Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Steven Beacom: England - what an embarrassing bunch of losers

Manuel Neuer of Germany watches the ball bounce over the line from a shot that hit the crossbar from Frank Lampard of England, but referee Jorge Larrionda judged the ball did not cross the line during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa

Okay, let’s get it over with. Frank Lampard’s brilliant strike at the end of the first half was over the line. Way over.

Shame on FIFA and President Sepp Blatter for not having goal-line technology at this World Cup.

Would the outcome between England and Germany in Bloemfontein yesterday been any different had the goal been given by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda and his assistant Mauricio Espinosa? We’ll never know.

What we do know is England weren’t good enough to overcome this injustice, or use it to inspire them. In fact in this tournament, England weren’t good enough full stop. They just about squeezed into the knockout stages from the easiest group possible.

There was a feeling that they would rise to the occasion in the last 16, yet they were worse than ever.

Against Germany, England were outclassed, out-fought, out-thought and deservedly are now out of the World Cup. They brought nothing to the biggest football party on the planet and are going home early, humiliated and embarrassed. When they get off their return flight to London, they should hang their heads in shame. Fabio Capello’s England have shown they can’t defend, can’t attack with purpose and come to think of it are desperate in midfield as well.

Yesterday’s 4-1 defeat to Germany was the perfect illustration of all of the above.

From the first whistle they were a shambles. Disorganised and disjointed. And Wayne Rooney disillusioned. The modern day German side may not be a patch on what we’ve seen before at World Cups, but like their predecessors they can spot weaknesses and England had plenty.

In central defence John Terry and Matthew Upson were all at sea. They were drowning as Miroslav Klose dived in between them to poke home a goal-kick from Manuel Neuer which, incredibly, had been allowed to travel from one box to the other. I heard the term schoolboy defending mentioned. That’s an insult to schoolboys!

The defending wasn’t much better when Lukas Podolski cracked home number two to finish a move that ripped the English to shreds. So in control were the Germans, had it not been for David James, it could have been 5-0!

Before the break England got lucky when Upson headed home a fine cross from Steven Gerrard, the only decent thing he did all day, and then were remarkably unlucky when play was waved on after Lampard’s chip crashed down off the bar into the goal.

Finally after all these years the Germans had payback for Geoff Hurst’s controversial strike in 1966. If doubt still remains about whether Hurst’s effort crossed the line, there was no doubt here.

Surely, England would be motivated in the second half by what was one of the worst decisions in football history.

Lampard smashed the woodwork with a speculative free-kick but there was no other spark, no invention, no creativity, no class, no chemistry and perhaps most telling of all no Rooney. You could have been forgiven for thinking he wasn’t on the pitch. He’s been hopeless in South Africa. He’s not been alone with Lampard, Gerrard, Terry and Ashley Cole all failing to live up to big reputations.

As time ticked by, England’s lack of quality was matched by their lack of patience. There was still 25 minutes left when NINE of them went forward for a free-kick. Seconds later Thomas Muller fired the Germans 3-1 ahead as a swift counter-attack caught England on the hop. It was a similar story shortly after when Muller made it 4-1.

Germany had booked a quarter-final with Diego Maradona’s Argentina and England were out.

Even the much maligned Sven-Goran Eriksson got England to the quarter-finals. Twice. Capello couldn’t get them past the last 16. He should get the boot. I’d say the same about the under-performing players, but with little new talent coming through the ranks, the majority will continue to play international football.

England fans will have to put up with this bunch of losers for a while yet.

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