A Dose of World Cup Reality

Throughout the season murmurings of South Africa have become tremors of excitement; Capello is photographed or quoted at every turn, phrases such as 'on the plane' and even 'in the waiting lounge' have somehow entered the vernacular when describing players' chances of making the squad - all we need now is a World Cup anthem.

It's the time of the season when possible squads and starting elevens are mulled over by every fan in the land, Brazil shirts become omnipresent in a country five thousand miles away in which less than one thousandth can claim Brazilian heritage, and nauseatingly triumphant adverts creep onto our televisions. On the field if a player stays on the ground for more than two seconds after a challenge their country's World Cup prospects are immediately questioned.

For most top nations this would be an overreaction, unfortunately for England if the player in question is Wayne Rooney it's probably reasonable. This highlights the only aspect of the whole World Cup hype that the media have failed to pick up on - England essentially have no chance of progressing into the latter stages of the competition.

Rooney, on reputation and form, is England's only World Class player heading into the tournament. Ashley Cole would probably qualify if fit, Terry and Ferdinand would like to think they do but haven't now for a couple of seasons and Gerrard arguably never was (based on international performances). Capello is in fact England's shining hope alongside Rooney - a manager who can inspire and demands respect from his players and any opposition.

However elsewhere the squad and first team is full of glaring deficiencies: there is no reliable goalkeeper, there are currently question marks over every defensive position, our best winger (Lennon) is injured, a pedestrian midfield of Barry and Lampard have never proven themselves in tandem against quality opponents, Gerrard has spent most of the season in the doldrums and beyond Rooney the striking department looks toothless at this level (Defoe could prove me wrong here, but I doubt he will get the chance to).

So before any media-drum starts beating our brave boy's chances we should recognise that our squad lacks the technical talent, mentality and experience of big international games to be anywhere near favourites for the competition. And when we go out in the quarter-finals these will be the reasons for it; not poor refereeing, cheating foreigners or the heat.


Robbie Jones said...

Well you took the cynical words right out of my mouth. Great piece. Only I disagree with two things:

1) Gerrard has certainly been world class somewhere along the line - I know it's an overused term, but still.

2) England do have "a chance" of doing very well. Simply because - as you say - of Rooney and Capello and a squad of able, mostly competent players supporting him. And because South Africa in June favours none of the other contenders as a climate.

That said if Green and Upson are part of the same England defence at the World Cup, I give up on football and managers and everything really.

S T Roberts said...

'The heat' is a classic excuse that no doubt will be used no matter the weather.

Edited the Gerrard remark - anyone think he has proven himself in an England shirt.