The Curse of the Pharoahs and the Kings of England, returns to haunt us at yet another World Cup!!

June 15, 2010

Brazil, Germany and Italy have won the World Cup on a  combined twelve occasions, losing the final seven times between them. This is no coincidence, because there  are three elements that combine to win a World Cup – technical aptitude, great skill and flair, and match play………………and Brazil, Germany and Italy have always possessed these attributes in bountiful amounts!! However there is a fourth element that is imperative, if you are going to win the World Cup………luck, luck and more luck!!

When it comes to injuries to key, talismanic players, Lady Luck has always turned her back on those that sport, and support “The Three Lions” in World Cup tournaments. And it has happened again in 2010, with injury ruling out England’s two quickest Central Defenders, Ledley King and Rio Ferdinand, not to mention David Beckham before the tournament began. The pattern started in 1970, when on the eve of the Quarter Final, Gordon Banks went down with a mystery stomach bug, believed to be food poisoning. Rumour and conspiracy theories later abounded, but the reality is that his deputy in goal, Peter Bonetti, had a howler and was responsible for at least two of the three goals conceded in a 3-2 defeat to West Germany.

There was then a World Cup drought for England for twelve years, before returning to the tournament in 1982. However, our luck hadn’t changed in the interim. We were robbed of our two best and most experienced players, Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking, until they made late substitute appearances in our final match: a 0-0 draw with Spain. The only positive to come out of that tournament was the emergence of a truly world class Bryan Robson. He was the beacon of the future, and possibly heralded a new era of World Cup success for England.

Sadly this did not materialise, as “The Curse of the Pharoahs and Kings of England” returned in the World Cups of 1986 and 1990!! Robson failed to play a meaningful or significant part in either tournament, or indeed participate in another World Cup again. In 1986, he sustained a dislocated shoulder in the opening game against Portugal and in 1990 he played no part, as he was ruled out with a thigh injury. In a “Virtual Reality World Cup”, Diego Maradonna’s “Wonder  Goal” in the Quarter Final against England would not have happened, as Robson would have tackled him at the start of his mazy run!! In 1990, there is no doubt that Paul Gascoine would have benefitted from having the level headed Robson alongside him in the ill fated Semi Final against West Germany. It is arguable that with Robson commanding midfield, England would have won that match in open play, negating the need for a penalty shoot out.

After a break of eight years, England qualified for World Cup 1998, but went into the tournament robbed of the mercurial genius and talent of Paul Gascoine, who was struggling with fitness issues. And so it goes on……..in 2002 England managed to get to the Quarter Finals with a half fit David Beckham ( who had sustained a metatarsal injury to his foot before the tournament started  ). Without the full presence of their talismanic and best player Beckham, England finally capitulated to Brazil. And then at the last World Cup in 2006, England lost our best and most prolific striker Michael Owen in a Group match against Sweden.

Here we are in  South Africa in 2010, and nothing has changed. England are bereft of our best Central Defenders, Ferdinand and King, and our free kick specialist Beckham. So it’s “back to the walls time again, boys”……….employ the “Dunkirk Spirit”, and let us see how  far in the competition that English bloodymindedness can take us!!

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