June 22nd, 2010
12:15 PM ET

Different World Cup... same old England

England fans show their disappointment following the 0-0 draw with Algeria (Getty Images).
England fans show their disappointment following the 0-0 draw with Algeria (Getty Images).

Let's be honest, did any England fan living anywhere around the world really expect anything else?

Even the casual observer, a dispassionate sports spectator, would be hard-pressed not to notice a trend that accompanies the so-called inventors of the game when they qualify for the showpiece of international soccer.

Bar one glorious exception in 1966, when as hosts the team wearing the three lions on their chest won a controversial final to be crowned world champions, the World Cup has only ever resulted in the same thing for Anglophiles: heartbreak and disappointment.

It doesn't matter that South Africa's climate, for once, suited a team that traditionally wilts in temperatures anything other than mildly cold, or that the side were Europe's top goalscorers in qualification.

Wayne Rooney may well be one of the best strikers on the planet and Fabio Capello is one of the most experienced and astute coaches in world soccer, but was that ever going to be enough to outweigh the vengeance of the footballing Gods?

I speak as a tormented man of England, one who as an eight-year-old was taught injustice by Diego Maradona (1986), sympathy by Paul Gascoigne (1990), restraint by David Beckham (1998), opportunism by Ronaldinho (2002) and persistence by Portugal in 2006.

All of these life lessons have been learned the hard way, and experience now says: "Do not expect anything other than England somehow, someway, messing it all up again."

And so 2010 is going according to plan. Despite being handed one of the easiest groups in the tournament, Capello's men have stuttered and stumbled to draws against both the USA and Algeria.

Simple passing and possession has become too great a task for a squad of talented Premier League players. Team unity has been replaced with infighting, Rooney has inexplicably turned into one of the worst footballers in the side and iron-man Capello is presiding over a minor mutiny.

England are on the brink ... cue a rollercoaster ride of drama, the usual incident of over-hyped injustice and a penalty or two - and then they can go home mission accomplished. Another World Cup spurned.

The worst thing about all of this is the Achilles heel of the England fan. Despite all the facts on show and the trends of history, the hard reality will never crush the molecule of hope that says: "They can still turn it around and win!"

To paraphrase the famous English comedian John Cleese: "It's not the disappointment that hurts, it's the hope." Let's see if Capello's men can deliver.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Samantha M

    Robert Green, we know SA has interesting food but we would not advise you to eat vetkoeks/magwinya with your gloves before a match!! 🙂

    June 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  2. Kara

    Stop moaning about everyone else and suck it up.
    Atleast we know what the sports called

    June 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  3. -

    Be quiet you silly lot, America's a whole lot beter.

    June 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  4. Jason

    Scotland player of the year goes to Robert Green.

    Rob Green has had over 1000 shots hit at him today in training and he didn't let one in. Tomorrow Green and Heskey will join the rest of the team for training.

    June 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  5. sumith

    Be positive, Team mates can go back to England early hand have a rest which they rarely experience

    June 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  6. Ant

    On their day off the England team have visited an orphanage. "It was good to put a smile on the faces of people who have no hope and are constantly struggling", said Joseph Umboto, aged six.

    June 22, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  7. Laeeq Ahmed

    I still feel England can turn it around

    June 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  8. fantazamaraz

    I am not a sports fan or follower, but as a former sports writer, I blame wrong management, wrong coach, wrong team !


    June 22, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  9. Tiago

    Finally! F-ing finally someone says it! Every single european and Wolrd cup the english are always waaaay overrated! Like i mean WAAAAYY overrated. They never achieve anything. In terms of results AND in terms of the quality of the playing. And still everyone talks about them. Give me a f-ing break.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  10. Chavez from Brazil

    I still bet England will win.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  11. Varun

    Big tournaments are so much better without England, 'coz we are spared the usual "without substance" cockiness and all the rest of useless hoopla from their fans and especially their media.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  12. barryblut

    The great quality of a top athlete is how to take the pressure, all the teams get it in the World cup, but Enland wilt under it. It's called Post traumatic empire dissorder, we still like to think we got it. But we an't, until we come to terms with the facts we are a very little nation and stop expecting the moon we will continue to melt under our own heat. Our children don't play football anymore because in our fashion and image orientated nation, they would much rather stand around play grounds looking hip.... If England are going to play great football once more you have to bring back the slums of the past...Like you still see in Argentina and Brazil.

    June 22, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Reply
  13. Mark

    The England team always failing is a part of the culture – and a great source of conversation when meeting people from all over the world. The trick is not to take it very seriously and have fun with it.

