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COS contributor Tom Smith draws interesting parallels between Italian’s tactical style and a certain Mancunian pugilist.
Ricky Hatton, famed Man City fan and good friend of Wayne Rooney is something of a national treasure. Sure he is working class, and doesn’t hide it, he tries hard, he’s good in front of the camera and as many people have probably had a beer with him as have watched him fight.
But, Ricky is a bit of laughing stock away from these shores, especially amongst those in boxing circles. He wades into bouts, regardless of the undisputed talent of his opponents with his heart on his sleeve and chest pushed out. Now this is of course all laudable to a point, but no where near enough on their own to form the basis to win. Expecting some sort of euphoric wave from his legions of fans in the rafters to somehow carry him through against Pacquiao and Mayweather showed him to be tactically inept and emotionally delusional.
I wonder if this same, very English condition has infected Fabio Capello?
Capellos stoic and sensible demeanour suggests he is unlikely to get carried away with the sea of St Georges Flag Syndrome (SGFS- copyrighted from here on in). However, on the evidence of England’s performances in the friendly’s and against the USA, it all looked very aimless and strangely familiar.
The ‘we can beat anyone on our day’ mentality is all good and well, but our last day was in 1966 and you need a few in a row in order to beat the best teams in the world.
This attitude was probably best typified in the ITV studio pre-match when former England manager Kevin Keegan ridiculously predicted a 4-1 England win. Now, poking fun at Kevin Keegan is of course fun and easy but his head in clouds vision of England romping to an opening game victory had no basis.
Of course, England can turn it on, but then, so can San Morino, all be it only for 60 seconds (as England Coach Stuart Pearce could tell you) or even New Zealand who beat dark horses Serbia in their final warm up game. The win in Germany 1-5 was 9 years ago now, and Heskey is still playing upfront and his 4 goals since have come against minnows. Again, like with Keegan, cruelty to Emile is almost a national taboo, but suffice to say, the title of flat track bully is well justified.
The best day under Capello would arguably be the Walcott inspired win in Zagreb against Croatia, that was back in September 2008. When is our next day due?
England do have the ability to beat Spain or Brazil for sure, but certainly not if Brazil and Spain are on their day as well. The blind optimism of England players, coaches, supporters and the tub-thumping quarters in the media is a hindrance to England on the field.
It has infected our tactical approach to games now it seems and our formation of a Lamaprd-Gerrard midfield illustrates this blind hope that they can just click on the night. Gerard’s performance was one of the few notable exceptions, but this is not entirely a good thing. Gerrard, like Lampard is the archetypical modern box-to-box midfielder who don’t really do much but spring up with a goal on the edge of the box or catch the eye with a nicely timed camera angle friendly challenge. Two players like this is certainly a luxury England can’t afford. Even the hastily discredited Maradona appreciates the importance of solid midfield passers in the Guardiola, Xavi and Inesta mold, and plays Marcharano and Veron in a deep lying midfield.
Gerrard’s career highs in Istanbul and the FA cup Final are all examples of his ‘gabbing the game by the scruff of the neck’ when is team are in the mire. He has had a poor season at Liverpool and been dependant on him bursting into the box again looks like a very convenient basket to put all our eggs in. But why am I worried when ‘we can beat anyone on our day’!