Humbled by impressive opponents and unimpressive officials.
Oh boy that hurt. Before I get this piece under way let me stress the following. Germany played well. They probably deserved overall to win but what chance did England have after they were dealt such incredibly abysmal officiating? Anyone who points to the scoreline and states “England would have lost anyway” has no concept of how football works but could conversely also have a point.
Here are the basic points of the game in a brief abridged version of what will follow. England had a great opportunity after Wayne Rooney was through on goal with a slow centre back and a keeper to beat, but wait. The linesman decides that the England man is offside which of course goes against the very basic rules of the game as the pass to the Man United man came from a Germany player. No matter, its just a blip.
Germany then take advantage of some awful defending. Manuel Neuer lofts the ball and it evades everyone and Miroslav Klose overpowers Matt Upson to score.
Second German goal, comedy defending of the highest order. Podolski scores, can’t complain about any official on that one. Then very much against the run of play, although Capello’s men had plenty of possession, Upson makes up for his first mistake to put England back in the game. Cue much dancing. Then hang on, Frank Lampard executes a perfect lob that goes two yards over the line. More dancing, but then…hang on, it’s not given? Must be a joke? Incredible the self same linesman who did not know that you can not be offside from an opposition pass has decided not to give the goal. The referee decides he too won’t give a blatant goal, Neuer gets on with the game as any keeper would.
The injustice of it all is quite infuriating. The second half starts with many believing that perhaps that feeling of disgust and anger could get the lads playing and for 20 minutes they adopted a calm measured approach but for some reason they then went all in far too early. Gareth Barry being the worst offender allowing himself to lose the ball on the edge of the box, Low’s men counter attack brilliantly and its 3-1. Three minutes later and its much the same. Game over.
Of course those last two goals would never have occurred had England not had to chase the game. Its a bitter pill to swallow and as expected the whole world screams for goal line technology but such a debate is only really relevant to close calls, whereas the mistake made on this occasion is frankly criminal. We could talk until the cows come home about whether England deserved to make it to the Quarter Finals, we could discuss why Rooney was never really quite there. We could discuss what it is that Gareth Barry actually does. All of these talking points are worth analysing. The simple truth is that they were not good enough.
People will rightfully wonder why players who pull out consistent performances for their clubs week in, week out can not turn up for their country. It sounds silly but in many ways I wanted to see England get stuck in when they were out of it, to put in a strong (maybe even illegal) tackle to show that the defeat they were about to suffer really hurt them half as much as it will have hurt each and every Englishman.
That tackle didn’t come and I think that says it all. As for the linesman’s address, Its probably more worth your while ordering another round at the pub and accepting that any decision badly made was hopefully an innocent and unbiased act rather than one that results in a large brown paper bag being delivered to his door.
So in summary. England beat themselves, Germany played very well and a linesman and referee may need to employ bodyguards.
James 6 – Didn’t have much to do except pick the ball up out of the net four times, did that well
G Johnson 6 – Ineffective, didn’t get back into position quickly enough
Wright-Phillips 6 – Played for about a millisecond
A Cole 6 – Came forward well but not so good defensively
Terry 6 – Slow and cumbersome
Upson 5 – Even slower and more cumbersome, but did at least score
Gerrard 6.5 – Really tried for an hour, had a few too many shots when he could have put others in on goal
Lampard 6.5 – Yes he scored a good goal and hit the crossbar but was still very off the boil
Barry 4 – Worst player on the pitch by a mile. Can anyone explain to me what he actually does?
Milner 5.5 – One decent cross the entire match, then subbed
Rooney 5.5 – Lifeless and limp for long periods
Defoe 6 – Did okay thwarted by Neuer
Heskey 6 – Brought on for comedy value surely