How do you score a goal?

Some bloggers advise me to keep away from football commentary. Last night I returned home in time for the highlights of the England game. That didn’t take long to watch. England have now played around three hours of match football wthout scoring a goal after their stylish opener against the USA. Perhaps our football experts who write to this site could send in their best reason why England finds itself in this predicament, and their best advice to England for the last game of the league stage. The replacement goalkeeper’s interview this morning was a classic of how to stay loyal to the manager without conveying any sense of confidence in him or his strategy.

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30 Comments

  1. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    You will be pleased to know that I chose to watch my grandson play cricket last night rather than watch England.

  2. JumF
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    The England team are playing as though their annual vacation has been rudely interrupted, and to some extent that is true. The WC qualifiers do not give this problem. However much they're paid, these players are worked harder than Algerian or most other players all season in the Premier League, and frankly appear uninterested that their season has been extended.
    One of the solutions would be to cut the season back every 4th year, to allow for World Cup performances.

    • emil
      Posted June 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Yeh right, never mind the majority who prefer club football to the England team …

  3. English Pensioner
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    As a non-football enthusiast, it seems to me there are two main reasons why England do so poorly
    1. There are very few English footballers – Just look at our leading teams, how many of the top players are English.
    2. They are not a team but a group of individuals each out for themselves. This is as a result of English teams giving bonuses for goals and things like "man of the match" awards, which all encourage individualism rather than teamwork.

    • libertarian
      Posted June 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Well were to start with this. So how many English players are there in the 92 club ( the biggest in the world by far) English professional leagues? Are you suggesting that highly talented English players are being deliberately ignored?

      Your point 2 would has some logic in it I suppose if it wasn't for the fact that every other country and league does exactly the same.

      In terms of sporting talent I don't suppose it's anything to do with 30 years of political correctness banning any form of competitiveness, selling off school playing fields, not playing sport in schools, under investment in PE and sports teachers and coaches and finally making any parent who wants to coach a kids team feel like a peado just for wanting to run a sunday morning team.

      I guess it's nothing to do with not having any vocational or degree courses in sports.

      Our education system is obsessed with GCSE and A level leading to a University degree course in media, or history of art or some such.

  4. Brigham
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that English players have no ball skills and can only kick the ball with one foot. I only played amateur football but I used to spend hours with a tennis ball, kicking it against a wall with my weaker foot. The foreign players receive the ball and have it under control immediately. I see Rooney and, arguably, our best player, Gerrard, when the ball gets to them it bounces off about two three yards. They need several seconds to control it. You can't do that in international football.

  5. Bill
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Yes I take it all back you have a valid view.

    England were appalling, from the play on the field to Rooney’s foul mouthed rant as he was leaving the field.

    If we’ve got a foreign manager – why can’t we have a foreign team?

    I both console myself and agree with a quote from Mark Viduka

    “It wouldn’t bother me if we lost every match this year, as long as we win the title”

    (Substitute title for world cup)

  6. Frank
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    The beautiful game is a reflection of what happens when you let markets operate. In a competitive environment only the best survive. There is no 'ought' about getting to the final. The best teams with the best management win in the end.
    Ironic, isn't it, that the governing body makes only one physical contribution – the football they play with – and it doesn't even get that right.

  7. Acorn
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I remember some yank telling me that "soccer" will never take off in the US because, "… how can you play a game for ninety minutes with no scoring, The score board has to change every couple of minutes to match the average yank attention span." Perhaps they could change the rules to get, at least say, eight goals a match.

    Get rid of goal keepers? Only score from within the penalty box?

  8. Ex Liverpool Rioter
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Theres always F1

    British teams rule!
    almost every team has large British input.
    Winning British drivers………………

    Mike

  9. Demetrius
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    They could still qualify, both places are still available. If they do make progress, however unlikely it looks there have been competitions before where teams that had a disastrous start stagger on to win. I recall in 1955 when Chelsea, regarded as second rate, won the First Division title with only 52 points.

