Monday, 28 June 2010


Waking up this morning my first thought turned to yesterday’s events. I easily came to terms with the fact we were out of the world cup, probably because after about 70 minutes it was clear the dream was over and that we couldn’t over turn any deficit we were faced with. We had the last 20 or so minutes of the match to start coming to terms with it. Yesterday, for me, it didn’t matter about the result, all that mattered was we were out the world cup. Today, however, my first though was the result; the 4-1. And I felt ashamed, sad, and slightly stupid; stupid to believe all the media talk that we’d wipe the floor with any team we came across at this world cup; but that’s all it was: media talk.

I’ve talked about pressure a lot. I’ve talked about expectation even more. But these players have had too much of this to cope with. I’m not saying that’s an excuse for them - to be honest I haven’t really got an excuse for them - but it’s part of the many reasons why we underperformed and why we didn’t live up to expectation; because really, the expectation was too false.

Adverts, newspapers, articles; all making us think we could be world beaters, that we could beat anyone we wanted to and that we hardly had to even lift a finger. That was drummed into ours and the players’ skull so much, that the players even believed they didn’t have to work hard to beat teams such as Algeria. And we didn’t. we didn’t play out of our skins and as a result, we didn’t pick up the wins we needed. The media told us so many times that we would be okay; that we’d win our group easily: but we didn’t, did we? Maybe Franz Beckenbauer was right, maybe we were “stupid” to finish second in our group. We definitely were “stupid” enough to believe the media though; “stupid” enough to go along with the ‘we will win the world cup’ attitude. So “stupid” that none of us thought about the ‘what ifs’ until we drew against Algeria. That’s when it really hit home. That’s when you realised; this ‘dream’ of winning the world cup again was exactly that; it was just a dream.

This world cup for England has been like some sort of big explosion; now we’ve all got to pick up the pieces and try and fit them together so we can work out exactly what went wrong and where it went wrong. I don’t believe it’s the manager, I don’t believe it’s the tactics, I don’t believe it’s the players, I don’t believe it’s down to luck and the fact we never had it on our side; I believe it’s all of those things combined, none of which suit each other perfectly.

This world cup marked the end of an England era; some of those players might not play for England again, most of those players probably won’t play in the next world cup. It’s almost as if we have to act like our team has been relegated; we need to start again. With players like James Milner and Joe hart already breaking through into the team, it’s already begun, and players from the under-21 set up will soon join them, hopefully with Adam Johnson being the first player to be called up to the team. And watching Sky Sports news this morning you see how old the players will be next time the world cup comes around; Gerrard, Lampard, Terry; they might all be too old by then, especially if the promising younger players turn out how they should. That could’ve been their last world cup.

They won’t receive a heroes welcome when they arrive back in London like we’d all hoped - or been told - in fact the only place they’d receive a heroes welcome would probably be if they landed at Glasgow airport. They won’t receive a pat on the back, a ‘well done’ or an ‘at least you tried’ because it’d be pretty hypocritical to do all that. They know how they played, they know it wasn’t good enough and they know they now have to face the consequences. We shouldn’t try and protect them from this; it’s all part of football and it’s something by now they should be used to.

People will go on about this whole episode for weeks now, until they get bored of it at least. There’ll be rumours and speculation about the managers position, about the F.A, about everything connected with it really. None of us know how it’s going to turn out in the end; who will be playing for us in the qualifiers come September; if Capello will still be there then. They only thing we know for sure is the only thing we can possibly do right now; look to the future. There’s no point dwelling on the past too much, because we can’t change it. The only decent thing anyone can do is for the media to admit they were wrong, and the England players, staff and manager to all admit they were wrong too. All we can do is accept it and move on. There’s nothing we can change about it, no matter how much we all want to. I know all of us would do anything to reverse these last few weeks and change it for the better; but unfortunately, along with goal-line technology, that's an idea yet to be crafted into reality.

Football's not coming home just yet. It's staying in another country for a while, until we do that little bit more to truly deserve it. It'll be more special that way.

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