The last time England exploded after a group game in the World Cup, it was 2010 and we just witnessed a result so bad that the bird sat on the roof of the opposition’s net in the first half, convinced that it had recently found the safest place. spot in Cape Town.
On this occasion, the team between John Terry, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney had a torrid night, grateful for a 0-0 draw with Algeria, and England captain Fabia Capello feared it: “the fear that stops the legs, that stops the mind, everything stops”.
Rooney, who had gone into this tournament with so much hope, form, form and things to look forward to, let out his frustration at the final whistle when he heard England blow the whistle.
“It’s nice to see your house wilted,” he shouted into the television camera. “You faithful supporters.”
In 2010 England was in the middle of the World Meltdown. Terry, who had been stripped of his leadership four months earlier, announced at a press conference two days later that he and his allies would vent their frustrations with Capello at a meeting that evening.
“If it offends him or offends a player, then what? I think indeed, “Sod her,” said Terricus, to the astonishment of many in the audience.
Capello quelled this apparent rebellion and England beat Slovenia 1-0 in their final group game to knock onto the podium. But by finishing second to the United States, they put themselves in Germany in the round of 16. And there, humiliated, they were beaten 4-1, and Terry, Gerrard, Rooney and their partners returned home as if approaching. national pariahs
Qatar 2022 feels nothing like South Africa 2010. There was a lull in England’s play when they drew 0-0 with the US on Friday night, but it wasn’t the “fear” that defined them in the late 2000s and throughout much of it. the 2010s. There is no illusion that the stage-players threatened to revolt against the curator; indeed, I laughed at the howls of the actors in reply, and mocked the supposed faith of the cause.
Instead of the fact that we had come to the calm on Friday night, the views of the level from those players who stopped to talk to reporters in the mixed zone.
“It’s probably a fair result if I’m honest,” vice-captain Jordan Henderson said Athletic afterwards. “It was a tough game. The USA did well and made it difficult for us, as we want to know. They were a little disappointed that it’s not ugly, but still positive in that we kept the world a towel, so it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s a point and it still puts us in a good place and it is in our hands for that game.”
books? “Obviously you had expectations of this team and so do we,” said the Liverpool midfielder. “We go in after the game and of course we are disappointed because we want to win every time we play, but that’s not how football works sometimes. You have to give credit to the opposition and we always know that it will be difficult to win the Trophy.”
When asked about the books, Henderson pointed out that the same thing happened on the way to Wembley during last year’s European Championship final. “I think the second game we drew 0-0 against Scotland,” he said. “There’s still a lot to play for, we’re still in a good position and we just need to go out and make a point in the next game.”
As his manager’s response was perfectly measured. Maybe too much to measure and too much to taste some peace.
It was one of those spectacular England tournaments that gets people angry: big build-up, big expectations, big emotional investment (and for these fans here in Qatar a huge financial investment) and then the big let down.
Michael Cox and John Muller are here in the deepest works of England: slow tempo; risk-aversion in possession; the struggles of Kieran Trippier, Luke Shaw, Jude Bellingham and Mason Mountain to make an impact against a spirited, well-prepared and talented US team who were intent on pushing them away; the conservative nature of Southgate’s substitutions, waiting 65 minutes before making two similar changes and keeping Phil Foden and Trent Alexander-Arnold on board throughout.
The accusations are legitimate, but so the context is presented in mitigation. “For sure, the fans want to see the goal and win the match,” Trippier said. “Of course we understand the frustration because we didn’t play, but we gave everything. The point is a good outcome. Unfortunately we didn’t win, but it’s a good point. We saved the world with a towel, it’s a good point for us in the group and now we just move on. Focus on the next game.”
All of them, indeed. The result was disappointing, but the draw, on the back of Iran winning 6-2, left all but the guaranteed place on the knocking stage. Although Wales beat them by three goals on Tuesday, England would go through. Most teams in this tournament will gladly accept the scenario of entering the final group game; Argentina and Germany, defeated by Saudi Arabia and Japan, certainly resp.
It’s certainly not 2010 – let alone a repeat of four years ago, when England went out after two games, beaten by Italy and Uruguay. That group was much tougher in 2014 and the talent pool available to Roy Hodgson was far less appealing than Southgate is now, but expectations were also significantly lower; After a tough 0-0 draw in the final game in Brazil, on dead turf against Costa Rica, England’s players were highly praised by those who had progressed so far and spent so little to be happier.
Two years later in Nice they were kicked out of the European Championships by Iceland. Now who is he? he made angry almost incredulous from the fans. Who could? It was a disastrous thing to do, lacking in structure, plan, and belief, never having a coherent mind or skill. If ever there was a time when England fans pulled their punches and jeered at their team, it was the mid-2010s.
Between 2010 and 2016 England played 15 tournament matches and won just four (against Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine and Wales) and never conceded more than one goal. They came from a surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 with reservations about flagging opposition, but beating Tunisia, Panama, Colombia (on penalties) and Sweden in that tournament, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Denmark on penalties before losing to Italy finals
In this context, it feels as if England fans have developed a remarkably low tolerance for underperformance, exposing them after mediocre displays but decent results that have left the team in a strong position. Perhaps Friday night was a huge disappointment for the League of Nations (six games, three draws, three defeats, including a 4-0 home thrashing by Hungary) but given the same reaction followed by a draw against Scotland in the Euros, perhaps it is just cause for imagination that deserves to be better. demands
Naturally, of course; It is difficult in this team, both on the pitch and those who remained on the bench, such as Foden and Alexander-Arnold, to look at young people and take on such a task.
Part of that frustration comes down to access. Southgate’s style is quite cautious – not to defend the blanket by any means, but to be safe first as much as possible. They played freely when they beat Iran 6-2 on Monday, but on Friday night it was very much a handbrake accident. And when you play in a hand and don’t win, it makes a mess, especially when you’re up against so many players at your disposal.
But these games take place in tournaments; Look through England’s World Cup history and a 6-2 victory over Iran is far more impressive than a 0-0 draw with the US.
It is encouraging that Southgate and his players responded more calmly on Friday – both to the game’s reach and to the disappointment that fans fanned at the final whistle – than England’s players did in Cape Town 12 years ago. They lacked a lot of sportsmanship, but never looked as frozen with fear or overcome with frustration as Rooney did against Algeria.
It was something Southgate later said: “People are going to act how they’re going to act. I can’t let it affect how I feel. This is a tournament of foreign noise, and we will certainly have another floor, but we are still on track.”
“External noise control” is a great line. There have been many tournaments in the past when England have appeared overwhelmed by that noise – especially the noise from the media – but under Southgate they have been blocking quite well and rising above themselves.
When the noise starts, the only way to stop is by increasing the winnings. This is Southgate’s third tournament and, with the previous two having created the buzz of a review, he and his team need to keep those good vibes going. If not, they will soon have to face the music.
(Top photo: Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)