Tag Archives: gerrard

Age of the Deuce

The usual line on Clint Dempsey is that he’s underappreciated in his home country – that, in the United States, it’s Clint DempseyLandon Donovan, not Dempsey, who symbolizes a sport many Americans don’t take very seriously. There’s certainly something to that. Donovan’s on-and-off relationship with reality TV star Bianca Kajlich cemented his place in the wider world of American pop culture; Dempsey is an “avid fisherman.” Donovan feuded with David Beckham, then made up with him, then won a couple of trophies; during his last year at Fulham, Dempsey meshed well with Belgian midfielder Moussa Dembele.

In England, it’s another story entirely. Dempsey, regarded as one of the Premier League’s most dangerous attackers, regularly scores goals for Tottenham Hotspur. By contrast, Donovan’s forays into European football have rarely convinced – he performed well during his first loan spell at Everton, but Major League Soccer’s ridiculous transfer rules precluded a permanent move, and Tim Howard is way more fun.

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Here We Go Again

And thus begins another two years of hurt for England. The only difference this time is that the inevitable penalty-shootout defeat was a deserved punishment, rather than a cruel trick of fate.

England’s tournament destiny was sealed the moment that injury ruled out Jack Wilshere. Wilshere isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last, player to be touted as the “future of English football,” but he would have added cohesiveness to an England midfield that was outnumbered and overrun in all four matches.

With Wilshere unavailable, Hodgson should have worked harder to recruit a player capable of dictating the tempo of a game. Gareth Barry was never going to be the answer. Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes are the only fully fit English players at all comparable to Italy’s Andrea Pirlo. But Carrick turned down a place in the squad when Hodgson refused to guarantee him a starting spot. And Scholes, frustrated by coaches who constantly played him out of position, had retired from internationals in the mid-2000s. He showed no interest in a return. Without a passer in midfield, England never had a prayer. Possession is the crux of international football, and it was England’s inability to maintain possession that ultimately cost them a place in the semifinals.

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