    Why are the English the "so called" inventors of the game? There's no controversy over where the game as played today as 'football' was formulated as Association Football (which if you say quickly and while drunk can come out as "soccer"). One wonders if Americans are then merely the 'so called' inventors of American Football? 🙂

    June 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  14. :D

    Go USA!!!

    June 23, 2010 at 12:46 am | Reply
  15. Englo

    They don't deserve and Rooney is not one of the great players, he is too lucky to make goals in PL.

    If we see greatest then we should talk about Messi, who left the spirit of the whole Agentina. Diago Maradona, did a the greates jobs to make a goal with hand, he deserved it. I hope messi do so as well for the next generation to have something to talk about

    June 23, 2010 at 1:51 am | Reply
  16. rob

    the article is funny and I have no comment, being an american

    June 23, 2010 at 2:24 am | Reply
  17. mb

    if you' re ang englishmen why in the name of God, do you say soccer?

    June 23, 2010 at 3:19 am | Reply
  18. kkkkkk

    is very sad to watch any of the england team . what happen to them . so much so talking about how good there are and so good . i think when i watch them play is far far more worst and there really have to think about it ? are there so good ? i think brazil and argentina is the best ever team to take the cup . sorry england you are far far more worst i think of. sorry maybe is better dont talk so much how good is your team , why not let prove it and show it . instead of just talk but at the end can show anyhting to the world .

    June 23, 2010 at 8:23 am | Reply
  19. Karl Rumpel

    Well its seems to be always the same story with the english National Team as individual they show skills etc. but as the National Team the performance does not reflect what is shown in Club level Football.
    Coach , well why is there not an English coach around and man enough to lead the National Team ?
    Yes disappointment by the Fans its understanable
    But do not disgrace the Team

    June 23, 2010 at 8:24 am | Reply
  20. marcos from Brazil

    English players have no wonderful skills and they are way overrated by the media... They might b good players but not wonderful... Capello is a great coach but he can't work miracles... As simple as that. Why does the PL has soooo many foreigner players? I think we all know the answer.

    June 23, 2010 at 9:42 am | Reply
  21. James

    Every time before a World Cup English people get totally cocky and also think it's there right to win the World Cup again.
    Well it's not there right,England have too many average players Johnson can't defend,Terry too slow,heskey not good enough and still the same old problem of having no left winger and with foreign players completing taking over the Premier League England will need a miracle to win the World Cup again

    June 23, 2010 at 10:08 am | Reply
  22. Renato Vieira

    Yeah... The English team... As already mentioned, the so-called inventors of Football! Always so proud! Always full of themselves with the most expensive league of the World! England, England! Before the start of the world cup, one of the favorites to win the competition (as always). After the start, a real disappointment! A real embarrassment! Scorless draw with Algeria???? 1 all against baseball players????? Come on!!!! It's time for them to be more humble! They should have learnt it by now!!!! What matters is what you play on the pitch and not how rich you are!!!!

    June 23, 2010 at 10:43 am | Reply
  23. Javier

    It could be worse, they could be France 🙂 But seriously – it's not the fans who overrate the team, there is nothing wrong with going into a tournament with hope and optimisn. All fans do this. It's the media who put way too much pressure on the English players, who themselves are not humble enough to play for their country first and their country's fabulous fans who travel everywhere to watch and support them. This year they forget about what is important, and the money and safety of going home to big houses/cars means they don't show any love for their country like the US, Brazilians or Argies. Too many egos

    June 23, 2010 at 11:20 am | Reply
  24. Big Tom

    I'm from England and i think half of you have got it wrong, i don't know anybody who thinks we will WIN the world cup, we are a good team, but i could confidently name about 5 teams which i would put better than us. We have been playing so poor in the last couple of games (for some reason) – It's the english media who are the idiots, they create the hype and portray england to be overrated.

    If we were 'on our game' then i believe we could go far in this competition.

    – And of course we're the inventors of football 😛

    June 23, 2010 at 11:35 am | Reply
  25. Antonio

    Very honest article.

    It is rare to encounter an Englishman that acknowledges this true fact: English football is mediocre.

    The proof is that England have won nothing since that controversial cup 44 years ago! I don't even remember seeing England in a final, not even in European cups...

    English people, accept this once and for all.

    June 23, 2010 at 11:42 am | Reply
  26. Chance

    Where's the Churchillian fight ? Did you all not learn anything from Mr Gerard and Liverpool's fight back in the Champion's League ? It ain't over till the fat lady sings !!

