21 August, 2008

Baby Lions led by Crap Donkies

Ok, obviously the real action took place last night up at Mile End Stadium, but apparently some people seem to not really care about how amazing me and my friends are at 5-a-side and would rather hear about the bunch of over-rated no-hopers that we like to call the England national team. Well, that’ll just have to wait, because last night the mighty Boafista recorded their first win since gaining promotion to the Premier League, playing the league-leaders Passmasters comprehensively off the park in a 5 – 0 thrashing that certainly flattered them. Ok, admittedly they only had four players, but as tempers frayed as they seem to quite often these days, the presumably-ironically-named Passmasters well and truly bottled it. I can’t remember who scored but trust me they were all crackers.

Anyway, in case you didn’t hear, England drew 2 – 2 with the Czech Republic last night in an embarrassingly empty Wembley, as boos rained down on the so-called best that this country has to offer. Now put aside the score, because it was a friendly and ultimately no-one really cares. The manner of our play and team selection simply have to be brought into question, because under new manager Fabio Capello we were promised changes and forward momentum. Thus far, there have been no signs of this.

Surely the whole point of wiping the slate clean after the failure to qualify for Euro 2008 was to plan for the future and look ahead to World Cup 2010 with a view to not only qualify, but also to progress to the very latter stages. Answer me this then Mr Capello: why the fuck is David Beckham still even being entertained at this level? He is 33 now and there is literally no way he will be playing in South Africa at the age of 35. We were assured that under Capello there would be no room for sentiment; D Beck has his 100 caps and it is now time to shut the door. David Bentley has been without question the most impressive English performer at Premier League level over the last 18 months, and is surely a man to build a team for 2010 around. Why then was he only introduced with less than 15 minutes left on the clock? Other exciting young prospects such as Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor and James Milner simply must be given experience at this level, because certainly they too will play a crucial part in two years time. The likes of Stuart Downing and Jermain Jenas have been given their chance time and time again in recent memory with limited success, yet once again they were trotted out for 20 minutes or so.

The central midfield also continues to beguile. The Lampard/Gerrard conundrum is getting a bit boring to say the least, but I guess they continue to frustrate only because we lack genuine alternatives. Sure Gareth Barry is a central midfielder, but is he really that good? In any other country would he have reached the level of international contention? I think not. Looking to the under-21s what are our options however? Nigel Reo-Coker? Tom Huddlestone? Jesus Christ. It’s a sad state of affairs when you look elsewhere to the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Matthieu Flamini and Lassana Diarra. Only Manchester City’s Michael Johnson, at the age of 20, looks like he might have the potential to step-up and fill the central midfield boots, but at a club without regular European competition, will he be able to make the jump?

At the very back and the very front there is perhaps less to worry about, with our genuine quality at the top end, and plenty of talent coming through at the bottom. When though is it time to say goodbye to John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, and look Micah Richards, Steven Taylor and Jonathon Woodgate permanently? Similarly, how long do we give Wayne Rooney to pull himself out of this 18-month-long ‘blip’ of form at national level? His club form tells you all you need to know though perhaps; alongside world-class ability, he himself is also world-class, but alongside mediocrity, there’s only so much hard work and passion will achieve. Suitable replacements though, past the usual Crouchs and Defoes are a little bleak however, and the less said about Emile Heskey’s recall last night the better. Dean Ashton has the talent but can he stay fit for more than a week? Andy Johnson too has the raw materials, but like Michael Johnson he lacks good enough challenges week in, week out. If the hopes of the future of the nation are to be placed on the shoulders of Theo Woolcott then that is just too depressing for words.

What really smarts at the moment though, and what underlines perhaps more than is fair the disappointment of the national team, is the overwhelming success of the British Olympians. Take away the extortionate wages, egos and media pandering, and this country clearly can produce world-beating athletes. Is it that simple though? The Spanish and Italian leagues have as much money in them, and at international level those two countries have managed to win the two most recent major competitions. I don’t know, this argument rages in a circle indefinitely.

It seems then that once again we are left only with the crushing realisation that as a country we are just fundamentally shit at football. Great.


Anonymous said...

Well Capello sure seemed excited when they equalized at the end, very excited! He has made this a much more EFFICIENT TEAM. They only have to work the last two minutes of each half to get the same results they were getting last year.

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