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Saturday, June 5, 2010

England To Win The 2010 World Cup? Dream On You Blokes

I'm taking a huge risk writing this because if England does win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, I'll never hear the end of it from the legions of England fans here in Malaysia. I don't get it. Why are footie fans in Malaysia so into England, huh? Take me for instance, I'm a die-hard fan of Arsenal and I enjoy following the Barclays Premier League (BPL), but not to the extent of rooting for the English national team.

Why? Because for far too long, England has been overrated and over publicised. Hyped up to the seventh heaven. I think the media here in Malaysia is to be blamed. They have sugarcoated the likes of Rooney, Gerrard, Terry, Ferdinand and Lampard as if these players are Gods. It's the same story during each World Cup. "Oh, this is the best England squad assembled." "Sure shot of lifting the World Cup." "It's now or never for England." "We will not come back empty-handed." And on and on. Hollow, half-baked psychological warfare from a line of failed England managers and now Capello looks set to fall into this trap like his predecessors.

Even Carlsberg have produced car stickers splashed with "We support Team England for World Cup 2010" or something like that. You can get those for free at 7-Eleven outlets.

Maybe because Malaysians are too exposed to BPL. And the punters and commentators on ESPN and Star Sports for instance are also not helping because they too get excited when there is a live broadcast of international matches involving England. "All familiar names here, set to take on their opponents..." You see what I mean?

Yeah, they might be familiar names, but do they have the qualities to see England through to the finals of the 2010 World Cup? I doubt it. Sorry.

We tend to forget or perhaps overlook that La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, LPF and Eredivisie are also equally competitive, if not better than BPL. How else do you explain why Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Holland have far more superior national teams compared to their European neighbour across the English Channel?

It's all about chemistry. I think England is really lacking in this department. Too big of names blended into a concoction of mismatches - from defence, midfield to forward. The English system of play sucks. They should learn from their German and Dutch counterparts on strategy.

Remember how Germany under Franz Benckenbauer aka The Kaiser lifted the Cup in 1990? Precision play captained by the prolific Lothar Matthaus, you can actually draw imaginary straight lines on all the passes of each players. Critics said it was a boring system but Germany won their third World Cup because of it. Brazil with all the fancy schmancy moves, and it got them nowhere that year. Germany under Jurgen Klinsmann, almost similar system of play, came close to clinching their fourth World Cup in 2002 in South Korea but were denied by a slightly better Brazilian side. Whatever it is, still much better than England who were booted out as usual in the initial stages of the tournament.

Okay, to be fair, it will be interesting to see how the 2010 England squad will fare in South Africa, starting from next week. I can already imagine the English commentators - Martin Tyler, Andy Gray, Steve Bower, Alan Hansen etc. screaming "Rooney!! Oh, that was so close!" or "Here comes a Steven Gerrard freekick, the German defence are preparing for the inevitable." And the next thing you know, England is eliminated, again, either by the mighty Germans or the talented Dutch or the fancy Italians. Take your pick. My favourite is when England is booted out by the ever-dramatic penalty shoot-out of which the Germans have an awesome record.

I can't wait to read the headlines "England - Rubbish As Usual"