With the World Cup news being dominated by the furore surrounding Luis Suarez and his “alleged” (although he blatantly did it) attempt to bite a lump out of Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder, England’s campaign ended with barely a whimper as they played out a tame 0-0 draw against the mighty Costa Rica on Tuesday.
Such was my anticipation for the game that I missed the first ten minutes because I was waiting for DNA results on Jeremy Kyle to determine whether or not this young lad was the father of a six-week old baby.
And that was the highlight of the evening’s television!
Anyway, this World Cup has seen some excellent performances from the so-called lesser nations and with it proof that the strongest teams don’t need to be full of world class individuals. The side I’ve enjoyed watching the most is Colombia – and they now have the Kirby curse that will almost certainly see them head straight home after their next game!
But what about England? Well our abject failure to create any impression in a fairly average group demonstrated the stark truth that we are simply not good enough – a fact made worse when you bear in mind the quality and popularity of our league football.
The Premier League is dominated by two things: overseas players and huge wages. But if our players are surrounded by talented team mates, why can we not be moulded into an international force? Are we simply missing top class players in key positions? Or is it something less tangible? Perhaps the Premier League has (unwittingly?) created a culture where the love of the game has been lost somewhere in a bottomless pit of money?
If that is true to any extent, would it be possible to draw into question the desire, commitment or pride of the squad? I’ve seen articles that suggest the players don’t care – they don’t need to, because they’re millionaires and win, lose or draw during the season, they’ll still be getting tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds a week from their respective clubs. Personally I don’t agree, I’m sure the whole England party was devastated at their failure to perform on the biggest stage, but I do think that the influx of foreign players is gradually stifling the emergence of home grown talent.
That said, some players did enhance their respective reputation in Brazil: Sterling, Sturridge and Shaw to name three. In fact we seem to have any number of attacking midfielders waiting in the wings, but we look woefully inept at the back, and defence is always the foundation of a winning team.
Whilst I would have chosen Harry Redknapp ahead of Roy Hodgson, I don’t think there should be a change of manager – just a concerted effort to say thank you and goodbye to those that are past their best, and to promote our up and coming young players, both at club and international level. I’d love to see a group of young, ambitious, untainted footballers playing for their country without fear or inhibition over the next couple of years, learning from their mistakes as well as what works, and maybe... just maybe... we might be a force to be reckoned with in four years time.