In many ways it was a perfect world cup. Or, rather, perfectly typical. As much as we had dreamt the dream and swallowed the punditry, we all knew it was going to end that way.
We could blame the pre-tournament injuries. No metatarsals this year, but I am sure we would have put a better show on if we had had Rio Ferdinand (thanks Heskey) and possibly, Golden Balls Beckham himself on the pitch instead of doing his level best to boost the shares of Marks and Spencers from the touchline. If only Heskey and Upson had been injured.
We could blame the goalkeeper howler from Robert Green. But, perhaps we should blame Fabio for picking him or John Terry for having not slept with his wife instead of Vanessa Perroncel.
We could blame the lack of goal-line technology, or the distraction of those bloody vuvuzelas.
We could blame the appointment of a foreign manager and an Italian at that. We know that the Ities are never good in a campaign, always favour defence over attack, and tend to change sides half way through. And, we could have blamed his tactics – who else would think that Heskey and Wright-Philips are impact players. Why did he replace like for like? Why did he leave Joe Cole out for so long? Why did he leave Crouch on the bench given his impressive goal-scoring record at an international level? Why did he leave out the best English defender statistically (Dawson) in favour of those relics King and character and that muppet Upson.
We could send the fleet to Uruguay – was that referee blind or had he been knobbled by those evil forces that Lord Triesman had warned us about?
We could blame the national anthem – they should have had something far more “English” and inspiring such as Jerusalem.
We could blame the ball.
We could blame the lack of penalties (at least we had been practising this year).
We could blame Heskey. We could blame Upson. We could blame every former Birmingham player in the squad.
We could blame Germany – as the saying goes “and then Germany wins”.
We could blame the whole team for being a bunch of pampered, overpaid flops who believed all the hype. They weren’t afraid when playing the USA and Algeria, they were just amazed that it was not going to script. They were the best in the world and expected to blow all other teams out of the water. And, when the other team refused to follow the script, then England had no response. We could blame the lack of pride; the lack of passion; the lack of fight.
44 years of hurt. Ouch.
- FIFA 2010 World Cup: Evaluating England’s Early Exit (bleacherreport.com)