Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog


England World Cup preparations hit snags
June 9, 2010, 7:09 am
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags:

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I’m fresh off the boat from a scouting trip to the good old US of A ahead of the big World Cup kick off which is alarmingly just a few days away.

In my 10 days away England’s meticulous preparation for the tournament seems to have hit more roadblocks than a remake of a Dirty Harry chase scene set in Baghdad. This has thrown previous dreams of glory to more a realistic feeling of “this is going to go wrong in the quarters again, isn’t it?”.

Crufts got merked

The most obvious set-back may actually be a blessing. Skipper Rio Ferdinand has been forced to drop out of the squad with a knee injury, but some may suggest this was divine providence. The once-collossal defender has endured a stop-start season with a dodgy back.

The injury means he has to spend hours after each match in an ice bath, but more alarmingly makes him turn so slowly it looks like he is playing with an ice pick down the back of his pants.

Although those doubts remained, they do with his potential replacements also. His departure from the squad means that Ledley King or Jamie Carragher are likely to swagger into the starting 11, despite literally contributing nothing to the qualification. Michael Dawson is this year’s Micah Richards: decent season, no class, will make mistakes.

In addition to Rio’s injury, the biggest force to drum England out of the World Cup is once again the media.

I didn’t watch the game against the South African all stars but I understand that Wayne Rooney had a flare-up. A bit of petulance most probably, but the press have already gathered the torchwood for a potential lynching.

Rooney escaped blame for the 2006 World Cup exit because his petulance was forgotten once Christiano Ronaldo winked at his bench, suggesting he had masterminded the whole thing. However, should he again be sent off he will definitely be the folk devil in the press. All the press has been about ‘will Wayne keep his head’ – do you think Argentina do the same thing with Lionel Messi (who, let’s not forget, has been known to be sent off for head butting in his time.

This negative press surrounds Rooney despite the fact he has a not too awful disciplinary record for England (1 red, 8 yellows in 60 games), and to my knowledge has not done anything remotely head-mental since 2006.

The final stumbling point is a boringly repetitive one.

Don’t worry Emile, I feel the same way too.

Yet again, every football cretin has once again crawled out of the woodwork to lament Emile Heskey for apparently missing a couple of chances against some pub team. Despite the fact that without Heskey we lost to Croatia twice in the last qualification, but with him we won 9-2 on aggregate this time round, idiots still think the only quality of a footballer is their goals. Assists and team-play are insignificant to such idiots, so it’s not really worth discussing.

We’ve been through this so many times it’s redundant, but here it is once again.

If you drop Heskey you get Rooney playing with his back to goal. If I need to remind you, Rooney with back to goal resulted in no Euro 2008. Rooney running at defences with Emile holding the ball up meant we qualified for the World Cup with seven successive wins.

Still, it looks likely Fabio will succumb to the calls and play 4-5-1 for the first game. Testament to this is his apparent desire to recall Paul Scholes from four years in the wilderness. After all, a draw isn’t a bad result against America, sadly.

The eleven men that run out against America on Saturday resemble a skeleton of the settled starting XI that thrashed its way to qualification.

In addition to the sad demise of Lord David Beckham, Ledley King (RIP Rio Ferdinand), Aaron Lennon (RIP Theo Walcott) and Joe Cole (RIP Gareth Barry) are all likely to start.

Chances are I’ll make the bench, too.

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