Looking back at England's amazing run in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals, who would ever have expected to see such poor results in England's actual finals matches?
When it comes to the difficulty that the team has had in scoring goals, we can afford them some leniency. This new style of ball seems to be causing trouble for many teams, not just England, and apparently will take some getting used to.
It is in the area of defensive play that England has really looked like a lemon. The first clear sign of trouble was that unfortunate error by Robert Green in England's opening match against USA, in which he fumbled a save across the line.
Fabio Capello's harsh treatment of that incident may have been taking things a little too far. It was a bad mistake, but mistakes happen. To expect Green to make the same mistake again shows a lack of judgment far worse than that of Green himself.
England has played a little better in what now, after 72 minutes looks certain to be their exit match against Germany in the round of 16. So far the team has scored two goals, but only one of them has been awarded, even though both were scored fair-and-square.
But at the other end of the ground David James has made several costly errors, especially one in the 20th minute that allowed Miroslav Klose to open the scoring for Germany.
Lukas Podolski followed up with another goal just minutes later, and neither goal should really have been let through.
England somehow miraculously fought back, scoring their two goals in quick succession. The mistake by the referee in not allowing the second of those goals could well have influenced the outcome of the rest of the match because of the effect on the morale of the English team of being denied what was certainly an unquestionable goal.
After the half time break, Germany found more opportunities against James, with Thomas Muller scoring twice from three close-range attempts. It goes without saying that Muller should never have been allowed to get into that position in the first place, but once he had done so, how could David James allow himself to be outfoxed three times?
I hasten to add that not once did he actually stop any of those shots. The one that Muller missed was off target.
It is clear that England must find a reliable and skilled keeper for 2014. It also probably would not hurt to find a coach who is a little more loyal to his players. Supportive staff can make a huge difference to team morale, as was made evident by the French team last week.
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