After commenting on the French, it comes the turn of the English. England aren’t out (thankfully from the writer’s perspective), but they put in such an abject (a word that flows quite easily off the virtual lips at times like this) performance last night against Algeria that you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d already exited the tournament.
Algeria set themselves up to stifle England and with relative ease succeeded. England’s supposed superstars (Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard and co) were conspicuous by their mediocrity, and as a result the outpouring of vitriol towards the national team is unabating here in England.
Is it justified? Most probably not: Much of what is said in the media is unjustified and said for effect and to sell copies (or attract hits for advertising purposes in this new age). It is arguable that England’s stars are able to pull off great performances individually, but that they are also prone to off-colour performances like last night. I guess it’s some kind of mean-variance thing: The better players have a higher mean and can regularly pull off good performances, but the also rans have a lower mean but higher variance: They are generally mediocre, but from time to time they put in a great performance and people remember that. Theo Walcott appears to be a great example of the latter type of player.
Nonetheless, performances like that in competitive matches are few and far between for England, thankfully. Which probably just means it was one of those days where most players put in a poor performance and hence overall the performance was poor. Added to the fact England was playing perhaps the most stifling negative team in the tournament, perhaps last night was always likely to happen…