    June 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  27. Dominic from England

    Agreed, English footballers are so pampered and spoilt, yet truly their performance is consistently abhorrent. The team is disgraceful; congratulations USA for your win today!

    June 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  28. Sophie

    Being kicked out of the world cup on penalties is practically part of our culture 🙂

    June 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  29. Big Paul

    I see the US squeaked through in the final minute... and we're poor? Ummm...

    You guys should stick to that "World Series" nonsense that isn't really played outside your own borders and leave proper football to the pros.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  30. Jelly

    As an American, I implore my fellow fans to not be whiny babies about bad calls... just keep encouraging our team and wishing other teams the very best... and as far as England, yes, you're having a bad World Cup streak, but you invented the game, you are still giants in the game. I wish England the very best of luck, and keep your heads up!!

    June 23, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  31. Gatrgal

    I see that the South American teams play rather well – if they don't they risk being terminated by a car bomb – ie Columbian goalie...consequences to playing poorly...

    June 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  32. Three Lions

    England are the Greatest footballing Nation and will win easily.
    Germany,Brasil,Argentina you better watch out England are coming !!!!!!

    June 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  33. GazDaFrance

    30 July 1966 England 4 – 2 Germany, what’s controversial about that score…
    Obvious USA has no idea about football; they call a game they play with mostly their hands with crash helmets and Kevlar body armour football......but in England its rugby with the appropriate set of rules.
    Then they call football soccer to the USA this is the soccer world cup. Pleaseeeeeeeee. Americans think they are the best at everything, but will never lift a football world cup.

    USA Football squad goimg back home next week.

    June 23, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  34. GazDaFrance

    30 July 1966 England 4 – 2 Germany, what’s controversial about that score…
    Obvious USA has no idea about football; they call a game they play mostly their hands with crash helmets and full Kevlar body armour football......but in England its rugby with the appropriate set of rules.


    June 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  35. Janet

    For those bemoaning the fact that Americans call it soccer, instead of football, then please note that it was only forty or so years ago that us Brit's were also calling it soccer still.

    June 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  36. Chris

    You Americans make me laugh when you say "at least we know what the game is called" You didn't even know what the game was 10 years ago! .....you stick to playing your "football" with your hands, and we'll stick to playing ours with our feet!

    June 23, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  37. Braga (from Braga)

    Javier "It could be worse, they could be France!". French might be ridiculous, but sometimes they win (84; 98; 2000) or reach finals (2006). What about england? : best results since 1966: only two semi finals.

    I never understand the hype around England. They never provided the world of football with legends like eusebio figo c ronaldo....(as regard portugal only).

    THX Ben Wyatt and CNN, someone tells the truth at last....

    June 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Reply
  38. Padre

    Get the professor a new translator! My seven year old speaks better english.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  39. Heidi Hawkins

    At least English fans are passionate and the game and join in with a lot of other sports worldwide and compete in them wholeheartedly. Not like the American so called World Series in Baseball. Since when did the world only include America and Canada. It's that arrogance that gets Americans in trouble all of the world. It's their feeling that they are the world. Bit of a joke really when most Americans don't know what's going on outside of their little American world and that also explains why less than 25% of them hold passports too. They can be very insular. However, that said I love visiting America and do so on a regular basis and always have a good time, but I'm always amazed at how little they know about the rest of the world. Is it that they don't care much? One thing I do know is that they certainly don't care much for any sport that they can't dominate in and that's fact, not fiction. I still wish the American's well in the World Cup and hope that they will succeed enough in their countries eyes to make FOOTBALL a game they'll try to improve in, cos American kids really seem interested in 'soccor', really kills me to hear them call it that though lol

    June 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  40. Paul

    Controversial result in the 1966 World Cup Final?

    Why was England’s 4-2 win over Germany controversial? A goal was controversial – not the win. This is the first time someone has suggested that England’s World Cup win was subject to doubt. Choose your words and meaning more carefully and learn a little more on the subject you purport to report upon.

    England, so-called inventors of football?

    What next? England, so-called land of the origin of the English language, England, so-called nation of William Shakespeare. Any cursory glance at the history of Association Football reveals that its origin, development and codification was in England. Practically every game now played between nations was invented and codified in England – including football.

    Have some sense. Your disappointment in England’s performance is justified, but that doesn’t mean that football history is suddenly mutable because of it.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:18 am | Reply
  41. JosePty

    Come on England, we can make it!!

    June 24, 2010 at 3:25 am | Reply
  42. PPP

    Again, England's bark is worse than its bite.

    June 24, 2010 at 4:44 am | Reply
  43. Tintamei Ntisho

    Let us be patient and pray that the squad will give a spirited fight, similar to one displayed against Slovenia.

