At this level, a game between England and Germany, it is not down to tactics or level of technique. It is wholly psychological. England Premier League is way over-rated. That goes to the players, clubs and coaches. Just look at the successes of Arsenal and the French team; parallel, Lampard’s Chelsea and his English team-mates; parallel, Sir Alex’s Manchester United with the talismanic Wayne Rooney. I will not mention Gerrard’s Liverpool.
England have less players at the Premier league than they need. The football clubs have more foreign owners now than at any other time. Only a handful of players of other nations plying their trades in the Premiership can be said to be influential as to where the World Championship may go. The majority are just at the level of toothless “The Three Lions”.
Germany had a younger and quicker squad of players. They covered a lot of ground shuttling between 18 yard areas with a lot of energy and accuracy in passing. They dropped to defended and pushed in numbers to attack. Their mobility made marking them a handful. They were hungry for success. They played to their potential.
German football has always been characterised by two things; doing simple things, and doing simple things well. Their efficiency means they do not make many mistakes. Whatever lack they have in other areas of the game, they make it up by their finishing.
The Germans seemed more confident and self driven. They had team spirit. They fought for each other. They put their lives on the line for the victory.
England on the contrary looked too individualistic. The issue with John Terry and Wayne Bridge was with them. They looked untrusting amongst themselves. John did not help with his stunts during the tournament with the Joe Cole thing.
English football has an air of arrogance somewhere. There is a general feeling that the world owes them something as the custodian of the game.
Tactically, England did not cover the right spaces. They lost shape easily, especially in defence. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard played away from their strongest roles, centre of midfield. They closed the attacking paths of Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson. Lampard was a little central, Milner being wide. Gerrard and Lampard were supposed to play from centre going wide to block any traffic in midfield and leave corridors for the wing backs.
It may be argued that Aaron Lennon and Shaun-Wright Philips were under utilised. Capello got his team selection all wrong. Like all English supporters, I can’t help feel that the selected team was good enough to deliver. They did not. They scored a goal the referee did not see and failed to score the other ones the Germans did.
The next time the IFAB debate the video technology issue, the British Associations my vote wisely. This has been a case coming back over and over from 1966, 1986 and so on. One can write a book about this, there is not enough space here.