Tag Archives: Frank Lampard

Are England 2010 the real deal?


With the start of their World Cup campaign just a number of hours away it got me thinking what this England Squad is actually capable of.  On paper the English squad always appears to be up there with the very best however much like the South African cricket team (much to the disappointment of the webmaster I might add) they have a ridiculous record of choking on the big stage.  In saying this the English faithful must have breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing that they are no chance of facing off against one Luiz Felipe Scolari. Big Phil was responsible for knocking the Three Lions out at the quarterfinal stage of the last 3 major tournaments they have been involved in (WC ’02 with Brazil as well as Euro ’04 and WC ’06 with Portugal). After the embarrassment of failing to qualify for Euro 2008, England were determined to prove a point during qualification and did so with 8 consecutive wins, making the road to South Africa quite comfortable with 27 out of 30 possible points. Perhaps more importantly than this they managed to regain some respect with 4-1 and 5-1 victories against Croatia, the side who had been responsible for keeping them out  in ’08.

In doing some research I stumbled along an article that suggested that the English squad actually has the highest average age (only slightly, by .1 of a year) of all of the 32 nations competing. However this was before Michael Dawson replaced the injured Rio Ferdinand which has brought down the average age from 28.7 to 28.5 putting them in second position behind Brazil and only slightly ahead of our beloved Socceroos. Despite the fact that at 40, David James probably brings that average up quite a bit, it got me thinking that for a number of the English stars this is just about their last chance for international glory. Whilst most of them will probably still feature at the Euro ’12 championships (provided they qualify) nothing could compare to the lifting that little Gold Trophy and surely by 2014 a lot of them will be on the other side of their best footballing days. For the likes of Stevie G and Frank Lampard who have seen much success at club level, yet only tasted bitter disappointed time and time again for England, South Africa 2010 could be the best chance if not the last they get (you would expect at 34 and 36 respectively, WC ’14 will come a bit too late for both of them).

So realistically are England bringing the real deal to South Africa 2010? Can they finally after 44 years lift the trophy once more? Lets look at the Pro’s and Con’s..

Pro’s:

  1. Capello – brings a wealth of experience to the side having achieved great success in both Italy and Spain, he is also England’s most successful international manager with a 75% win record almost 15% better than any previous manager
  2. No encounter with “Big Phil”
  3. Possibly the easiest route to the quarterfinal – simple group, followed by Serbia, Ghana or hopefully Socceroos in round of 16
  4. Quality squad with good depth and international experience
  5. A group of seriously determined men, ready to prove their worth on the biggest stage – potentially last chance for many and a chance to demand respect after rather disappointing previous results
  6. With skipper Ferdinand falling to the injury curse England still have two massively influential and inspiring leaders in the new captain,  Stevie G and vice captain Franky Lamps – not to mention former skipper JT

Con’s

  1. WAGS – if they’re anything like what we usually can expect from the English WAGS they can only be a distraction – although its no surprise, have you seen what they look like?! Crouchy and Stevie G aren’t doing too bad for themselves.. Pity about Ashley Cole
  2. The expectation and pressure from the media back home simply cannot be underestimated – they literally carry the weight of the entire nation on their shoulders, weighed down by the desperation for them to finally bring home the cup and title as world champs
  3. Pressure and reliance on Rooney – not to mention his temper (remember disastrous end to WC in ’06 with red card for stomping, also more recently in the last friendly – abusing the ref). Rooney is an absolute gun, a complete striker who never gives up and is capable of just about anything but will need to keep his calm and not allow the other teams to wind him up – if England are to lift the trophy he has got to be at his absolute best
  4. Inability to win a penalty shoot-out – G-d help England if it gets to that
  5. Heskey – to be honest I’m not entirely sure why he’s even there but Capello seems to insist he’s the starting man along side Rooney (who am I to argue..) however I cannot see him scoring a goal.. ever (his 7 goals in 58 games would support this). He’s way past it, would much rather see Crouch or Defoe neither of which are too brilliant either, but at least pose a goal scoring threat
  6. Chokers tag will be playing on their minds

In the opinion of the webmaster this is in fact England’s year and for once they will be able to shake off their tag as chokers, allowing them to finally progress past the quarter final. This should see them face off against Brazil in the semi final in what could be one of the games of the tournament. Although what happens from there I feel is too close to call. I for one, hope that South Africa 2010 will be England’s turn to shine and that they finally fulfill the potential that they have so often failed to live up to, they simply have too much class to keep failing. Come July 11 the webmaster would be happy to see Stevie G lifting the trophy.

