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World Cup diary: England’s obscenely rich footballers don’t give a monkey’s

25 June 2014

What a fabulously boring England performance. I watched it only because I had this to write and now feel resentful towards you, which is unfair. Because I don’t suppose you want to hear anything about it, really. The inquest into our national team’s appalling performance at this World Cup (“I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players” – ©Roy Hodgson, every game. Well in which case, mate, you’re the wrong bloke for the job.) has of course already begun. It is being said that Woy has been given an easy ride – which is a way, I suppose, of not giving him one.

But when we look for the reasons it’s worth remembering this. The three most gilded and affluent and therefore extravagantly remunerated leagues in the world are the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga. And in each case the country which hosts these obscenely loaded carnivals is out of the World Cup at the very first stage. No coincidence. I don’t think it’s foreign players keeping our boys down; I think it’s more likely that the players cannot find it within themselves to become as excited about international football as we are. And so they get stuffed by players of around about English Championship level and beyond.

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  • pfgpowell

    There’s something of the London cabby about our Rod. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had that Bobby Robson in the back of his cab one.

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  • flexdream

    In a period since 1996 when none of the Home Nations have won anything in football we have seen success in rugby and cricket, in club football and even dominance in cycling. There is something fundamentally flawed in the FA.

  • John Smith

    Its more to do with not learning the lessons of England’s only win in 1966.
    Woy will not win us anything, nor will the Beckham’s, Rooney’s, or any another overpaid show pony.
    There is no hunger to win in an England shirt. No leadership, too much media hype & over expectation

  • benbecula

    Their effort may indeed be poor, but the team is very ordinary and unable to field one world class player.

  • The Zizzanax

    England has never been a good team. Even 1966’s victory is as questionable as Geoff Hurst’s second goal. When can England just learn to accept football mediocrity and realise that all they have is money to throw (contribute?) at the game?

  • jmjm208

    Football’s a yobs game anyway – played by yobs, watched by yobs

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Speaking as a yob I agree somewhat. However, done properly and in the right spirit it can be beautiful and noble and a joy forever.

      • Bobby Morton


  • skara_brae

    They’re not English enough. Blood and soil and all that.

  • Margaret

    I notice that no-one turned out to welcome our ‘gallant lads’ home at Heathrow – which says a lot. I was surprised to hear England fans clapping our ‘heroes’ as they left the field last night. The team should have been booed off. What a national disgrace they all were. I’m sorry for the fans who paid over the odds to offer their support. How do we stop this happening again? Clearly our players only want to play for their club and have no interest in representing their country. No wonder we have no clear idea of national identity any more…

    • Amanda

      I notice that no-one turned out to welcome our ‘gallant lads’ home at Heathrow – which says a lot.

      Yes: it says that sane people with lives of their own have better things to do — however good the players are (or not).

    • nae a belger

      They would have been waiting a long time as they landed at Ringway then on to Luton….

  • Geoff

    I think you are completely correct. Also you are my favourite writer at the moment. I wish you wouldn’t ridicule people for their speech impediments though. A bit crap really

    • rodliddle

      do you mean widicule? (sorry. I mean sowwy).

      • Amanda

        You’ll get in trouble with Sebastian: he speaks like that, doesn’t he?

      • Geoff

        Fai wenough

  • P.chi ki wan

    The premiership and international tournament football are two completely different animals.Adopting a premiership all out win or lose approach to tournament games is always going to fail.Tournament matches require a more considered tactical game plan,which players have been coached to carry out months before the event.Just throwing players into the international arena and saying just play your normal way is not good enough.

  • artemis in france

    I thought exactly the same thing when I realised that Spain and Italy had both been eliminated. It isn’t just that thèse hightly-paid players aren’t so interested in playing for their countries. They spend so much time playing European club football as well as their national league games that they may just have run out of adrénaline when the World Cup comes around. As soon as the Costa Rica match finished, the commentator said they would now have to prépare for the European Cup. Yet another international compétition where we do rather badly. And yes, they’re far too well paid.

  • dado_trunking

    It’s weird having to agree with you every single time.
    It was so boring in fact that I watched the match that mattered – Italy are out. That must be ample enough compensation for all the pain endured (yes, I believe now that there is a God).

  • Hiro

    interesting theory rod.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    World Cup Dairy sez game was udder rubbish.

  • William Haworth

    We really need to take the positives from this performance…..

  • FrankieThompson

    It’s a great point about the three leagues.

    However, Spain have won the last three major trophys, playing the Italians in the last Euro finals, and the Italians won the World Cup as recently as 2006, so maybe it’s just the English Premier League that’s the problem.

    In any event, it is clear that Roy, lovely man that he is, great football man that he is, is a duff manager.

