Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup Thoughts

Yeah it's a footie post so go away and come back later if it doesn't rock your world.

Respect to a great German team for their win over England yesterday. I thought they looked good and played without fear. I don't think they are a substantially more skillful team than England. The stats of the match will be skewed by the fact that most teams 4-1 down with 15 minutes to go will tend to give up. We did. For 75 minutes we had territory, possession and chances.

This brings me to what I want to talk about. The mind. Ruud Gullitt famously said that in the modern age football matches will come down to details. Two evenly balanced sides will be separated by one mistake or one piece of skill. How did a nation such as Algeria get a draw against England? They had little ambition and made no mistakes. How did the less capable (on paper) United States get a point off England? We made one horrendous mistake.

English sports teams seem curiously susceptible to the detail of the mental collapse. What caused two highly competent defenders to allow a long goal-kick to cause chaos? They would have dealt with that 99 times out of 100, maybe 999 times out of 1,000. I don't know, but what you have to do once it has happened is put it out of your mind and play on. It seems to me that while the defence were still holding a mental inquest into how Klose could have scored as he did the Germans carved a way through for a pretty good second goal.

Then something happened and we woke up. In a period of ten minutes we had a perfectly good attack (with a header that hit the bar) stopped for a non-existent offside. We scored. We had the referee, no less, break up a promising move from which the Germans broke upfield and we had a great goal unnoticed by the officials. This could get to your head, if you allowed it to.

The half-time talk pretty much takes care of itself. It's only the referee who is keeping you down here. Go out and play sensibly, be patient and chances will come (as they did).

Playing well in the second half Lampard hit the bar with a fine free kick and another was blocked by a hand from which the Germans broke upfield and scored.

Don't get me wrong. No excuses. We weren't good enough. the Germans took their chances clinically. But we weren't as hopeless in all departments as some would seem to be saying. Two lots of woodwork and a disallowed goal gets us to 4-4 if details are changed slightly. I just think we lacked the mental toughness to believe we could do it, despite the pre-match hype. And we lacked the concentration to put mistakes (our own and those of the officials) out of our heads.

I don't think we need an inquest into football at all levels. Maybe a mid season break and a smaller Premiership but nothing too dramatic. It's only a game.

1 comment:

LankyAnglican said...

I agree on the smaller premiership idea. There are effectively 2 sub leagues anyway. It's just a matter of where the line is drawn.