Monday, June 28, 2010

Why England Lose

Regular commenter Paddy Briggs sent me this earlier...

Last year Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski published an excellent (and serious) book called "Why England Lose". I've just glanced at it again. Here is their analysis, from the book, of the phases of England's Football World Cup campaigns. I haven't changed a word:

Phase One pre-tournament: Certainty that England will win the World Cup

Phase Two: During the tournament England meet a former wartime enemy.

Phase Three: England conclude that the game turned on one freakish piece of bad luck that could only happen to them.

Phase Four: Moreover everyone else cheated.

Phase Five: England are knocked out without getting anywhere near lifting the cup

Phase Six: The day after elimination, normal life resumes.

Phases Seven: A scapegoat is found

Phases Eight: England enter the next World Cup thinking they will win it

Well they weren't wrong, were they?


Tapestry said...

objectively, the referee was not of good character, being banned in uruguay for 'previous'.

and seeing serbia out by not seeing an obvious handball against Oz.

a bet on germany against england would pay well. a bet on germany plus the referee versus england would pay better.

now don't tell me that you don't think they are capable.

Gavin Gamble said...

That sum's England and their fans up pretty well i think. Me included.

caw rock said...

It is tradition that took us here. May be it is time to re-think tradition; but then that applies to so many issues today.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Yes, they were. This is now outdated.

"England enter the next World Cup thinking they will win it"

Wyrdtimes said...

Bang on.

Personally I don't think England will win until we're a proper nation once again.

Anyway football is Trivia in comparison to how the English get treated by the British establishment.

When are the Tories going to sort out the Barnett Formula and the WLQ?

Rob Marrs said...

A great spot.

The book itself is pretty average. It tries to be a football ''Moneyball'' and fails (quite badly, I think).

Still, this is spot on.

Geoff said...

Well, almost everyone has been a 'former wartime enemy' if you go back far enough in history, so Phase 2 doesn't limit it much!

Houdini said...

As a Scotsman who does support England when they play, against anyone but Scotland that is, it has always been my biggest niggle with England and the English, my son included, that they are the world champions despite the results, and if they lose it is because they were robbed.

I think this comes from having some players, the same ones mainly over and over, who think they are the best in the world and are the player of the moment. The trouble is that this is a team game and the molly coddling they get at team level doesn't work at international level.

Before the cup O heard a pundit say that it was a pity Beckham wasn't fit...Beckham!!! The it was a disaster because Rooney was 'slightly' injured, one player and the whole edifice crumbles? The Ferdinand was injured so they were in trouble...Ferdinand!! It needs pointing out, again, that it is a team game and if they rely on one player then they have lost already.

They need to bring in some young players who are hungry and want to win together, not alone for the plaudits. I don't mean Walcott who is spoiled as an individual and thinks now he IS the team.

Libertarian said...

It's Knock out cup football, anything can happen. Relegated Portsmouth get to FA Cup final, a few years ago Millwall.

The current world champions and runners up didn't make it past the first round.

The red top press 1) Build up players ( Rooney) whilst also simultaneously knocking others ( Terry)
2) They set a level of expectation way too high

3) they then conduct a witch hunt

4) they then castigate the FA for not building a long term regime

I love football, I went to three of the England games in 66 ( Mexico, Argentina and Portugal) I don't bother to even watch international matches these days. The football is 5 th rate. Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal reserves could all beat any national team

Unknown said...

Blame the FA.
They appointed a foreign manager who has no experience of managing premiership players, premiership tactics and tempo.
Blame the FA.
They should have appointed a manager that could motivate the players. Look at Maradona.
The solution -
Appoint Alan Shearer and we will win the European Cup.

Bill Quango MP said...

Look at Maradona?
The man who was 5 minutes away from not qualifying and has no coaching experience? England qualified top, easily.
Maradona because he's a national treasure and loves his country?

Might as well have Stephen Fry.

gordon-bennett said...

I'm not a football fan but I have noticed that everyone connected with the game on TV and in football management is thick and inarticulate, apart from Gary Lineker.

Until intelligent organisers and analysts come along, as they have for cricket and that has lead to success, I don't see any hope for the game.

Cynic said...

This is the Kubler-Ross model for the stages of grief but adapted to football - so much the sme thing for England fans

Unknown said...

