England-Algeria: hilariously bad. Kids, I haven't laughed this much since Ray Wilkins threw the ball at the ref in Mexico 1986. Marina Hyde in the Guardian sums it up well: "almost comically unwatchable".
No "almost" about it in fact, folks: this was pants-wettingly lame.
Topped off by a hilarious outburst from Wayne Rooney - the Phil Collins of English football (to be fair, probably extremely frustrated at not being 100% match-fit): "it's nice to see your own fans booing you". Well sorry mate but what do you expect based on that performance. I guess the fans would love to lie and say it was great, but it was in fact piss poor.
Based on this evidence, if we encounter even mildly good opposition, let alone class teams like Argentina or Mexico, we are toast.
But we may well not even get far enough to find out. On this form, Slovenia will probably beat us. And that would add up to the lamest first round effort for England since the infamous Euro 1992 tournament: with Capello becoming the new "turnip" hate figure. We hope something will turn up but what we get is turnip... actually I think Graham Taylor was underrated, the poor bastard.
Although I am too young to remember it first hand, the public and media reaction to performances like this seems to recall the super-lame Don Revie era of the mid-seventies. While Kevin Keegan is often held up as the archetypal England manager I would make the case for Revie: great on paper, a bust on the pitch, an enigma to media and players alike, and finally pissing off for a big cheque at the United Arab Emirates.
If England lose the final group game I expect a delegation from UAE to be landing at Heathrow to meet Mr Capello with a Very Big Cheque forthwith.
I will miss Fabio's facial expressions though. Top class. If it was decided on facial expressions we would already have won the tournament.
Actually there's method in England's madness this time out. If you can't win, at least lose badly. That's a lot more exciting for fans and pundits alike. No-one really remembers World Cups 2002 or 2006, when we were OK but not brilliant; but people do remember the farce of Euro 2000, when we was bloody awful. Something To Put The Boot Into. That's what football in this country is about. I don't really like it, but it does make me laugh.