Posts Tagged ‘england’

Given I had just read and reviewed Soccernomics: Why England Lose by Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzmanski, I looked at England’s latest catastro-fuck at Wembley (going down 2-0 to Switzerland within 35 minutes) in a new enlightened set of spectacles. One of Kuper and Szymanski’s explanations was that the Premier League is the all-consuming and exhaustive behemoth on the English players’ calendars, to which they give so much physical and mental concentration, that international matches are often no more than an afterthought.

If you are an Olympic athlete, you can plan your performance so that you peak in the Olympics every four years. If you are Rio Ferdinand, can you be expected to peak three times at Wembley in two months, in a cup semi-final, a Champions League Final, and an international qualifier, not to mention the league games in between? It is clear which are the most important to perform in. Tranquillo Barnetta played 34 minutes over two games for his club, Bayer Leverkusen, in the whole month of May. He could focus on peaking at Wembley this weekend, and be fairly confident about succeeding in doing so.

The most important football for these players stopped a long time ago. They all set out to achieve something with their various clubs over a number of many months, and they put in an incredible amount of effort to succeed.  Joe Hart and James Milner secured an FA Cup four weeks ago. John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott all failed to win the title a month ago, or more. Scott Parker’s mission to save a club almost single-handedly ended three weeks ago.

When these things finally happen/don’t happen, your mindset as an athlete changes. It must surely be very hard to get motivated for more travails. If you have just trained for weeks to run a marathon or worked for an exam for many months, the last thing you want a week after the race/exam is another one of the same. How can we expect these players to peak in a game which has delayed their much-needed holiday by a couple of weeks?

The answer is very easily, apparently. Many England fans seem to believe that England players should perform their very best for England no matter what the circumstances, given what a holy honour it is to wear the shirt. Thus when not everything goes to plan, some evil force of either incompetence or injustice, or both, has prevented the rightful 4-0 win for the brave lions. Sometimes the players are just tired. Indeed, Fabio Capello and even England’s Brave John Terry said as much.


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