Eng­land side full of wet let­tuces

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - World Cup -

HATE to say I told you so.

Read it and weep: Ger­many 4, Eng­land 1 - our worst ever World Cup fi­anls de­feat.

And it could have been a whole lot worse still. Our boys were ripped apart and out­classed by the old en­emy (or should that be the young en­emy?)

A youth­ful, ef­fer­ves­cent, ex­pres­sive Ger­man team em­bar­rassed our na­tional plod­ders yes­ter­day. A grim day in­deed.

The ex­perts told us Eng­land had the edge man-on-man. Our big play­ers were sup­pos­edly bet­ter than theirs. We had no rea­son to fear them.

But when it mat­tered most, the ‘Bat­tle of Bloemfontein’ was more one-sided than a Jeremy Pax­man in­ter­view.

The Ger­mans were the stern-faced ques­tion-mas­ter pounc­ing on ev­ery lit­tle mis­take from an Eng­land team left squirm­ing like a ner­vous News­night guest.

Posh di­rec­tor of foot­ball Barry Fry called for 11 English he­roes on the back of this news­pa­per on Satur­day. He got nine wet let­tuces and a cou­ple of just-about-ac­cept­able per­for­mances.

And what of the man­ager? Fabio Capello could do no wrong af­ter lead­ing Eng­land through the qual­i­fiers with style and sub­stance.

Now he can do no right and the pre-tour­na­ment tim­ing of his con­tract ex­ten­sion will come un­der fire.

Capello’s hard-line regime has fallen apart in the high-pres­sure en­vi­ron­ment of a World Cup. Mind-bog­gling se­lec­tions and an un­suit­able sys­tem have blighted our chances, while Rio Fer­di­nand’s cruel in­jury blow re­ally hurt.

But can Capello re­ally be held ac­count­able for the fee­ble form of most of his squad? They have looked pale im­i­ta­tions of the play­ers that shine week in, week out in the Premier League.

Eng­land have of­ten have been ac­cused of pos­sess­ing good in­di­vid­u­als but not a great team. They haven’t even had the first part for the past two-and-a-bit weeks.

Only for a few short Sun­day min­utes did we live the dream be­fore the flags were taken down and the St Ge­orge suits were sent back to the fancy dress shop.

Matthew Up­son – em­bar­rassed for the Ger­man opener and gen­er­ally hor­rific through­out the game - fi­nally man­aged to send the ball in the in­tended di­rec­tion when halv­ing the deficit.

Then, be­fore you knew it, came that ‘goal’ - and even though it was dis­grace­fully scrubbed out, we were in the groove.

Frank Lam­pard also crashed a free-kick against the bar while Steven Ger­rard and Wayne Rooney looked to be find­ing their feet.

We all be­lieved, but the fear of be­ing un­done on the break was al­ways there.

And it be­came a re­al­ity when hap­pen­ing not once, but twice. The Ger­mans grabbed two goals in lit­tle over three min­utes to al­low the in­quest to be­gin.

But things got even worse for Eng­land - Emile Heskey was sent on. What a fit­ting way to prove that we are sim­ply not good enough.

‘THE ball is a yard over the line, but the goal hasn’t been given.’

Okay, so it might not have the same ring to it as Ken­neth Wol­sten­holme’s im­mor­tal words of 44 years ago when the West Ger­mans were sent pack­ing at Wem­b­ley on the great­est night in English foot­ball his­tory.

But the fail­ure of the of­fi­cials to spot that Frank Lam­pard’s ‘equaliser’ was le­git­i­mate pro­vided a scan­dalous sub-plot in our demise.

It wasn’t even a close call. Play­ers, fans in the sta­dium and TV view­ers around the world all knew in­stantly that we should have been level.

Uruguayan ref­eree Jorge Lar­rionda and his as­sis­tant clearly haven’t popped down to Spec­savers of late, but Eng­land did not crash out of the World Cup be­cause of their poor sight.

Of course it would have been a dif­fer­ent game had the ‘goal’ stood. The young Ger­mans were wob­bling and in need of the break like a bat­tered boxer needs the bell.

But it would have been im­pos­si­ble to back Eng­land – the team that dis­ap­pointed against the United States and ap­palled against Al­ge­ria - to fin­ish the job.

They are on a plane home be­cause they haven’t been good enough. From the man­ager to the masseur, ev­ery­one has fallen short.

OH and thanks to Ghana for end­ing my in­ter­est in the ET of­fice sweep­stake.

Their vic­tory over the Yanks might have been a tri­umph for an en­tire con­ti­nent, but it did lit­tle for my bank bal­ance.

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