England’s tame defeat to Germany on Sunday was a massive let down for the whole country. Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal added salt to the wounds, but is unlikely to have been decisive. Many England fans including myself saw the arrival of Fabio Capello as coach as a great opportunity for England to shine on the world stage. Despite his previous success as a club manager, Capello has been shown up as a one trick pony at this World Cup, with just one style of play and team formation, and no Plan B. He does not seem to have the necessary flexibility in tactics or personnel for the modern game. There are many football related issues to be resolved before England can be a force on the world stage, and it may take a long time.
John Lydon once sung dismissively that ‘Every librarian has its theory’, and so it is with England’s World Cup exit. Everyone from Boris Johnson to Richard Caborn to Jeremy Clarkson and Uncle Tom Cobbley has had their say. Every issue from highly-paid players to the selling off of playing fields and the decline of competition in schools has been held up as the cause of England’s demise. Once again the England team is held up as a cause and solution of any social problem which you care to name.
The only consolation is that things are even worse in France, where FIFA the world football governing body has warned President Sarkozy against political interference in the affairs of the French Football Federation. Political interference in football, once considered the preserve of ‘banana republics’, has now become a problem in the some of the most wealthy and developed nations on earth.
There was an unusual item on the Radio 4 Today programme about adults who collect Panini World Cup stickers. Even a World Cup obsessive like myself thinks this is a bit sad. I prick my ears up when it is said that the World Cup 1970 sticker collection can fetch up to £1000 on eBay. I was eight years old in 1970, the right age to collect World Cup stickers, and I had the whole collection except for about three. I remember there was one Swedish player who no one had. Anyway, I will be searching cupboards and pulling up floorboards to see if I can locate my 1970 collection which I have not thought about for 40 years.
WORLD CUP CONTINUES…
Before the final second round game between Spain and Portugal, I visited the local Sainsbury’s which was deserted. The cashier said that it was so quiet because of the Spain match. It is striking how many people have dusted themselves down after Sunday’s disappointment, and got on with watching what is proving to be a very exciting World Cup.
AND SOUTH AMERICA RULES
The early dominance of South American teams has continued. Of the 32 teams who started the World Cup only eight remain. Of the five South American teams, four remain. Only Chile, who lost to Brazil, have been eliminated. It could all change in the quarter-finals , but up to this point the watertight defences of Uruguay and Paraguay, the dynamic attack of Argentina and the might of Brazil who seem strong in all departments have seen off everything which they have been up against. By Saturday night we could have an all South American semi-final line up, or all four teams could have been eliminated. There is still plenty to look forward to at World Cup 2010.