Come on England!

Webmaster over and out.

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World Cup Preview – Group C – England


THE BASICS
• Nickname: The Three Lions
• Colors: White and Red
• FIFA Ranking: 8
• How They Got Here: Dominated (9-0-1 with 34 goals scored) a rather weak European qualifying group
• World Cup Pedigree: 12 World Cups, 1 title (’66, when they hosted), lost in the quarterfinals four times

THE PLOT

Which WAG will get the most attention in South Africa will surely depend on their frocks at the team’s opening dinner. Just kidding – the football looks to be the focus for once this time round. Crucially, Beckham was ruled out and this may be a blessing in disguise. He’ll divert a heavy load of media attention away from the playing group and good act as an extremely positive mentor for several of their younger talents. (And they have a few) The real question in an international tournament is deciding whether the class that English players show in the Premier League is as good as that shown in other leagues. With the footballing focus of the world veritably trained onto the Premier League, it’s so hard to weigh up the form of the English side. Their reputations are typically inflated by an obsessive media, but they’ll be out to shake off this tag on the world stage. They’ll also be desperate to shake off their tag as perennial world cup chokers in 2010 after years of heartbreak. There is unprecedented pressure on the side. A tactical mastermind for a manager and several quality players have meant that the public will settle for nothing less than the trophy this year.

THE DIRECTOR

Fabio Capello

Fabio is a tremendous tactician. He is held in high regard across Europe as one of the most successful coaches of this generation. Capello is a true no-nonsense character. Discipline is probably his best attribute, as evident in his swift response to the Terry/Bridge debacle. Capello hasn’t changed a whole lot in the England set up, however, and is yet to spring any major surprise. He’s managed to find a way to play Gerrard and Lampard together in the centre of the pitch, which could be important for their chances. Yet another easy qualifying group for the English sees them underdone before South Africa, and Capello will surely be worried that the side will be found lacking against quality opposition. Ultimately, Capello brings a winning culture. He’s brought victory to Roma, Juventus, AC Milan and Real Madrid. Will he bring victory to England?

LEADING MAN

Wayne Rooney

The impact that Rooney will have on the side can simply not be overstated. Rooney has the complete package. You’ll always be confident that he’ll finish anything that even vaguely resembles a chance. You’ll always be confident that he’ll produce something out of nothing at some stage at the Cup. 2010 has been far and away his best season to date. A true break out season, in which he was being touted as the best player in Europe on more than one occasion. It’ll be intriguing to see if he can produce the same efficacy for the All Whites, where he is utilised on the edge of the box more than right in the 6 yard area. Rooney is also renowned for his desperation and tenacity and will certainly not be the player to throw in the towel. The Roonometer has been set up ontop the Big Ben in London – if Rooney starts to fire then any pressure on the rest of the team will be sure to subside. Could win the tournament on his own boot.

SUPPORTING CAST

Frank Lampard (midfielder, Chelsea) had an indifferent start to the campaign, but as of late has rekindled the vintage Lampard of old. 22 goals as a midfielder is truly remarkable, but what is often overlooked is his 14 assists that isn’t too shabby either. Franky is another English player who fans stick above their breakfast table and little girls place on their bed side table. Lampard’s combination with Gerrard will be crucial – if the love is there, then they could produce anything. Rio Ferdinand (defender, Manchester United) is the skipper of the side, but still remains doubtful to even pull on the strip. Even when not injured for Man United in 2010, he’s been erratic. He lacks pace, doesn’t look as strong in the air as he used to be, and seems to have lost respect from his playing group. Rio has always produced his finest for the national side, however, and his experience will be missed if he’s ruled out. Steven Gerrard (midfielder, Liverpool) hasn’t managed to recapture his stunning ’09 season. He’s been stuck in a losing and under performing side, but has still shown glimpses of his best. Gerrard is tireless and has better vision than an eagle. He’s yet another player who’ll wear his passion all over his sleeve in South Africa. Gareth Barry (midfielder, Manchester City) has been placed under the heaviest of injury clouds by team doctors. His participation is crucial. Barry has been the picture of consistency all year (if not spectacular) and will provide crucial steel to the midfield and cover for his defenders. If he fails to recover in time, then the side’s team sheet will look a whole lot weaker with a name like Huddlestone in the line up.

