Friday, June 25, 2004
  The only thing more negative than me, was England's tactics...
Ok so I've taken a bit of a roasting from the other commentators in this parish, but I stand by what I said. I don't rate the English midfield as highly as the rest of you. Beckham can't carry the ball forward more than five yards, and defenders are getting closer to him, preventing him bending that ball around them. Scholes can defend his poor performance by saying he was out of position, which is true, but still, a vastly over-rated player (Mark, if you think Scholes is less of a flatter-to-deceive player than Figo, we really are at opposite ends of the footballing spectrum). Gerrard might be great one day, but currently is merely very good. Compare him with Ballack... similar playing styles, not overly fussy, no Zidane-esque trickery on the ball, just dynamism and purpose and product. Who would you rather have in your team? I'll go for the two-footed German thanks.

An aside... two footedness seems a fantastically useful ability that English football is incapable of producing. As evidence, look no further than the generally woeful Simao; he still produced a telling cross with his 'wrong' foot for Postiga's equalizer.

Lampard at least produced goals, for which I can't fault him. The rest of his game was pretty average though, having the same inability to retain possession that hampered Gerrard all tournament.

England just couldn't keep hold of the ball, through a combination of tactical and technical deficiency. It was as simple as that. No team in international football these days should back themselves to defend for 87 minutes against a team they constantly hand possession to from every defensive situation. Time and again the Portuguese played their way out of defense; telling balls to Figo and Ronaldo, hit over 40 yards, produced a great first touch and above all retained possession. England just didn't look capable of it, either last night, or really throughout the tournament.

The Spanish may well be established tournament failures, but frankly, since 1966, so must England be regarded. No major final in almost 40 years, and only two semi-finals. When is the penny going to drop?
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