The World Cup is a load of balls
The World Cup hasn't exactly been great. One or two half-memorable games, a couple of stonking goals, but it's not going to look amazing in around 10-20 years time when we look back on it. At least at the time of writing.
It would be rather comforting to blame Blatter and his obsession with having to change something fundamental about the game in the lead up to the biggest, grandest footballing tournament of them all. Every single sodding time. The Jambulani is without doubt his crowning moment of lunacy. Not that I'm completely blaming the ball for the lack of the sexy football. Although it doesn't help when half of the players out in SA struggle to weight the ball when attempting to thread it. It's got more bounce than a kangaroo on a trampoline.
But then again, many are not struggling to get to grips with it, so you can discuss and argue amongst yourselves if its down to individual ability to adapt to FIFA's Blatterisms. Nobody is really truly complaining about it any more, then again, the various football associations have probably been instructed by FIFA to make sure the correct directive is followed and nobody mentions 'the ball'. It's not the ball. What ball?
The reality is nobody can do a thing about it and it hasn't stopped some teams from smashing up other teams by making sure the only bouncing the Jambulani does is in the back of the net.
Might be wrong with this*, but the FA rejected using the Jambulani because of their contract with Nike. You'd think knowing its going to be used at the WC (the likes of Germany were using it in the Bundesliga), we'd do our best to do anything to get the players in the best condition possible, and that would have involved using the new ball in the lead up to it. But God forbid we put football ahead of money.
*If I am, let me know.
Regardless, of this, we still have the issue of the quality of football played and it's lack of tempo and excitement. Is it because there is no longer a massive gap between the nations once considered giants and the ones seen as being weak? Players cancelling each other out? Defending deep, avoiding risk? Is it now more important not to lose than it is to win? Are the super-star players scared somehow or just not as bothered, maybe even arrogant to a degree? Or are the alleged 'weak' the ones that no longer lose the game before the national anthems are finished. No more fear for the supposed giants.
It's one thing the lesser sides sitting back and defending with all their might, but if you have quality in abundance, surely you should be doing your utmost to display it? I guess we can all be sucked into believing the hype. No matter our nationality.
You could also argue about TV rights and how it controls football. Too much money in the game. Too much money for players who don't need to be anywhere near world-class to be earning untold thousands per week. No winter break in England. Tired legs. But then that's all just bollocks. Hasn't stopped one or two non-English Prem based players from impressing in SA. And some of the best players in the world, as rich as they are, continue to display unparalleled commitment to the cause - wanting and needing to impress and win.
All of the above has been carefully coated with a touch of glossy knee-jerk. The WC might just about be ready to explode with the Q-F's and the only negative thing we might remember about 2010 is when the Germans humiliated the English. Negative for some, funny for the rest.
As for England. Fabio - in the space of two games (USA and Algeria) went from having unconditional support from the red tops to apparently being tactically inept. Although the press appear to have ever so slightly backed off now (probably because the FA and Capello will not be parting any time soon) and decided that the majority of the blame should sit with the players. Specifically; Ashley Cole, Ledley King, Aaron Lennon for their lack of respect post-exit. Hmm. Let's also all forget about the truly guilty ones out on the pitch. You know, the darling buds of May. It's black and white to me.
So what of the players?
We failed in 2006, we didn't even qualify for the European Championships in 2008 and we were woeful in 2010. More or less the same group of players, with a few changes here and there. There's a pattern, I can't quite put my finger on it. Golden generation, you say?
Modern day footballers, English ones, appear to lack that edge, that drive we've seen in the past. At least when playing with 3 Lions on their shirt. This current batch appeared to have little desire to win. To want to play for their country. Whether there is any truth in the stories of a fragmented camp or not, well, I guess if there were battles between egos then that just about sums it up. Vanity before country.
Could you imagine this ever occurring in the distant past? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the honour? There is no collective. Just individuals. Football will eat itself.
Roy Keane said our so called backbone (apart from possibly two) have had distinctively average seasons. And the player we hoped would lead us to glory (Rooney, one of the two, Milner the other) has so far failed to be overly convincing on the big stage. But still, we believe. It's what we do as supporters. And it's what the media do, with their building up to knock 'em down ethics. How dare you failed, we said you wouldn't!
And when they (the players) don't quite believe in it all, then there's no great shock when they go home early. Hence the cigar smoking and beers. We are no longer wired up in the right way. Therefore, no great need to look absolutely devastated when departing the competition early. At the moment playing for country is no longer as important than playing for club. So perhaps we should be placing an equal amount of effort in supporting these players who are meant to be representing us as they do failing to represent us when playing. They appeared to be content, happy it was all over. The truth will out, maybe.
An attitude adjustment is required. That and perhaps the acknowledgement that we should play to our strengths. Honestly, Fabio, our players don't get anything other than 100% full blooded 1000mph football. We'll know when we've got our England back when we can visibly see the intensity in the players eyes and in their application on the pitch.
With regards to Harry Redknapp telling all he would accept the England job if offered it, don't fret (from a Spurs perspective). England is England and I see no harm with him saying what he said. Mainly because in no uncertain terms he knows he will never be offered the job. Sells a few papers does Harry.
Feel free to knee-jerk with me.
Roll on the Euros.