tournament beyond being red-carded, receives £250,000 a week at Man U! He was singularly dreadful, failing at every task he was given, yet Welbeck was the one who was taken out. The more expensive the player the more infallible.
The superiority of the Italian national team over England was glaringly incongruous with the inferiority of Series A in relation to the Premiership. I love Stevie G dearly, as I am one of those pitiful Liverpool FC supporters, but the difference in class between Pirlo and him, let alone Parker, is vast. And let it be said that the fact that at the end of the game England was fielding four Liverpool players (Gerrard, Henderson, Johnson, Carroll) is a symptom unto itself.
It is easy to argue that the dominance of foreign players (and money) in the Premiership might be related to the decline of English football. Since the beginning of the Premiership in 1992, the English team went beyond the quarter finals in major tournaments only once, in 1996, and that was on home soil. But then it could also be that the dominance of foreign players is related to the fact the English are crap.
And it is not even the lack of success. The way England played against Italy seemed so outdated, so old, so pathetic—as awful as they were, they were actually exceeding their capabilities. They could not have thought at any point that they could win that game. There was only one tactical formation they could play in; and they, the loyal soldiers, kept doing it, over and over again, no matter the cost. They simply did not know any better. The continuous hopelessness of their display was overwhelming.
It was, in the end, sad to watch.