    • doctorseraphicus

      Difficult to pin the blame on RH, and equally difficult to know who to choose: the England job has been over the years the graveyard of many a manager. Pretty well the first two matches I can recall were England losing 3-1 to West Germany at Wembley in 1972; and drawing 1-1 with Poland to fail to qualify for the World Cup in 1974. Plus ca change, but at least the team tried against Poland…

  • global city

    The blazers should be kept a million miles away from the players, at all times. I was talking to an international player some time ago now and he told me that the atmosphere around England is always nervous. Too many ‘cooks’ with no real authority but for ever advising, warning and asserting their authority over the players…. to no other effect but to confuse proceedings and spoil the atmosphere.

    I bet no other Association allows those sorts of people to intimidate and dictate to players about things they obviously have no real understanding of? Why does the FA believe that this situation does not create an atmosphere of oppression.

    You can see it on the pith every time England play. It is as though they are shackled…. keeping to ‘the England method’, being browbeaten by idiots who try to instil the notion that internationals are different to ‘ordinary football’ in order to maintain the notion that they have something to offer.

    Keep the blazers away.

  • laurence

    Come now, Rod. England do give a monkey; they give him the number 10 shirt.

  • mattghg

    “he three most gilded and affluent and therefore extravagantly
    remunerated leagues in the world are the Premier League, Serie A and La
    Liga. And in each case the country which hosts these obscenely loaded
    carnivals is out of the World Cup at the very first stage. No

    I don’t know whether you actually believe this or not, Rod. For you surely know that these leagues have been the world’s richest for a good 20 years now, and yet the winners of the previous World Cup were Spain, and the winners of the World Cup before that were Italy. Let’s not lump the Spaniards and Italians together with England’s repeated failures in tournaments.

    • tjamesjones

      actually I think Rod’s made a fascinating point. Everybody is talking about this England performance as if it’s just another step along the miserable road of English WC performances. But in fact, it’s far, far worse than before. 2002 and 2006 England made the Quarter Finals which is about where I think England should aim for. So also in England’s case, things are getting worse, as they obviously are for Italy and Spain given their terrible campaigns (all 3 countries lost 2 matches in the group stages).

  • Malcolm McCandless

    The problem is that England’s footballers do give a monkey’s but they were not good enough in the three matches they played. It would be better for England if a good proportion of English footballers plied their trade in France, Germany, Spain and Italy so they can experience and learn from playing different styles of football. Being one dimensional, and hence predictable, will not win trophies

    • Sinceyouask

      Well if they do care, they do a very good job of concealing it. However, I tend to giving the players, especially the young ones, the benefit of the doubt. I suspect the real problem is that they are actively coached and passively assume the mores of England international football: dull, terrified of error and press criticism, and shackled by public expectation which is unrealistic and yet actively promoted. And keep away from PR activity; they’re not good at it and it just in invites ridicule.

    • Wessex Man

      Why’s that? if they stay in this country’s Premier League they will be playing against a world wide selection of players, managed by in many cases managers who can’t even speak English!

  • Mandy Ambridge

    Most of your articles could fit in two or three tweets. How much do you get paid for them? I think its great you can make money by firing off random thoughts from your phone whilst on the crapper. You’re right though.

    • tjamesjones

      It’s a blog. Not an article.

  • ChuckieStane

    It is perhaps unfair to blame the Premiership for England’s Lions lack of bite. Mr. Saurez certainly wasn’t found wanting.

  • nibs

    Hang on, hang on.

    Spain may be out but won the last 3 pretigious tournaments on offer. Italy won in 2006, so bang goes the theory that money is all corrupting. Anyway this is the Speccie which doesn’t typically have a problem with the obscenely wealthy.

    Seems to me that Footie can no longer be left to the “working classes” if we are to be successful as a country. Nearly all our sports have gone through this and then been subject to a massive professional overhaul in the organization: athletics, cycling, rugby, rowing….we are world powers in all, even cricket.

    So hand football over to the middle classes, they’ll sort it out. Call time on “the lads” and “the gaffer”. Cringe.

    • Blindsideflanker

      The Premiership is a road block to any change that is desperately needed in the English game.

      I would also add that I am less than convinced what has happened to English rugby or rugby in general with professionalism, in the need to ‘entertain’, and Premiershiping of the top league has been a good thing for rugby or English rugby.

    • foto2021

      Hand football over to the middle classes?

      You mean, like tennis?

      That’s a real British success story. Not.

      • rodliddle

        I think Nibs is wrong about the dulling effects of the big leagues, regardless of Italy and Spain’s previous victories. But he may have a point about the middle class. In Germany, Netherlands, Spain, football is not seen as an exclusively working class pursuit. It’s not hand it over, but open it up a bit………….

