England vs USA

The first thing to point out is USA thoroughly deserved a draw, this was no 1950 style fluke. Whether England played badly or USA made them look ordinary we’ll never know.

Having got the hors d’oeuvre of magnanimity out of the way, we can now move swiftly onto the main course; sour grapes.

Rustenburg was a dump. Most of the roads were blocked forming a narrow funnel of traffic, none of the marshals seemed remotely interested in helping people and the town itself (or the bit we saw) looked like a set from a Western (was expecting to see John Wayne saddle up and ride to the stadium)

The stadium itself was Ok. Smaller stadia (this was 45k) can be good sometimes & have terrific atmosphere (the Saint Etienne stadium in 1998 was quite small, about 35k capacity, but the atmosphere for England vs Argentina was electric that night).

The atmosphere for England vs USA was Ok but rather subdued. There was some singing by the England fans & the occasional chant of “USA, USA” (they must be the fans with the least imaginative football songs, surely you don’t really qualify as a world superpower unless you have good football songs ??). Also there was very little diversity on show, it was basically England & USA fans with a few locals (not many).

The England performance, on reflection, having had 36 hours to anaesthetise the pain was mixed.

The Good

Stevie G led by example, scored a good goal, made some great tackles and gave the kind of high tempo display we’ve seen so many times for Liverpool

Glen Johnson – made a few telling runs and showed commitment to attack. Fine Marcel Morceau impression when he was querying the ref / linesman what to do about his cut lip

The Bad

Wayne Rooney – aka the Invisible Man. No worries he can’t play that badly again. Surely

Frank Lampard – worse game I’ve seen for a while inc a few beautiful slide rule passes to the touchline

Shaun Wright-Phillips – have some sympathy for SWP though since basically he’s a crap player anyway. Theo or Adam Johnson must have been watching ruefully

Fabio Capello – Ok, we’re all experts after the event and fair enough if he wanted to start Milner to combat Donovan. Having noticed that Milner wasn’t actually fit though he replaces him with….SWP ????? Cole had been one of the most impressive England players pre-tournament and we must hope we’ll see him in the side soon

The Ugly

Robert Green – nuf said. It can happen to anyone but it does happen to England goalies an awful lot at the World Cup. David Moyes (the Everton manager) had said in the build up to the game that he thought if Tim Howard had been English he would have started as the England goalie, he was that good. When Moyes starts predicting lottery numbers, go and buy some…

You’re always going to have some players who perform well and some less well, especially in your first game of a tournament when tension abounds. What disappointed me though and I hope Capello addresses this was the lack of C.O.N.V.I.C.T.I.O.N. shown by many of the players.

In elite sports it is often the mental toughness / aptitude that makes the difference between winning and losing (just ask Roger Federer or Tiger Woods). Too many times during the game there were England players who had to chance to make a break, take their player on, make some something happen but they would stop, turn inside and look for the simple ball, passing responsibility to their teammate.

Keeping possesion is good but you have to have the speed and directness to be dangerous as well (look at the Germans vs Australia). I hope Capello can provide enough confidence for players like Lennon to express themselves.

Overall, the performance was disappointing but a draw is not the end of world. We’ve been here before (Sweden in the last World Cup).

The good news, and this shows the absolute tactical genius of Capello, is that England have deliberately started slowly (a 1-1 draw with the USA was what Italy got in the 1st round last time). The poor Germans must be quaking in their boots about possibly meeting England in the 2nd round having peaked too early

The dream is still alive…

Rustenburg host city rating (out of 10) – 3 (and that’s generous)

Rustenburg food rating outside the stadium (out of 10) – n/a (there wasn’t any)

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2 Comments on “England vs USA”

  1. Ian Says:

    Can I have a Vuvuzela please 😀 😀 😀

  2. stevinho Says:

    one paper in Uk said “this is one spill the yanks won’t complain about” another “its not easy being green”
    Agree, it was a FAIR result though England a better side. If I were Capello I would stick with green…

    2 wks for me and boys to join u!!

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