    June 24, 2010 at 7:14 am | Reply
  44. formose

    you are absolutely spot on ben. these guys think that the level of football in the EPL is of the highest. maybe it is, but is doesnt rub off on the english.

    they have an excllent coach in capello but you also have egotists like john terry who spoil the good camaradrie that exists.

    June 24, 2010 at 9:13 am | Reply
  45. Gron

    Have you ever heard of an English team being good at any sport which originated from the isles? Soccer/Football, Rugby, Cricket etc etc etc.

    June 24, 2010 at 9:42 am | Reply
  46. American Idiot

    Paul, I realize you're probably speaking from just the knowledge of the final score, but I'm at 20 year old American, and I know why it was controversial... Maybe they only teach you about the dominance of the Ever Glorious British Empire back home (relax, I'm just messing with you) but the third goal is considered to be one of the most controversial in World Cup finals history. Why? It went off the crossbar, then hit the line, then came back out on account of massive backspin. No one, including the referee, really knew if it was in or not, but it was called a goal. The last goal was a direct result of the Germans having no one back to defend, as they were trying to get the equalizer. Had that goal not been counted, it's very likely that the match would have ended in penalties. And we all know what that means for England...

    I would argue that this is by far not the first, and likewise not the last, instance of someone questioning the details of your win in 1966. Not that I'd take the title from you, by any stretch, but be reasonable. It's soccer, there's always doubt.

    Which, by the way, why don't you complain about the Italians for calling it "calcio"? I mean, if Spanish can deal with "futbol", surely you must be outraged that the Italians would have the temerity to change the name you're so proud of having invented.

    June 24, 2010 at 10:47 am | Reply
  47. Mike

    As an american I agree calling US Football "Football" is stupid.

    Unfortunately "Hand-ball with helmets and tights" lost the vote

    June 24, 2010 at 11:11 am | Reply
  48. Keith

    As a patriotic but realistic English man, I have to regrettably accept that we are in what I refer to as the 'second group'. That is to say that we 'could' win the world cup but probably wont. I maintain my hope that one day we will be victorious again, but accept that it will be a rough ride to get there.

    All those people who have commented on our English players above can, of course, have their say about our abilities, but like it or not, the Premiership is the best football league in the world, bar none, and always will be. Our football is fast paced and exciting to watch and allows open games to be battled out to the end. I urge you to watch half a season of serie A and the other half of PL and give your honest opinion on which was the most exciting to watch.

    Our empire is dead, and we still have ideas of grandure, but one day it will happen again, I don't know if that will be this year or even this millienium, but we will win the World Cup again.

    Incidentally, a note to all those americans in this thread, when we (The English) create a sporting event to crown 'world champions', more than two nations take part. Calling your american football or baseball tournament winners 'world champions' is a joke.

    June 24, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  49. David Ayala

    D most shockn is 2 hear dat Italy lose 2 slovakia,its unbelievable able.

    June 24, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  50. Administrator

    Ben, didn't you hear, England crushed Sovenia 1-0, you're the greatest team in the World again, of couse you'll win it this time, no doubt!! LOL
    In all seriousness, I think that there is a spiritual side to the World Cup, I think that the power of all those people praying, somehow, makes the difference between the ball crawling in or staying out. Think about it, Brasil becomes most people's favourite team when their own nations go out and... Also, for historical reasons and reasons of prespective, England are just one of those teams (like France) that the whole World wants to see defeated in the most painfull way possible. I cannot explain this but, in 86, when Maradona scored the most beautifull goal in history and the "hand of God goal" against England in the same game, about 4 Billion people celebrated. The same on the penalty kicks. Think about it, the will of Billions has got to count for something...

    June 24, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  51. Melissa

    The English grabbed the trophy before the World cup, started! As they do in every sport they play. But never deliver! I hope they will learn to humble themselves. And face reality that they aren't that great.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Reply
  52. robains

    sloppy nervous start but things are looking better. England WILL go on to win the World cup and all you doubters will have to eat crow.