        • Icebow

          OT: Rod, have a look at Slate on babies and ‘transgenderism’.

    • tjamesjones

      Having no problem with the obscenely wealthy does not mean that I/we think it’s a good way to run a sporting competition. ie (a) that whoever spends the most money wins and (b) that all rewards go to the players because of that bosman ruling

      Premier league football, European club football, it’s all about who spends the most. I blame the fans, while they put up with it, they’ll fund it. Footballers are just mercenaries – they love the club just so long as it pays the best. But fans are the fools.

      (I agree with your remedy though!)

  • BillRees

    Apparently UKIP are drawing up their manifesto for next year’s general election.
    So can I give them a bit of advice?
    They should have a policy for sport, and its main plank should be that our professional sports clubs should not be able to have more than two overseas players in their teams.
    I don’t know for sure whether that would persuade many football fans to vote UKIP, but it would certainly be persuasive for many people I know.
    Just a thought!

  • Kevin T

    I agree with you that spoiled, unmotivated players is part of the problem but I also think the lack of English players getting to play Premiership level football due to the number of foreign signings is a huge part of it too. The England manager needs a much bigger pool of players to select from. We need to be investing far more in bringing young talent up. Instead we helped groom 2 of the 3 players (Balotelli & Suarez) who scored against us in Brazil.

    • charmcityred

      What’s the point of a much bigger pool? A World Cup squad is 23. You don’t need 8 or 9 players competing for every position. How big a pool does Costa Rica have, or Uruguay?
      Roughly one third of PL players are English. That’s a lot of players, and they have made it to the PL despite competition from all over the world. They play with and against better players that they would if the PL were all English. Does this make them worse players? Until fairly recently, the First Division was virtually all English, or at least British. Apart from the one somewhat fortunate win on home solid, I don’t recall England being a dominate force at the World Cup.
      England scored 2 goals, despite fielding five players from a Liverpool team that scored over 100 goals last season. Three Everton players who had strong seasons often looked ineffective. Why do players who looked goo under Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez look clueless under Roy Hodgson? The question answers itself. Hodgson and more than enough talent, if he’d known how to use it. Take the case of Gerrard. Rodgers quickly realized that these days Gerrard only has the legs to play in a midfield three, ideally at the base of a 1-2 triangle. So against Italy, Hodgson plays him in the 2 of a 4-2-3-1. Since the forwards weren’t particularly good at tracking back, this set-up was often effectively a 4-2-4.This exposed Gerrard, shackled Henderson and led to England’s being overrun in the midfield. So did Hodgson tweak his formation? No. He did what he always does: he sat there rubbing his face.
      Prandelli, a much more sophisticated coach, resigned after Italy’s exit. Hodgson received the FA’s unequivocal backing. Enough said.

  • Blindsideflanker

    You correctly identify the correlation between excessive financial rewards with national failure. The English Premiership may be a financial asset, it certainly isn’t an asset to our nation as a sport. I have long felt that the Premiership should be cut adrift of the rest of football, as the Premiership will never permit the changes that need to take place within the game in England. Make the Championship the preeminent part of the league. Stop giving the Premiership credibility with promotion and relegation. Then when the Premiership is cut adrift the rest of the football league could be restructured along German lines,

    • Wessex Man

      So you would deny the right of clubs like Wigan, Swansea and even Man City, bottom of the strucure a few years ago the right to rise to the top. A sure way of ensuring even worse results.

  • gram64

    If Harry Redknapp had been in charge, we’d have seen real spirit and attacking verve. Redknapp was the nation’s choice, and the corrupt, self-serving suits at the FA have a lot to answer for in yet again appointing exactly the wrong type of manager.

    Hodgson will never achieve anything with England. He’s dull, uninspired and utterly uninspiring, with no real vision. It really is a tragedy that Redknapp wasn’t appointed. He was also treated disgracefully by the FA and by Tottenham over this matter.

    • sunnydayrider

      Hmm, at least Woy isn’t likely to have his collar felt by The Old Bill any time soon.

    • Blindsideflanker

      The most incisive comment I have seen on Hodgson was made by the most unlikely football pundit ….John Redwood in his blog…….’.In his last four managerial posts his teams have struggled to win enough games. Finland won 27% of their matches under him, Fulham 39%, Liverpool 42% and West Brom 37%. He collected no silverware during any of those assignments.’

      • John Lea

        To be fair, he took Fulham to a Europa League final with a very modest squad. And look where Fulham are now. Don’t think Redknapp is the answer. If I were the FA supremo I’d be looking at Klinsman – he’s put together an excellent USA team from nowt. But I tend to agree with Rod – with the exception of Gerrard, the majority of England players didn’t seem that interested, while others (Hart, Rooney) are over-paid and vastly over-rated.

