Archive for June 13th, 2011

What We Learned From Young Engerland vs Spain (1-1)

In The Eyes Of Their Fathers

And so another generation begins its great descent into oblivion. How so much potential talent can be transformed into something as godawful as this is something of a mystery, if not a complete surprise. If the full Engerland team’s recent performance against Switzerland was turgid, unimaginative garbage, then this was the youthful wellspring of rot, the place where the decaying filth that is Engerland’s tactical play originates. Young Engerland, quite simply, are the stinking antithesis of football. And it’s a foul stench they exude.

It’s a mystery what happens in those few days the Engerland team members are corralled together before big games. And it’s impressive. [pullthis]Players enter with talent and ambition and only days later are transformed into Automatons of Hoof, fundamentally incapable of controlling, passing or using the ball in any coherent manner[/pullthis]. What is it that the backroom staff do to so successfully amputate all vestiges of skill or technique? No one seems to know. What is clear is that they are stunningly effective. The likes of Sturridge, Welbeck, Cleverley, Henderson and Smalling, all players who have at least vaguely impressed in the Prem over the last year, were reduced to lumbering, incompetent hulks seemingly incapable of any action beyond dire hoof n hope ballplay.

[pullshow]Spain, in contrast, seem to have it all sorted. After decades of being the ‘Golden Generation That Couldn’t’ they now appear incapable of playing anything other than gobsmacking possession play. Like Barcelona in the Champions League final, they made their opposition look tired, ineffective and thoroughly ordinary. After a brief, 10 minute sounding out period at the start of the game, where Engerland concentrated on getting their barrage range right, Spain exerted an iron grip on proceedings, controlling the midfield and thus the game. In the rare moments when Engerland’s defence had the ball, they were mercilessly harried and prevented from attempting any kind of serious possession. The only reason Spain didn’t have things  locked down in their own third was the ball was so seldom there. Recent Arsenal performances aside, rarely can a team have had such control and yet been so incapable of taking advantage.

Dirty Cheating Bastards

Dirty Cheating Herrera Ander - The new face of Spanish football?

After all that possession and beautiful interplay, it was a shame to say the least that Spain’s goal should be scored with a handball. And a blatant one at that. What is it about talented sides (and individuals) that makes them believe that this is in any way justified? How can Herrera Ander look at himself when it’s patently obvious that he is a total cheat? And if the likes of Rooney can get banned for swearing and Kolo Touré can be banned for taking supplements (both good bans in my book), how is it that blatent cheats like Herrera Ander can survive in this game? The Spanish should be so ashamed of players like him they should a) refuse to accept the points from the game and, b) never play Herrera Ander again. In the same way that Busquet’s pathetic diving and playacting diminishes his own and Barcelona’s achievements, so this demeans everything Spain have done to promote total football.

Say it again. Dirty Cheating Bastards.

All That Cheating Won’t Save Engerland

Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that Spain really didn’t need to cheat. They really, really don’t. But once they had, you sensed that they felt that they had done enough. They were comfortably in control of the game, with tons of possession and had reduced Engerland to such a degree that they were essentially insignificant. And surely that was it, game over. Like the full Spanish side, they didn’t manage to make their dominance stick, but you felt they didn’t really see the point of exerting themselves to get more goals. Sure they had attempts, but they didn’t manage to break the Engerland defence apart the way Barcelona did Man U’s. And, in not grabbing the game, they let Engerland back in.

And maybe, just maybe, that was justice done. Engerland managed to get a goal from one of their few (very, very few) coherent moves and Spain get punished (a bit) for being dirty cheating bastards.

But make no mistake, a point for Engerland should in no way disguise the multitude of failures that they displayed in this match. Their mirroring of the full Engerland side’s many, many deficiencies should be a stinging reminder of the depths of the fault lines facing the English game. Our top young players cannot control the ball, can’t pass, can’t create and seem scared and paralysed in the face of genuinely decent opposition. Until these issues are addressed, none of the Engerland sides will be doing anything remarkable anytime soon.

Because, good though they are, Spain aren’t apparently the best young side in Europe. Apparently they aren’t even the best young side in this group. Meanwhile, Young Engerland, despite being no 1 in the UEFA rankings, are comfortably the worst side in this group based on this showing.

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.