England are really quite back at this whole international footballing thing, and are rightly going to be eliminated at the group stages barring some significant help. They have a collection of supremely talented footballers, a squad littered with players from sides that spent their club seasons playing attractive, exciting, and, most importantly, effective football in one of the more challenging leagues in the world. But, as is so often the case, they failed to produce for their country, left to the devices of an incompetent, cowardly manager who is a living, breathing, mumbling embodiment of mediocrity. And a mediocre embodiment at that.
But. But! That's neither here nor there, because England's failures against Uruguay were not because of regressive tactics or a complete inability to use players effectively, but because they didn't tackle hard enough. Blood, thunder, recent cartilage operations, IT'S ALL SO SIMPLE!
Just listen to Ray Wilkins, renowned...something:
"I'm not an aggressive person in my nature but Suarez has just come back from a cartilage operation five weeks ago. His training has been okay from what we've heard. Did we make enough physical contact to see if his knee is okay? In my opinion, no we didn't. I'm not saying we should have kicked lumps out of him but we could have made a couple of tackles within the rules of the game to see if his knee was legit."
Now there is something to be said for a more aggressive, physical approach against an opposition that might not be up for the challenge. Ask anybody who's about to watch their side play Stoke's barbarian horde. But this seems to go a little bit beyond that, with Wilkins effectively stating that England should have done more to compromise a player's fitness, to take advantage of a recent medical procedure to try to gain an edge at the expense of said player's well-being. There's not so much to be said for that.
Thinking back on Liverpool's days under Hodgson, it's understandable if you want to talk about anything other than the football, so maybe you can't really hold it against poor Ray Wilkins, the great patriot. Because in the end it doesn't really matter, as England did just as much to sabotage their World Cup campaign as Luis Suarez or anyone else, and will be off on holiday soon enough. A fitting proposition for a side as dire and disappointing as they are.