Old failings put England back on road to nowhere

Germany 4 England 1

English football could go two ways this morning: we could spend weeks blaming the patently incompetent Uruguayan linesman Mauricio Espinosa for his failure to spot that Frank Lampard's shot had crossed the line. Or we could just admit that, yet again, the England team has proved itself woefully ineffectual against the best in the world.

Back on the road to nowhere yesterday, you can add Bloemfontein to Shizuoka and Gelsenkirchen among those litany of places where this generation of English players have run up against the limits of their own talent. The hapless Mr Espinosa and the referee Jorge Larrionda has trespassed on to the scene of a familiar tragedy – and they have undoubtedly made it worse – but blaming them for England's humiliation would be an act of gross collective denial.

Unfortunately for Capello it looked as if he was leading the way among the blame lobby, as if the shot that crossed the line was the epochal moment of England's entire tournament. "You don't know the psychology or the mind of the players," he said, the suggestion being that the deflation of that moment had been the overriding factor in a tournament in which England played one decent game in four.

Sorry Fabio, but that sounds like the worst kind of English apologist. The same voice that said four years ago that Cristiano Ronaldo and his dastardly wink was to blame for Wayne Rooney's red card in Gelsenkirchen. Or told us that Ronaldinho's goal in 2002 was just a lucky cross that went in.

Having already conceded two shocking goals, England rallied briefly at the end of the first and the beginning of the second when Lampard struck the bar again. They were then cut to shreds by the likes of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, two footballers whose careers have scarcely begun but who looked eminently more suited to this stage than the men who we have grown accustomed to calling our golden generation.

Unfortunately for the player who is supposed to shine brighter than any other, for Rooney yesterday afternoon was yet another non-event. The best thing he has done all World Cup? Probably that sliding tackle on Franck Ribéry that was dreamed up by the optimists in Nike's marketing department.

Rooney cannot take all the blame. It was not him who was muscled aside by Miroslav Klose for the first goal (Matthew Upson). It was not him who allowed Müller to run free to cross for the second (Ashley Cole). Neither did he let the same German beat him at his near post on 67 minutes (David James). Rooney's problem is that he did precious little.

When they go searching for answers in the weeks and months to come, it would be wrong for Capello to take all the blame. He took a team that was not even among the best 16 sides in Europe two years ago to the last 16 of a World Cup finals. His triumph was qualification but in South Africa he made mistakes. The last of which was the mind-boggling introduction of Emile Heskey for Jermain Defoe with England trailing 4-1.

Heskey? It was the move of a coach who has ceased to think clearly. Given that Heskey averages a goal for England every 500 minutes he spends on the pitch for England, statistically there would have been no guarantee he would have scored if the unreliable Mr Larrionda had played on for a further eight hours. It begs the question what on earth it is that Capello has against Peter Crouch that he kept ignoring his most reliable goalscorer.

As for Capello, his future now seems to hang on a meeting with Sir Dave Richards, who, as the newly-appointed chairman of Club England, will be the decisive voice on the future of the manager. There may well be a clamour for Capello to go. But the question that presents itself is: who next? Who would want to pick this team up in time for that friendly against Hungary on 11 August at Wembley – a game that promises to have about as much atmosphere as one of Mars' moons?

Germany scored the first on 19 minutes when a goal-kick from Manuel Neuer drifted over John Terry's head and took one bounce before Upson was shoved aside by Klose who toed the ball past James. James was forced to save another with his feet from Klose before Germany scored again. Left to right, England were sliced apart and Lukas Podolski scored at the back post.

Yes, there were moments. A James Milner cross that Lampard got his toe to and then Upson's goal which was headed in from Gerrard's cross. Then came the 1966 moment with six minutes of the half to go. The ball broke loose and Lampard's shot off the underside of the bar crossed the line. Espinosa was miles out of position. Larrionda, who had even messed up the pre-match coin toss, failed to see it.

There was English indignation. Beckham followed Larrionda down the tunnel, gesturing with his hands the distance the ball had crossed the line as if he was boasting about the size of a fish he had just caught. For the first 10 minutes of the next half England were better. Lampard clipped the bar with a shot and Rooney almost squeezed a few passes through the Germany defence.

The German response was their usual joyfully cruel counter-attacking. They broke from the edge of their own box for the third goal, dispossessing Gareth Barry and within three passes Bastian Schweinsteiger had played in Müller for his second. Minutes later Joe Cole lost the ball, Ozil got away from Barry on the left and Müller tucked it in at the back post.

It was exhilarating stuff to watch - but only if you happened to be wearing leather trousers and the golden eagle of the German football federation. Capello's two final substitutions, Heskey and Shaun Wright-Phillips were a low point. But as the whistle went and the team departed it was a struggle to remember the good times for England at this World Cup.

Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer (Schalke); Lahm (Bayern Munich), Freidrich (Hertha Berlin), Mertesacker (Werder Bremen), Boateng (Hamburg); Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Khedira (Stuttgart); Müller (Bayern Munich), Ozil (Werder Bremen), Podolski (Cologne); Klose (Bayern Munich). Substitutions: Trochowski (Hamburg) for Müller 71; Gomez (Bayern Munich) for Klose 71; Kiessling (Bayer Leverkusen) for Ozil 83.

England (4-4-2): James (Portsmouth); Johnson (Liverpool), Upson (West Ham), Terry (Chelsea), A Cole (Chelsea); Milner (Aston Villa), Lampard (Chelsea), Barry (Manchester City), Gerrard (Liverpool); Defoe (Tottenham), Rooney (Manchester United). Substitutions: J Cole (Chelsea) for Milner (65), Heskey (Aston Villa) for Defoe (71); Wright-Phillips (Manchester City) for Johnson (86).

Referee: J Larrionda (Uruguay) .

Man of the match: Müller.

Attendance: 40,510.

Englan's loss in stats

32 Wayne Rooney lost the ball by being tackled in possession 32 times, more often than any other player at the 2010 World Cup finals.

6 Germany scored four goals from six shots on target, while England mustered seven attempts on target.

55 Wayne Rooney completed only 55 per cent of his passes against Germany, less than any other player.

4 The last time England conceded four goals in a World Cup finals game was in a 1954 quarter-final v Uruguay.

37 Frank Lampard’s free-kick against the bar was his 37th shot without scoring at a World Cup.

0 England have not won a game in which they’ve conceded a goal since beating Cameroon 3-2 in 1990.

Follow Opta at www.twitter.com/optajoe

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album