Maybe it's because I live in Ireland and therefore get innundated with the English media. I know the starting lineup of the English soccer team, and all their wives and girlfriends, which the tabloids affectionately term the WAGs. If England won it would be insufferable. Further, I just don't like the players, they are real rough lager lout types. Shreck, oops I mean Rooney, is a complete yob.
I've come to the conclusion that the English soccer team is the Toronto Maple Leafs of international football. They haven't won since the sixties, and there is no shortage of people who can tell you all about those heady, glory days of 1966. Which is incidentally before I was born. In the past few international tournaments, they have put out a middling team, due to a coach and management who refuse to make tough decisions when it comes to the roster, but yet everyone in the country is convinced that they will win the Cup because it is their destiny.
England finally made their World Cup 2006 exit on Saturday in typical controversial fashion. The English fans are proving just how blindly subjective they really are. I have heard the following ad nauseum:
- They lost because the Portuguese are cheating divers and England refuses to stoop to that level. They don't dive, they play fair, and it's really not too much to ask that the ref abide by the rules of fair play.
- The ref is Argentinian, and therefore wanted England to lose (Hand of God Part II or revenge for the Falklands War, you choose the conspiracy theory).
- Ronaldo discussed tactics with Scolari to get Rooney kicked out of the game. The wink he made towards the Portuguese bench when the red card was shown proved this.
- The ref deliberately did not call a hand ball in the penalty area so that Portugal could win.
The English need to get over this by accepting the following facts:
- The English team was not that good. They were not looking stellar at any point in the tournament, and had they been in a tougher group, they would have struggled to get out of the group stage. Would they have beated Mexico in the second round like Argentina did? Would they have beaten Holland or Australia?
- Riling Looney Rooney up is like shooting fish in a barrel. If he wants to be a great player, he needs to learn to keep his head. As it is, he's a liability. He did stomp on the Portuguese player, and then pushed Ronaldo in front of the ref. He is the dumbest football player out there, and that's saying a lot. A great player keeps his cool and can get past the goading and the psychological games. If Ronaldo did discuss ways to get Rooney out of the game with his coach, well that's not hard first of all, and second of all, unsettling your opponents is part of the game. If Rooney is too stupid and falls for it every time, then maybe, just maybe, he should go back to his anger management classes.
- Anyone who says that the Brits never dive have never seen Joe Cole or Michael Owen play.
- David Beckham deliberately flipped the ball at the Portuguese defender's arm to draw a penalty. Sorry, what was that about never cheating?
- Diving hasn't been exclusive to the Portuguese, Italian, Argentinian or Spanish team. Michael Ballack has made a few meals out of minor knocks throughout the tournament. EVERY TEAM is guilty of diving or making more out of a fall in order to draw a free kick.
- The English team sucks at penalty kicks. Or as one journalist put it, they took penalty kicks with the skill of a bunch of eight-year olds.
- Lampard couldn't hit an empty net at two yards out.
- The only English player that really excelled in the quarterfinal match was the Canadian that the British fans boo whenever he enters the stadium. He was the only one who scored a penalty kick too. On Canada Day.
- Just because it was an Argentinian ref does not mean it was Hand of God Part II. This wasn't a conspiracy. England just didn't win, and if they did, there is no way they would make it out of the semis. They just weren't going to win the cup, and we all need to accept this and move on.
Portugal wasn't stellar either, but they won in the end - without their main playmaker, Deco. They were also really beaten down from their slugfest against Holland. They kept it together just enough to pull through. Portugal is not the cleanest of teams, I'll admit, but it wasn't enough to make England lose. England just did not have enough in them to win.