Richard Williams says that England got what they deserved - absolutely nichts!
In the aftermath of a punishing defeat, no man should be called to account for his impromptu remarks. But when Frank Lampard said on Saturday night that England had "deserved" to win the match in which defeat had just eliminated them from the World Cup, he was inadvertently exposing the problem at the heart of the team's consistent inability to scale the highest peaks.
David Beckham had used the same word earlier in the campaign. England would get to the World Cup final, the captain said, because they "deserved" to be there. Since no deeper analysis was forthcoming, his listeners were left to infer that the evidence in support of his contention might have included any or all of the following: England's historic role as the game's mother country; the vast popularity of the Premiership at home and abroad; the inflated pay and celebrity status of its players; and the attention lavished on the public appearances of their wives and girlfriends.
When Sven-Goran Eriksson also spoke about the team "deserving" to reach the final, he tried to suggest that it was because of the quality of their football. Strictly on the basis of their successive performances against Hungary, Jamaica, Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden and Ecuador, however, it would have taken a battalion of the world's finest legal advocates to make a case for the justice of their arrival in the final rounds of the biggest international football tournament of all.
The attitude represented by the words of Lampard and Beckham represents a culture of complacency at work, and it could be seen in the climactic shoot-out against Portugal, when three of England's penalty takers failed with attempts in which the slackness of their body language and their shooting spoke of men who were ready to put their trust in the belief, as England players have believed for several generations, that their reputations alone would be enough to ensure their success.
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