Anorak News | A Bright Future

A Bright Future

by | 5th, September 2002

‘SIR Bobby Robson thinks England’s performance against Brazil in the World Cup was a shambles and he accused the team of lacking fight.


Roy Keane reckons England’s players were overawed and simply looking forward to swapping shirts at the end of the match. Vinnie Jones reckons England ”will always be the nearly bunch”. ”They will get a result against Germany or Argentina,” he allows, but England ”will never win it”.

Nor did Sven Goran Eriksson exhibit much fighting spirit, even with half an hour left against 10 men. One England defender remarked that the team ”needed Winston Churchill and got Iain Duncan Smith”.

Of course, Eriksson was appointed precisely because Kevin Keegan’s combination of passion and tactical ineptitude proved fatal in Euro 2000.

The Swede was supposedly the opposite: ice-cool and tactically shrewd. The problem is that at significant moments, such as the second half against both Sweden and Brazil, he appeared to be neither.

He looked nervous and displayed an astonishing reluctance to address obvious problems on the pitch.

His first post-Japan squad hasn’t exactly gone to plan either. His inclusion of Bowyer and Woodgate has caused predictable protests, while the mysterious absence of Paul Scholes and now David Beckham will not only wreck the England midfield, but will also fuel suspicions of a feud between Eriksson and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Meanwhile his remarks about the length of the English season are not only an unconvincing excuse for England’s fading efforts against Brazil, but have also put him at risk of losing face when his plea for a winter break is rejected, as it surely will be.

He seems to be holding back on the big pronouncements, which is wise, but Michael Owen has already said that England will have a two or three times better chance of winning in 2006, where conditions will be cooler.

”There are some great players in the England squad,” he enthuses, ”and so much reason for optimism.”

If so, he must be the only one to see it. The fact is that there is just one England player who has proved himself in World Cups – and that’s Owen himself.

The rest have either under-performed or not yet had the chance to prove themselves. One proven world-class player does not a winning team make.

But then England are always favourites to win every tournament except the one that’s actually happening. So as this experimental squad prepares for its Euro 2004 qualifying campaign, the talk is already of Germany 2006.

Good times, as ever, are just around the corner – and if that’s not a good reason for celebration, then what is?

Posted: 5th, September 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink