England 1-1 USA

Posted: June 13, 2010 in England
Tags: , , ,

I’m not disappointed…just…

I was wondering whether to write about the England games during this tournament, but here I am. Where to start with last night?

Well, the first thing to say is, it’s not “a bad result”. It’s not a good one either, more an “it’ll do”. Losing would have been a bad result. Losing to Algeria in our next game will be a catastrophic result, but cross bridge when come to etc.

Nor were England as bad as some people seem keen to make out. Let’s look at it objectively; the first half was fairly even but England dominated the second, had 18 shots whereas the US had only 3 chances of note, one a fluffed header, one parried against the post and then the stupid goal to end all stupid goals. If Rob Green hadn’t had his, well, we’d have won 1-0 and everyone would have said “job done, should’ve won by more, room for improvement but pretty good”. Fine lines.

Also, to anyone who thinks England should smash the USA by default, GTFO. Last night was not an aberration, it was an accurate reflection of the relative states of the two teams. The USA are a decent side, England slightly better, that is why England probably should have won the game but why it’s not surprising that it ended in a draw either.

I can excuse the Swedish guy at the bar who (out of the blue) told me that he’d bet fifty pounds on England to win 5-0. Fifty pounds! He was either very rich or very stupid. He didn’t really look like either of those. The only thing I can think of is that he meant “I will win fifty pounds if England win 5-0”. But I kept repeating “fifty pounds!” in a tone of incredulity and he didn’t see fit to correct me, so maybe not. It was, in his words, “the only logical result”.

This was all in The Globe, which is the default pub for anyone bound for Wembley given its close proximity to Baker Street station. Despite working pretty much just round the corner for 3 years, I’d never been in before: it was slightly smaller than I’d expected but with a better array of beers and plenty of staff. We got there at 3pm expecting it to be rammed from about 5pm onwards, so it seemed smart to watch the Argentina v Nigeria game in there and bag a spot.

As it happened we could quite merrily have wandered up at about 6.30 (although we wouldn’t have got a seat at that point), but from just before kick-off it became pretty obvious that the place was over-crowded to the point of danger. A half-time pint was out of the question, as was the idea of trying to get near the toilets. I turned my head at one point and saw what looked a bit like a rock-gig crowd-surge by the bar. I’m usually resistant to sitting down to watch football in pubs but in this case we’d made the right move.

Anyway, the atmosphere was great, particularly when England took an early lead thanks to a neat touch from Heskey and a smartly-executed finish from Gerrard. As the pub erupted, for the first time in a long time I felt a little pang of pride watching Gerrard and the rest celebrating. For once they felt like England players rather than Chelsea/Liverpool/Man United players wearing white. I haven’t felt that since Euro 2004 and the emergence of Rooney.

I assume you all know by now that ITV fucked up by cutting to a car advert on its HD footage at about the time the England goal was scored. Here it is with video if you’d like to witness their absolute stupidity. Didn’t they make some big balls-up with Nike by cutting their advert short and being forced to pay out as a result? That and the Everton extra-time goal a couple of seasons ago when were all watching dancing Tic-Tacs instead. Jesus.

Back to the game. England were not in control, in fact it was pretty scrappy apart from a good ball by Rooney that set Lennon in down the right, but his cross was poor. USA were definitely in the game and Altidore probably should have scored with a header from about 8 yards. After about 30 minutes England seemed to be dropping deeper and I was already starting to wonder, and then Dempsey had a pot-shot from distance and Green contrived to let it in.

I don’t like Rob Green. I know he’s supposed to be “intelligent” and “funny” and what have you, but I haven’t liked him since his whole “England’s number 6” thing at West Ham. I’ve said all along (maybe not on here, admittedly) that David James is the best English goalkeeper – although you can read into that what you will. It was the right thing to play Green last night given that he’s basically played the last 7-8 England games, but in terms of actual goalkeeping ability I’d put him third out of three. But despite that, I just felt really, really sorry for him.

Obviously he is a pretty good goalkeeper. There’s no way he spoons shots into his own net like that normally. It was an absolute horrorshow, the replays were almost unwatchable. You can see the “oh my god what have I done” look on his face a fraction of a second before the ball reaches him, he knew he’d ballsed it up. One of the highlights of this World Cup so far has been the occasional super-slow-mo replays of things you don’t normally notice (a perfectly-timed tackle, Javier Aguirre roaring in rage) but this just felt gratuitous. It should have come with a health warning, watching him scramble backwards in desperation, not knowing whether to reach for the ball or bury his head in his hands.

England came out purposeful in the second half, and had numerous chances. Heskey was put through by Lennon but shot straight at Howard (have to admit; I was just pleased he hit the target), Lampard forced a good save from distance and should have done better when England found themselves four-on-two. Rooney flashed a snapshot just wide from 25 yards and couldn’t quite get over Gerrard’s excellent cross. Wright-Phillips fluffed probably the best chance when he was played in by Roon but his shot was a nothing effort, neither accurate nor powerful. And so it ended.

I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t the normal outpouring of anger from people in the pub at Green’s clanger, although maybe it was drowned out by the Americans of whom there must have been a fair few judging by the noise. But this general positivity, or at least realism, pervaded right to the end of the game even as it became apparent that England weren’t going to win . People slunk out with a sort of smiling acceptance, disappointed but, y’know, not the end of the world (cup). There were some coppers wading in at this point but they seemed to be more intent on dispersing the crowd than anything else – although a couple were heading purposefully for the toilets, hopefully to unblock the urinals. Yeesh.

Unfortunately the “meh” feeling obviously wasn’t universal; back home there was a horde of police outside one of the local bars there (fuck it, I might as well name it so you can avoid it; the iBar and it looks shit) and it had clearly kicked off. Part of the bar was roped off, a couple of people were giving statements and as we walked on there was another chap covered in blood. Beer + stupidity = not a good combination.

I should probably mention that it wasn’t all good-healthy-patriotism in the Globe either, apart from the usual “no surrender to the IRA” stuff (really?) a rendition of “10 German bombers” soon became “10 US bombers in the air… and the RAF from England shot them down”. Ah, revisionist history. Also, twats who don’t actually want to watch the game – go home!

So England did ok. Gerrard had a good game, Rooney and Lampard were largely anonymous for about an hour before exerting themselves more. I was surprised that Joe Cole didn’t start, and didn’t get on for Milner. Glen Johnson played well. The idea of Carragher and Terry at the back is frightening, I’d much rather have Upson and probably Dawson in there ahead of Carragher (alongside Terry, not as a pair). Presumably Gareth Barry will be back for the next game which makes you wonder whether Heskey will keep his place or whether Capello will seek to use Gerrard in support of Rooney. I’d probably keep Heskey in myself with Gerrard out on the left as he was for much of qualifying.

What of Rob Green? If he gets dropped that’s basically the end of his England career, but if you keep him in people will always have fluttering hearts whenever the ball goes near him. I guess it depends how he reacts privately in training this week. Why is it that so many English goalkeepers seem to have their careers defined, and ended, by high-profile clangers? Seaman’s Ronaldinho chip (and conceding direct from a corner against Austria or someone soon after), Paul Robinson’s Croatian divot, Scott Carson’s skiddy Wembley turf, and now Green. Oh yes, because none of them are very good, that’s why.

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Comments
  1. Peter Reynolds says:

    http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/itv-cock-up-the-world-cup-immediately/

    From the comments I’ve had on this piece it seems that ITV drops the ball in its own net regularly.

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