Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Why Aren't We That Disappointed?

And so, after two weeks of increasingly disappointing performances somehow produced an increasing level of logic-defying but futile hope, the inevitable finally came on Sunday evening

England were very much as England were expected to be; relatively solid and disciplined, fairly uncreative and generally hard-working. They also profited from good fortune on a number of occasions - the Swedish goalie choosing to fall over rather than save Walcott's shot, the byline referee proving himself utterly redundant in failing to achieve the specific role for which he exists against Ukraine, and Italy apparently having watched an 'Art of Finishing' video by the offspring of Emile Heskey and Andy Carroll. 

Despite the temporary and somewhat diluted joy of winning the group, the whole tournament had a decidedly resigned feel to it for an English fan. Admittedly, there will be some of you reading this who should hang their heads in shame because, despite my best warnings, you allowed yourselves to believe. One such regular reader (an assumption grounded on absolutely zero evidence), Sir Bobby Charlton, appears to have allowed the inhalation of some Olympic fumes to cloud his rational judgement.

But I trust the majority of you did not succumb so easily to such a moment of weakness, instead holding fast to a steely and negative resolve, thoroughly founded in both reality and experience. I do not pretend to be any kind of national sentiment thermometer but the pervading attitude seems to be more of melancholy acceptance rather than outrage or bitter disappointment. Of course there might be a number of reasons for us generally taking something of an 'oh well' attitude:

1) Losing to Italy saved ourselves the embarrassment of what would surely have been Bloemfontain Part 2. Personally I couldn't see Gomez, Klose et al. replicating the same profligacy as Balotelli and Cassano. 31 shots and 0 goals isn't exactly a devastating return.
2) We are truly taken in by the frankly absurd positivity coming out from both media and management, after all, we didn't even want to win, we were just there for the learning opportunities and as character building for the young players (by the way, Welbeck is the only player under 25 who started the match, and 4 players were over 30, but let's not mention that).
3) We just didn't expect that much. We recognised that the reality was that we were outplayed in 3 of the 4 games, and pretty unconvincing in the other one, so although we were miraculously unbeaten, we didn't deserve to go any further, and can just be satisfied that we had a go. But even that doesn't really hold up to scrutiny...

Heading home -
probably a good idea
As I looked at before, England were never going to win with glorious passing or attractive attacking moves, we just don't have the technical ability. What was so disappointing to watch then on Sunday was that we seemed so slow and tired as well. Where was the pace, power and stamina that the English Premiership is renowned for? Instead, the slow and not exactly attractive Italian build-up wore us down and by the end we were too weary to even chase after them having given the ball away (one thing we proved experts at).

Yes it was penalties, and yes, things could have been so different. Of course I would much rather be supporting England than Italy on Thursday night but the truth is we were pretty dismal all tournament and I think we can all agree that it's not the end of the world that it ended when it did.


  1. always nice to have insightful readers

  2. Nice piece again Sam, sums up my sentiments entirely. Tying in with your piece about English football it seems we have developed our own style - the ultra-defensive, backs-against-the-goal-posts one we were dismaying over pre-Euro 2012!

    I don't think England can expect to do any better than this in future tournaments without taking some tips from Spain, Germany and even Italy on how to develop talent.

    Given the fact that Spain have now won 3 international tournaments in a row we have to concede that a new era of 'intelligent' football is upon us. No more hoofing it up to the big man and hoping for the best or spraying long balls out to the wings and hoping the pacey fella (aka Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon) can take on his man. Those tactics need to be confined to the playground, do you agree?