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Post by The Womble on Wed 24 Jun 2015, 1:11 pm

I've been reading up on and reminiscing a lot about the 1990 World Cup in Italy lately. It was the first tournament I properly remember and have very fond memories of watching some of the games with my dad and my brothers. I still well up when I hear 'Nessun Dorma'. I started thinking about a few things from the semi final against West Germany, like:

What if Gazza hadn't been booked?
What if Waddle hadn't missed that penalty?
What if we had won that game and gone through to the final? Would we have beaten Argentina?

I certainly think we would have beaten the Argies. They got to that final through luck, they weren't that good. We played our best game against the Germans and were really on a roll plus we had one hell of a squad.

Now, if we had become World Champions, how differently would our international landscape be now? How would we have done at USA '94? Would there be more or less pressure on our national team in the present day to perform at a major tournament?

It would be interesting to hear everyone's thoughts on what could have been.

Cheers
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Post by Azzy on Fri 26 Jun 2015, 9:22 am

I think we still lose on penalties, and if we don't, Argentina win back to back World Cups. As great as our memories of that tournament are, it wasn't the best England team ever:

Peter Shilton - old, had declined significantly by this time and shouldn't have been the starter for the tournament.
Stuart Pearce - great club servant, was he international class? Never convinced me.
Des Walker - a player who should have gone on to great things, had pace, great reading of the game. He'd be a wonderful player in the modern PL.
Terry Butcher - heart and soul warrior, vital component of the team.
Paul Parker - never rated him, he was Glen Johnson but smaller.
Mark Wright - solid at club level but again, I don't think international class.
Chris Waddle - superb player, besides Lineker the best in the side for me.
Paul Gascoigne - incredible talent, let emotions get the better of him. Ross Barkley should be Gazza but it shows how talented Gazza was.
Peter Beardsley - another superb footballer, oozed control and confidence. Loved him.
Gary Lineker - best striker England have ever had.
David Platt - one of those players who actually elevated his game when playing for his country. Jack Wilshere is very similar in that regard.

Overall, we had a strong attack but a pretty poor defence, as was shown by Cameroon.

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Post by The Womble on Fri 26 Jun 2015, 10:15 am

I don't think Argentina would have beaten us in the final. They weren't that good. They had a couple of decent players but were nothing special.

Agree with most of the players rating you have given except for a couple. Peter Shilton was the only choice in my eyes. We had our best chance of winning a World Cup and needed a strong experienced goalkeeper. There was no one else at that time good enough to be our number 1. Seaman wasn't ready and was injured, Woods wasn't quite good enough in my opinion so that left Dave Beasant!! Now, as much I love Lurch he was never England quality.

Secondly, I think you are being a little unfair on Paul Parker. He was a great defender, much better than Glen Johnson. Yes he was little but he was quick, could tackle and had a great cross on him.

The other change I would have made was to start John Barnes, probably in place of Platt.
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Post by Stella on Fri 26 Jun 2015, 12:33 pm

We were even closer in 96 (Gazza)

But back to 1990.

It was an incredibly tense game, which either side could have won in playing time. Shilton's attempted penalty saves were our downfall.
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Post by Nakatomi Plaza on Fri 26 Jun 2015, 3:51 pm

The Womble wrote:

The other change I would have made was to start John Barnes, probably in place of Platt.

Barnes was more talented than Platt, but it would have been madness to leave Platt out for Barnes based on their respective performances in the tournament.

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Post by Nico the gman on Fri 26 Jun 2015, 5:40 pm

Nakatomi Plaza wrote:
The Womble wrote:

The other change I would have made was to start John Barnes, probably in place of Platt.

Barnes was more talented than Platt, but it would have been madness to leave Platt out for Barnes based on their respective performances in the tournament.
Barnes lived off a great game against Brazil, bags of talent but disappointed when he put an England shirt on, similar to Lampard.

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Post by compelling and rich on Sun 28 Jun 2015, 12:37 pm

paul parker was a much much much better defender than glen johnson!!!

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Post by dummy_half on Sun 28 Jun 2015, 3:10 pm

The other what if was Waddles's shot in extra time - looked in from when he hit it to about 1 yard from the goal, when it just swerved a little onto the inside of the post and rebounded straight back past Waddle. An inch or so less swerve and it would have been in off the post.

