The only surprising thing about this ‘shock’ exit is that more people didn’t back it. There was Germany, who have been crowned world champions three times, have reached every World Cup quarter-final since 1954 and who crushed Australia 4-0 in the group stages playing England, who didn’t even qualify for the last European Championships, had played the worst football in South Africa apart from France and who only scraped through the easiest qualifying group by the skin of their scrotums.
How could the result have gone any other way? So obvious was it that England were going to limp out against the Germans that even this miserable hack saw fit to back the Hun and go out and play golf instead. I may be English and a keen football fan but there’s only so much masochism I’m willing to self-inflict.
Inevitably, the backlash of the tabloids has begun as journalists pissed off that they’ve got to come home already lay into Fabio Capello and his “Golden Generation”. It’s like Groundhog Day, only it happens every four years. The team gets built up beyond all reasonable expectations, the players shit themselves on the big stage and then come home with their tails between their legs after forgetting how to pass the ball.
Capello certainly didn’t help England’s by failing to learn English properly, refusing to trust the few creative players at his disposal (leaving the likes of Adam Johnson at home was a bad mistake) and persevering with a system which was both ugly and unsuccessful – but how Wayne Rooney turns into Mickey Rooney at World Cups is beyond comprehension.
England’s travails are more deep-rooted than Capello, though. There is an ever-decreasing talent pool to choose from and the players look jaded every time they play a summer tournament. The Premier League may be one of the most successful leagues in the world but it has no interest in helping the national team by implementing a winter break, reducing the number of clubs or putting a cap on foreigners.. It’s a money-making machine and, unlike the Bundesliga, is not geared towards improving international football.
The Football Association isn’t much better either. It doesn’t even have a proper chairman at the moment and is so clueless they it made exactly the same mistake Liverpool made with Rafa Benitez, by offering the England coach a new contract before he’d proven himself. The FA agreed to extend Capello’s deal by two years, making him the highest paid coach in the world on £6m a year, and forcing themselves into a corner. No wonder Capello wants to see out his contract; if the FA want to get rid of him they’ll have to pay him handsomely for the privilege.
At grass roots level, meanwhile, the kids are sitting at home and playing on their PS3s rather than kicking a ball around and those that do play football have all the natural ability coached out of them by being forced to play on 11-a-side pitches at the age of 10 before they’ve learned how to trap the ball. These kids are then screamed at if they try anything fancy and congratulated for hoofing the ball into touch.
It’s not all gloom and doom, though. We are told that the Under-17s who beat Spain to win the European Championships this year are the best crop of youngsters we’ve had in years . Excellent, another ‘Golden Generation’ is on the way.