If one were to read my book, they could easily translate the problems with American soccer over to the English side. After all, Americans have been following the British approach with much aplomb for generations, getting us nowhere, with the exception of copying the trend of wallowing over a beer in a pub following a loss. We’re new to that; Americans are just realizing – with much vigor – that pubs exist to watch soccer, drink, and wallow. Sad to say that Americans follow up each World Cup failure by saying, “We keep improving every Cup,” however, we keep reaching the same result – which is failure. How is this an improvement? Is this not the sign of a lunatic speaking? Are we not in the hands of a madman here? It sounds a bit like the British response to repeated Cup failures, “We’ve got the talent, we just need to bring it together. Cheers.” Yeah right, full-steam ahead, keep doing what we’re doing and it will correct itself. “I will work harder and the system is always right,” says Boxer. There was a moment, in the 2010 World Cup, when Lampard scored the tying goal against Germany that eerily would have led to a comeback and victory for the English. This I was certain of. That one moment was a response to their first goal, and there was a robustness in the play which was lacking up to that point – a culmination that would’ve brought the team together, playing the type of soccer they were capable of playing, possibly (emphasis on possibly) taking over the tournament.
The goal was taken back, and the players regressed to stiff robotic stick figures again, no one gelling, no one acting with any “guile” as Steve McManaman might say, and things vanquished into the depths of boring, stiff, unimaginative, reluctant British soccer. In other words, they looked more like the descendants of their empire – the Americans – than representatives of one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Not a good place to be, England. Good luck with that. Oh yeah, have you thought about allowing your outside backs to dribble more, and attack towards the goal as opposed to crossing it like a wind-up toy? Have you considered the fact that you ruined Aaron Lennon’s potential as a dribbling and scoring threat, rather, criticizing his crossing capabilities as though that has anything to do with your lack of success in recent Cups? In fact it’s one of the core reasons you keep losing. The Lennon’s of the world should be dribbling and trying to create chances around the box with “guile” and one-twos, creating danger in small spaces, with improvisation, with chemistry among other players – in a word, everything that is the antithesis of crossing the ball. Also, who are your boring central defenders? I already forgot their names. I’m sure they were impressive in locker room chats. Possibly call Vinnie Jones out of retirement? At least if you keep losing leave a couple shin guards on the field for some dignity. Maybe ask Stephen Merchant to fill in; he’s tall enough; a little banter out there can’t hurt. “What pub are going to after the match,” he’d ask a Russian opponent. “You there, excuse me, what pub are visiting, following the match?” “Pub? We go hotel, review match, train, drink, wake up, train, take bribe, review match.” Or, just a suggestion, take one of your central midfield types – like a Gerrard – who’s over six feet tall, and implement them into the central defense. And maybe give them a hall pass to venture forward, alah Beckenbauer, to seek scoring chances like the Queen – a term your vaguely familiar with – on the chess board. We could go on and on, but your problems reside in the core of what makes soccer – football – pleasurable: creative play, which equates to encouraging dribbling, in which case one-and-two touch play – which you’re known for – can still operate under the veneer of common sense, added with one simple instruction: fans, coaches, and players alike must stop the innate proclivity of crossing the ball for practically all scoring chances. The English way has turned into the embarrassing way, leaving no results, with much contemplation as to why things never improve. Just one bit of advice: don’t say things are improving.