Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Truth Is Staring Us in the Face, We've Got No Hope of Imitating the Big Guns

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Truth Is Staring Us in the Face, We've Got No Hope of Imitating the Big Guns

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

LET'S be truthful. England are in a horrible, horrible mess. It's nothing to do with last night's performance, which was fine in some parts and comical in others. It's nothing to do with the result: a deflating defeat which gasped unexpectedly into a stirring fightback, before collapsing back into disappointment.

It's certainly nothing to do with the quality of young players, for in the absence of the real-life Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent, there were quietly promising displays from Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Ashley Young.

Rather, it's the simple facts of their situation. Euro 2012 begins for England on June 11, when they play France in Donetsk. That is three months and 10 days away. Presently, they have no manager, no captain, no settled formation or style of play and not even the faintest idea of their best first XI, let alone their best 23-man squad.

Since Fabio Capello quit, there has been lots of patriotic optimism accompanying the notion that the FA might appoint Cry God For Harry Redknapp -- or even that they might retain Stuart 'Tournament Experience' Pearce. Yet the hope of anyone starting as permanent England boss even tomorrow and going on to compete seriously in an international tournament contested by Spain, Germany, Holland and France is just that: a hope. It is a great premise for a rousing sports film. As real life, it sucks.

Holland last night weren't much. But they did enough to win, despite the frenzy of the last 10 minutes. More importantly, they are a settled squad who have been developing under Bert van Marwijk for four years, have been to a World Cup Final and have reason to expect another successful tournament. Likewise Spain, blessed with a golden generation, curated since 2008 by Vincent del Bosque, and practiced winners. Likewise Germany, who began their development in 2010, and should blossom this summer.

As England's cricketers and rugby players have shown, the road to serious international success is long. …

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