Saturday, 19 June 2010

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

It's not good for England, is it?

Rooney's misfiring. Lampard and Gerrard are woeful. The defence is leaden and unconvincing. It's not that dissimilar to 2006.

There's one thing that we did have in 2006 though. This man:

Public opinion of players often swings in their favour more when they're not playing than when they are- we've seen it this week with Gareth Barry and Joe Cole. And we saw it with Beckham in '98. But he's a forgotten footballer now (though very much not a forgotten man: we had five close-ups of him looking pensive on the bench last night)- his injury was so long ago that we can't imagine him playing in this World Cup.

But he could've made a difference last night. That game against Paraguay (who- at least according to Fifa- are of similar quality to Algeria) was terrible, but a good Beckham delivery forced an own goal. Then we were dire against Trinidad and Tobago, but a Beckham cross provided Crouch with an assist (as did some dreadlocks). And then a similarly flat performance against Ecuador sufficed because Becks knocked in a free kick. He didn't do a lot else, and there was a fair bit of clamor for Lennon (who was impressing in substitute appearances) to make a start- but it was felt he wasn't quite there yet, because his crossing needed a year or two to come on (hmm). With Becks we were able to win two games that we would probably have drawn without him.

It was a shame we had to rely on Beckham, and it was thought that England teams of the future would be pacier and able to attack more fluently in open play. By 2010 we'd be a dynamic attacking force down the wings.

There was, of course, another chap at the last World Cup who was going to be integral to this vision, and who could have provided some much needed thrust...

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