GET YOURSELF LABELLED AS “THE HOTTEST PROPERTY”

James Milner and Adam Johnson

England will have injury concerns throughout June/July. In fact, every side will have such concerns. These two certainly won’t make the starting side, but could be crucial in the long run. Depth of squad is a prerequisite for World Cup success and don’t be surprised if either of these two walk out onto the pitch in the business end of the tournament. Milner is highly versatile, but has made the potentially career-changing move to the centre of midfield. Johnson has been a revelation at Man City, keeping many bigger named and better paid stars on the bench. Johnson could be the man to solve England’s perennial left wing lacking. (It’s true that these two are pretty much already hottest property, but who did you want me to pick? In fact, why don’t you tell me by commenting down below…)

THE LIKELY VILLAIN

Whoever the goalkeeper is

The real question mark over the side remains the last line of defence. Gazing over the EPL team sheets in 2010, the majority of quality keepers are foreign born. Fridel, Sorenson, Schwarzer, Reina, Friedel and Given to name only a few of these names. Joe Hart has probably been the shining light in this area with stunning performance after stunning performance for Birmingham. Debate still rages, however, over who the number 1 should be with whispers beginning to point towards David Clamity James to be the starter. Whoever it is, he’ll be the villain. Expect them to be bundled out on penalties – expect the finger to be pointed at the goalie.

FORMATION

Question marks over this area too. The only thing we know is that Fabio will always favour a holding midfielder. If Barry’s not fit, then Carrick of Huddlestone will just have to do. Without Barry the gaffer might lean towards a 4-5-1 with a more compressed set up. The midfield is probably their best area and Capello surely knows that. In the past they’ve lined up with a traditional 4-4-2 and expect the same from the team that invented football.

THE STRIP

IT’S SORTA LIKE…

“Robin Hood”

It doesn’t matter who’s involved (Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Russell Crowe, David Beckham, Paul Gascogine, Wayne Rooney) or who’s directing (Kevin Reynolds, Ridley Scott, Bobby Robson, Capello), you already know the story, you know how it’s going to end and you know it’s not going to be completely satisfying.

THE ADVERTISMENT

USELESS TRIVIA

Everyone loves to hate England. Enough Said.

THE FAIRYTALE SCRIPT

I’m gonna leave this one up to the readers – there are so many fairytale options. The best script that is posted below will win nothing. But you should do it anyway.

Here’s my effort: England create history by winning every knockout game by penalties, and spectacularly only score penalties the entire tournament. Three 1-0 group wins (all Lampard penalties – actually who will take ’em?) sends them through. And then they exorcise their demons with penalty wins against Germany and Brazil on their way to glory. All the players will be knighted and moulded into permanent pure gold replicas in Madam Tossards or whatever that place is called.

FINAL VERDICT

So much depends on their injury concerns to key players. If the likes of Rooney, Barry, Ferdinand and Gerrard are under 100% then the England team doesn’t roar like the lion it could. Undoubtedly, however, England have a strong spine to their team. Recent comments by discard Gary Neville claimed that Paul Scholes still remains their best midfielder. Passthesugar wouldn’t go that far, but certainly the red head would have added a good dash of experience and technical nous to the broth. Capello looks to be their trump card. In qualification, for once, England didn’t struggle or look like missing out. Compared to Erikson and McLaren, Capello looks the goods and will hopefully be able to wring out every last bit of quality onto the green grass in South Africa. While Rooney is the most important cog in the side, they will only go as far as their defence allows them, or as long as it takes for a goalkeeping blunder. Looking at their team sheet, there just seems to be something missing. England have a dream draw passed the group stages (not to say the group is anything more than mediocre) and will fancy their chances against the Germans in the quarter finals and Argentinians or French in the semis. They’re well clear of Brazil and Spain, who always seem to get the better of the traditional and largely boring English. Don’t expect them to score a whole bunch of meat pies, but several 1-0 or 2-1 results will be all they need to give the Queen a heart attack and spark Elton John into a frenzy of song covers. (God, please don’t make me watch several ticker-tape parades with those idiots on the top of a red double decker. PLEASE.) Maybe it’s because all there players ply their trade in the EPL, or maybe it’s because of that image that won’t get out the way – yes the one of them losing on penalties. If they can avoid such a situation, then they should proceed to the latter stages.

Average group + Dream knockout stage draw + Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard in the same team + Capello – Media commotion constantly – Injury concerns – Penalty nervousness – Drunk English streakers = Top of the group and a semi-final appearance in South Africa. From here, anything could happen. It’s about time they got their hands on some silverware and if results fall their way it could happen.


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