Where to start? As the dust settles on the day after England’s humiliating 4-1 drubbing by an impressive Germany side, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that this is the worst tournament performance I can remember England ever having.
Having been spoilt by a superb domestic season in which my club, Millwall, were involved in a thrilling promotion race that culminated in a playoff victory at Wembley the World Cup has not provided a great deal in the way of entertainment.
And not just from an England perspective – so far only Argentina and Holland have consistently performed at anything like the level expected at a tournament this big.
To be fair Germany were good yesterday but England were so poor it just wasn’t funny. Apart from the ten minute spell after Matthew Upson’s goal we looked like a team lost.
The defence were pulled all over the place, leaving school boy-esque gaps at the back which the German attack exploited ruthlessly. I appreciate it’s at a completely different level but I have not seen defending that poor at club level for years.
You want to see players hassling the opposition – at Millwall we know we don’t have the best players but the most basic of demands is to close the opposing players down quickly and to chase after every ball.
England gave teams too much space and essentially the time to hurt us.
The players looked nervous and like rabbits caught in the headlights from the word go. Why? Fear of failure? From the opening match the passing was sloppy and we gave away possession far too easily. Nerves need to be settled and at some stage you have to look at the captain and manager.
To be fair to Capello once they are on the pitch there isn’t a great deal he can do but who was leading the team? I mean really? Gerrard? Terry?
At The Den we have three or four players, one of which is the captain Paul Robinson, who you see shouting encouragement, or giving struggling teammates a kick up the arse, to get them going.
Perhaps it was just the camera work on the BBC but other than David James (and keepers always shout at the defence when they concede) I saw no agression – no fight. They looked resigned to defeat and slumped further with every goal.
Maybe it’s the fact that the Millwall players aren’t earning millions each year but they certainly seem to actually care and the victories seem to mean much more.
Paul Robinson’s pre-playoff final speech sums it up:
“We’re playing for the people who hate their jobs, who’d love our lives,” said Robinson. “Let’s give them something special.”
Paul Robinson: What you want from a captain.
Can you really imagine an England player coming out with that? Or if they did actually meaning it?
That for me is why Millwall will always come above England – because I know that week in week out it really matters to most of the domestic players.
I will always support England whenever they play but the sooner this country wakes up to the fact that our glory days are behind us the better. England may well go on to win a major tournament but realistically we are a team who should be looking to get beyond the group stage and take it from there.
Now I can kick back and watch some decent international teams play before turning my attention to the forthcoming NPower Championship season.
It might not be glamourous but it’s real and I love it.