The last time England were booed after a World Cup group game was in 2010, when we saw a performance so bad that a birdie sat on the roof of the opposition net in the first half. Location in Cape Town.
At the time, a team including John Terry, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney had a grateful night for a 0-0 draw with Algeria, and England manager Fabio Capello dreaded it: “Fear it stops the legs, it stops the mind. , which stops everything.
Rooney, who entered the tournament with high hopes, could see his frustration overflowing in shape, form and appearance by the final whistle as he heard his fans cheering his team on.
“It’s great to see your home fans cheering you on,” he withered into a TV camera. “You are ‘loyal supporters’.”
In 2010, England were in the midst of a World Cup collapse. Terry, who was sacked four months ago, announced at a press conference two days later that he and his teammates were going to air their frustrations with Capello in a meeting that evening.
“If it upsets him or it upsets any player, so what? I really think, ‘Sod it,'” Terry said, surprising many in his audience.
Capello quelled this apparent rebellion and England progressed to the knockout stages, beating Slovenia 1-0 in their final group game. But by finishing second to the United States, they could face Germany in the round of 16. There they were humiliated, losing 4-1, and Terry, Gerrard, Rooney and their team-mates came home with something within reach. National Paryo.
Qatar 2022 will feel nothing like South Africa 2010. England’s game was interrupted as they drew 0-0 with the United States on Friday night, but “fear” was not what defined them in the late 2000s and for much of it. In the 2010s. There is no prospect of a frustrated player threatening a mutiny against the manager, or indeed a player mocking their loyalty in response to the taunts of the fans.
Instead, what we got Friday night were calm, level-headed reflections from players who stopped to speak to reporters in the mixed zone.
Vice-captain Jordan Henderson said: “It was probably a fair result if I’m honest Athletics Later on. “It was a tough game. The USA did well and made it difficult for us as we knew they would. A bit disappointed we didn’t score, but it’s still positive that we kept a clean sheet, so it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s a point and it’s still good and it’s in our hands for the next game.
Booze? “Obviously you have high hopes for this team and so do we,” said the Liverpool midfielder. “We have come after the game and of course we are disappointed because we want to win every time we play, but sometimes football doesn’t work like that. You have to respect the opposition and we always know it will be difficult in a World Cup.
Asked about the boos, Henderson pointed to the same thing at Wembley en route to the European Championship final last year. “I think it was the second game we drew 0-0 against Scotland,” he said. “So there’s still a lot to play for, we’re still in good shape and we just want to go out and make a point in the next game.”
Like his manager’s response, it was perfectly measured. Sometimes measured and maybe too calm for some tastes.
It was one of those England tournament performances that make people angry: big build-up, big expectations, big emotional investment (and big financial investment for the fans here in Qatar) and then a big letdown.
Michael Cox and John Muller analyze England’s performance in depth here: slow pace; Being very risk-averse in possession; the struggle of Kieran Trippier, Luke Shaw, Jude Bellingham and Mason Mount to make an impact going forward against a spirited, well-organised, talented US team intent on pushing them back; The conservative nature of Southgate’s substitutions, waiting 65 minutes before making two identical changes and keeping Phil Foden and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the entire bench.
Criticism is legitimate, but so is the context presented in mitigation. “Of course the fans want to see goals and win games,” Trippier said. “Of course we understand the frustration because we didn’t win the game, but we gave it our all. A point is a good result. Unfortunately we didn’t win, but that’s a good point. We kept a clean sheet, which is a good point for us as a team and we will now move on. Focus on the next game.”
All true. The performance was disappointing, but after a 6-2 win over Iran, they were all but guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds. England will go through, despite Wales beating them by three goals on Tuesday. Most teams in this tournament will welcome the opportunity to go into their final group stage match. Argentina and Germany will be defeated by Saudi Arabia and Japan respectively.
It certainly wasn’t a 2010 event – let alone a repeat four years later, when England were beaten by Italy and Uruguay after two games. It was a very tough team in 2014 and the talent pool available to Roy Hodgson was far less impressive than Southgate’s, but expectations were also significantly lower. After a 0-0 draw in their last game in Brazil, followed by a dead-rubber against Costa Rica, England’s players were warmly applauded by those fans who had traveled so far and spent so much and given so little to cheer.
Two years later in Nice they were knocked out of the European Championship by Iceland. Now that’s it did Attracts an angry, almost incredulous response from fans. How could it not be? It was a disastrous performance devoid of structure, purpose and conviction, never mind cohesion or skill. If ever there was a time when England fans booed and jeered their team, it was the mid-2010s.
Between 2010 and 2016 England played 15 tournament matches, winning just four (against Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine and Wales) and never by a single goal difference. An unexpected run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup came with warnings about the quality of the opposition, but they overcame Tunisia, Panama, Colombia (on penalties) and Sweden in that tournament, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ukraine and Denmark in the Euro final against Italy on penalties. Defeated by a blow.
In that context, it feels like England fans have developed a remarkably low tolerance for underperformance, chasing after mediocre performances but good results that have put the team in a strong position. Perhaps Friday night was the legacy of a hugely disappointing Nations League (six games, three draws, three defeats, including a 4-0 drubbing at home to Hungary) but when that reaction followed a draw against Scotland at the Euros, perhaps It’s just the feeling of a fan base entitled to demand better.
Perfectly natural, of course; It can be hard to look at the young talent in this squad – those on the field and those left on the bench like Foden and Alexander-Arnold – and accept such underperformance.
That frustration is partly due to the approach. Southgate’s style is quite cautious – not blanket defense by any means, but very much defense first. They played freely when they beat Iran 6-2 on Monday, but it was almost a hand-break on Friday night. When you play with the handbrake on and you fail to win, it causes panic, especially when you have a lot of attacking players.
But these games happen in tournaments; Look at England’s World Cup history and a 6-2 win over Iran looks a far cry from a 0-0 draw with the United States.
It was encouraging that Southgate and his players reacted more calmly on Friday than England did in Cape Town 12 years ago – both to the way the game played out and to the desperation fans broadcast at the final whistle. Much has been made of their lack of performance, but at no point have they looked as overcome by fear or as overcome by frustration as Rooney did against Algeria.
There’s something Southgate said afterwards: “People will react how they react. I can’t let it affect how I feel. This is the tournament of external noise, and I’m sure we’ll get another layer of it, but we’re still on track.
“Tournament of external noise” is a great line. There have been many tournaments before when England have been overwhelmed by that noise – particularly the noise from the media – but under Southgate they have been very good at blocking it out and rising to the top.
Once the buzz starts, the only way to stop it from amplifying is to win. This will be Southgate’s third tournament, and having created a more exciting soundtrack in the previous two games, he and his team need to keep the good vibes going. Otherwise, they will have to face the music.
(Photo: Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)