If I asked you to identify three England players who excelled in South Africa, could you name even one?
Of course you couldn’t, because picking great England players in the 2010 World Cup is about as pointless a task as you could undertake.
Well, maybe picking a great French or Italian player from this past summer would be more pointless, but I digress.
FIFA released its technical report of the 2010 World Cup—they roll off their water beds to compile such a document after every tournament—and while they always make for great reading, this one’s especially brilliant in that it names Wayne “Broken-Ankled Ghost” Rooney as one of the Three Lions’ best in South Africa.
So there you have it, folks. FIFA was on safari all summer as opposed to attending games. Why am I not surprised?
The report gets better, too.
Wayne gets special praise from the 16-man “technical study group”—which includes such luminaries as Gerard “I want credit for Rafa winning the Champions League, dammit” Houiller and former Scotland NT boss Andy Roxburgh—for being the following things: “hard-working, energetic striker; worked hard for team; good technique.”
Perhaps to FIFA, actions like berating a cameraman and sulking after another disappointing game count as good technique, but I can’t really be sure. It’s only when I see that Ashley “Sexty” Cole and Steven “I’ll shoot from anywhere” Gerrard get named as the other two Englishmen to acquit themselves admirably that I glaze over, fall down, and begin speaking in tongues.
What did they say about Gerrard? “Dynamic midfielder with good vision and technique, who linked defence and attack.”
And Ashley? “Competitive left-back with good technique, made forceful attacking runs.”
Alright, two more generic-sounding descriptions that are perhaps misguidedly applied considering that the entire 23-man squad was absolutely dire this summer, but I suppose if either (or all three) were on form, you’d likely hear Alan Shearer spout these tidbits of modest praise on Match of the Day.
I’m guessing that FIFA had to name three players from every team, hence the mega-reach applied to the English? Not so; France and Italy, two other Euro “powers” who showered themselves in glory, each had just one player singled out as being worthy of praise: Hugo Lloris (diver by trade) and Daniele de Rossi (diver by habit) made FIFA’s grade, whatever that might actually be.
I don’t think any of us here think England had three good players at the World Cup, let alone three good minutes in the 360+ they stumbled through across their oh-so-memorable run to the second round. Not that such a salient point would stop FIFA from characterizing the English in the following way:
- “strong, hard-working players”
- “aerial strength used effectively at set pieces in defence”
- “rapid transition from defence to attack”
- “attacks using width”
- “effective use of full-backs”
In other words, absolute rubbish.
To their credit, FIFA do get Spain just about right (“capable of fantastic, highly attractive football”) and concluded their review with a fine, unintentional joke about the Oranje, who came so close to lifting the World Cup for the third time: “And up until the final, the Dutch also played some fine football.”
Bravo, FIFA, bravo. “Up until the final,” indeed.