The Daily

World Cup 2010

England’s Loss to Germany

June 29, 2010 | by

England's performance was in a different league of awfulness from the regular awfulness that had been seen in earlier games. Before, the problem had been one of not seeming to care; the players behaving as though they deserved to win by virtue of the size of their wages. This time they definitely cared, they were fired up, ready to go and then when they got there, they were just awful.

My brother, an avid Arsenal fan sent me a text during the game: “Hopefully Manchester United will trade their Wayne Rooney for this bloke with the same name.” And my friend Andy Martin sent me an e-mail that read: “When Capello brought that loser Heskey on as some kind of supersub, I took the dog for a walk—we might as well commit ritual hara-kiri right there.”

It’s an odd marriage, the one between the Italian coach and the English team. It doesn’t seem to be working out for anyone. On the bench, Fabio Capello seems genuinely pained by the complete lack of basic technique shown by the English players. During the Slovenia game he was reduced to yelling, “Barry, the fucking ball, Barry.” He is also a fan of the ristrito: shutting his players up in the hotel during the tournament and enforcing naptime between lunch and supper. When John Terry led his insurrection, one of his complaints was that the players were desperate for a beer.

The greater complaint made by the players is that Capello persisted in playing 4-4-2. It's a system he's fond of using, but also one that nullified the talents of his three best players—Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard—by forcing them to play out of their best positions. Almost everyone else at the tournament is playing a 4-2-3-1 and all the England players play that formation for their club teams.

The truth is that 4-2-3-1 requires a great deal of positional discipline from the players, a talent England clearly does not possess. They roamed the field, chasing after the ball, and not holding any kind of shape until the Germans simply picked them off—waiting for the English to organize themselves into utter chaos and then exploiting the spaces that opened up. Germany couldn’t help but win.

In England, much has been made of Frank Lampard’s not-allowed goal. The ball clearly did cross the line and the game would have been tied going into the second half. Jurgen Klinsmann, the former German player and manager, argued that far from getting their heads down, the injustice should have riled up the English players. They should, he felt, have come out for the second half seething with rage and ready to show that nothing was going to stop them from getting their just rewards. Instead it looked as though they had found their villain and could now settle down into feeling hard done by.

8 COMMENTS

5 Comments

  1. Stephen Duffy | June 29, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I don’t follow the Paris Review for your sports coverage. I would also love to read about the other shades of my awfulness if you have the time.

  2. Martin du Gard | June 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Amusing comment Duffy, but if you can’t appreciate soccer than I’m sure you’re not much fun as a person either. The bottom line Will is that England just wasn’t a good team. These squad doesn’t have superstars. No Messi, no Villa, or Ronaldo.

  3. Martin du Gard | June 29, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Amusing comment Duffy, but if you can’t appreciate soccer than I’m sure you’re not much fun as a person either. The bottom line Will is that England just wasn’t a good team. This squad doesn’t have superstars. No Messi, no Villa, or Ronaldo.

  4. Steven Augustine | June 30, 2010 at 7:43 am

    I’m with Stephen Duffy on this. Bookish men both straight and gay have got that “I’m Really Not A Sissy, Really!” anxiety to deal with, as we know. I like sports well enough (once a year) when *I’m* kicking the ball and seeing stars and badly out of breath while clutching at the stabbing pains in my chest and so forth but why the hell anyone needs to read about (or watch) uniformed millionaires cavorting around a diagrammed field is beyond me. Especially in this age of Corporate Sports in which any amateurish humanity has been steroided/power-pointed/synergized right out of it. When they put dogs or dudes in pits with bears again I *might* tune in, though.

    And, hey, I’m *lots* of fun, Martin du Gard… just ask my four-year-old when I’m vomiting my dizzy guts out over her beach ball!

  5. andy | July 8, 2010 at 11:16 am

    have now come to conclusion that the main cause of fiasco was a wardrobe malfunction. Did you see them getting off the plane all dressed identically in their grey 3-piece suits? Now personally I have nothing against the grey 3-piece. At the
    right time and in the right place. But, en masse, this smacks of sartorial
    fascism. They looked as
    if they were going to a funeral – their own. But it strikes me that this is
    only the tip of an iceberg and what we are looking at here is the end of
    self-expression and individuality. The England players have become
    conformists, scared to deviate from a plan. Camus said ‘I learned
    everything I know about morality from football’. Isn’t there a little hint
    of the totalitarian creeping into the dressing room here? Maybe we need
    less of the quasi-military discipline and more of the romance of the game –
    originality, adventure and invention…

3 Pingbacks

  1. [...] England’s Loss to Germany “England’s performance was in a different league of awfulness from the regular awfulness that had been seen in earlier games. Before, the problem had been one of not seeming to care; the players behaving as though they deserved to win by virtue of their size of their wages. This time they definitely cared, they were fired up, ready to go and then when they got there, they were just awful.” (The Paris Review) [...]

  2. [...] England’s Loss to Germany “England’s performance was in a different league of awfulness from the regular awfulness that had been seen in earlier games. Before, the problem had been one of not seeming to care; the players behaving as though they deserved to win by virtue of the size of their wages. This time they definitely cared, they were fired up, ready to go and then when they got there, they were just awful.” (The Paris Review) [...]

  3. [...] Frears post on on England’s Loss Germany left me nodding in aprroval. Via The Paris Review [...]

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