England ... you are pathetic
By GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency
It's been a few days since England's debacle in Cape Town.
It was a night to forget for the English. But when you're so porous in a match on the world's biggest stage, there's no forgetting.
Reminders are everywhere. A weekend putting out fires of dissension and questioning of the coach will wane on you.
How bad was it?
It was so bad I wanted to take some time to reflect before putting pen to paper. I didn't want to be too knee-jerk in my impressions, especially after being in attendance for a rousing display earlier that day. The United States-Slovenia match had it all -- passion, enthusiasm, moments of brilliance and of course a terrible official.
But still, the U.S. game inspired and represented what playing in a World Cup tournament should be all about. So a couple days later, after attending other games and going over what I saw, I came up with this about England -- they are pathetic.
The effort was pathetic. The tactics were pathetic. The coaching was pathetic. The passing was pathetic. Pathetic. Pathetic. Pathetic.
I'm not sure what's more disconcerting: the lack of creativity or the lack of effort. And by effort, I'm not suggesting the players aren't trying. It's about positive effort, making proper decisions at proper times and rising to the challenge when pushed on.
In these areas, England has failed miserably.
This is a team without sandpaper. No leadership. No player that will grab the team by the scruff of the neck and put them on his back.
Wayne Rooney was thought to be the man, but he's a shade of the player who dominated the English Premiership this past season. He simply can't be fit.
Individual players need to be held accountable. And I can't think of a player worthy of praise. Right-back Glen Johnson is maybe worth mentioning. But that would be recognizing mediocrity for the sake of doing so.
Players of the highest pedigree look lost, uninspired and uninterested. Look around the tournament at so-called lesser nations. The effort is there. The commitment to playing a well-organized team game is there.
Whether it be a scrappy Uruguay, or a disciplined Denmark or a motivated Mexico, they all play as one. They play together. And they play very well.
It's these tactically sound teams that are worth mentioning when discussing true contenders. Not England.
To even mention England as a contender is now insulting to each and every other team who have come to South Africa to put on a show and compete.
Tactics and effort are essential in a short tournament. And thus far, coach Fabio Capello looks incapable of commanding either.
Tactically, the team is a joke. A 4-4-2 with players playing out of position, working against their individual strengths is puzzling. Capello has been a decent tactician elsewhere on his coaching travels. Why hasn't he shown any ingenuity or creativity with this side?
He throws in the out-of-form Emile Heskey and hopes for the best. Brutal. Capello's inspiration change during the game against Algeria was replacing like for like, taking out Aaron Lennon and putting in Shaun Wright-Phillips. What kind of tactics are those?
A short speedster for a short speedster? Ridiculous.
Capello has talented wing-backs he can't figure out how to use. And a centre midfield that are afraid to make mistakes, but give the ball away with regularity anyways.
For all of Diego Maradona's critics, he's established a dynamic system geared toward offensive soccer, falling in the line with the way the game is played by the best in 2010. Maradona recognized Argentina's strength and devised his game plan accordingly.
Maradona inspires. Capello does not. England are supposed to be an international power but play with the confidence of a defeated minnow.
Yet, we all assume England will beat Slovenia on Wednesday and move on to the next round. But what gives us confidence it will happen? For the life of me, I can only think of one reason England will advance.
It will advance because it has better players.
But what kind of reason is that? Not a very good one. Teams win, not players.