So why did England play so poorly in the 2010 World Cup?

First things first, I am to football punditry what Patrick Moore is to ballet. Nevertheless, as a fan I am as entitled to my ill-informed opionion as anyone else.

Before I start, why do I care enough to put this in my blog? Well, as those of you in the know will realise, when the original FA rules for modern football were gathered together, they were heavily influenced by the rules already in use in Cambridge and as played on Parker’s piece (see here if you don’t believe me.) Seeing as Parker’s Piece is also where I live (see here if you still don’t believe, you sceptical lot,)  I say that if ‘Football’s Coming Home’ (and here‘s another link) I have a genuine interest, though if Sunday 27th June 2010 is anything to go by, I’d better keep waiting.

On to my thoughts:

Despite a mix of quality ingredients, expectations and aspirations were unrealised due to a number of strategic failures. In plain English a mix of blind-faith, delusion and lack of meaningful investment in the future.

Strategically it seems to me that the FA do not want to win the World Cup (or the Euro) – the last strategy they had was to make the Premiership the ‘best league in the world’ and a product that they can sell. This has all led to club debts, new shirts every season, huge influx of foreign players and the rest of the football landscape in 2010 England. Why then did we play so poorly?

Let’s trot out the excuses and the old rhetoric:

  • Long season, tired – what about the foreign players in the premiership
  • The ball – the other teams are doing ok (yes I know Germany have practised for months – that’s good forward thinking on their part)
  • England have a divine right to win – maybe god wasn’t aware of that
  • Lampard’s goal was in – true, but we could have easily lost 7-3 (I thnk Lanmpard could have had a few more on a different day)
  • We have some of the best players in the world – is this true, how many do we have per head of population, or even per head of playing population? Are there many top 10 or top 50? How many commentators said no more than three of our players would make a first team for most of our competitors
  • We played in red – I like this superstition (and wore my red top as well!) and it is true that anchoring (in an NLP sense) can improve performance
  • We need an English Manager – we tried a few, Capello is untried at this level (until now), who – Redknapp?

Back to the thread – if this was a business problem I’d say new vision (win major trophy) new strategy – sort out source of playes, training regime, mid-season break and the rest then put out a roadmap:

  1. Sort out the #1 and the back four by Euro 2012 and build the front around Rooney and maybe Walcott. Target a visibly better defensive record, and a stable back
  2. Play in a sustainable way by World Cup 2014 – by this I mean play equally well against the top 10 teams as the teams ranked 60-70

To support this we need to (as fans and media) allow the team to be as good as they can be, not as good as we wish htem to be. The way to do this is for the FA to sort out some simple messages and manage the level of expectation being built – this isn’t a ‘let’s turn up and cross fingers approach’ but is a ‘let’s all let the players play to their best and understand what the management are doing’

That’s me for now, I was going to do a big rant on nature v nurture v luck but will save for another time.


5 thoughts on “So why did England play so poorly in the 2010 World Cup?

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    1. I go into where did the pressure come from in the unexpected follow-up piece I will be doing on nature v nature v luck v opposition (I have decided that there are four sources of influence). Feel free to stay tuned (hopefully later this week) and let me know if I hit the nail on the head


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