Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

A Major Howler

England thought they had seen the worst when Robert Green let an easy goal roll past him in the opening game vs. the U.S.

Well, the Three Lions saved their worst for last, losing 4-1 to Germany in their first game of the knockout stage. And it wasn’t even that close.

I enjoy watching the England team because I know the players from being a fan of the Premier League. So a day after the U.S. was dumped from the World Cup, it was disappointing to see England not only go down, but do so weakly. In addition, the team’s history of painful losses is familiar enough to Cleveland fans that they have a special place in my sporting heart.

Sunday’s game probably brings an end to the Golden Generation of English football, an era that was marked more by disappointment than joy. It’s very likely we’ve seen the last, or are nearing the end, of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham, etc., that held so much promise nine years ago.

And the English are left to wonder, once again, why they can’t find a decent goalkeeper. It’s funny, the Americans are derided as being second-class citizens on the world stage, but they usually are backed by a top-notch goalkeeper.

England’s media is out in full force, with The Sun going with the headline “Franks for nothing – Fabio’s flops are battered in Bloemfontein.” The Mirror made a dig about Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal, with the headline “Three Lions Muller-ed by Germans … and the ref.” The Daily Mail went with the wordy “At least the sun’s still shining. Germany crush toothless England 4-1 (with a LOT of help from a short-sighted Uruguayan linesman).” Finally, The Times checks in with “Abject England crash out.”

Makes me wish the local papers were as clever with their coverage of the Indians, Browns & Cavs.

And while it may not have impacted the final outcome – but who knows, really? – Lampard’s disallowed goal, which was clearly over the line – as well as the missed offside on Argentina’s opening goal in the second game, leave FIFA with egg on its face and a lot of explaining to do. (Let’s not even get started on the refs in the USA games). Somebody needs to wake Sepp Blatter up and make him understand these kinds of mistakes are not entertaining to fans and don’t make for good sport.

“It is often the case that, even after slow-motion replay, 10 different experts will have 10 different opinions on what the decision should have been,” Blatter has said. “Fans love to debate any given incident in a game. It is part of the human nature of our sport.”

Sorry, Sepp, but that ain’t right.

You have to wonder how Jorge Larrionda was even on the field as an official, as this is not the first major error he’s made. He was suspended by his country’s Football Association for “irregularities in a match between Brazil and Columbia; in this year’s World Cup he failed to catch Tim Cahill’s handball for Australia which ended up keeping Serbia from advancing; and he has the highest red card per match ration in international matches.

In other words, this guy is no Jim Joyce.

Finally, if losing wasn’t bad enough, a French politician is blaming England for Les Blues’s exit in the group stage.

You gotta love the World Cup.

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