I'm not going to South Africa. So instead I'm gonna try and watch a bit if not all of every game at work, or at home or in a bar or wherever. On the telly. With a beer. And I'm gonna predict who I think is gonna win. And talk about football stuff. So there.

Monday 28 June 2010

SHORT ESSAY: Are England really that bad, or just really unlucky?

Yes, yes, yes, England were poor against Germany and the other three teams we played in this World Cup. But are things really as bad as people would have us believe? The 44 years of hurt and all that? Are our players lagging so far behind the rest of the world? Sure, we play a different game, that's not so pleasing on the eye. But not everyone can or should be playing the same way, or the same formation of 4-2-3-1 or whatever it is.

There are few advantages to being as old as I, but one is the fact that I was of legal drinking age (just) during Italia '90, so I witnessed what has been our best World Cup with a pint in my hand and eternal respect for the legend that is Lineker. Two penalties to turn it round against the Cameroon, a goal and a penalty in the semi. Can't ask for more.

So that's a semi-final that we lost on penalties. Yeah it hurt, but getting to the semis was an awesome experience.

But since then, yes we've been poor in places, but we've also been very unlucky. And it's mainly been down to refs and linesmen seeing incidents we don't want them to see, and not seeing incidents we do want them to see. And the odd goalkeeping eff-up.

The evidence is all there/here/ right in front of you ref-er-ree...

The Koeman incident that stopped us qualifying for USA '94. Ref should have seen it. And obviously, the likes of Carlton Palmer would have led us to victory in LA over Brazil...

The Beckham sending off in '98 during a game we would have gone on to win. Why did the ref see that petulant flick of the leg? It only took a second for heaven's sake. Why was he looking right at it, eyeing up Beck's leg? He could have and should have been looking at whoever had the ball, his linesman or some fit bird on the terraces. Sol Campbell also had a goal disallowed in the game, because the ref saw a push by Shearer. Why see that? Look somewhere else and we score and go onto thrash the French in Paris.

2002, Seaman should have seen that one coming from Ronaldinho. A bit more awareness and our lads would have taken it to extra time, beat the Brazilians on penalties and thrashed the Germans in the final. Easy.

2006, why did the ref see Rooney stamp on Carvalho's nuts and then see fit to listen to the winker Ronaldo and give Rooney his marching orders? If we'd have kept it 11 vs 11, Rooney would have wreaked his revenge against his cheating team-mate and scored a hat-trick that would have fired us all the way into a final against the Italians in which he would have scored four more and led us to another triumph.

And now there's 2010 to add to the list of eff-ups by match efficials. Thank you, the linesman and ref who didn't see the ball cross the line against Germany. Had Lampard's strike counted, we'd have gone in at the half all square, our tails up having fought back from two down. And we'd not have had to chase the game and not been caught out by the sucker punches of the counter attacks. We'd have gone on to replicate the 1966 4-2 scoreline, and gone on and on after that to do the Dutch in the final.

Alack, poor Yorick, England are not one of the World Cup luckies. The same teams seem to get all the breaks. Can't remember a controversial decision going against Brazil. Or Argentina. Or Germany. That helps explain why these nations are always there or thereabouts.

Yes, England sucked several eggs during this World Cup, but until officialdom stops making eff-ups that eff-up our confidence, what we gonna do, but keep losing out...