World Cup 2010: England play “one of the worst games ever” yet again…

So if all goes to plan in this World Cup, England will scrape through the group stage with unspectacular wins over Algeria and Slovenia and loose to Germany or Serbia in the second round, or France in the quarterfinals, on penalties. But perhaps this is being overtly defeatist?

I wrote this five days ago after England’s 1-1 draw with the USA. Apparently, I was being rather optimistic in my pessimism because England (and France for that matter) does not look like a team that has the will, or the skill, to progress.

Tonight’s goalless draw against Algeria must go down as one of the worst performances, or at least one of the most lacklustre, in recent history, although I guess the term “one of the worst” is becoming something of a cliché when talking of England’s performances in major tournaments (or in the case of 2007, 1993, 1983, 1977 and 1973 in failing to qualify for them).

Players like Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Cole, Terry, all valuable, world class players for their clubs were all made to look very mediocre indeed by an Algerian side whose captain plays for a mid-table French side.

But perhaps this is part of the problem with the England team and its fans – that they believe that they have a right to be a top flight team simply because the England players earn six-figure salaries in some of the best clubs in the world. Or perhaps the players are frightened of the huge expectations that the English press and fans put on the team to emulate 1966, although players who regularly perform at the latter stages of the Champions League shouldn’t really fear the World Cup, should they? Or perhaps they simply underestimated the Algerians.

Either way, England looked like they couldn’t be bothered at all for the first hour of the game, after which an increasing desperation at least helped create the odd chance. So perhaps it is an attitudinal problem. After the game, Wayne Rooney (whom the Man. Utd fans refer to as “the white Pelé” – I would sue if I was the real Pelé!) even had the nerve to moan about the booing of England fans who have paid good money to watch England play in the World Cup: “Nice to see your home fans boo you. That’s what loyal support is.

Here is what Rooney’s “loyal support” had to say about England’s performance:

“In over thirty years, this is the worst I have ever seen an England side play”

“Abysmal, dire, boring, maybe they will put us out of our misery and lose the next game”

“The italian commentators said England was unrecognisable – i recognised them – seen them too often”

“Really, we all knew this was coming, didn’t we”

“I watched it with my 7 year old and he chose to go to bed before the final whistle! You know things are bad when a 7 year old chooses going to sleep before watching football”

“Rooney: the most overrated player in Europe?”

“Loyal support Wayne is people who worked hard to go to South Africa to watch you millionaires play”

(from comments to articles in The Guardian, The Independent and The Sun)

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