Englands REAL Back Four Were Non-Existant Last Night. It’s Really That Simple.

While the UK media did a great job of propping up the English side in the run up to the 2010 World Cup, nothing but the results can speak for their performance. That anyone genuinely thought England could lift the World Cup this year, is a testament to how members of the media can sway public opinion on things one wouldn’t usually give a second thought to were one to calmly focus on the facts instead.

I’ll get straight to it, here are four signs that went unnoticed by Englands Coaching Staff and its fans, who blindly followed England to this world cup only to be disappointed with their result:

I. Capello Learnt Nothing From His Predecessors In Terms of Tactical Mistakes They Made

Everyone from Englands harshest critics to the mini-cab driver that dropped me off at Heathrow Airport in the fall of 2006 knew that any coach that attempted to play Lampard and Gerrard together in the same midfield could never win. Both play such a similar role at their respective clubs that they cannot contribute positively together and just seem to get in each others way.

Capello and the entire nation had been introduced to this idea before he even set foot on English soil and for a while he seemed to take the advice, playing Gerrard or Lampard but never both. The closer the World Cup came, the more frequent was his use of both on the pitch together. However, the only teams he managed to beat with both of them playing  together were largely mediocre. This went unnoticed during qualifying adn then the group stage apparently, where they were just lucky to still be in it to tell you the truth. The first stern test saw them embarrassed at the hands of Germany. An early flight back to London, inevitable.

While English fans from all over the world will say Englands demise was due to the officials not seeing Frank Lampards goal cross the line. That things could have been different and you never know, I have just one question for them. Do you really think that if England had a legitimate chance at winning the world cup they could overcome a 2-1 deficit against a team that wasn’t given a second glance at the start of the tournament, despite a bad call? Ladies and gentlemen, it is all about the long run and the truth is, this English side didn’t have what it takes to go all the way.

It has to be said about Fabio Capello however, that he did a great job of neutralizing the egos that dominated the English dressing room during the respective but not respectable reigns of his predecessors. Sadly for him, that wasn’t enough and I don’t think his credentials as a coach will have taken too much of a hit as a result of this loss. As he has been successful everywhere else he has been other than at the helm of the English squad.

II. All The Teams England Played For the Last 9 Months Have Been Pathetic Sides

Englands run to the world cup included playing against teams like: Ukraine, Croatia, Belarus, Andorra and Kazakhstan. Let me begin by first saying that the Ukraine and Croatian national teams are not what they used to be. Incredible potential but unable to convert it into tangible results.

So England managed to get through their qualification and friendlies because their route to qualification was easy and lets be honest, a friendly is a friendly. Its the World Cup that counts and we saw exactly what they were capable of against a top 16 side in the World on an international stage. A 4-1 drubbing.

If you saw Algeria hold England to a draw, then how could you really have not seen this coming?

III. Englands Injuries and Scandals Sealed Their Fate Prior To Landing In South Africa

No team that has its captain and center back involved in an affair with a fellow squad members significant other can possibly hope to have a strong sense of unity. That scandal just denied England of having a capable player in Wayne Bridge in the squad and to add insult to injury Rio Ferdinand was ruled out of the world cup having got the armband handed to him by Capello just weeks prior. Two switches of captaincy and the loss of two of the most influential members of your squad mere weeks before the World Cup, that doesn’t sound like a particularly great position to be in from a morale standpoint or a technical one.

You cannot win a World Cup without a decent back four unless you are as talented as Brazil sides of old and lets be honest, the rest of the world has learnt a thing or two about striking the ball since, so a solid defensive unit is essential. Englands never really existed by the time they boarded the flight to go to South Africa.

IV. Rooney Isn’t Messi

If Wayne Rooneys inability to lead Manchester United to the Premiership Title this year wasn’t enough, his performance in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup should have been enough to put any doubts about whether he can be compared to Lionel Messi to bed. The irony of it being that when Wayne Rooney was knocked out of this world cup, he was on the same number of goals as Messi. Zero.

Yet it was clear that Lionel Messi has been pivotal to his teams success and in the center of everything good that has happened on the pitch for Argentina this world cup. Rooney in stark comparison, might as well have not been on the pitch for all of the help he provided. I think if anything else, any doubt as to whom the worlds best player is should be permanently scrapped by anyone that wants to nominate Wayne Rooney into the mix.

Some food for thought. No world cup was ever won by a team that didn’t have at least one exceptional talent and no one on the English team falls into that category or is capable performing at that level consistently. Not even Wayne Rooney.


The biggest tragedy of Englands loss was not the way in which it happened, rather it was the realization that we have all but said goodbye to an entire generation of English footballers that will never get to play in another World Cup again. John Terry, Frank Lampard, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard are all part of the same generation of English football that just died when the final whistle blew against Germany.

That they are worthy of a World Cup on their CV is a debate that will rage on forever that I would rather not participate in, but one thing is for certain. They were a high quality unit and as individuals some of the most important players for their respective clubs over the course of their generation (with a few years to come still mind you). In my personal opinion, they probably deserved to have gotten a little further than they actually did during the course of their World Cup careers. No more.

There is no doubt though, that this is a dagger in the hearts of many of the England faithful and if they are to be honest with themselves, losing 4-1 to Germany in the round of 16 is nothing less than a massive crushing. England have never really come close other than the one instance in which they won the world cup in all previous attempts anyway, so perhaps fans have less to be embarrassed about than they think.

With the end of every World Cup campaign comes a need for closure and for that I’d recommend an honest look at Englands squad matched up on a player by player basis to what the rest of the world has to offerfor anyone that still thinks their loss was a product of bad luck.

As for the pundits that were sure England would lift this world cup, all I can say is that I hope their recipe for humble pie isn’t too bitter………mate.