Bill Quango MP
Yes, but despite all Maradonas shortcomings he still has that ability to motivate the players.
The players obviously love him.
To my mind tactics come second to desire, if Stephen Fry could stand on the touchline and fire up the players he probably would do a better job than Capello.

MikeyP said...

The English are (somewhat) better at Rugby than Football. I only bother watching the Rugby these days. (Either code)

Unsworth said...

@ Bill Quango

Agreed - mostly. Treasure he may be, but does Stephen Fry love his country - or just himself?

Anonymous said...

England lost football when a weak FA sold their soul to Sky and the Premiership.

Our under 21 players will not easily get into Premiership sides because there are too many non English players. Too many clubs owned by foreigners. Too many games played because the clubs want the maximum revenue, along with Sky.

Sell your soul and at some point you will pay the price.

talwin said...

After the England-Slovenia match, I watched a TV interview with Jermain Defoe. When asked about the next round he said something like, "Well obviously we'd have liked to get Ghana". And when I heard that I just couldn't imagine a German or Brazilian player, in similar circumstances, saying something so negative or even indicative of fear (resignation?).

If Defoe was reflecting not only his own, but the general view of the team, then it doesn't say much for their state of mind at the prospect of playing against Germany. Maybe they'd lost the match before they started. For sure, they played as if they felt they had.

JMB said... is reporting that a (British) Daily Mirror journalist has been arrested over the England dressing room incident last week.

The Purpleline said...

phase two is so easy, this country has been active all over the weorld and only few countries remain untouched by our military.
The biggest problem is West Ham.

How on earth can we still have players from a side who came so far down the league they nearly toppled into the championship. Football is all bout confidence far better to take a Newcastle player on the up than players who survived by the skin of their teeth.

The WC merely reflected the sorry state of the EU socialist nightmare

Weygand said...

The real answer is obvious but is so horrible that no one dare admit it - England players lack the talent (most particularly the ball skills )displayed by many other nations.

The trapping and passing of most teams in the tournament have shown England for the fumbling, bumbling lot they are (a deficiency always highlighted in summer on harder pitches).

In any event, the stats are clear. Only once in World Cup history has England made the final - the year they played at home.

Capello did wonders to get the team to the finals and the team he picked for the Germany match was the one pundits had been calling for. It wasn't Capello who isn't good enough, it's the players.

Penfold said...

Look, lets face the facts;

1. England are crap.
2. England are persistently overhyped.
3. England meet a better team and are outclassed and outplayed and go out.
4. The English media requiring a scapegoat, blame a)the ref, b) officials generally, c)the host nation facilities, d)the Manager and his tactics.
5. After a period of reflection and mouring for the "English" game, hopes are once again raised after the team experiences an upswing, by hammering a bunch of no hopers comprising the contents of the local orthopeadic hospital.

Sobers said...

Pete-S nails it. The Premiership is more important to the clubs than the England team. And the European Cup is more important than that. Everything revolves around winning those competitions.

If the FA are serious about improving the England team they need to take on the vested interests in the clubs, especially at the top of the Premier League. They would need a system whereby young England qualified players get more chance of selection (incidentally could the new restriction on work permits from outside the EU affect clubs getting permits for their latest African signing?), players are restricted from playing for their clubs if unfit (like English cricket central contracted players are), and a manager is appointed with a clear mandate for x years to develop a team. Not just assemble the same old players the media approve of time after time.

The media is half the problem. Players who should be dropped (Rooney for example because he's been pants since his injury) are kept because the media would eat the manager alive. Unfancied players aren't picked for the same reason. Imagine the England manager dropping the equivalent of Jimmy Greaves in the middle of the World Cup nowadays. Just wouldn't happen. But Alf Ramsey did, and won.

Ian M said...

England would have got a real hero's welcome when the plane landed this morning- At Glasgow Airport

Me said...

England will not win the World Cup in our lifetimes because:
1 The players do not foster ball skills from an early age.
2 There are so many foreign players in England (not to mention Irish, Scots and Welsh) that there are very few Englishmen to choose from, and English talent is strangled at birth.
3 The players are more interested in their clubs than their country, partly because their clubs are now so huge and all-powerful, and command greater loyalty.
4 The Premiership season is long, hard and physical.
5 Plus a myriad of many other minor reasons there's no room to list here.