Lame, inept and despicable.
No, I am not referring to the lesser-known siblings of the seven dwarfs, but to the frankly quite shocking showing from the eleven so-called "elite" English footballers on Friday night.
I watched in sheer disbelief how players who are mostly paid in excess of £100,000 per week, were time and again beaten to the ball through a lack of desire. I witnessed them struggle to make the simplest of passes, fail miserably to even deliver a set piece and only test the Algerian goalkeeper once in 90 long minutes.
I have heard it said that money isn't the problem. I've been informed that team selection, formations and even fear of the manager are the real reasons for our two dismal showings so far in South Africa. I can agree that Mr. Capello has made horrendous errors in whom he has picked and how he has utilized his playing staff. What I can't buy into is that the players are living within a climate of fear at England HQ. To be honest, I really don't want to hear excuses made for any of our players.
When I look down at the squad, I ask myself who as players I actually like and it isn't easy to find many "fans’ favourites." Most have at some stage done something to annoy the public and further distance themselves from the man in the street. If we are to make any excuses for the England team I suppose the huge riches of the Premier League deems that what they earn and that isn't their fault. Unfortunately the feeble minded (as most of them appear to be) can easily be corrupted and distracted.
Sadly the nature of the top league in England dictates the market and the transfer fees and salaries of the top players in our country have reached astronomical proportions. This fact alone can be very motivational in itself if you are one of the football world's "have nots." Look how the Algerian team worked for every ball, showing the desire to succeed and make a name for themselves (and eventually a move to the Premier League) by performing at the greatest football show on Earth. That same desire simply cannot be there in the England players because they have already achieved their goals (and financial rewards) through domestic success.
In last week's column I predicted that we would win our remaining two games and top our group. Believe it or not, I still expect us to qualify in first place despite my misgivings. Make no bones about it though, whatever happens between now and whenever we fly home, our early showings cannot and should not be forgotten. Football at the top table of English football is infected and money is the disease. I honestly don't know what the answer is but I truly hope a solution is discovered.
Back in the real world and it is great to see a "proper pro" in our own Rory Delap, once again back in the saddle for the Donna Louise Children's Hospice Trust. As we all know the club have a great affinity with this very noble charity. The lengths both Rory and TP (with his climb up Kilimanjaro) have gone to, certainly prove how a visit there can inspire you to try and help make a difference to these youngsters.
Rory often gets a bad press in the media due to his throw-ins and his apparent "lack of ability." Having met the guy I can vouch for what a superb example he is to young footballers, and after watching nearly every game he has played for us, I can also say that there is a good reason why he has appeared in nearly 300 games in the Premier League. Rory Delap is true professional who, after recovering from an horrendous leg break, has proved to be one of TP's best signings at Stoke City. After reading comments from fans of his previous clubs, it is clear he is always remembered with great fondness.
If only the England team was made up of eleven players with Rory’s attitude and dedication! To support “The Long throw” as he does yet another long ride, please follow the link to his Just Giving page and help reach him reach the target of £2,000.
Lame, Inept & Dispicable
Lame, inept and despicable.