England – Delusions of Grandeur

Okay, I must admit, the England v USA game went pretty much as I expected.  England playing poorly, USA playing better than many give them credit for and England finding a way to self destruct.

As I said last week, England seem to only have one world class player (in form, which rules out Gerrard) in Wayne Rooney and even he didn’t really do that much.  That’s not enough to rightfully expect to have a good World Cup.  And to make it worse, England is relying on bit part players and hoping they produces something special that they are only capable of producing every blue moon.  Shaun Wright-Philips is a classic example.  He is capable of producing something special, but only every now and again.  The majority of the time, he under performs.

Lennon is another example.  He is capable of taking on players and providing good service, but rarely does it.  And when he is given a chance at a shot, he seems to prefer to defer and look for the pass, which to me shows a lack of confidence.

Then we have other players who are simply not good enough.  Heskey for example is a solid front player, but doesn’t have the class needed to start for England.  Everyone was saying that if only he had scored the shot saved by Tim Howard, England would have won.  But that is the point.  He isn’t good enough to put the ball into the corner.  He is only good enough to shoot it blindly right at the keeper.  If he was good enough to score those type of chances regularly, he would at least be starting for Aston Villa, and he’s not.

Carragher, used to be an excellent defender.  But there is a reason he tried to retire from international football.  He knows he’s not the player he used to be.  It was shocking to see Altidore beat him physically the way he did.

So when you add it all up – Goalkeeper problems, a wobbly back line, a below par Gerrard, inability for Gerrard and Lampard to play well together, relying on bit part players like Wright-Philips, Lennon, etc. and forwards who are not good enough to start for their club teams (Heskey), then it all points to little or no chance for England yet again.

And that is why I find it strange, the delusions of grandeur that most English fans have.  I just don’t share it.

But let’s not take away from USA’s performance.  They played well.  At one point in the first half, they dominated possession 59 – 41%.  They looked good with their passing, Donavon was excellent, Altidore was an handful at times and Tim Howard was excellent.  I don’t think they have the quality to expect too much against the stronger teams though, but they are definitely capable of upsetting any team in this World Cup on their day.

Now to the teams who are capable of winning.  From those that have played up to now, Germany and Holland look the best.  Germany played exceptionally well, but it’s hard to judge because of the poor Australian team they faced.  Holland on the other hand, looked impressively well organized and clinical against a pretty good Danish team.

I’m looking forward to seeing Brazil and Italy play and then I might make a prediction of who will win.


  1. JPolito says:

    The English team wasn’t that bad. They weren’t world class, at this point, but so far many of the teams have had problems. Holland was too often congested in the middle and could have stretched the play better. Germany was the best so far, but the Australian team played into their hands. Italy played surprisingly good, and it was unlucky that they drew.

    I think when Barry gets back it will help things out esp. defensively and allow Gerrard/Lampard to attack more freely. Rooney oft found injury concerns are troubling for England.

    I think England can pull itself together and do reasonably well. I think they could also find themselves a mid-pack team, if they aren’t careful.

  2. Willy says:

    Don’t forget Spain! Possibly the strongest roster on paper and their performances are not too bad, are they?

    England has always had delusions of grandeur with the media being the main culprit here. Setting the appropriate expectations is key. If England goes in knowing that they are at best a quarter final team and work towards that goal, then every step from there is great success. Going in with unsubstantiated talk about winning it all will almost always result in disappointment and failure. It would be nice to try and go in and underdogs with no pressure what so ever and see what happens.

    If the US can match England’s outcomes from the next two games, there might be a good chance that England will play Germany in the second round where their chances will be slimmer.

    Maybe it is time to change the know-all attitude and overcome those illusions of grandeur as this would be the first step on the corrective path.

  3. Ruckus says:

    The problem with supporting England in the World Cup is that people exist on either extremes of the continuum. You either believe England are the best team in the World and invincible or they are the most overrated and over hyped team in existence.

    To judge a team on the sum of its parts is the first mistake, the best players do not make the best team. Look at Greece in Euro 2004, no one would’ve guessed that they would beat all in their path to Euro glory, yet they did beating Portugal, France, Czech Republic (who beat Holland and Germany on their way to the Semi’s) culminating in a final rematch with Portugal, whom they beat once again.

    A teams performance in the group stages isn’t always the best indicator as to World Cup prowess, the one goal is to progress. 2006 being a prime example, Italy drawing against the USA 1-1 in the groups stages…. they won 2, tied 1, but went on to win the World Cup. So by that example perhaps its a good omen?

    I think it is easy to criticize post match regarding formation, personnel as well as question in inherent ability of the players, however, you also have to take into consideration their record under Capello:

    P24 W18 D2 L4 GF61 GA20

    Not to mention the fact that the record for World Cup qualification was:

    P10 W9 L1 GF34 GA 6

    So with that in mind, England don’t suddenly become a bad team overnight nor do their players suddenly become hasbeens or below par. The team that wins the world cup will do so as the ‘best team’ not the best players, and that is a fundamental aspect of the game many people seem to overlook. To suggest England have ‘little’ or ‘no’ chance

    I would also hasten to add that the US team played very well and worked hard, however, despite this team work and work ethic they only created 1 real chance of any merit, and that was Altidores run and shore tipped onto the post via the unfortunate Green. Other than that the US were restricted to speculative efforts from 25yards+… sadly a tactic that proved fruitful in the end, however it isn’t a tactic that works consistently over the long term. I would like to see Dempsey play in the middle and push forward to give Donavon some more support from deep making them more multi-dimensional with their attacking approach.

    As for the ‘exotic’ effect… the irrational love of all things foreign and exotic, pertaining to Italy, Germany, Brazil etc… Well if the game against Paraguay was anything to go by, the Italians are in much worse shape than England! lol To determine the potential of the World Cup on the first game is naive in its extremity. Its a truly unique event, where everyone wins every 4 years! it brings the beautiful game to the forefront for a magical few weeks and makes the World a better place, if only for a short time.

    Live the Dream ;o)

  4. Dan says:

    I’m an England fan but don’t have any delusions of grandeur. What I do have is hope. Hope that on any given day any team can win. Hope that Capello can manage a team of decent to good players to some respectable performances. Hope that it’s enough.

    The comments you make about some of the players are true but the same can be said of most, if not all, teams in the competition. Quality mixed with work horses. Holland underachieve every year and Germany do just the opposite.

    I want England to do well. I don’t think I’m deluded. If I am I then there’s 31 more deluded countries out there. It’s a fine line between belief and delusion I suppose.

  5. Derik says:

    Judging by the way Brazil and Italy played… I will give Spain and Netherlands the thumbs up at this point. Germany will be my third choice, but they did outplay a weak 10 man Australian team missing Tim Cahill for most of the match. It should be time USA goes past the 2nd round.

    JPolito… Netherlands were cramped in the middle because they were missing Robben… plus the addition of Elias in the 2nd half was huge. He -plays with pace and goes forward. Watch what happens the next game when Elias gets the start out wide and Robben gets wide out left. Lights out!

  6. Derik says:

    Just looked at this and it looks like I was right! Spain and Netherlands are in the final tomorrow! Should have entered an office pool! Germany got 3rd…. ha ha