Just when you thought we were having another wonderful sporting summer football has come along to spoil things. I like women’s football. It has come on a long long way in the last ten years, in terms of fitness, tactics, and technique. Louisa Necib’s sublime finish for France’s second goal against England is testimony to that.
The problem is that is mainly other countries that have come on a long way. England were expected to do well in the Women’s European Championship. They were runners up four years ago and, prior to the final warm up game against Sweden were unbeaten in eleven games. Apart from France they were drawn in a weak group. Seen in this light their performances and their record of one point from three games are embarrassing. The one point came as a result of a last minute equaliser against Russia. They were within thirty seconds of going home pointless.
The final match against Frances’s second eleven laid bare the inadequacies, the errors, the inability to retain possession, the naive tactics, the lack of fluidity, the slow crablike build up that reminded me too much of the men’s team. If England’s ladies were the second best team in Europe four years ago they are not now in the top ten.
The knives are now out for Hope Powell because of her selections and her allegedly abrasive personality that has led to conflict with senior players, indeed the refusal of a couple of top players to play for England. What will the FA do? No doubt Powell will be hung out to dry but do the suits at FA Headquarters have an idea of who to replace her with? have they considered how the FA Women’s Super League can, or will, further the development of the England team. Early signs are that they are really only concerned about making money.and that the long term development of the game is not the overriding priority.
Before long England will not even be the best team in Britain. Scotland, who lost narrowly to Spain in a qualifying play-off, are closing quickly, this despite the suffocating dominance of Glasgow City in the domestic game, and have talented players developing their game abroad. For example Lisa Evans and Emma Mitchell play in the Bundesliga, for Turbine Potsdam and SGS Essen respectively. Kim Little runs the midfield for English champions Arsenal.
This afternoon Germany will play Italy and the position of German coach Silvia Neid will also come under scrutiny if the holders lose having been disappointing so far. After their exit from the 2011 World Cup against Japan, a couple of German coaches. particularly Potsdam coach Bernd Schroder, were withering in their criticism. He is not a man to mince his words and will surely have something to say. This time, though, the DFB might not be so quick to leap to her defence.