Luke’s World Cup: roll on 2014


Almost done in South Africa but it seems an awful long time since England were still involved. Luke Harvey tries to look forward four years to the next World Cup and wonders where our version of Mesut Ozil might come from …

Salut! Sunderland’s World Cup coverage has betrayed an uncanny resemblance to Christmas day in the Harvey household.

Much as we begin our Christmas Day as a united and happy family, we also began the World Cup with arms linked and faces smiling; we were ready to will England to victory.

And much like Christmas Day, it’s all ended in rather petty squabbling.

Disputes on the website have emerged and divided the board’s contributors over who really should be ashamed following France’s shockingly early departure. Was it the childish Nicolas Anelka with his juvenile insults? Was it Raymond Domenech’s overall lack of knowledge in management?

Could it be Patrice Evra for leading the players in not getting off the bus to train? Or Sidney Govou. And now, thanks in part to a contributor’s goalkeeping son, the once clear no-tolerance view on cheating we held here looks murkier than ever.

There is one area where we all remain in collective agreement though, and that is that England are really not very good, certainly not as good as some people thought. While the reasons for that remain a contentious issue – manager, players, media, ball, altitude, so on and so forth have all been blamed – we’ll stick with the topic of England for now.

I recalled watching the television and saying: “What a player he is, I’d love to have a player like him here,” as Mesut Ozil humiliated England in 2009. It was the Under 21 Championships final and having followed the tournament from start to end, as I always do, I saw Mesut Ozil extinguishing any England passion I had left inside me as he and his cohorts ripped us apart with minimal effort.

We couldn’t even get near them, let alone beat them and they put four goals past us (then as now), romping their way to the trophy. I knew better than to rant and rave to my friends about this young Turkish/German player who had so convincingly made our leading youngsters look very average though, I’d only be met with replies of disinterest.

But a year later Ozil was back to haunt us once more. As he latched onto a counter attack – racing past Barry as if he was standing still and then setting up Muller for an easy tap in, I made the very same remark once more. This time met with unanimous agreement from everyone around me.

What our country needs is a playmaker with remarkable similarities to Ozil. For all the plaudits our fans may heap onto Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard, neither of these extravagantly paid players came close to recreating the creativity and vision that came from the Werder Bremen based Ozil, who is reportedly earning “only” £20,000 a week.

It would appear that I’m not the only one to realise that we miss this type of player in the centre of the pitch. has released a list of who England’s top 10 playmakers could be at the 2014 World Cup, even though the current World Cup is yet to finish. They are looking to the England of the future, the 2014 World Cup contesting England, an England who will be under the management of a man to be decided at a later date. And if you ask me my opinions on the list, well it doesn’t look very rosy if this truly is the list of players who we expect to make the best playmakers in four years time.

When the World Cup comes, we will have a clearer idea over who is likely to be playing in what position for the tournament. Until then we have to imagine, or maybe hope, that there could be the emergence of a gem of a player, someone who will command a place in the England set-up immediately, and someone on whom we can pin our hopes and expectations.

We all thought the man who would feel no pressure at this tournament was Wayne Rooney. However, following Rooney’s poor display, Sir Alex Ferguson has told us the expectations on Rooney “were too great”. Whether these high expectations were also the reason for Rooney’s inability to run, jump or look remotely interested in any of the matches whatsoever remains to be confirmed.

The list includes players who participated in this World Cup, several highly touted youngsters, a player who had a loan stint at Carlisle United eight years ago and even a Spanish player – such is the apparent lack of players who can bear the burden of being England’s playmaker.

The list in full is as follows: Joe Cole, Jack Wilshere, Jack Rodwell, Steven Gerrard, James Milner, Fabian Delph, Tom Huddlestone, John Bostock, Leon Osman and… err… Mikel Arteta.

It’s an obvious list which cites all the candidates you would expect to see on a something of this nature. There is very little further research or knowledge that has seemingly been applied to it and no doubt Arteta’s inclusion is merely in jest, but it does seem to beg one major question:

Where exactly is Jordan Henderson in all this?

