THE ITALIAN JOB. England's manager Fabio Capello is seen here walking out from the stadium after the 1-4 crushing defeat against Germany in 2010 World Cup. The Italian tactician disappoints his employer, the England Football Association, which has paid him US$ 9,000,000 per year only to see England eliminated in the second round.
Before the World Cup 2010 kicked off, renowned investment bank J.P. Morgan published a 69-page analysis on which nation will bring home the coveted trophy in South Africa. To predict the result of the upcoming World Cup, the analysis applies Quant economic models –a mathematical method which is occasionally used by financial services firms like J.P Morgan to predict stock returns.
The analysis was impressive –so impressive that to predict the final outcome, it includes many variables like market valuation (bookmakers’ odds), FIFA ranking, historical results, J.P Morgan Team Strength Indicator, and even calculates the possibility of each nation to emerge as winner in a penalty shootout if it ever encounters such situation in the knockout phase.
Would you be surprised if based on J.P Morgan’s thorough and comprehensive calculations, they conclude that England will be the World Cup’s champions?
The conclusion of the analysis was hardly surprising considering what the Italian Fabio Capello has in its armory. England, just like old times, enters every major tournament as favorite but always failed to deliver their true potential in field.
England boasting one of the world’s finest marksmen in the shoes of Wayne Rooney, a 34-goal-a-season forward who was so lethal in the penalty box last season that his two-week absence because of injury was the main cause of Manchester United’s failure to lift the English Premiere League title for unprecedented fourth in succession.
Its midfield encompasses the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard whose vast energy, endless determination, and goal-scoring prowess make them both irreplaceable and indispensable in their own club.
And if Brazil in 2006 was once famous for its “Fantastic Four” in Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, and Adriano; England’s back-four of Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, John Terry, and Rio Ferdinand (the last was unlucky to be injured for this World Cup) are no less than fantastic as they are inarguably among the best defenders in the world –in fact they are exactly what you need to prevent the most dangerous forwards, like those skillful Brazilians, from tearing your defense apart.
To put it in a nutshell, with those world-class players, England has perhaps the best ingredients every manager can blend in a team.
But there they are, headed to another early exit yet again and caused weeks of research done by J.P Morgan to become a laughing stock as they fail to fulfill such hopes. English football fans can only watch in dismay as the Germans merciless crushed a team filled with world-class players like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard by 4-1 –the least expected score you would imagine from a match that pits two evenly-contested teams, and eternal archrivals, like Germany and England.
Some blame Capello’s stubbornness to strict to his musty 4-4-2 shape, while others blame the English press for being too cruel and giving too much pressure for the players themselves. But beware English people, you should stop looking backward and blaming things. In fact, the future of England national team is in jeopardy and that’s a more urgent problem that needs to be considered very seriously.
Without doubt, this is England’s last chance to mark its name in football’s biggest stage after their triumph in 1966. The statistics shows, however, that this is the oldest England squad ever compete in World Cup, and for the next major competition that England fancies to take part maybe Fabio Capello (it seems that he is likely to retain his position because of the lavish contract fees that England FA have to pay if they wish to terminate his contract) can learn one thing or two from his Italian colleague Marcelo Lippi.
Lippi should take most of the blame for Italy’s early exit in a relatively easy -if not easiest- group in South Africa, as the performance level of the likes of aged Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Cannavaro is no longer the same compared to four years ago, when then Lippi’s popularity as manager shot to stardom as he guided the calciopoli-plagued, golden-age Italians to their fourth World Cup title.
Considering the level of performance of Gerrard’s and Terry’s will possibly decline because of their age in the next European Cup and World Cup, Capello should learn from Lippi’s fault about how important a squad regeneration is.
With England’s golden generation getting older and English football club is getting used to throw foreign players instead of locals in the football field, England football fans may have to cope with the reality that in the future their team will be in a serious decline into a mediocre team.
English people should be wary. When those football fans see England's perfomances in the next World Cup in four or eight years to come, they must brace themselves if the three lions they once proudly support evolve into three pussycats.