Saturday, June 21, 2008

England Is Not Missed at Euro 2008

Let me ask you something.

Do you really think Euro 2008 would be any better than it has been if England was there?

The answer is not a tough one to figure out. NO!

This has been a great tournament so far, and the 16 nations that started the group stage were the 16 most deserving to be in Austria and Switzerland this June. You can argue that they weren't necessarily Europe's best teams (Greece, I'm looking at you especially), but they earned their places through rigorous qualifying groups.

Listen, don't get me wrong, I love the Premiership and I think the England national team has some terrific, terrific players. I think the world of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney and David James, I really do. I don't necessarily even believe that Steve McLaren is a bad coach.

The fact of the matter is that over 12 games, a fair sample size, England was the third-best team (tied with Israel) in a group that sent two teams (same as the other groups) to the big dance.

England played four total games against Russia and Croatia, the two nations that did advance, two against each, and lost three of them. This includes the last matchday, when Croatia had already won the group, secured passage to Euro 2008, and had nothing to play for, with England needing only a draw to do the same. Everything was on the line for them, nothing was for Croatia, and the game was at Wembley, England's home stadium. Even with all of this in their favor, the Three Lions still couldn't get it done, losing 3-2 after coming from 2-0 down to equalize, putting all of the momentum in their corner.

A little over a month before that loss, on their penultimate matchday of qualifying, England had another chance to make a statement in Russia. Russia finished with one more point than England, and that margin was a direct result of their 2-1 win in Moscow. Say what you want about the synthetic turf and how it isn't "sporting" to the game; I don't want to hear it. FIFA approved the surface, so there can be nothing to complain about. England even went up 1-0 in that game, but then gave up two goals in four minutes to Roman Pavlyuchenko in the second half to let the victory or even a share of the spoils slip away.

Sorry, England didn't deserve to be at Euro 2008. The performances by Russia and Croatia further justify this, but they weren't necessary.

Even if England had managed to get there, I'm certain they wouldn't have advanced past the quarterfinals. There are too many big egos, too much selfishness, and not enough technical and tactical ability on that roster.

Michael Owen came out in the media a while ago and said that Croatia had no one on their team that could make England's starting lineup. First of all, that's not true, second of all, how dare Michael Owen talk about who can and can't start for England when he himself can barely get a look-in to the national team anymore, and third and most importantly of all, that statement represents the English arrogance that has been and will always be their downfall. Too many English players believe they're better than they really are, and too many of them have the petulant, self-serving attitude that Ashley Cole displayed when he turned his back on Mike Riley and pointed at the name on the back of his jersey in Chelsea's match against Tottenham last season.

The only thing England would've brought to Euro 2008 is increased media attention. Sure, I wouldn't mind seeing the WAG's in attendance, but come on. Sure, I'd love to see this tournament get more coverage in America, something that may have happened with England's participation, but I don't need that to be satisfied as a fan of the game.

The reality is that Euro 2008 has been wildly entertaining and competitive. We've seen vastly different styles of play, some great goals, and some fantastic matches. We've seen Turkey rise from the deck three times already so far, and surely no one would count them out against Germany next Wednesday. We've seen David Villa, Lukas Podolski, Wesley Snejider, heck, even Dirk Kuyt, put in wonderful performances for their nations. I don't think England would've brought anything to the table that we haven't already witnessed.

The most important thing you can bring to a tournament is yourself as a soccer team. England wasn't good enough in a qualifying group that included Estonia, Andorra, Macedonia, and even Israel. Sorry, but if you can't take full points against those teams (which England didn't), I don't want to hear any whining.

To their credit, I haven't heard any from the England players themselves or McLaren or Capello's coaching staffs, either immediately after qualifying or now, during the tournament itself. That whining and complaining has come from media heads, bloggers, and England fans. I understand that they want their team to be there, but they weren't good enough, so deal with it. These people put down the teams that are at Euro 2008 by saying "Well, England could beat them", "England would do better than 'X' team", blah, blah, blah, but you know what? They didn't do what they needed to do. Give it a rest.

England is not missed at Euro 2008. They didn't deserve to be there, and wouldn't have shown anything unique even if they had qualified. The nation has some great individual players, but they don't amount to much as a team.


Anonymous said...

yeah... i agree with you...

England are not missed...

Bernard from Singapore...


Anonymous said...

Dead wrong.

Michael said...

Dead wrong? Care to elaborate, or do you not have any thoughts of your own?

Anonymous said...



And Croatia DON'T deserve to be at World Cup 2010 DO they idiot? THEY won't be missed either after England shoved it up you didn't they? By displaying ALL the technical skill and footballing nous that prats like YOU said they lacked and smashing NINE goals past said Croats in TWO games - Yes we lost to them last time but NOT by 4 then 5 as they did us. Oh yes, certain teams who didn't DESERVE to get there didn't either by sneaking through the playoffs did they? (yes I'm looking at YOU Russia).

If Russia can't qualify through the playoffs and Croatia can't get NEAR England in a six team group without recieving TWO embarrassing thrashings then THEY don't deserve to be there do they? Besides Croatia showed nothing in the qualifiers bar a propensity to make embarrassing mistakes and concede stupid goals under pressure..oh yes and a liking for violence when matters swing against them. Neither they nor the ineptly led Russians (fancy going 2 - 0 up and THEN letting in an away goal, then losing away 1-0 to ultimately get knocked out? Pathetic). They won't be missed and England's brand of current free-scoring football will MORE than make up for their sorry (but deserved absence) Now SUCK IT!!!!! Revenge is a dish best served cold no? Well THIS writer of a blog has made a TOTAL prat of himself with what he said about England so I just thought I'd show him the error of his ways - Much like England did his Croatian idols - by embarrassing him and doing so comprehensively....................

PS Wonder if the Croatians when they heard England had lost in Ukraine to gift them a decisive advantage in October and the Russians when THEY let Slovenia score felt the cold finger of World Cup doom on their shoulder as ENGLAND did in the Euro's 24 months ago after the final whistle at Wembley and BEFORE it went in Andorra- I certainly hope so, not nice is it? Croats and Russkies - Ah well, now it's YOUR turn to take it (the abuse that WILL rain down on you after qualifying last time and with high hopes this time/a screwing from your furious national press’) while bent over like men and women (JUST as we did after November 2007) and swallow your medicine without complaint, hope you enjoy the bitter taste as much as England did. Bye for now peops' Hope you enjoy next summer!! I might even send you a postcard from SA IF your good!!! Life's a bitch innit?

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