Saturday, June 19, 2010

The rant

Right, Prank had his rant last night about France. And to some degree I understand why. For a long time France have been indelibly linked to Arsenal because of the faith shown in those players but to see how misused they were is infuriating for a team that prided itself on being World Champions in 1998. No, no, no...World Champignons and they weren't worthy of that title in 98. Brazil were.

As for England. Right, well lets get this clear. This is for all the fans who end up supporting England. Whether you're in Lebanon and your team didn't qualify and you wear either Brazil or England or Italy or Spain's shirt as a medallion. This is for the England fans who are from Cheltenham Town and haven't had success in their lifetime so go along with the official England Supporters Association like all the hooligans used to be able to. This is for the fans of Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal and whoever else you support but your allegiance is to your club and not your country.

Tonight was justification why England means nothing to our tribal club allegiances. I am English by default and in any previous World Cup, I have supported the opposition, NOT England.

Many Scousers or Liverpool fans haven't supported England after Thatcher's reign marginalised the city. Most English will look at Liverpool as perennial victims. "We're not English we are Scouse" goes the song. Maybe other cities feel the same maybe they don't. But I've never supported England.

Until this year, until I felt like they deserved it. Like I could look past the songs that are ingrained in the British Empire's dominance of the world - Rule Britannia etc. Like I could look past the fact that England was synonymous with the country's racist element.

I felt I could. I felt like all the other fans who usually support England. Their local team has been abysmal but beyond that the Premier League has produced its greatest crop and they deserve this despite being overpaid and lacking in intelligence. Nevermind, lets give it a go.

Fine. But the fans sang the national anthem 3 times tonight and then booed off the team. Well, firstly, if your backing this team then back it. Rooney stomped off screaming at the end that this "was our own fans booing us". Turncoats. This is the same team you harp on about 1966 for every 2 weeks. Yet when they need galvanising beyond the national anthem you can't do it.

No "You'll Never Walk Alone". None of that. Those players felt pressure. But that isn't their excuse. They should know how to deal with that pressure. They were poor, awful. Worse than France. But where has that derived from.

They started well against the US and that was by default. Here's the thing, England have been under this new "discipline" that Capello (who earns 6 million pound sterling a year to draw with Algeria) has instilled in this team. They coasted an easy qualifying group but credit to them for that. However, they drew with America and there was doom and gloom surrounding that. But I didn't feel that. I felt that the tempo of the opening game was good and they were not kick and rush as Beckenbauer said.

No, they played with drive and were slightly unfortunate that they didn't win. And at the centre of that was their new captain, Steven Gerrard. And yes, because he is Liverpool's captain and because Jamie Carragher is in there, I've felt like 'you know what, I want those players to do well'. Even Rooney. He plays for United, yet I've felt like this Liverpool lad is a good player. He deserves it.

Gerrard drove that team from the centre of that pitch because that is where he is comfortable and where is most effective. He is the most adaptable and gets misused (Domenech misuses in another way but thats what he does - misuses) because of team ethic. Lampard couldn't play on the left. Yet he was awful tonight. Awful.

But as soon as Barry is fit, Gerrard gets lumped on the left. Not even just behind Rooney where he could make an impact. NO JOE COLE? Why? Why? Not once has he been on the pitch. He played a right footed winger to replace Aaron Lennon. In the end he played Rooney on the right.

This is a man who earns 6 million a year! No way. You get very limited opportunities to get it right at World Cups. This is not Serie A. This is now or never football. I went to Anfield and watched a Liverpool side with Heskey and Gerrard beat Roma managed by Capello two nil. His team were awful.

When they selected him for the job, it is because he canvassed so hard for the job. He wasn't the first name they wanted. Not at all.

Even if England win this, I'm pretty much done supporting them. Despite such a lousy season for Liverpool, I'd rather be disappointed by the ones I love than the ones I don't care about. Its an arrogance to be paid that much and to deliver so little against a team that were beaten by Egypt in January 4 nil.

It is an arrogance to turn up because you are branded the Premier League and you can't even control a ball. But the players basics went out the window because they DID NOT believe in the system or the decisions.

Benitez for Liverpool fell on his decisions. Domenech with France has left out key players and stuck with players like Govou. If he wasn't leaving he would have been pushed. Capello, two games into his first tournament has not entertained nor given England fans any confidence.

If I'd been a neutral I would've wanted my money back. South Africans are mad about the Premier League. If they had seen this from the stands at Green Point, I'd have gone back to reception. Forget tomorrows headlines. This is not a rallying cry. This is why I'd rather have a passport with a Liverbird on it than a horse and a lion (the latter of which there are none in the English countryside - so why they are the 3 lions I have no clue).

If they win the World Cup or even top this group they will not have deserved it based on tonight. And I blame it on him. Stubbornness. There is no time for stubbornness. Joe Cole deserved 90 minutes. Not Barry. Ok, fine Lampard had a stinker but he deserves that place more than Heskey or Barry. Heskey provides space for Rooney and links play well. But he does not score goals and goals count when the other striker might not reach form.

This World Cup started slowly because of organised, tactical football. England did not have to be that way. They have the quality and the strength. They played with fire against the US at times, driven by Gerrard. Tonight, Gerrard was playing his graveyard shift. And now England played worse than imagined.

I said before the game that winning wasn't enough. That tonight was a chance to stick the flag in the ground and say "be afraid of us". Slovenia, good luck. Well done Algeria.

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