Sunday, July 04, 2010

World Cup memories of 1974

One of the great Football World Cup finals was in 1974 when Germany played The Netherlands and won 2-1 despite conceding a penalty in the opening minute. That was Cruyff v Beckenbauer and Neeskens v Muller of course – and was the first of two near misses for that great Dutch team. History might just repeat itself in South Africa. Surely the Holland side will be too good for Uruguay and this exciting German team has a decent chance of beating current tournament favourites Spain?

In refreshing my memory about 1974 I looked at Brian Glanville’s seminal history of the World Cup – and came across this curiosity.
It was a group game between Italy and Argentina and was, as Glanville put it, “…a nightmare and a humiliation for the Italians”. Here is how Glanville described one of the key features of the match:

“Quite what possessed Valcareggi, the Italian manager, …to set his own creative inside-forward, Fabio Capello, to mark [Housman – the Argentina winger] heaven knows. At all events Capello, turned by this error into a full-back, was run ragged by Housman, who scored a lovely goal…Too late Valcareggi understood what was happening [and] pushed Capello upfield…”

Fabio Capello, 2010 version and presumably 36 years wiser, might have remembered his old Manager’s errors when picking his England team and deciding on playing formations. Wasn’t it a lack of creativity, a stiflingly predictable playing system and some curious team selections which helped scupper England? The truly creative players – Walcott, Lennon, Rooney, Wright-Philips even Defoe and Crouch unperformed because they were either discarded or given the wrong things to do. Just like Fabio himself way back in ’74 perhaps? Odd isn’t it?