George Caveney Tries To Think Of A Happy Place…
The media sh*tstorm after the opening game against the US was a bit much, but as far as I’m concerned – unleash the hounds on the lot of them this morning. That was unforgivably crap, and I reckon something is seriously wrong in the England camp. What, exactly, is anyone’s guess. We’re not as good as we’re built up to be. That, we’re waking up to. I got out of bed this morning to realise no, it wasn’t a bad dream. So it seems we are actually that awful. Truly shocking.
The looks on the faces of Lampard, Rooney, Heskey and Gerrard in particular said it all. Frustration, defeat and the occasional glare of blame, which never helps. We were hopelessly ineffectual from start to finish. Commentators and pundits don’t often admit to being baffled, flummoxed or lost for words – but you could almost hear them pinching themselves in disbelief. SWP and Defoe came on and for five minutes or so both injected a little spirit into the effort but it fizzled out, deflated and decayed into one hell of a shambles.
Why? Has there been a big falling out behind the scenes? Has Crouch trodden on Lampard’s R&B-riddled iPod and sparked a sulk-off? Did Heskey flick porridge in Carragher’s face at breakfast and start a kangaroo-style game of pat-a-cake that made the rest of the squad start crying and screaming ‘stop it’? Was Lennon not allowed to stay up and watch Last of the Summer Wine? Or has the penny finally dropped that we haven’t won anything for 44 years because we don’t deserve it?
I cringe at knee-jerk diagnoses of one-off displays of underachievement as much as any self-respecting follower of the game, but surely I’m not alone in sensing something woefully amiss. This is different. So let’s consider the more likely possibilities… Is Capello’s strict 4-4-2 just not working, considering the alternative formations most of these players work with far more successfully at their clubs? Are we under so much pressure to achieve – despite not having shown any real promise for yonks – that we just can’t rise to the simplest challenge? If that’s the case, how on earth are we going to rise to Slovenia on Wednesday? Or is the squad riddled with niggling injuries we don’t know about? Has half the team got tummy-ache?
It’s disheartening. Actually no, it is genuinely shocking and infuriating, and for once I agree it’s way short of acceptable. I don’t care what the papers say any more (within reason). Something’s got to give. Something’s got to wake the England camp up to what’s going on, and point out to them that we’re now even more laughable than before – and that’s saying something. This could be the most over-hyped and embarrassingly fruitless tournament England has ever minced around in. And the fact we’re never exactly gracious (or entertaining) in defeat will make it even harder to swallow. Maybe it’s just what we need. Perhaps it will make us think about how the EPL, despite being the best league in the world, has thwarted the national team. Discuss…
We’ll see. Perhaps I’ve just done what I’ve been criticising so vehemently – giving it large on the doom and despair front based on one result. I don’t think so, though. I think what we saw last night may well have been a massive turning point. As ever, I hope it means we see a different England on Wednesday, which comes out marauding and tears Slovenia apart, scares the living crap out of everyone like the eleven horsemen of the apocalypse – and eats the goalposts as a sign-off to a belittling display of how it’s done. I really hope so, and there will always be that glimmer of hope. It’s just getting weaker and weaker, and I fear it could more realistically mean an early bath and the chance to watch from the stands the more interesting stages of a tournament we simply weren’t good enough for.
I’ve never seen England play so badly and with so little determination or conviction. Never. That was really, really awful, and we should be truly ashamed. We have to change drastically in four days. Or for the umpteenth time, rip it up and start again, and for once be flipping realistic and humble in the rebuilding process.