As a proud but deflated footballing nation, England owes a huge debt of gratitude to our old rivals. An average German side took pity on us, limited their goal tally and thus spared us from the agony and embarrassment of having to watch any more England world cup games. Probably for ever judging by the 2010 campaign.
So bad was the England performance that goalkeeper David James was considered to be the greatest living Englishman in Bloemfontein on Sunday afternoon because he only let in four. At least he gave us some evidence that he was actually on the pitch. One shudders to think of the humiliation and carnage that would have ensued if we were unfortunate enough to face sides like Spain, Holland, Argentina or Brazil.
So now, the post mortem and excuses begin.
In a world where the phrase “Chancellor George Osborne” raises either a chuckle or a shriek and a chap called Nick Clegg can legitimately call himself Deputy Prime Minister, it should come as no surprise that nothing actually went wrong. The FA, now re branded as Club England to eradicate any irony coming from the terraces, say that Capello is under contract until the 2012 European Championships and will think about the future following a “disappointing” result. That is an estimated £12million given his currently rumoured salary. Even if he is dismissed, he will walk away with about that amount thanks to a last minute deal signed just before departure to the RSA.
The players, now safely reunited with their Lamborghini’s, bank accounts, agents and ex-girlband wives and mistresses, will now be able to concentrate on the next magazine photo shoot and advertising deal and will not concern themselves with the crushing real disappointment felt by young boys and girls who parted with their pocket money to buy the trading cards, flags, shirts and other merchandise that they saw as an investment in hope. It seems our world-class football representatives were “tired” following the domestic premier league season. Torres, Tevez, Robinho, Van Persie, Essien, Deco, Nani, Fabregas and others do not look tired and would probably turn out for Willenhall or Bloxwich during the proposed two week winter break because those guys seem to enjoy playing football.
Clearly the referee and his assistant made a shocking mistake and Lampard did score, but no amount of goal-line technology would have helped England to achieve a half-way decent performance unless FIFA installed machine gun nests aimed at jonny foreigner in the goalmouth. At least Sepp Blatter has apologised and will now consider introducing specialist cameras on the goal-line. One can only hope that the camera operators are spared the fate of the cameraman who got too close to the rather homo-erotic Argentine goal celebration against Mexico and was soundly lamped by the goal scorer. It is appropriate that the best word to describe German reaction to the absence of monitoring technology is schadenfreude, or should that read vorsprung durch technik. Germany has waited a long time since the second Geoff Hurst goal at Wembley in 1966.
The excuses wheeled out for the 2010 débâcle are as tired, old and lame as the failures who struggled down the aircraft steps loaded with Jo’burg duty-free. A few miles away, another aircraft landed near Wotton Bassett. This one came from Kandahar carrying coffins.
The best hope for English football rests with the heart-broken 12-year-olds who will hopefully swap their panini stickers for a football to kick against the backyard wall. The current crop of millionaires may get a final chance at the duty-free in Brazil in 2014 but without pride, passion and honour, the only thing they will hold aloft is a banana daiquiri. England have submitted a bid to stage the 2018 world cup finals and if successful, would automatically qualify as host nation. Now is time to invest in developing young talent and remove the emphasis on greed and financial gain. A healthy 12-year-old with a football is more inspiring than a fat 12-year-old with an X-Box.
Alternatively, as the coalition government caps levels of immigration leaving both the public sector and private industry bellowing about skills shortages, perhaps the exemption to footballers could be widened to include dual citizenship. Then we could pay people to win something for us. A new footballing seven samurai would look less mercenary than the current bunch of clots.