  10. John Cartmell
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Like the very high-paid bankers the solution is simple: reduce their pay by 99% . In both cases talented people will be willing to take the places of those who opt out. With a high, but not unreasonable, wage the tantrums will be less and the team spirit better.

  11. @JohnnyNorfolk
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    There is no team spirit and the will to win. Where is the origanl captain he should have stayed with his team to support them instead of going home and Beckham should not be there.

    They have no chance at all.

  12. Sue Doughty
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    The England team play as if all creativity has been knocked out of them in the dressing room. The coach should step back while they are playing, he is not the manager, he is the coach. He is even shouting at them even while they are on the pitch, bludgeoning all hope out of them, exhausting their minds so they do not have chance to have ideas and communicate them to others in the team.
    The game of football is about ideas, plans, coordination, not foot work and ball skills. I will never understand why we signed the present coach up to five years on £5 million per annum plus expenses on the eve of the tournament. His is the only job not now on the line and his is the only job that should be. He is behaving as if he would get a massive pay-off if we try to sack him and he is trying to make us do it. I would not follow him across an English road if things do not change in SA now.
    Bring on Crouch and let them do their job, Mr foreign coach!
    And give them all earplugs.

  13. Andrew Johnson
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    No passion, no pride, no commitment to the team, the manager and most of all, the fans. For goodness sake- this is the World Cup and they have been chosen to play for England. Rooney's sarcastic comments about being booed by England fans, sum it all up. Who on earth does he think funds these "stars" millionaire lifestyles? I can't remember a worse England performance. It was really embarassing. The team should apologise to the fans and the manager and then give their all – win or lose against Slovenia. Come on England!

  14. Stuart Fairney
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    As a Welshman I feel somewhat guilty intruding on private grief, but I shall.

    You cannot judge any team on the back of two games. The world cup is fundamentally a knock-out tournament akin to the FA cup where the best team in the UK sometimes, but does not always win.

    That said, England look someway from being the best team at the moment and one of the reasons as previous posters have said, is the foreign influx of players. It is to be crude, cheaper to buy a foreign striker than "grow your own" and thus the England team is made up of good, but not great players. Even if a non-EU quota was introduced, EU work rules would make it meaningless as the leading teams would just buy good French, Spanish, Portugese, Dutch and Italian players.

    Don't despair, beat a country that didn't exist 20 years ago in a few days and you can still win the world cup.

  15. Tom Pride
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    England v West Germany , Mexico 1970
    Seared on the memory – England led 2 – nil, stopped playing their natural game, passed the ball around in the oh so sophisticated “continental” style and threw the game away 2 – 3.

    Conclusion:
    1) If you stop playing with enthusiasm, (for whatever reason – caution, in the lead, fear, sophisticated gamesmanship, etc ) you can’t turn it back on even if you need to.
    2) English players when playing for the England team don’t understand the “continental style”. Argentina, Brazil, Italy, may string numerous passes together, slowing and controlling the pace of the game – but it’s not just about retaining possession, there’s a purpose – biding their time for the explosive out burst of speed and energy. England just do the passes – no one’s told them about the explosive out bursts. End up going nowhere, lose confidence, then enthusiasm – see 1 above. Can’t even run for a break out. Another dire game.

    Remedy:
    1) Enthusiasm from the start.
    2) Confidence in abilities not stupefying caution.
    3) Run.

  16. Tom Pride
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    But that said (above):

    Best policy:
    Remember and savour 1 Sep 2001 England 5-1 against Germany with Michael Owen’s hat-trick and 30 June 1998 England 2-2 against Argentina with his sublime goal, and, never watch an England match again. I went to the gym – it was empty.

    (I presume in 1998 / 2001 the young Owen kept missing the manager’s talk about passing the ball for passing the ball’s sake, caution above all, and walk never run.)

    P.S. Thanks for the work on CGT – fingers crossed for next week.

  17. FatBigot
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Both the manager and the team mascot (David Beckham) were wearing drab light grey suits. You can't inspire anyone when you dress like a junior librarian.

  18. Mills
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of cricket, are you planning to turn out for All Souls in the forthcoming game against Ch: Ch GCR?

    Reply: I think it clashes with another fixture I have agreed to play in.