7 thoughts on “Luke’s World Cup: roll on 2014”

  1. Whilst England were more disappointing than even the ultimate pessimist would have guessed at during the 2010 World Cup, I still think that with better team selection and balance, we would have been far more effective. Let’s look at the Germany game as an example. The lack of a naturally quick left sided midfielder remained a problem that Downing, Johnson [who can play either flank] or Young would almost certainly have improved on. Ashley Cole, a controversial individual but a superb left back, had no one in front of him to inter-play with down that side of the field. Playing Upson alongside Terry asked for trouble due to an obvious lack of pace between them and with King allegedly fit, you have to wonder why he did not start. Playing Gerrard wide, a superb central midfielder, was a continuing act of stupidity and we had already seen by this point that Glen Johnson is regularly exposed defensively against decent opposition at international level. Garragher, not the fastest but an experienced top level player, would have been far more solid. Outside the context of the Germany game [and had the Lampard’s legitimate equaliser stood it WOULD have been a closer outcome as they were rattled at that point and the psychological effect at losing a two goal lead is often a killer in football] Cappello’s decision not to utilise the option of 4-5-1 with Rooney as a lone striker and Gerrard just behind after 4-4-2 was not working was another ongoing puzzle, as was the decision not to take in-form Darren Bent or an out and out naturally left sided pace-merchant.
    The current call from media and fans alike to immediately dispense with the so called old guard is naive-do people really think we’ll qualify for the next Euro’s without Terry, Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Lampard and Rooney? What we need is a well balanced, well organised and motivated team with our best
    in-form players in the starting line up, irrespective of age a la Germany-good enough, old enough etc.. Calls for Henderson, Wilshire, Gibbs, Rodwell etc. to be immediately installed in the starting line up is unrealistic. Our own Jordan H, for example, has the potential to be a full international in time but first he must start bossing proven players in big away games on a regular basis in a team challenging for a European place and only then can he start for the full international side as they compete for European and world honours. To sum up, England were shockingly poor in South Africa, we do need to nurture talent and concentrate on producing more technically gifted players etc., but I still contest we had the players available to have fared much better at the World Cup had basic factors been adhered to-motivation, balance and selecting in form players.

  2. Well Forlan obviously didn’t achieve much in that first 0-0 draw, Bill, but I still look back on him as having been the best player on the field, though my choice was made from a poor bunch on the night and he was certainly less visible in the second half.

    Luke: I have sacked the junior sub-editor. Is it all OK now?

  3. It hasn’t been a good World Cup, has it? Apart, as Jeremy says, from Ghana and Paraguay. I enjoyed the USA’s games, too, and their spirit, and I loved the way New Zealand refused to roll over and die. But where have the “superstars” been? Where have the world-class performances been? Not seen so far and I’m not anticipating a wildly exciting, or even particularly interesting, final on Sunday. If it doesn’t — and please god it won’t — come down to penalties — I think it’ll be a one-goal game.
    The runner-up match on Saturday might be better, if Germany come out of their funk and realize there’s no significant difference between finishing third and fourth so they may as well throw caution to the winds and play the way they play best.
    As for Uruguay, I still feel very bitter toward them. The way Spain, Germany and the Netherlands have played, Ghana COULD have gone the distance And that might just have shaken up the rest of the world enough to markedly improve the quality of the 2014 tournament.
    I really hope Forlan’s thigh injury doesn’t keep him out of the game with Germany. I didn’t rate him very highly in Uruguay’s first match against France. He ran a lot but to no great avail. But he never ever stopped running and thinking and working. And scoring. While I have no love for his team, he’s my man of the tournament.

  4. Ah thank goodness we can soon get back to arguing about what really matters! Namely the trials and tribulations of the Lads in red and white! Just looked at the pics of the new kit. Whilst I like the simplicity for some reason I much prefer the middle stripe to be red and the socks to be black. Haven’t seen the back yet though and hope it is also stripey and not a single colour which I think looks horrible!

  5. Appears to be a slightly botched job in the editing in paragraph 11, Colin. I won’t specifically blame you, but it wasn’t me… just sayin’! 🙂

    And I propose salutsunderland go full hog and set up an essential communist state (on a website, is that possible?) whereby we rule with an iron fist.

  6. Roll on 2014. I’m not sure that four years is sufficient time to recover from the emotional torture of England’s participation in this year’s tournament. I really rather doubt whether qualification for Brazil is anywhere near guaranteed. It’s been such a poor World Cup this one, apart from the real challenge put up by Paraguay and Ghana for me. They were both a pleasure.

    Another month of weird decisions, disallowed goals, red cards for farting or foul throws etc, not to mention divisions on salut, although most of these seem to be between regular contributors and some of the internet’s football tourists.

    Maybe we should introduce a self selecting rule for would be contributors on the basis that they can only post if they have never committed a foul on any field of sporting play. I’ve some Tylenol handy for those who are suffering from headaches resulting from the over tight halos.

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