Archive for June 18th, 2010

What We Learned From Engerland vs Algeria (0-0)

Fuck Me That Was Dire

And we don’t mean any reference to perennially crocked former Newcastle and West Ham loser boy Kieron. To in any way associate him with this match is the sort of insult which really requires forthright physical retribution of the most painful kind. So, no, this is in no way associated with him. For a start I’m sure he has several redeeming features to go with the handsome pay packet he has been picking up for doing nothing more than getting better and sitting out a couple of Premiership seasons. Still, he is apparently on the mend and whatever condition he is in would in every way have been a better selection for this match than any one of the 14 players Engerland plonked on the pitch and expected (probably irrationally) to actually go out there and play football.

Can’t Pass, Can’t Move, Can’t Defend, Can’t Attack… It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

I could go on (and on and on). But the reality is that this was, by quite some distance, the worst Engerland performance for many, many years. Yet again Engerland fail to even muster the basics. They had no form, no shape and it seemed no tactical concept. They couldn’t reliably manage that most abject of skills, namely passing the ball to someone in your own team, with even a vague sense of reliability. The Algerians might be a thoroughly rubbish side, although on the balance of this performance they appear to have both pace and skill, but they didn’t need to be any better to totally overshadow Engerland. The worst thing is that there seems to be no clear way forward. The players we have at our disposal are essentially the same players Eriksson took to World Cup 2006, none of whom has significantly improved in any way whatsoever, and the likelihood that they will be able to adapt their playing behaviour now seems slim. Now it’s true that pretty much every team that wins the World Cup undergoes some sort of transformation during the tournament itself, either through the team selection or its tactical set-up and to some extent the Group phase is the crucible in which this change is shaped, but it is stretching the imagination to think that Engerland are capable of that level of transformation after this performance. You’d have to say that Joe Cole on the left and Gerrard in the middle would be an absolute certainty (although god knows we’ve tried that before). The most radical solution would be to drop our single most disappointing player, Rooney,  and put Gerrard in his position, playing with a striker like Crouch. That way Cole and Lennon could play as outright wingers, Lampard and Barry could anchor midfield and we might be able to pass our way around the pitch and still have a bit of a goal threat. Sure it deprives us of our most individually talented player (and you can’t see the Argies doing that with Messi), but neither Rooney nor the team are going to survive if we keep this up and it’s the team that matters.  The Sven era is starting to look better and better.

Both Teams Will Rue Their Goalkeepers

Not the goalkeepers they had today. Both James and M’Bohli performed adequately, although neither was really challenged seriously. No, they will rue the goalkeepers they chose for the first matches, both of whom conspired to ‘Green’ the ball into their own nets. Whether this will cost Engerland (who lost 2 points) or Algeria (who lost 1 or 3 depending on how you look at it) most is at present a moot point, but the table would look radically different if Engerland had won and Algeria had drawn those matches.

At This Point We Are Worse Than The Greeks

Think about it. The Greeks, who came into this tournament never having won a match or scored a goal in the World Cup, now have more points and have scored more goals than Engerland.  And they are still, by some way, the most shit side in this tournament. And there is more chance that they will qualify for the Knockout stages than Engerland (although we hope the Argies give them the kicking they so richly deserve).  And we thought the French were getting the thick end of the shitty stick.

23 Down 41 To Go (Although Probably Only One Of These Will Feature Engerland)

Archive for June 18th, 2010

What We Learned From Slovenia vs USA (2-2)

This Tournament Is Made Up Of Phases

And I don’t mean the Group Phase, the Round of 16 Phase, I’m talking about the Phases within the Group stage. It seems that Round 1 was the Cagey Phase, where teams seemed to be both overawed with the reality of simply being here and petrified by the idea of losing the first game, the result being umpteen really tedious matches dominated by timidity and a lack of ambition. Only a few teams (Germany, Chile, Argentina and North Korea) really went for a win, the rest were simply content to play it safe and try and pick up a point. Some, like South Africa, Engerland and Algeria to name but 3, will regret rookie schoolboy errors that robbed them of valuable points, but the majority will be happy with their point.

In contrast Round 2 is very definitely the start of what Fergie called “Squeaky Bum Time”. The pressure is on and teams now know that they need to win these matches. As a result the very dynamic of the games has changed. They are, so far, faster and more aggressive than the previous Round, have had significantly more goals and are really separating the Could-Bes from the Going-Homes. This is where it gets serious boys. And so far the results in Round 2 have, with the exception of Argentina and Uruguay, gone spectacularly against the run of form, with Mexico, Greece (Greece for fuck’s sake) and Serbia all winning, USA and Slovenia drawing and France and Germany losing. We will be seeing some big beasts going home by the end of this, that’s for certain.

When We Said Slovenia Were Rubbish

What we meant was that they have a dynamic team with clever ball-passing players, some of whom possess real skill. Especially that chap Birsa, who scored a great goal (no problems with the Jubilia-Crawfishpie-Filigumbo ball there then). They are dynamic and looked to be roundly thrashing the previously estimable Yanks, before they somehow imploded and let the USA back into the match. This felt like the first of the Knockout Round matches, both sides going full on for it.

It’s Been A Funny Old Day

What with having moments where we were genuinely rooting for the Germans (the Germans for fuck’s sake) there was obviously something in the air. Halfway through this match I started rooting for the USA. And, you know what, they showed the kind of guts and determination that is normally associated with crappy lower league teams who think talent and tactics are two optional extras. Only the Yanks matched their guts with skill and ambition. By the end they were really unlucky not to have won.

22 Down 42 To Go

Archive for June 18th, 2010

What We Learned From Germany vs Serbia (0-1)

If This Was A Chess Game

It was one of those ones where both players stuff all their pawns and other pieces into the middle before beginning the all-important ‘taking’ phase. Both teams appeared to play a 2 – 7 – 1 formation, which left the midfield somewhat crowded and the lone striker option always covered by two defenders. Same old, same old, the central challenge being the one that has dogged the entire tournament, namely how do you creatively work your way through the massed ranks of defenders to get to the goal? So far no one has provided a consistent answer, indeed the only clear answer seems to be to have a diverse set of options so that the defence is always challenged. Spain failed because they never managed to move beyond their tippy-tappy through the middle, eye of the keyhole threat and capitalise on the wingplay of Jesus Navas. And while the game was changed by the ref’s exuberant use of cards, it didn’t seem to help the Serbians even when the Germans were down to 10 men. Bar a couple of good runs by Krasic, who looks like the smelly child at school who was always bullied, the Serbs showed no adventure whatsoever. The Serbs are comfortably one of the three shittest teams at the World Cup (hands up Oztralia and France).

When I Went Off On That Rant On The Ref From The Seychelles

And said that we should have more refs with Champions League experience, I was obviously mistaken as the Spanish ref was fucking atrocious. He started off giving cards for pretty minor tackling from behind, then sent off Kloser for more tackling from behind, then suddenly seemed to have a moment of clarity when he realised that there was a danger he could end up sending off both teams, before reverting to type at the end and going back to booking everyone.

If This Was An Engerland Game

You’d have bet the house on the Germans scoring that penalty.

21 Down 43 To Go