BLOEMFONTEIN - The distance between
England and success at this World Cup was a lot further than the
length of Frank Lampard's over-the-line but not given "goal" in
their humiliating 4-1 defeat to Germany on Sunday.
England, trumpeted back home as they are every four years as
real contenders to win the title, return in humiliation after
slumping to their record defeat in the finals with very few
excuses for a campaign that looked good for all of four minutes.
When Steven Gerrard scored in their first Group C match
against the United States on June 12, it seemed perhaps that for
once the pre-tournament hype which saw England installed among
the favourites by London bookmakers was about to be vindicated.
Unbelievable as it seems, goalkeeper Robert Green's infamous
fumble when he allowed a shot from American Clint Dempsey to
bounce out of his reach and into his goal, appears to have been
the turning point for England - even though it happened in the
first half of their first match.
England were never the same team again after that, mentally
insecure about losing to the U.S., they played abysmally in the
second half, were even worse for 90 minutes in their 0-0 draw
against Algeria and stumbled back to see off Slovenia 1-0 to
qualify in second place from their group.
At no time did they ever look comfortable, or like World Cup
They appeared afraid of losing rather than up for winning
and paid the ultimate price on Sunday against Germany with their
campaign reaching its nadir at the Free State Stadium.
The so-called "Golden Generation" of Wayne Rooney, John
Terry, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, were exposed in every
department by a young, hard-running, hard-working German side
that got a lucky break, but deserved their emphatic win anyway.
The most depressing thing for England's passionate
supporters in South Africa, and the fanatical hordes back home,
was that this was not supposed to happen.
Following the failure to qualify for Euro 2008 under coach
Steve McClaren, the English FA appointed Italian Fabio Capello
as his replacement, gave him a 6 million pounds a year contract and set about restoring their credibility under
one of the most astute and successful coaches in the world.
England began well, sailing through their qualifying
campaign, topping their group with nine wins from 10 matches and
securing their place in the World Cup with two matches to spare
to begin 2010 in good heart. Then the problems started.
Terry was stripped of the captaincy following newspaper
reports of an extra-marital relationship with the former partner
of England team mate Wayne Bridge.
David Beckham, England's most experienced outfield player
with 115 caps, suffered a serious Achilles injury in March which
cost him his place in the squad.
Capello always insisted he would only take players to South
Africa who were in form and fit.
But he included Gareth Barry although he knew he would miss
the opener against the U.S. with an ankle injury and also
decided to risk Ledley King, an outstanding centre-back, but
whose career has been blighted by a chronic knee injury.
Capello then suffered another blow when defender Rio
Ferdinand, who replaced Terry as captain, was injured in the
last minute of the first training session in South Africa and
was ruled out of the tournament.
If there were problems on the pitch, there was clearly
trouble behind the scenes too. Capello publicly criticised Terry
for remarks he made last week regarding the team and his call
for Chelsea club mate Joe Cole to be included, Capello told the
media, Terry had made a "big mistake."
In the end, another "big mistake" cost England a legitimate
goal against Germany ruled out - but even if it had counted, it
is doubtful that England would have gone on to win the match.
England were outplayed by the Germans and suffered a defeat
that could one day be seen as a turning point for English football
as was their 6-3 defeat to Hungary in 1953.
That result made England realise the world had caught up
with the game they invented, and eventually brought about a
change in the way they played the game, leading to England's
sole victory in a World Cup final in 1966.
That process took 13 years to complete. On their showing
here, that is at least how far away England are from another
World Cup triumph.
Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010