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Sunday, 27 June 2010

A NATIONAL DISGRACE. Good one to miss Theo.

Well, what do you make of that? For me it is noticeable that most England fans are not even blaming disgraceful officiating for England's defeat. That shows just how bad England were compared with the superb Germans.

A quick diversion: I've just seen a snippet from Fabio Capello's press conference where he is being questioned on his future by Shaun Custis and Sam Wallace. I really can't stand these tossers - where did they play their football? I must have missed their sparkling careers. Wallace, from The Independent, really gets on my nerves. This weaselly little twat looks about 12 years old and yet has the brass-neck to appear on telly on Sunday morning's in the season slagging Wenger, Ferguson, Ancelotti etc as though he was Bobby Robson reincarnated. One day, Mr Wallace, we will come face to face and I will tell you exactly what I think of your snotty little asides - you know nothing of football, so keep that hole in your face firmly closed you cretin.

Back to the matter in hand. England were comprehensively outplayed by a team with pace, power, vision and superior technique. But for David James England would have been gone long before getting back to 2-1. I have never before seen Ashley Cole get so ripped apart in his career. Mesut Ozil is the player of the tournament for me, so far, and I would love to see him on either wing for Arsenal.

I went to Dover Market Square to watch the game on the giant screen. There was a decent crowd there, largely made up of the town's GCSE students I think. The chants of "Rooney, Rooney" told me immediately that these youngsters watch all of their football on television. Unfortunately they turned up the commentary so we had to put up with Lawrenson and his inane one-liners. However, having the commentary allowed me to hear how the TV pundits are still completely deluded in their belief in the abilities of the England players. They talk and talk about how these players produce top quality in the Premier League. The fact is that they play alongside top-class foreign players every week. Lampard usually plays in a team with Drogba, Essien, Ballack etc, Gerrard with Torres, Mascherano and, previously, Alonso. Without genuinely World-Class players to make them look good they become what they really are - average. When Ray Parlour was at Arsenal he was made to look a better player than he really was, because he was alongside Vieira, Petit, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry etc - when he went to Middlesbrough Ray quickly began to struggle (and I love Ray Parlour).

What any player may lack in ability they can make up for in hard graft. Thanks to their exaltation in the press, the likes of Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney see no need to make that effort. Rooney was again a disgrace today. Not once did he show the desire to succeed that he does when playing for Manchester United. Steven Gerrard seemed to be having his own private game of football with the ball-boys, such was his propensity to hit the ball straight in to touch. Lampard, in his defence, had a decent game today for me - his best for England in a long time. His midfield partner, Gareth Barry, was shown up in a big way. His lack of pace on Germany's fourth goal, when he couldn't even get close enough to foul the attacker was frankly embarrassing. Matthew Upson was also found wanting, and John Terry looked like a man whose race is run in top-level football.

As bad as England were, and as good as Germany were, there will forever be a question asked about the officials. Frank Lampard's shot, one minute after Upson had scored for England, was so far over the line it was almost in a different city. An equaliser within a minute of getting one back would, perhaps, have seen Germany disintegrate - certainly I believe England would have scored again before half-time. Even though England were outplayed and ultimately thrashed, there is a genuine gripe to be had here - and let nobody go on about 1966 and compare the two incidents. I think we will not see the Uruguayan officials again in this World Cup. Sepp Blatter has said there will be no goal-line technology. Millions of pounds swilling around the game, billions of people watching the biggest match of the tournament so far, and football has been embarrassed by its failure to embrace TV replays in the way that other major sports have.

Incredibly, as I write, Mexico have just conceded a goal to Argntina where the scorer, Carlos Tevez, is a full 5 yards offside. Within seconds the goal was replayed on the screens in the stadium and the Mexican players went crazy - the officials saw the replay but the goal stands, because the use of technology is not allowed. This is the WORLD CUP for goodness sake.

Ultimately, England are not good enough to challenge on the World stage. The last good performance from an England team at a tournament, for me, was against Argentina in France 98. I think Capello is likely to leave his job now, after coming to some arrangement with the FA. From an Arsenal point of view, I am pleased that Theo Walcott was not part of this debacle, so can not take any of the blame - definitely a good one to miss for our flying forward.

Tomorrow sees Robin Van Persie's Holland in action again, but the Sky+ will need to be utilised again as I will be starting work just as the game kicks off. Before the World Cup started I predicted that England would go out in the second round and that the winners of the tournament would come from Argentina, Germany or Holland. Fingers crossed for the Oranje.

Late edit: Half-time in Mexico v Argentina and a huge punch-up - Argentinians fighting at a World Cup, surely not.

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