England exit the World Cup: Are you bothered?

Miroslav Klose scores for Germany
So, there you go.

Pure shambles, but if you’re a Manchester United fan, short of winning the World Cup, yesterday’s farce was surely the best case scenario.

No United scapegoat and even the strongest attempt to deflect attention cannot divert it away from the abject failure that was on show – chief culprits being Gerrard and Lampard, later revealed by German coach Low as being targetted due to their lack of positional discipline.


There’s no blame that can be attached to Capello; he merely took on an existing set up; tinkered with it slightly to invigorating effect in the qualifiers then watched it all fall apart as it usually does when a tournament comes around. He is a world class manager with a proven track record; he must now at least be given the opportunity to do what should have been done 4 years ago and rip the bad bad heart out of this England side. Capello’s “golden rule” that a player must be in his side and in form was expolited so many teams it became redundant but he has to return to it now and by doing so half of this side will be dropped.

Joe Hart needs to replace David James who did little wrong but is now simply too old to be considered – Gareth Barry was in the side purely out of being flavour of the month but has now painfully been exposed as being far out of his depth at international level. He was embarrassed for Germany’s third but would not have even been in that position if not for Glen Johnson’s defensive indiscipline. It would be a step backwards for England to select Wes Brown or Gary Neville but it is a necessary one for them to progress as a team. Like Barry, Upson has never been an international defender so it would be unfair to pour all the blame on him.

“We knew Gerrard and Lampard always support the forwards and their midfield would be open. Our objective was to set Terry up with Klose to force him out of defence”, were the words of Low and described a gameplan that by rights should be far too simple to succeed at international level. But Low factored in the inherent “I’m the hero” personality attributes of Lampard and Gerrard and exploited it perfectly. It was fitting that Steven Gerrard should be captain to round off a 12 months where his best performance in the courtroom. Karma for him to be the on pitch ringleader of this shambles, with the post match attribution of Low making his position in the team now surely untenable.

Wayne Rooney, our darling, cannot be exempt from criticism. He too wasn’t good enough but what is a man to do with the anarchy that was going on behind him? A good workman doesn’t blame his tools, they say, but watch how Rooney will flourish when he returns to United. It’s been a little unfair to say that the World Cup has proven that he can’t be compared to the likes of Messi; the brilliant Argentine has hardly set the world alight in a team that is built around him.

The media’s interpretation of this will be key to Englands development – the knives should be as sharp as they have previously. I expressed my belief that Terry, Johnson, Lampard and Gerrard should not play for England again to James Ducker of the Times and he seemed to concur that such changes were necessary. Whether or not he has the conviction to put that into print is another matter; chief idiot at the Sun, Steven Howard, predictably has painted Rooney as the focal point, laughably attributing Barry’s inadequacy to his fitness.

In the Metro, perhaps taking comfort in the relative creative freedom that comes with a free publication, Matthew Nash has pinned his colours on my flag with a steady view that Gerrard and Lampard should be gone, Barry too, with Heskey, Carragher and Upson also part of the clear out. He’s not wrong.

Enough of that; what we can say is that as far as Manchester United are concerned, far from having players as scapegoats, this time around we have players whose absence from the side only increased their worth. General consensus was that Michael Carrick shouldn’t, on form, have even been in the squad, but after the tournament he’s the only midfielder to have come out of it with credit by virtue of not playing a single minute, and further to that, can actually at least be featured in a “what if” with regards his selection. What if we’d played him instead of Barry? Sure, Carrick wasn’t in form, neither has Barry been, nor for definite has Gerrard.

Owen Hargreaves, Gary Neville, Wes Brown, all players who can rightly think they deserve a starting place for the national side in the wake of the World Cup, fitness permitting. Paul Scholes was the highest profile casualty of the Gerrard and Lampard greedbath but as I’ve blogged before, England’s huge loss has been United’s huge gain. How England would have fared with Carrick and Scholes in the engine room is a question that can never be answered; their contribution to United’s recent success would suggest that they would have been a comprehensively better bet than Gerrard and Lampard, and for sure, they would not have been embarrassed by a playground tactic.

It’s time to gleefully wave goodbye to the likes of Gerrard, Carragher, Terry and Ashley Cole (though with Cole, admittedly this will be with age rather than quality by the time of the next World Cup), they can go and take their abhorrent, thoroughly unlikeable personalities with them, Lampard and Joe Cole can rid the team of their disruptive non-contributions that ruin every move and dominate every failed set piece. The problem wasn’t that they couldn’t re-create their club form; it was that they did exactly that, mix in the cocktail of greed that takes over when Gerrard and Lampard don the 3 lions then epic failure was always the inevitable outcome.

