Paying the penalty

England are, once again, out of the World Cup. This is the team that outgoing coach Sven-Goran Eriksson proclaimed was the best ever. If that is still true, I’d be very worried for England.
Surely if Wayne Rooney had paid attention while watching the 1998 World Cup on TV, he would have realised that childish attacks on opponents in front of the referee can warrant a red card. Sheer foolishness. I hope that Ricardo Carvalho will still be able to father children, after Rooney stepped on his balls.
Before that happened, David Beckham injured his ankle, retreated to a seat and cried. This time it wasn’t his fault that he exited the competition so early. Aaron Lennon, fortunately, put on what was possibly the best performance in the whole England team.
Rooney’s exit meant that some reshuffling was needed. Joe Cole, who was quite a lively contributor to the game, was substituted by Peter Crouch who took over Rooney’s role. However Crouch was less of a threat than Rooney – more leg but less pace.
England held on bravely, and played as if they still had eleven men. But they really should have scored a goal earlier, knowing their poor record with penalty kicks. At this point Steve McClaren behaved like he was the coach as Sven took the back seat.
After extra time, the teams prepared for the shootout. Portugal had the psychological advantage, having knocked England out on penalties during the Euro 2004. I felt Ricardo would be better with penalty kicks, and he proved me right.
While Paul Robinson is definitely better than David James (who isn’t?), he has never come across to me as being exceptional with penalties. Even Lehmann, as I wrote yesterday, has had more experience in high-level shootouts.
Frank Lampard confirmed that he still isn’t ready to score on the world stage, compared with what he’s done with Chelsea. Ashley Cole proved Arsene Wenger right by putting in another commendable performance. John Terry was a little erratic and had leg cramp, but managed to pick himself up and continue the show. I was glad that Sol Campbell did not replace him, because Sol is slow and not at his former best.
Stephen Gerrard played like he would have for Liverpool, showing more passion and leadership than many others on the pitch. However, he and Lampard could not score penalties when England needed them most. Surely former captain Alan Shearer would still be able to do that.
Jamie Carragher was impertinent. Surely a professional player would know that the referee needed to blow his whistle first? His first kick went into the net, but that was disallowed. His second didn’t make it.
England: Go back to your mansions and your villas. Go back and collect your 100,000 pound-a-week salary. Go back and gamble your earnings away. Go back to your celebrity parties.
My prediction for the next game: Brazil to beat France this time, perhaps by a 2 goal margin. Portugal will not make it to the final. It will be a Germany – Brazil final instead.
[Update: Wrong already. I was delighted to hear that France had beaten Brazil yet another time. Particularly because it was Henry who scored!]


  1. sggooner

    hi van! read you on my comment page. very glad to have found another Gooner. are you based in singapore? i’m guessing you are. well, i have to introduce you to the other Gooners when the EPL season starts. we catch all our live games at Elizabeth Hotel. it’s our mini-Highbury, or rather Ashburton Grove now. And we even have our own rant point:
    check us out ya?
    to me, england was over-rated. and i knew the penalty shootout was going to the portugese tarts. just look at which keeper the english pies used? never trust a sp*rs keeper… i’m so glad we have Lehmann!
    catch you soon!

  2. ahtiong

    Hey hey another Gooner eh? Come join us at Liz Pub when the new season kicks off at Emirates Stadium!
    Germany for World Cup Champion!

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