So close to being the hero and yet ended the villain of the piece after the woeful penalty.

Agree with the assessment of most of the players, although as already pointed out at that time Paul Parker was a very fine right back. Shilts was definitely a couple of seasons past his prime, but it's a fair question to ask who should have been there instead.

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Post by The Womble on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 8:55 am

Nico the gman wrote:
Nakatomi Plaza wrote:
The Womble wrote:

The other change I would have made was to start John Barnes, probably in place of Platt.

Barnes was more talented than Platt, but it would have been madness to leave Platt out for Barnes based on their respective performances in the tournament.
Barnes lived off a great game against Brazil, bags of talent but disappointed when he put an England shirt on, similar to Lampard.

He didn't disappoint, he played in the wrong era. When he came to prominence the game had become more about warriors and tough men. Players like Terry Butcher, Stuart Pearce and Bryan Robson were seen as great players (which they are) who always excelled but their jobs were incredibly simple. There wasn't as much expectation for them. Barnes had to much expectation put on his shoulders.

The Brazil game ruined Barnes, people expected him to play like that every game and because he didn't it was deemed to be a disappointment.
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Post by 88Chris05 on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 10:17 am

Appreciate I'm not old enough to remember Italia '90 firsthand, but I have watched a hell of a lot of the matches from that tournament!

I'm not sure it would have changed all that much in terms of how England have gone on in the past twenty-five years, to be honest, just as 1966 didn't really set us up to do all that well (in relative terms) in the quarter of a century following that. Regardless of whether or not England won the World Cup in Italy there was always going to be that dearth of talent in the early nineties with the likes of Lineker, Robosn, Waddle, Butcher, Shilton etc departing and having to be replaced by the likes of Keith Curle, Carlton Palmer, Andy Sinton, Chris Woods and the like, and on top of that names such as Gascoigne and Barnes saw their careers fading somewhat from 1991 onwards due to injury.

Easy in retrospect but I get the impression that an England World Cup win in 1990 would have been similar to Liverpool in 2013/14 if they'd managed to hold on to win the Premier League. A great achievement in anyone's language but to a certain degree down to the stars alligning in a very rare way which only comes about very infrequently. The winning team probably punching above their weight just a little and taking advantage of the fact that two or three other sides you'd expect to be in contention were simultaneously going through a bit of a transitional phase or weren't quite as strong as they were a couple of years previously and afterwards. Italia '90 was deemed quite a low-key, uninspiring tournament where a lot of established stars (Maradona and Van Basten in particular) failed to shine, afterall.

Both Pearce and Platt, who were part of both sides, were always adamant that England's Euro '96 team was a better one than Italia '90, for instance.

I've often heard it said that we would have been sure-fire bet to beat Argentina in the final (even Bobby Robson said the same thing, that we'd have "definitely" won it) but I'm not sure what that's based on apart from jingoism, really. We might have been narrow favourites going in, but that'd be it.

I think the last four sides of the tournament were all relatively evenly matched with equal strengths and weaknesses, hence the tight, knife-edge nature of both semi finals and the final itself. Italy had looked the team to beat with Baggio in good form and Schillachi banging them in left, right and centre (don't think they conceded until the semi finals either, although I could be wrong on that one), but their path to the semis hadn't been a partcularly tricky one. Argentina lost their opener, only just scraped through the group stage as one of the best third-placed finishers and were dominated in terms of possession and chances against Brazil in the second round (Brazil hit the woodwork twice, as well) before pinching it with that Cannigia goal which Maradona created. That little bit of magic was one of only very few high points for Maradona in the whole tournament.

England were no different. Did enough in the group without the results being particularly impressive, got past Belgium who probably carved out the better chances (hit the woodwork twice) and had more possession and then got past Cameroon in the quarters largely thanks to Lineker's two penalties. England played well going forward against Cameroon but  were poor defensively. We played excellently in the semi against Germany but hadn't really shown that kind of form throughout the tournament beforehand, as is commonly assumed today.

Stella, interesting what you say about Shilton's attempted penalty saves. Obviously Shilton was a superb keeper for years and years, but in relative terms he had a poor record at saving penalties. Good reaction shot stopper, dealt with crosses well, marshalled his box and back line nicely - but when it came to penalties,not that hot and never was.

