Weltmeister: World Cup verdict

world-cup-2014THE GERMAN Commentary from ZDF on the night said it all. A nation and a football association who believed in youth and gave it time to develop truly to become worthy champions of the world.

The mentality towards the national team in Germany is completely different to the Home Nations. The easiest way to describe this is to quote a conversation between Didi Hamaan and Michael Owen at Melwood during a Liverpool Training Session circa 2003. Michael Owen was curious to find out the difference between the view of international football in England and in Germany. Hamaan replied “An Englishman who gets booked in the Semi-Final of The World Cup and misses the final cries his eyes out, a German gets booked in the Semi-Final of The World Cup and misses the final would score the winning goal for his team.

In Germany Die Nationalelf is the ultimate for a player, regardless of achievements at club level. There is no greater proof of that than there being no less than six players who won the 2009 U-21 Euros who are now World Cup Winners. The FA needs to strip it back, back to basics and use Germany as the blueprint for how it should be done. A strong league that does not give domestic talent an opportunity is a White Elephant, worthless come tournament time. A league that allows talent to prosper, playing first team football week in week out, with no atmosphere of fear if they fail, is the only way forward.

My heart goes out to Lionel Messi, the losing captain who will now be harshly judged because he has not won the World Cup. People have short memories. In the 1990 final between the same sides Diego lost as West Germany won their last World Cup before unification. Football fanatics of Johan Cruyff’s generation rank him as one of the top 3 players ever to play the game, and he lost the final in 1974 to continue a theme in World Cups. The best team doesn’t always win it, in actual fact rarely does that occur. Defeat will not harm La Pulga Atomica’s legacy. Four times Ballon D’or winner, winning goals in two European Cup Finals, winner of every domestic honour in Spain. Let the haters hate, it is not the critic who counts.

His nomination as Player of The Tournament however is nothing short of a sympathy vote from the big-wigs at Adidas. James Rodriguez of Columbia is the player of the tournament for many reasons. To score six goals for a second-tier nation in the absence of Radamel Falcao is a miraculous feat. Messi did not score in the semi-final or the final, but James Rodriguez played his part in every Columbian success, including the goal of the tournament with a volley from another planet versus Uruguay in the Last 16. Messi wasn’t even the best player in his own team, Javier Mascherano was superb as a sweeper in front of the back four, playing the role of destroyer annoyingly well. Robben was brilliant, Mats Hummels dependable and calm, Ochoa for Mexico will surely move to Europe in the aftermath of Brasil. Can you believe he is out of contract for his club? Bastian Schweinsteiger was definitely the man of the match in the final, unselfishly doing his job for the sake of the greater good. And yet he would not be in many people’s World XI in the middle of midfield. Since he broke through on home soil 8 years ago, he has been the best player in his position. Winning the lot at club level, he needs only to win The Euros in France in two years time to complete the set. The Beckenbauer of his generation. Superb Schweini.

The Best World Cup Ever? Debatable, but the media getting swept in with the idea of it has snowballed so it will be hard to argue with the assertion as time goes on. 2002 in South Korea and Japan was a superb advert for Asia and the hosts truly thrived in a sea of colour.

For England, just get rid of the deadwood and stick to playing patient football with youngsters. It would be best if you brought in a quota for homegrown players in starting XIs up and down the country. Then we are assured that The Premier League is working for the good of the country rather than for the ‘global brand’.

Such an event will never come to pass. In Germany the structure of the game on the whole is completely different. Ticket prices are low, there is a salary cap, and you are not allowed to function as a business, never mind as a football club, at a loss. If you are in debt, you no longer exist. That would kill off both Manchester clubs AND Chelsea, as well as many lower league clubs in England. Being frugal and financially prudent is for the good of the game. The DFB and The Bundesliga also realises that the best way to increase profit is low ticket prices. The Allianz Arena has been sold out for every game since approximately 2010. That money then benefits Bayern because the money they spend in the transfer market is their money, not Abu Dhabi petro-dollars or a Russian’s plaything. Away travel is highly subsidised and match-day travel is free, your matchday ticket granting you passage to the great ampitheatres of German Football for not a bean. Leicester City, Burnley and QPR believe they are joining ‘the best league in the world’. They will not have away games in Gelsenkirchen, at Signal-Iduna Park in Dortmund or at The Olympiastadion in Berlin, so they are mistaken.

This World Cup win proves that you do it right by having a structure in place and not clambouring to replace a manager if he fails. ‘Jogi’ ‘failed’ in 2008, 2010 and 2012, but like a fine wine, vintage takes time. This group of Germany players now stands alongside the 1974 winners as the finest techinal side The Vaterland has ever produced. But, like Spain in 2010, if a group of players who play with each other at club level graduate to national colours at the same time, it gives you a foundation. Lahm, Boateng, Neuer, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Muller and Super Mario have been given the time to grow together. A great World Cup won by the best team in the tournament.

Plant the seeds and watch them develop FA, and in 2022 this may be you. If you build it…