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TLOTLDR - World Cup Blog Day 19 (19th June 2014)

The spectre of Partridge is never far away on this trip.

Having been served a cheeseburger that was 'hotter than the sun' yesterday, the buffet breakfast this morning in São Paulo had a 'toaster' that merely produced hot, floppy bread. If there's a trouser press in my Belo Horizonte hotel room, I may be tempted to dismantle it.

All the panic over traffic fears meant that the fun bus left for Arena Corinthians fully 5 and a half hours prior to kick off. Reaching our destination in 45 mins or so wasn't the expected outcome, though, and so our driver appeared to take it upon himself to take us right up to the stadium, then promptly drive us 'round the Wrekin' as us Brummies say, heading away from the ground and passing through a run down area of suburbia before driving us back in another way, killing a good 30 minutes in the process.

The whole drive itself revealed just how unattractive São Paulo is - or at least the areas we passed by. The grey tint on the coach's windows probably didn't help lift the surroundings any either. Saggers did inform me on air last night of some leafy spots and places of interest within the sprawling metropolis. It might take 3 or 4 more trips here before I become adept at finding them!

2 and a half hours to kick off as I type, and as is traditional on an England Matchday, the confidence that flowed through me as I went to sleep the night before is gradually being eroded by degrees. I'm trying to watch Columbia v Ivory Coast to take my mind of things, but it's not working - although Howard Webb used the 'felony foam' for the first time with an accomplished flourish...with one man in the Columbian wall stood behind it.


I'm now sat back in the media centre, numb. Our World Cup is all but over after 180 minutes. Where did that inhibition and nervousness come from tonight? Where was the ability to keep the ball and win it in important areas? And how on earth did we slip twice defensively and concede on both occasions?

It had to be him as well didn't it? To land the knockout blows. Almost inevitable. I was making my way through to the mixed zone press area through the bowels of the stadium at 1-1, and walked into that holding area just as Suarez larruped the ball past Joe Hart. No other English media there to share grief with, I just kicked a bin. No one noticed.

Lots of players out there who simply couldn't repeat the efforts of Manaus. You couldn't necessarily argue with selecting the same players, but there were some leggy individuals out there in conditions more expected of Bradford than Brazil.

Gerrard's influence was minimal, Sterling faded early, Rooney did well in fairness & deserved his goal, but no one shone, no one showed - indeed it all looked panic-stricken either side of half time. We'd reverted to type and it wasn't pleasant to watch. 

As the players filed unwillingly through the mixed zone, one or two stopped to talk. Some had definitely been in tears or on the verge of them. Joe Hart was one such man on the edge of crying. Emotions were clearly very raw as 2 years of what looks to have been progress, however slight, crumbled in successive 2-1 defeats.

There will be inevitable calls for the managers head, but I think from the progress shown and the willingness to give youth its head by degrees, Roy has earned the shot at the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Who else is there anyway? No obvious candidate banging the drum as a successor to my mind. 

In any case, Stuart Pearce, in a great interview with Adrian Durham on TalkSPORT after the game, drew our attention away from simply losing 2 games here and focused instead on how young players in other countries get to play tournament football together from U17 level up through to U21 whilst English clubs withdraw their young talent from going on these summer tours to, well, protect their investment I guess. For example, at the U20 World Cup several years back, a grand total of 56 potential England players were pulled out by their parent clubs. That's enough talent for nearly 2 and a half squads alone.

Meantime, the German present day squad is built around young players with vast experience of tournament football, of spending weeks away from home with one another in the summer months representing their country, with the full support of their clubs underneath the umbrella of their own FA. 
It's clear that Pearce felt he was pushing treacle uphill trying to get a similar blueprint in place so that by the time young players were under his direct jurisdiction at U21 level, they were experienced, technically prepared, battle hardened and together. We have a Premier League that is the envy of the world, but we appear to be as green as the envious eyes that look upon our domestic league when it comes to structure and progression of players.

Vielleicht das nächste mal, ja Roy?

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