Monday, June 4, 2012

Overrating England

I enjoyed this note of caution regarding England's chances in the Euro from Richard Jolly. It's easy to blame injuries, but really, England is just old and untalented, relative to the continental heavyweights. Consistency issues notwithstanding, Rooney, sixth-best in the tournament according to ESPN, is surely among the very best in the world, but who else of their non-keepers qualifies? ESPN ranks Steven Gerrard as the 26th-best player in the tournament, ahead of, among others, Juan Mata (33rd) and Santi Cazorla (doesn't appear), which is pretty ridiculous based on his recent performance: Gerrard's not played more than half a season since 2009-10, and hasn't scored in double-digits in the EPL since 2008-09. Moreover, Liverpool has fallen apart during those last two seasons. And at 32, the past two years seem more relevant to his present ability than do distant heroics in Istanbul. After that, we have Ashley Cole at 36, which, considering that Jordi Alba doesn't appear on the list, seems a pretty favorable ranking as well. And that's the list.

In other words, in an England-leaning publication, just three Englishmen are among the top 36 non-goalies in the tournament (four keepers appear on the list, including Joe Hart). Other than wherever Rooney lines up, I have a difficult time imagining where on the field England might find themselves on favorable terms in a matchup with Germany, Spain, or the Netherlands. There's no shame in that--all three of those teams are fantastic, from top to bottom. But it does mean that England falls well short of fantastic, and if they make it out of the quarters, it has to be considered a significant surprise.

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