John McCormick writes: As the song almost goes: Louis Louis, oh, no, we gotta go. Or maybe not, but we’re hanging by the thinnest of threads. Here’s Pete Sixsmith’s take on events.
In the days when Scotland got to championship finals, the old gag was “They’ll be home before the postcards.” You can add England to that one after the defeat to a very tight, well-disciplined and much better Uruguayan side. There will be no miracle against Costa Rica of that you can be sure.
Two very good goals from Suarez wrapped the game up. Two very good goals that came from errors at the back that not even Sunderland would make. Two very well taken goals that came from a world class player with the first one coming from a pass by another world class player. That’s two more world class players than turned out in a white shirt.
The verve and buzz that was almost there on Saturday was missing against Uruguay. The build up was far too slow in the first half and the lack of movement reminded me so much of a Steve Bruce or a Martin O’Neill side.
For Gardner read Gerrard, for Bardsley read Johnson, for Johnson read Sterling. On this show, not one of those England players was any better than their Sunderland equivalents, players who have spent the last three years struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League.
The lack of imagination and drive shows how poorly prepared our home grown players are. Take the overseas contingent out of the Premier League and it would be little better than the Swiss, Scottish or Belgian domestic competitions. How many England players are currently playing abroad? None. Why? Partly because the wages are superior in England but also because the lack of technique and touch that our players have means that they would not survive in the Bundesliga, La Liga or Serie A.
I thought Uruguay were tremendous. They tackled fiercely, passed the ball well and, most of all, were organised. Players supported each other and they showed the determination that carries a nation of 3.25 million people to success in football. As they say in Montevideo, “Other countries have their history; Uruguay has football.”
They lost their skipper Lugano (a West Brom flop) to injury. In came a 19 year old with 5 caps. Jose Maria Gimenez was outstanding. He was guided through the early stages of the game by his Atletico Madrid team mate Diego Gordin, 14 years older and 80 odd caps better off. Gimenez grew into the game and did not make the basic errors that Jagielka and Cahill made.
They had masses and masses of experience on the field as well. Rios is 32, Caceres is 27, Lodeiro (who covered 9.5 km before he came off) is 25. They have players who are in good teams at club level – PSG, Lazio, Galatasary – and who win things. And they have two world class players up front.
We know plenty about Suarez and the goals he scored were outstanding. The header was as good as the defending was poor. The second was the kind of goal he scores for his club side – a flick on, a run and a blinding finish.
Cavani’s ball for the opening goal was the best pass of the tournament. He allowed himself some space to add to that given to him by Glenn Johnson-Bardsley and put a divine cross across poor Phil Jagielka. There was Suarez to place his header across Joe Hart. Brilliant x 2.
There were signs of improvement after half time, but the younger players who had done well against Italy seemed overawed by the occasion. None of Sterling, Welbeck and Sturridge looked as if they were able to break down a resolute midfield and defence. With little coming from Gerrard, the weight of responsibility fell on Rooney and I thought he had a decent game.
The equaliser suggested a point at least, but Uruguay got back into the game and the winner was a catalogue of errors. A poor challenge by Gerard, Cahill and Jagielka failing to concentrate and there was Suarez to ram it home. Brown and O’Shea would have defended better than that. You can add Kilgallon and Cuellar to that as well as Babb and Breen. Really poor.
Compare the lack of control shown by England to that shown by Uruguay, Chile and Colombia, three relatively small nations who export players by the bucket load. They come to Europe and fine tune their skills and move about picking up a bit here and a bit there with the odd soupcon thrown in.
Ours stay in the comfort zone of the Premier League, surfacing every two years to fail in a tournament and have the radio phone-ins full of people moaning on about pampered players, sky high wages and a lack of passion. You can have all the passion in the world – look at Alvaro Perira who point blank refused to go off and nearly thumped the Uruguayan team doctor – but if the skills aren’t there it sure don’t cover up the cracks.
Postcards should be arriving before next Tuesday.