Sunday, 27 June 2010

It’s time to get out the old cliché: Where did it all go wrong?

The questions ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ will be asked in the press a lot in the aftermath of this game, but in all honestly none of us will ever really know the answers. All we know is that it happened. This gut we retching feeling, the disgust, being let down and the mild anger will subside, but the mist covering the real reason behind why we didn’t play to our full potential is something that will never clear. We just have to move on I suppose.

I had to start this blog right at the end of the match, because I have so much I want to say, and I know I’ll forget it all if I leave it until later. Right now I’m a mix of emotions, so I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense; if it angers you; if I swear a lot; if you don’t agree with me, etc.

We all have opinions - football is based on them. Some people will tell you outright how awful England played, and some will defend them till the cows come home that they’re only human and we all make mistakes. I’m part of the ‘on the fence’ group - I know we played badly and I can admit it, but I know that these England players aren’t ‘awful’ and they aren’t a ‘disgrace.’ A fan on the news just summed it up for me: “as far as im concerned it’s a life of misery supporting England, but I’ll never stop.”


I’ll start with the obvious - England have been knocked out the World Cup by a much stronger and frankly better German team. I don’t want to bore you with what all the pundits are saying so I won’t talk too much about the game. You all know what happened; you saw it.

It was a pretty poor performance - especially by the back four - and you can’t really complain much about being knocked out, because this is a competition compiled of the best teams in the world, and right now, England aren’t up there with them, and it was shown today. It's also meant to bring out the best in teams and in individual players; unfortunately that never happened either. We are lucky it was only four goals.

The disallowed goal is something we'll all talk to death about. I’ve been calling for goal-line technology for a while, a lot of people have, but the real thing that did it for me was Portsmouth v Blues in the FA Cup quarter final, when Ridgewell’s goal crossed the line, David James clawed it out from behind the line (still not forgiven you Jameo) and the linesman said ‘no goal‘. That was also the day Sepp Blatter and Co. said they will not and will never succumb to the idea of goal-line technology. Ironic, really when you think about it. But now, on the world stage, everyone has seen how much it is needed, and I hope that fat prick reconsiders this idea. Or linesmen on the by-line, referees with glasses, linesmen without money in their back-pocket from the opposing team… of course I’m joking by now - but you get what I mean: just anything to make our game fairer.

Of course, that extra goal might not of mattered. But 2-2 at half time, it’s like starting the game all over again - all square, all even - England had picked up the momentum after Upson’s goal and Lampard’s disallowed-but-5-yards-over-the-line-goal, and I could see them containing Germany at least. But it wasn’t the case, and we can’t live off ‘maybes’ and ‘should haves’ - fact is, we didn’t do enough to warrant a place in the next round of the competition. And as a result are going home with our tails firmly between our legs, a sollum, discontent look etched on every face; player and fan alike.

The aftermath of this game will be huge. Not just because we lost to Germany, not just because we lost 4-1, but because of the manner in which we played, performed and ultimately failed in this competition. In my eyes, the main problem has been this huge expectation that the players have been lumbered with; these players been become immortalised like they can do nothing wrong; we have been made to forget that they are just human beings, some have played in under-performing teams this season; some have been surrounded by a team of class acts which have maybe made them looked better than they actually are - please don’t take that the wrong way; all the England players have brilliant talent, they wouldn’t be playing for England otherwise, but what I’m saying is that sometimes when you have better players to play with, you play better yourself because you’ve got such class players around you. If that makes much sense, I’m not sure it does.

The next thing I really wanted to talk about: fickle fans. I find it annoyingly hilarious how at the start of every game (all four of them…) that England played, people would say “COME ON ENGLAND!” then throughout the game, and throughout the days England weren’t playing, and at the end of the game when England hadn’t played well, they slagged England off to the high heavens.

Even more hilarious was the fact that some people said they now support different teams. Brilliant. That’s fantastic that is; I admire your ability to stick by your team (sense the sarcasm). It’s as bad as glory hunting; it’s as bad as when people do it for Premier League teams; something you all think is so wrong during the normal season, and yet when it comes to international competitions, you do exactly what you think is so low! Hark at you all high, mighty and judgemental during the season; hark at you criticising other people for being fickle; take the log out your own eye before you take the speck out of someone else’s. I'm not aiming this at one or two people, but every single person that has acted in this way throughout the world cup. You have lost my respect.

I don’t mind people who don’t support England from the off; that doesn’t bother me. But if you make a choice to support a team; stick by it. Saying come on England at the start of the game and then cheering when Germany score is like supporting Chelsea and then giving up when they lose a game and going to support Manchester United.

Fickle fans brings me onto jealous fans. It’s true, football can sometimes bring out the worst in people, and being green with envy is the worst emotion I’ve witnessed displayed by people of Irish and Scottish descent. Not all of them are like that though, I know two Irish lads; Irish through and through. They supported England throughout this world cup like they were English themselves. I admired them for that. I wish more people were like them. I support Scotland, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland when they play, I don’t know why it’s never reciprocated. I never will understand I don’t think.

The thing I'm most sick of though, is people saying that the England players don’t care. They do. Ten years ago, they were the lads dreaming of playing for England; they were just like you and me. They care. They care so much you wouldn’t believe. They wanted this as much as the rest of us did, but shit happens, and sometimes we don’t quite know why; sometimes there’s no explanation for it: there’s not explanation ad the why 23 of the best players England have underperformed. There’s nothing that can comprehend it, but you can’t stand up and defend England; after three bad performances and one quite good one, there’s nothing you can say that can make anything better or that can make them look better.

The simple fact is that the players were not good enough in the games that they played in, and we move on. We have to. We can’t dwell on what could or should have been; we can’t think “what if” because it didn’t happen and we can’t change it. Yes, it’s disappointing; yes, it’s one of the most horrible feelings in the world; but this is football. It bites you in the arse; it fucks you over; it takes all your hopes and dreams and rips them up and throws them away. But it’s the sport we love; and one day we’ll be rewarded for all this pain we’ve ever felt. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a couple more years to have another stab at another competition, but we’ll all be there supporting them when it happens; the team will be different, the manager might well be too; but the support, the belief and the hope will all still be the same. It has been ever since football was invented, and since the very first World Cup.

I’ve said pretty much all I wanted to say now. I hope you pick out the points I wanted to make and get across in this non-coherent mess. Some of you might get the wrong impression from this, like I’m not fully behind England; trust me, I've never been more behind them. My club is Birmingham City - that alone speaks for it’s self. I know what It's like. This feeling os disappointment. It gets worse each time. Belief is one thing but loyalty is what makes it stronger.

Maybe. Just maybe, next time it will be our time.

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