Pressure can do two things to you-make you perform better or destroy you. Destruction is what has been happening with the England football team for a long time now. Put Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard, Terry, Ashley Cole in the same club and they will give you great results day in day out. But what England did in South Africa was not great rather no where near it.
England came into the tournament as a cetainity for Quarters with the kind of draw they had got. Fabio Capello had infact gone on record saying that anything less than the final would be an under performance. I, at that time agreed with Don Fab based on the Qualifying campaign England had where they performed with class and dominance overcoming the dissapointment of not having qualified for Euro 2008. England had infact ripped apart their nemesis in the Euro Campaign, Croatia, in both their qualifying matches. It seemed as if Fabio Capello had finally turned a group of world class players into a World Class team. But, the way England started the campaign put serious doubts over that claim. England were unlucky that they conceded a freakish goal against USA but the fact is they werent outrightly the best side on the field that day nor were they when couldnt score a single goal against minnows Algeria. The team finally showed some passion against Slovenia when they were in a do or die game but until the moment Defoe scored, England looked highly uncertain on the field which is never the case with any great team. But they seemed to have found a new will after that goal when things started to move and move swiftly.
Based on that one average performance, England made it through to the next round where because of their below par overall performance in the group round they had to face their perennial rivals, Germany- a team who also were missing their captain-Ballack but not the way England missed their's-Ferdinand. Germany made a mockery of the Endland defence and went on to win 4-1. England supporters can claim that had the linesman not made one of the worst decisions in recent times, things would have been different. But is that true? Agreed that England looked an altogether different side in the last 15 minutes of the first half. But that doesnt make up for the poor defensive performance. I have now followed England passionately for the last 3 world cups. England were underschievers then also but atleat they gave worthy performances. Those were the days when England were said to have the best defence and the best midfield, they were just missing good strikers and a good goalkeeper( David Seaman would have to live with the blunder). This time, they had NOTHING. If I reflect upon the performances of all England players, I think Ashley Cole was the only player who can say he performed well. Players like Rooney, Gerrard & Lampard showed that "What's there in the name?"
I dont think this pathetic performace can be explained by any other reason but the disability of the Eneglish players to play in crunch matches for their nations. Look at teams like Uruaguay, Slovakia & Paraguay. They dont have a single player who can compete with any of the English "greats" but they had the passion and brought out their best when it mattered the most. The Lampards and the Rooneys I feel are content with the salaries they earn at their clubs. In 2006, Beckham was dropped after having scored a match winning goal and having set up two on the way to Quarter Finals. A player who made up for the limited skill by immense passion for his country was dropped to take the "team" in a new direction. Will Rooney or Lampard be dropped this time? Or does the so called "skill" totally outweigh passion and the will to perform?