  19. Amanda
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    To be honest I hope the footballers do not win the next game, and do not go any further in this competition. Better than than raising hopes which they will inevitable dash with a poor performance – economically we could do without yes more misery. Then, maybe, we can have a proper look at why our football team is bad, our tennis people mostly do poorly, our cricketers only have flashes of brilliance, and even our rugby is not the game it should be – at the moment.

    Maybe, we could look at those events in the last Olympics where we did do well; those events that the likes of the Guardianand the BBC claimed were the domain of the 'priviledged' !! Well, looking at the footballers it obviously is not money that makes the difference – now what could it be ??????????

    I am also amazed that it takes a game of football to bring out all the St George's day flags – some interesting psychology going on. Someone should do some research and see what there is to harness for the good of the country.

  20. StevenL
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    "Perhaps our football experts who write to this site could send in their best reason why England finds itself in this predicament"

    Because they weren't good enough to beat either team? Adrian Peirson might have a better explaination that me though. Adrian?

  21. Steve Tierney
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    They are just not playing very well. It's pretty simple. Some of them are over-rated, some playing out of their best positions, some shouldn't have been chosen at all, some are just not on form. Overall, they scores are better than they probably deserve – given the level of skill be displayed.

    Best thing to do for the last game? Their skill level is unlikely to "suddenly" change. So about the only thing to do is try and increase enthusiasm and improve mood. I'd bench the 'negative' players and underperforming stars and try something a bit more imaginative than 4-4-2.

  22. adam
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    There is no team spirit. Its making the players nervous.

    Capello is learning what its like to be an England manager
    If he is still around at the next tournament, he will be much bettered prepared.

  23. DBC Reed
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Although I have coached football teams it does not need any expertise to see that
    some of our players are tired out. They need a long rest. A mid -season break in the continental manner would n't go amiss.Also it is no coicidence that our best attacking player who is not exactly svelte is working for the most highly leveraged
    capitalist outfit in the Premiership .Is it possible for other interlopers to buy British firms with loaned capital and then charge it as an expense on the balance sheet of the taken-over firm.? I rather expext it is and as soon as Newton Heath scarves start appearing in the City the better.Predatory takeovers are bad enough but when you don't have any money such a takeover is an outrage.Referee!

  24. @JohnnyNorfolk
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    As an Italian who could not speak English when apointed, he will never understand the English mentality, and what motivates, as it will be totaly different to an Italian.
    The players are a set of overpaid prema donnsa who have eggos that do not let them work as a teame.
    Its not just about skill its more about attitud and thats why England will fail.
    They have the individual skill to win but not the team spirit, lradership or attitude.

  25. Tony
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I should think you are perfectly placed to understand the reason why, John. It's down to the ridiculous feeding frenzy which the players are subjected to by our mad media hounds – worse even than the Italian press. How can anyone function spontaneously when they know that their next action will be leapt upon for (unlikely) evidence of either their extraordinary heroism for Queen and Country or their newly infamous unpatriotic villainy (most likely) – and they shall be allowed no ground between.

  26. christina sarginson
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    We must all look further than the obvious when watching England play football. It is very easy to criticise and English fans do, but we have to look at the way England were playing and the fact is they have never played any differently for any manager. I think the players were under confident and a lot is to do with the bad press they get. They must be worried about making a mistake because when they do they get slated. You only have to think what happened to David Beckham in 1998. We care about football in this country so let us not criticise too much or our players will be home early. Too much criticism does not help.A

    • @JohnnyNorfolk
      Posted June 21, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      They need to win and things will change. Some of them are not fit enough, but its the attitude that is wrong. We need to pick a different set of players that are less well known and will make more effort.. After the world cup pick a completely different team and just watch them perform.

  27. peter
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I have read it somewhere that their altitude preparation has not been done correctly so the players cannot cope with the games at altitude though tomorrows is near the coast.

    The B&I Lions tour last summer and the Wales team before that can probably allude to that. They did all their training at sea level then flew in just before their games (the Highveld)

    Maybe some SA sports people can allude to that a bit better.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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