In Pearce's autobiography he talks about that and says that the England team and management were aware of this, and that before and during the tournament Bobby Robson had been toying with the idea of taking Shilton off and replacing him with Beasant in any game in which there were only a few minutes left and in which it looked as if penalties were looming. Obviously he decided against this against Germany (didn't go it against Belgium either where it looked for all the world as if a shootout was on the cards) but Pearce said he always wondered how things might have turned out if Robson had taken that step. Beasant not as good an all-round keeper as Shilton, but a bigger bloke who really filled the goal and put the pressure on you from twelve yards out and with all the time in the world to think about where you're going to put it, and with a knack for stopping penalties, too.
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Post by Stella on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 10:34 am

Beasant may, no would have done better, but the German penalties were very good, from what I remember, just like they were in Euro 96. Shilton apparently hoped one German would smack it down the middle, which of course never happened.

As for the tournament. It wasn't the best overall, but for an England fan, it was cracking, once the knock-out stages started. Platt's winner, Lineker's penalties, and the drama of the semi final.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 10:47 am

Yeah, I do wish I could have experienced it. Never the same watching things back years later when you know what's going to happen and of course it'd have changed my perceptions on that England team in some ways, no doubt.

Euro '96 is the first international tournament I can remember and even at that age I could tell how magical it was. I was spoilt, I guess - thought I'd see England playing lovely football and making it to the very business end of tournaments a lot over the next couple of decades. Turned out not!

Germany's penalties in Italy were very good, but that Euro '96 shootout was ridiculous. I defy anyone to find me a shootout where both sides have been so solid with their initial five penalties. Nine out of ten were as close to unsavable as any normal human being can get, and the other one (which was Germany's third, I think, taken by Reuter) which Seaman just managed to get a glancing touch on was still a pretty good one.

You take and score your first five penalties as perfectly as England did there, and have Seaman in goal who'd already saved a couple of spot kicks in the tournament, then you'd expect to win that shootout every single time. Anyone but those bleedin' efficient Germans.
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Post by Nico the gman on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 4:18 pm

The Womble wrote:
Nico the gman wrote:
Nakatomi Plaza wrote:
The Womble wrote:

The other change I would have made was to start John Barnes, probably in place of Platt.

Barnes was more talented than Platt, but it would have been madness to leave Platt out for Barnes based on their respective performances in the tournament.
Barnes lived off a great game against Brazil, bags of talent but disappointed when he put an England shirt on, similar to Lampard.

He didn't disappoint, he played in the wrong era. When he came to prominence the game had become more about warriors and tough men. Players like Terry Butcher, Stuart Pearce and Bryan Robson were seen as great players (which they are) who always excelled but their jobs were incredibly simple. There wasn't as much expectation for them. Barnes had to much expectation put on his shoulders.

The Brazil game ruined Barnes, people expected him to play like that every game and because he didn't it was deemed to be a disappointment.
Barnes was a massive disappointment for England, name me one game were he dominated in midfield,great players who have expectation put on their shoulders excel that's what makes them great, Barnes when he put on an England shirt became a shadow of the player who played for Liverpool major International underachiever.

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Post by The Womble on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 4:58 pm

Barnes best games for England were before he joined Liverpool.

Look at the Argentina game in 86. He came on for the last 20 minutes and very nearly won us that match. If he had come on 10 15 minutes earlier it could have been a different story.
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Post by Nico the gman on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 5:30 pm

The Womble wrote:Barnes best games for England were before he joined Liverpool.

Look at the Argentina game in 86. He came on for the last 20 minutes and very nearly won us that match. If he had come on 10 15 minutes earlier it could have been a different story.
Barnes gained most of hisi International caps while at Liverpool, which is where he established himself as a 1st 11 regular for England, he was on the England subs bench quite a lot while playing for Watford, so sorry I can't agree.

Don't thing we'll ever agree with this one, Barnes left me frustrated as an England fan I always sat waiting for him to do something special with he's undoubted talent and sadly IMO it never came.

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Post by The Womble on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 8:04 pm

Fair do's I'm not here for an argument. All good Smile

Now, someone said Paul Parker was the same level as Glen Johnson!!!!
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Post by Stella on Tue 30 Jun 2015, 11:12 am

Barnes like many others after him, failed to deliver on the international stage, like they did in the league. He did show glimpses, and had his moments. The free-kick against Holland in 1993 being one.
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