30 June 2010
Are any Premiership players having a good World Cup? Obviously we know about the England team but what about the others? Drogba, Torres, Malouda, Evra, Vidic, van Persie: none of them have exactly set the tournament alight. Could it be that playing in the Premiership precludes being any good in international tournaments? Would rather explain the 4-1.

PermalinkFeedback (12)World Cup 2010


  1. Carlos Tevez

    Posted by Michael Jennings on 30 June 2010 at 04:24pm

  2. John Mensah: Sunderland and Ghana (made the FIFA XI after the group stage). He is an excellent centre half, but unfortunately for my team, made of glass.

    The 4-1 can be explained thus: John Terry. He was primarily responsible for England conceding Germany’s first two goals by allowing himself to get pulled out of position. What followed was largely a consequence of his errors of judgement.

    Posted by mike on 01 July 2010 at 08:33pm

  3. Does John Terry regularly get pulled out of position playing for his club?  If not, what was different against Germany?

    And this would not explain England’s dismal record over the last 40 years.  Whereas the existence of an exhausting domestic league might.

    John Mensah.  If you way he’s made of glass does that mean he’s missed large parts of the season?

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on 01 July 2010 at 09:56pm

  4. I don’t know since I didn’t watch Chelsea regularly last season - but they were a very good side playing against inferior opposition much of the time.

    I didn’t say I could explain England’s 40 year losing streak - I explained that particular 4-1 defeat. In the post-Algeria game interview it did seem to me that Terry sounded like he should have been on holiday (if not a hall of shame) after his shenanigans this season.

    Mensah - yes, but I hope to God we sign him anyway.

    Posted by mike on 01 July 2010 at 11:24pm

  5. Just what I have been wondering.

    The sheer number of games, just before these big tournaments, looks like a big factor.  Exhaustion, injuries, etc., as has been said.

    But also, what about climate?  England’s cool, often downright frigid and horrible, soccer season weather encourages and often even demands that you run about constantly, if only to keep warm.

    But the world in general is a warmer place.  In warmer places, players who run about a lot get tired and lose.  More fundamentally, I surmise (comments?) colder weather players develop a basically different kind of fitness, and they just don’t function so well in hotter weather.  They don’t just get tired.  They are “tired” from the word go.

    Rooney in particular looked to me like an Irish potato trying to flourish in a profoundly non-Irish - warmer, dryer -world.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 04 July 2010 at 03:37pm

  6. But, how about the German league?  How does that work?  That’s presumably just as cold and horrible, weatherwise, as the English league.

    Were I an English soccer person obsessed with England winning the World Cup, the Euro Championships, etc., I’d take a very close look at Germany, and how they keep doing better than us, with a similar climate, but supposedly no better players.  This time, their players were supposed to be worse. Not looking that way now, is it?

    Do they get taken out of the German league for months at a time beforehand, trained in hotter places?

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 04 July 2010 at 03:42pm

  7. I think we can safely exclude climatic differences as the chief cause of the England team’s woes. In particular, the temperatures in South Africa right now aren’t especially high - somewhere between 50F and 70F.

    Players being tired may seem plausible but I’m not sure it stands up to scrutiny. Yes there are more games to be played under the FA and Premier League rules, but the averages must be pretty similar. A top level German player, playing in Germany and assuming Champions League qualification may play between a minimum of 41 games a season and a maximum of 52* (injury notwithstanding). Making the same assumptions, a top level English player would play between 46 and 66 games per season** (and again injuries not considered).

    Since many players will be rested over the course of the season, squad members rotated to some extent, and clubs knocked out of the various cup competitions it’s probably safe to say that top players in both Germany and England play a fairly similar number of games per season.

    I think England’s relative failure is better explained by particulars at each World Cup rather than anything more overarching. Small things can make a huge difference in a football game - that’s the nature of the game and why it is off-putting for some who are turn up expecting spectacular bicycle kicks and goals every two seconds, but who are disappointed by the obvious domination of the game by tactics.

    *34 league games plus anywhere between 1 and 5 domestic cup games. The Champions League group stage requires 6 games, and qualification to the knock-out round offers the possibility of a further 7 games.

    **38 league games plus anywhere between 1 and 15 games for the two domestic cups. Champions League again between 6 and 13.

    Posted by mike on 04 July 2010 at 08:50pm

  8. South Africa is not going to be hot at this time of year. It is winter, and a quick trip to the BBC suggests that temperatures in Johannesburg are varying from about 5C in the middle of the night to about 15C in the middle of the day. This is actually very comfortable weather in which to be playing football.

    As Antoine said in another comments thread (at Brian’s, I think) what might matter is altitude. Johannesburg and Pretoria are high enough that without acclimatisation you are really going to feel it. It might be that the Europeans did not adequately prepare themselves for this, which was why they started the tournament badly. It might be that they have now acclimatised.

    It might also be luck, though. Germany beat Argentina at Cape Town, which is on the coast. The Netherlands beat Brazil in Port Elizabeth, also on the coast. (Spain beat Paraguay at altitude though). Both semi-finals are at sea level, and then the final is in Johannesburg, which is at altitude. I would be intrigued to know to what extent the teams are preparing for this.

    Posted by Michael Jennings on 04 July 2010 at 10:24pm

  9. Altitude probably isn’t it either for the simple reason that a clear majority of players at this world cup, whatever their nationality whether Asian, African or American, play their club football in Europe and will therefore be accustomed to approximately sea-level altitudes thus eliminating much of any potential difference in acclimatization between nationalities.

    The other reason why altitude probably isn’t much of a factor is that the earliest teams to arrive in South Africa (end of May to early June) - and so presumably those who enjoyed the most time to acclimatize - have all been eliminated (except Paraguay) whereas the teams still in the competition all arrived comparatively later (between a week and two weeks later) and so will have had less time to acclimatize. See <a >here</a>.

    Posted by mike on 05 July 2010 at 12:02pm

  10. Sorry - here

    Posted by mike on 05 July 2010 at 12:04pm

  11. Oh, and I thought these two articles were relevant. The first because of its’ deliberate remarks on human psychology and the second because of what it inadvertently says about the psychology of the writer.

    Posted by mike on 06 July 2010 at 07:11pm

  12. Oddly enough, I had read both of those articles.  Although I am not quite sure what I think of them.

    The importance of snobbery in a meritocracy.  Hmm.

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on 06 July 2010 at 07:40pm

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