So that’s it for another World Cup. England finished bottom of our group with 1 token point for our efforts after scoring just 2 goals in 3 matches.
I was hoping they were going to exceed my expectations of getting to the quarter finals but they didn’t even make it out of the group stages. A part of me isn’t even disappointed anymore, it’s what I’ve come to expect.
I remember saying to someone before the World Cup started we should save money and stay home! I did wonder how he thought England fared having seen our performances, he was so sure England would win before the tournament started.
Putting my Economist head on, I went in search of some positives. Surprising I know but that’s what GCSE Economics does to you. The best I could find?
It is estimated that each goal scored by England in a World Cup brings £200m to the retail and leisure industry, so that’s around £400m this year then.
The same article estimated that if England got out of the group stages we would have spent £1bn overall going someway to boosting business and the economy of the country. Not to mention bringing back some of the feel good factor to the country that the recent elections have worn down.
So let’s look at my pre-world cup predictions. Of the 48 matches played so far I correctly predicted 4 results! To be fair a lot of countries failed to meet up to their expectations and countries people weren’t considering as contenders have done well. Well that’s my excuse. I did pick the winners of some of the matches just not the correct scores.
So to the last 16 I correctly predicted that France would play Nigeria and Argentina would play Switzerland. I also correctly predicted the finishing places of Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Belgium. Not bad, better than my match score predictions. But now I have a problem.
Because I predicted the whole world cup in advance some of my matches are no longer relevant so do I re-predict my scores or do I let them run and see what happens? Does anyone but me care? I suspect not so let’s let them run.
So this is how my pre-world cup predictions will see the last 16 playing out:
Brazil 3 v Chile 2
Columbia 0 v Uruguay 2
Holland 2 v Mexico 0
Costa Rica 3 v Greece 1
France 2 v Nigeria 1
Germany 2 v Algeria 0
Argentina 2 v Switzerland 0
Belgium 2 v USA 1
Now I look at it they don’t look bad.
We lost Spain, the holders, Portugal, Italy and England from the teams I expected to do well. Our ‘group of death’ was topped in the end by Costa Rica proving you don’t need to spend money on developing football you just need to play your own game.
I look at the England team and I don’t see a team. I see a collection of players who at times play for themselves and not the team.
In the match against Costa Rica where we ground out our solid point our passing was woeful. I wouldn’t want to see the misplaced pass stats for that game. We could have played all night and not scored.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of arrogance in a striker but when that arrogance comes at the cost of a shot rather than a cross for a tap in you begin to ask questions.
Had we been more clinical in the Italy game we could have started the group with a win. It was on the cards, we created a lot of chances in the first half but we couldn’t make them stick and it cost us the points.
Gerrard’s performance in the Uruguay game was awful, he should have been taken off at half time. He ended up setting up both of the goals that in effect knocked us out the tournament.
For year’s people have said you can’t play Lampard and Gerrard in the same England team, they are too similar it doesn’t work. People have said Gerrard is the better option for England, well this time around it was the Gerrard show. He was our captain but I saw little in the way of leadership from him.
Joe Hart did little wrong for me, Gary Cahill was solid in defense, Ross Barkley showed some promise, Raheem Sterling could run for days but they are all the stand outs I can remember.
Rooney’s world cup contribution, 1 goal assist and 1 goal, that sounds good but really you would expect more. He always seems to go missing in an England shirt, yes he was played out of his favoured position but a goal hungry striker will score, regardless.
I can’t help but wonder how we would have done if Cahill had his sidekick John Terry in centre defense alongside him with Ashley Cole out on the left. You might think it’s because they are Chelsea and I’m blinded by that, it’s not. That trio is solid, they know each other well and in a tournament you need you best players. Personally after what happened with Terry and Cole I would have hated to see them made scapegoats for our exit and for that reason alone I’m glad they didn’t go to the World Cup.
Moving forward for England into the Euro 2016 qualifiers, a tournament I hope to go to, I think we need a fresh start. I think it’s time to say goodbye to the Gerrard’s and the old guard and build a team around the young players that can take us past 2016 into the next world cup and beyond.
We need to find our style, not try to be anyone else. We need to build confidence and pride in our team once more and to do that we need the media to contribute positively. We need to find leaders on the pitch and in the dressing room and we need to find the heart once more.
We also need the FA to heed the wake up call this World Cup should have given us. We need to stop relying on the same players who have had chance after chance at the big tournaments and come away with nothing and look to the next era of players who are hungry for success.
We need to stop being ‘British’ and start being ‘Bulldogs’ once more. We don’t have continental flare and flicks and tricks but we do have solid tackles and determination.
We had our fair share of referees decisions go against us. Had Diego Godin been sent off against us we may have got a result out of that game. Uruguay didn’t create much in the way of chances apart from the goals.
There lies the problem. Other teams get chances and finish them off clinically. English teams just don’t do that. I wonder if the ‘It’s the taking part that counts’ attitude that we feed to our kids has something to do with it.
You know what? Taking part is all well and good but you know what feels great? Winning. Winning anything and everything.
I love playing sport, I was never world-class at anything but I loved having a go. I had opportunities to play team sport but I wasn’t bothered about competing, I enjoyed playing for fun with friends. We’d play badminton, tennis, football, cricket, squash, golf, snooker, pool, darts whatever and we’d have a laugh but beating them even doing ‘mates’ scoring always made it better.
I arranged football tournaments for my brothers team when he was little. We had to give all the players in the youngest age groups a trophy or medal because they had to be non-competitive. we weren’t allowed to table their results, we could mark them on the board but not put them into winners tables.
So what did the boys do? They stood at the board and worked out who won their groups. Why? Because they wanted to win, they didn’t care about taking part. They ran off screaming ‘we won, we won’ and didn’t listen when we tried to tell them there was ‘no winner, you all get the same medal’.
I like that, I know those kids will do well. It made me smile that it meant so much to them and made all the effort of arranging the tournament worth it. If you’ve never done it trust me, setting up a timetable for a multi-age football tournament and creating a programme that looks good and prints properly is a nightmare! But hey no-one ever complained so I must have done something right.
Anyway back to England. Until we build a team of players with heart for playing for the national team and with a killer instinct to win matches I can’t see us having much success. I don’t doubt the players are proud to wear the shirt, I just don’t see them constantly busting a gut to prove it.
I know the weather was a factor in Brazil, I wouldn’t like to run in that heat but we didn’t have the hottest weather for all our matches, from what they said on the TV. The weather and the pitch on the day are the same for both teams and the teams we played managed to get results against us.
But at least Spain were going home before us. Their managerial stubbornness to not drop the players that made errors in the first game costing them their place. Like us they changed the team for the last game and got a result, unlike us they won.
I thought Iran were unlucky against Argentina, they played a solid game but didn’t make the most of their chances.
I haven’t watched all the matches, I dip in and out, my enjoyment was tainted by England’s exit to a degree but I’ve seen at least a bit of most teams. I’m not sure who my money is on now.
My dream Spain v Brazil final is gone. Brazil are winning matches but not looking steady, how much further will the home advantage take them?
A few teams seem to have either their strike force or their defense working and not both at the same time so that will get interesting.
I wasn’t expecting so many goals, with the heat I thought there would be more draws so its nice to be proven wrong.
I would recommend doing a prediction of the tournament results beforehand so you can look back. It’s a bit of fun but it has given me a different sort of interest in the tournament.
My gut feeling now is that the winner will be from Holland, France or Germany, I just haven’t decided which one yet 😉