Why has England been so bad?
- England is like a well-known child actor who has suffered a disappointing later career, a series of flops leavened by one or two near-misses, which almost make it worse. People who only remember him as the chirpy sitcom star are surprised by his moroseness, his meanness, the fact that he is working as a mattress salesman, and that he looks like an aged child.
- The England psyche is as fragile and transparent as glass. The loss of two starting central defenders, and then the Robert Green blunder, shattered what little confidence had accrued during a pretty nerveless qualifying campaign. Everyone is terrified of making a mistake, now – defending deep and in numbers on all set pieces, jittery back passes galore. You can see it on their faces: Whew, at least that one didn’t go in.
- This means that when we (yes, we) recover the ball, we cannot break, there is no outlet, only side passes while the other team scampers back. By the time the ball reaches the other half, the opposing defense is massed and well-organized.
- The right back Glen Johnson’s tendency to join the attack and cut inside neutralizes the teammate in front of him, the only player on the team capable of beating his man one-on-one, Aaron Lennon, who then either sits out on the wing doing nothing, drifts into the middle, where he is far less dangerous, or nervously covers the space left behind.
- During the Premier League season, the England supporters grow fat on a menu of often sumptuous football prepared by some of the most talented players from around the world. When the World Cup arrives, the England team can only push a pile of fish ‘n’ chips towards them. Sometimes they get a pork pie. But the fans don’t want fish ‘n’ chips any more, they are bored of the fish ‘n’ chips, they want a piece of that churrasco skirt steak, or perhaps some tapas. England just shrugs apathetically and offers them an extra portion of thickly-cut chips. The supporters riot. It is a destructive relationship.