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11:46am on Sunday, 2nd July, 2006:

I think I've recovered now


So England are out of the World Cup. It's not entirely surprising, given that this time we had a highly talented group of players, not all of whom actually went to Germany, not all of those who did go being actually fit, all of whom had to play in a dud formation that made terrible use of their abilities, and all of whom were governed by a substitution policy that, frankly, a pair of 6-sided dice could have handled better. Only when 4-5-1 was reduced to 4-4-1 did England actually gain some shape, on account of how the players had, on occasion, played 4-4-2 and had a man sent off, whereas 4-5-1 was an alien concept to them.

At least it was Sven-Göran Eriksson's last game in charge, so we won't have to worry about his lack of tactical cleverness in future games. Instead, we have Steve Maclaren, who merely acted as Eriksson's assistant the whole time and was thus complicit in all the crazy managerial decisions. Gutting though it is to say this about a fellow Yorkshireman, the evidence is that he's not up to the job. Sadly, our players are probably good enough to qualify for Euro 2008 whatever he does, so it'll be another 4 years before the FA finally see sense and offer the job to Martin O'Neill or Arsène Wenger or some other non-English manager who understands the English game and has a sound understanding of tactics.

I was amused by the BBC commentary when Wayne Rooney was sent off. Apparently, he'd become frustrated as lone striker because he "couldn't get the ball". Oh, he got the ball alright — two, in fact.

Still, I can't really complain about the Argentinian referee. He was a little flaky at times, but nowhere near as much as he could have been.

This leaves four European teams in the cup, which ought to mean UEFA gets an extra slot next time — good news for the Scots. I just hope Germany don't win it this time...

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).