This wasn’t just a bad England team; it was the worst ever, the results have proven that. They were also terrible to watch and childlike in both personality and intelligence. So giving, for example, Michael Dawson his long overdue chance, won’t be a step down. We’re already as down as far as possible, and at the very least, Dawson has earned his chance. In Jack Rodwell we have an admittedly very raw talent but if he brings nothing else he will bring energy; which is one more quality than the pedestrian Barry. Jack Wilshere too may be physically underdeveloped but if he’s not already technically superior to Lampard, he soon will be. Hopefully Adam Johnson won’t turn out to be another Stewart Downing, too.These are players who won’t be saddled by the jealously and contempt that exists in the current camp from the Liverpool players to the United players (another huge contributary factor to Rooney’s ineffective performances at the World Cup).

Though there is no outright United scapegoat this time around, part of me lives in hope that the nation takes up the Sun bandwagon and blames Rooney to the point that he too retires. Next season Rooney will score around 30 goals and be as brilliant as he has been over the last 4 years for us – clearly suggesting that, as Low explained, the problem lies with an undisciplined national midfield.

It’s goodbye to the rotten generation; and a hearty welcome back for the real Wayne Rooney. Bring on Newcastle and the Premier League; coincidentally, Rooney’s favourite opponents. And, bring on an England team we can get behind without feeling like we need a long bath to cleanse ourselves afterwards.

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7 Responses to “England exit the World Cup: Are you bothered?”

  1. MUFCGrrrlllll says:

    Good piece, I think it’s obvious England need a clearout. It’s tempting to think that the Gerrard/Lampard debate has had a psychological effect on the rest of the team in terms of achievement (or lack of)

    You don’t think Messi is having a great tournament? I think he’s been fantastic and only lacks a goal.

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  2. PR says:

    You could clearly see Rooney was unfit in the WC. So even tough I (as a norwegian) really hoped for english sucsess, I must say it`s for the best that Rooney can get some extra weeks rest before the season starts.

    And as you said, no United players really stuck out as a scaoe goat this time, but I`ll guess the english tabloids will try to make Rooney one. They`re famous for building up expectations and pressure on a palyer, and if England doesn`t suceed, try to tear them down.

    I am pleased that Barry is a city player, because last season and in the WC he has been really shit. He played decent for Villa I`ll give him that, but for a top team battling for all the biggest trophies every year he just isn`t good enough. So hope he`ll stay in city for many years. Thinking of that Benitez wanted Barry making Alonso leave Liverpool makes me laugh every time I think about it. Will miss the FSW making a laugh of himself and pool.
    Barry is close to being the worst player in this wordl cup in my opinion, an yesterday he is parlty to blame for 2 out of the 4 goals conceeded.

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  3. Yalew says:

    It is really a shame for players of the three lines with such caliber to lost the biggest game with their bitter rivals in disgrace.The linesman should never be involved in any football much anymore at least otherwise he should be sent to jail for sometime for putting the English people in such a feeling.

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  4. ParkLane67 says:

    Good article, albeit with a paranoid Man U slant. An indisciplined midfield, does not alone however explain Rooney’s sudden inability to trap or pass a ball in the group stages. Let’s face it – without exception, they were all hopeless!

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  5. Yolkie says:

    MUFCGrrrl – Messi is doing okay; but hardly running the tournament, yet Rooney is suffering in direct comparison to him. Doesn’t make much sense.

    Yalew – I was actually going to comment on that too.. sweet irony that Lampard’s best moment probably ever in an England was unfairly ruled out, considering he won a league championship medal on the back of a dodgy linesman

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  6. Football Gifts says:

    The performances in all the games in the World Cup were pretty clueless, yes even the Slovenia game which could have quite easily gone pear shaped, it was only a matter of time before England played a half decent team and got punished.
    Let’s just forget Lampard’s ‘goal’ because by that stage England could have easily been 3 or 4 down. Is it Capello? I’m not sure if it‘s his fault, but he picks the squad and the team & tactics so I guess he will probably walk (with a nice pay cheque) but just look at some of the players, How many truly World Class players do England have? maybe it’s time for a reality check, Capello had so little faith in the squad he brings back Jamie Carragher, please! he would have brought Scholes back too, but he obviously saw what was coming and didn’t want any part of it.
    The goalkeeping situation is a mess, David ‘Calamity’ James earned that nickname for a reason and was only upstaged by Robert ‘butterfingers’ Green. and the vein continues through the lackadaisical defence, the disorganised midfield and the misfiring forwards.
    I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know it’s a right mess! I know one man who could sort it out, but he’s just taken over at Real Madrid.

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  7. Ian says:

    I still think James (hung out to dry up by horrific, schoolboy defending) and Cashley (oh God, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but the amount of legwork he put in to cover the inadequacies of Terry, Upson, Barry and Johnson* was astonishing) are the two players to have played any significant time that I don’t feel any need to point the finger at.

    * I blame Johnson less. His strength isn’t defending and it never will be. But once it was clear that Germany were happy to brutally counter-attack if he went forward Milner ought to have been dropping back.

    But yes, this England team has been threatened with a cull long enough. It’s time to make it happen. I wouldn’t drop James, mind. Not necessarily. I don’t think he actually put a foot wrong in his games and he certainly didn’t cost us any goals through purely fault of his own. At the very least he has to be in the squad until either his body gives up or he does.

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