    June 25, 2010 at 2:52 am | Reply
  53. Michael

    The German had the chance to win......thanks for English-Goalkeepers

    Here i am Rock you like a Hurricane !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dont worry when you loose


    June 25, 2010 at 11:54 am | Reply
  54. mike

    England,wrong tactic,the failure to change tactics is the key to sucess.Lacking also is the desire to win.Why try to defend by all means
    when your strength is in the attack,England has a great squad and by all means ,the rest of the group is not average either.I can place a bet in the key game for the U.S ,if it were Argentina they had to beat to get into the second round they would have.Man learn from Brazil to win its one more,you score 4 Brazil scores 5 and you lose.Not to risk in football is to lose risk is the investment,and all you football specialist out there saying that the PL has too many foreigners,stop your xenophobia and ask the players first why they want to play there,since getting a work permit in the Uk is not a roller coaster ride.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  55. ad junkie

    @Administrator, I think the reason people (from other countries) back any other country other than England is cos of the little colonizing they did during their 'great empire' phase.

    True, it was ages ago, but still we have more solidarity with a country like Brazil than we do with the English! And yes, i DO live in a commonwealth country 🙂

    Karma is a mean isn't it? 😉

    June 26, 2010 at 3:59 am | Reply
  56. lruk

    @ ad junkie Get over it the empire ended years ago the uk has so why dont u and by the way this is about football not world politics....

    June 26, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  57. Keith

    Yes, I understand that most people will support any nation other than England (particularly the Scots, Irish and Welsh) and that is connected to our history of the 'Empire', but, in our defence, we have done one or two things to redeem in some ways our past. Namely, fighting two world wars to free and keep free millions of people.

    Oh and by the way, all you americans, you are now in the same boat thanks to your foreign policies as well.

    We perform our best when or backs are against the wall. There's a terible and bloody history between England and Germany, but we're now European brothers, I've spent time in Germany, the people are wonderful, and unfortunately for us, so is the football team. It will be another mementous occassion,a nd hopefully England will be the victors. COME ON ENGLAND!

    June 26, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  58. Shane

    Couldn't have put it any better myself kieth

    June 27, 2010 at 3:22 am | Reply
  59. LCW

    They'd wished they'd stayed home today... THRASHED is not the word

    June 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  60. Frank

    EH EH EH EH!!! GOLDEN GENERATION? What a bunch of 23 queen ladies, mixed up OVER-RATED little boys & OVER-PAYED players (TERRY, COLE, LAMPARD, DEFOE..ETC.) plus two master divers and cheaters (GERRARD & ROONEY). A bunch of billionaires not a team. Premier League is NOT REAL FOOTBALL is a Playstation Game. The players do not know how to handle the ball, do not know the basics of football, not know the tactics, none of our goalkeepers or defenders could play in any European League. Is a simply Fast and Furios England Team. These little boys have cheated two generations of children through their fake acting. The media are responsible for this farce. The media have smuggled them as the masters of the Universe. The players have deceived even their coach. Mr. Capello has always worked hard, gave everything and he trusted them, but realized too late (in the last 3 games) that these pussies, these little boys have no character and quality. They are plastic heroes, without depth, built by the tabloids, newspapers and TV. They can win only in the playstations. Capello felt the moment of truth in the last 3 games, the legs of his players start to tremble, and their brain goes into apnea. The only World Cup we won is with a ghost goal. We did not deserve to win in 1966, we have stolen in 1966. A fake super power football nation. The problem is not 4-4-2 or 4-3-2-1 or 4-3-3.........Now we're just a pub team. £180.000-£200.000 a week for nothing. Our Disneyland team is a disaster, i'm sorry only for Mr Capello, for the time lost for these Britons cheaters. EH EH EH EH!!! GOLDEN GENERATION???

    June 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  61. Mahesh Advani

    I have just seen on the news the way the British newspapers have practically crucified the refree, if not allowing a legal goal (human mistake) is cause of so much scandal (apart from england playing horrible for a world cup) then let me remined everyone that in the 1992 world cup(USA) luis enrique had a broken nose by tasotti which was a penalty and would have put spain in the finals and the refree turned a blind eye none of us raised hell as the english have done same again with world cup in south corea Mr: Ghandour threw us out and stil we kept quiet. I SAY DONT COMPLAIN JUST SHUT UP AND LICK YOUR WOUNDS

    June 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  62. Superhoops

    England were pants...but you have to say that goal being disallowed was a kick in the guts. It could have changed the complexion of the game (as Neuer the German Goalkeeper confessed) as a young team they may have dropped their heads a little and the old dogs made have made them pay. Mighta, coulda is about all we can say. I'm looking forward to the Under 18 side who have just won a European title against who?......Germany.

    The "Golden Generation" can go off and count their gold and let's learn something positive from the Germans and bring those young guns through!

    June 28, 2010 at 2:24 am | Reply
  63. ernest ojwondo

    i do really believe in the fact that failure is not final if eng is willin they can go the furthest! Its better try even when its losin battle.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:07 am | Reply

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