• Saturday, 26 June 2010

    Spain highlight English failures

    After France and Italy tumbled out of the World Cup at the first hurdle, Spain avoided the ignominy of joining them with a battling win over a very talented Chilean side. The opening, and probably decisive, goal came after a brain failure from Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo who went a-wandering outside of his area and played a half-assed clearance straight to the feet of David Villa who played a lovely little 9-iron over the stranded keeper and into the net. Andres Iniesta made it two and, with Marco Estrada sent off for a foul in the build-up, that was that.

    The Villa goal remains the talking point. On ITV's trademark lamentable coverage, anchor Matt Smith was drooling. "When a predominantly right-footed player can do that with his left. Wow". What an utterly ridiculous statement which pretty well highlights a big problem the English have never got to grips with. Villa may be a right-footer, Lionel Messi a lefty, but you'd not know. They developed skills at an early age and learned how to use their less-favoured foot to the point at which they are comfortable on either side. In England, kids just play games. The more physically developed prevail in the kick-and-rush environment to the point at which there's a national team of right-footers who are utterly incapable of playing it off the left. This is a systemic failure that stretches back for as long as life itself and England will not be a world power while it remains.

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