Feature by Dan Buxton
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2010
The return of Will Garrett see's him focus on England national side, past and present
A foreign manager with an exceptional club level record fails to recapture anything like that success with an England side, big name 'world class' players not performing on the biggest stage of all, and a World Cup Campaign so devout of pride, passion and competence that St George's crosses are torn rather than taken down from every home, street and work place in disgust.
Does the story sound familiar? It should do, because the above could describe England's gutless adventure in Germany as it could our pathetic attempts in South Africa. Four years have passed and nothing has changed. Gerrard and Lampard are still as appalling in England shirts as they were four years ago, and we are still hopeless in our search for goals.
The only real difference between the two cup 'crusades' is that now not only can we not pass, score or create chances, but we can no longer defend. In Bloemfontein on Sunday, the world witnessed one of the great comedy duos currently working the circuit in John Terry and Matthew Upson. The only difference between England's comical central defenders and Morecambe and Wise is that Eric was a lot quicker than John Terry, and Ernie Wise could surely have shown more physical presence than Matthew Upson to knock Miroslav Klose off the ball to prevent the first goal. And as if those pair weren't liabilities enough, they'd got Glen Johnson playing cameo to their right. Glen Johnson is probably the luckiest footballer playing the game today. He has somehow found his place into two high profile teams in England and Liverpool that his one major fault as a defender is eclipsed by the clowns next to him in both teams. Glen Johnson can't actually defend. He was so anonymous in all 4 World Cup games that Glenn Miller would have been more use. He certainly wouldn't have been missing as much.
Add to the awful defence the revolving door system of the goalkeeping position, which seems to have a bouncer on duty keeping Joe Hart out, taking players who's hospital bills keep whole medical teams children at University, and a striker who'd rather spend every waking minute filming adverts about playing football, rather than doing it, then it comes as no surprise that we're home so soon.
The aftermath of South Africa is so reminiscent of the 2006 post-mortem that its ridiculous. Again everyone and anyone is voicing their opinions, throwing in the same sound bites we heard four years ago. The need for an English manager, too many foreign players in the Premiership, players getting paid too much, and the need to build from a grass roots level.
So how do we stop the same deja-vu feeling happening again after Brazil 2014? As of next season, Premier League clubs will have to submit a 25 man squad of which 8 of these players must be home grown, or having been registered with a club affiliated by The FA for at least 3 years before their 21st birthday. This ruling should hopefully give more English players the chance to progress at Premier League clubs, instead of being replaced by cheaper foreign imports, which can only improve the quantity and quality of players available for the England manager to call upon.
But for me, in order to progress as a nation, and to stop us ever having to suffer the embarrassment that came with this years World Cup Campaign, more drastic action needs to be taken. Fabio must go, there's no doubt about it. Tactically he got everything from start to finish in South Africa, from his squad selection, to his inability/ reluctance to change formation. The new manager doesn't necessarily have to be English in my opinion, although if The FA hold back on their decision much longer, they may have missed the perfect man for the job in Roy Hodgson. The England manager needs respect. Fabio tried to instil this into an unruly England rabble, let to run loose under Steve Mclaren. We all 'oohed' and 'aahed' when we heard of his strict routine and the discipline being instilled into out bunch of Prima Donnas. But respect doesn't come from being ordered to give it. Respect is earned. And when respect is earned, players will run through walls for you. They won't need telling to put a tie on to meet you a la John Terry, it would have been worn in the first place. Last season Roy Hodgson took a team of misfits to within a whisker of Europa League glory knocking out Juventus, reigning champions Shakhtar Donetsk and German champions Wolfsburg in the process. He achieved this because he is a fantastic manager, and because he has earned the respect of all of his players. Other than that, he is a gentleman. When asked to join in the Fabio bullying and sneering on TV this campaign, he refused to comment on another professionals way of working.
When a new manager is installed I pray that they are cunning enough to wield the axe without though of sentiment. The majority of the current england side will play no part in the next European Championships or World Cup. Therefore they do not deserve to earn another single England cap. The England mainstays of James, Terry, Ferdinand, Gerrard, Barry, Lampard and Heskey must now be given the axe for good. It's time to bring a group of youngsters through and let them progress as a team. The likes of Joe Hart, Ryan Shawcross, Jack Wilshere and Adam Johnson now desperately need to be built around. If we were to choose a squad where the average age was well under 25 for the European qualifiers, what is the worst that could happen? We might not qualify? In that case, we'd be no worse off than we were 2 years ago.
Every cloud has a silver lining they say. If getting drubbed by the Germans has any good things to come from it, then it should be that we can finally say goodbye to a generation of wasters and scumbags who have flattered to deceive not only at international level, but as human beings. At the back of my mind, I can't help but feel happy that our current crop failed so spectacularly. As their careers are now dwindling away from them, hopefully there'll come a point in their lives when they see things more clearly. When their talent, looks, ego and money runs dry, they'll realise that they missed a chance to be immortal in the mould of Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst, Sir Gordon Banks, Sir Bobby Charlton and the rest of the 1966 squad. The thought of adding Ashley Cole, John Terry and co to that elite group is enough to make you vomit, as it is laughable.