        • Wessex Man

          We’ve had too many Foreign Managers in the Premier League who don’t owe any loyalty to England which limits of the Choice of Managers to take on the England post.

          These foreign and sadly the few English, Scottish and Welsh Managers see no problem buying in ‘talent’ from all around the world, the majority of their imports don’t last anymore than a couple of seasons are a disaster waiting to happen, seem to have no loyalty to their Clubs and are no better than home grown players never given the chance to flourish.

          The Clubs used to operate the Combination Reserve Leagues to give the second strings meaningful games. Teams like Newcastle, Liverpool and Man Utd used to get thousands at these games. It’s all been sacrified to buy in ‘top talent.’

          Rickie Lambert is a perfect point in my argument, released as a youngster by Liverpool, worked in various factories and then plied and honed his trade at Rochdale and Bristol Rovers, bought by Alan Pardew at Southampton proved himself at Premier League level and now bought by none other than Liverpool, what a waste of a fantastic talent over those years!

    • global city

      Yes… it is the suits (or the blazers) that infest the whole FA scene.

      The FA must be reformed and it’s structures thinned out. I would also like to see them change the culture, where the hangers on believe that they are superior and let everyone know it! The players must feel that they are the lowest priority. It looks to me more like a public school set up or masonic lodge rather than a professional sport association.

    • Flintshire Ian

      ‘Arry would have had pretty much the same squad and most likely picked the same team. They just weren’t good enough. Last night’s performance made that point once again – against a Costa Rica side that looked very average when they weren’t kicking lumps out of anyone who looked like getting past them.

    • Baron

      Good point, gram64. In the press, it was reported Hodgson didn’t talk to the players before games, let them to contemplate, deliberate, spiritually prepare. A bunch of mostly brainless, overpaid, narcissistic young men contemplating, deliberating ….? Arghhh. A well aimed kick in the ar$e would be like it, (you remember Beckham’s black eye at MU, the success of the club when the rough Scot was in charge?)

      Harry’s the man, a change is a must.

      • Mark McIntyre

        Revie, Robson and Venables were also ‘the man’ in their day.
        Result ? – continued abject failure !
        Oneself would never take the job – if it was ever offered to us – tha has our reputation to think about !

      • La Fold

        The rough scot managed my team before he moved to Manchester United. The stories of his unique management style are legendary, like the time he fined one player for overtaking him on the motorway! different time though i suppose.

        • John Lea

          I love that Fergie story. That was when he was at Aberdeen. He also ordered Neil Cooper (who was about 23 at the time) to move back in with his parents, because Fergie believed he was too young to have his own place.

          • La Fold

            That one is true as well. He wasnt the only one he told that to. Also if they played badly he would make them run up and down the Broadhill (large hill next to the Aberdeens stadium) numerous times on a sunday as a punishment. Or the lad that showed up with his head shaved and he made him wear a wooly hat until his hair grew back!

      • tjamesjones

        I agree that Hodgson has failed, but I’d vote for Hoddle over Harry.

  • FrankS2

    They can’t be that interested in the World Cup – not even bothered to see the rest of the tournament, as I gather they’re on the plane home today. Is there some rule or etiquette which bars losers from sticking around to see the rest of the show? It strikes me as rather ill mannered.

    • global city

      To be fair, that is a decision of the FA. They always do it and I have never understood why.

      • FrankS2

        How odd – do all countries do it? This means if you play for England, the chances of your ever being at a World Cup Final are virtually nil!

        • global city

          I don’t know if all countries do this, but Spain certainly do. They left the other day.

        • RobertC

          I expect they pre-book the flight, before the tournament starts! boom, boom!

    • tjamesjones

      Can’t see why they’d stay? They can watch the matches on TV can’t they?

      • FrankS2

        True, why would anyone bother going to Brazil when you can see it on telly!

  • La Fold

    To be fair I find international football a snorefest of the highest order. Its a bit like Hogmanay, its hyped up to be this great celebration but utimately its a complete let down. Give me a freezing cold tuesday night cup replay with a bovril any old day of the week.

    • Cooper1992

      Have you not been watching this World Cup then? My God you are missing out.

      • La Fold

        Watched some of it, seen some good football, seen some dross. Just doesnt interest me at all. But saying that I cant understand how people here get so wound up over Barca/ Real games, or Lazio/ Roma games, or bars full of people supporting man united when they have never even been to Manchester in their lives.

        • Simon Fay

          Got to to agree that I’d find it impossible to give a damn about a team based too far away or composed of too many aliens to be able to remotely pass as ‘local’. Might as well be supporting Tesco, or following Polynesian raft-racing.

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