Each week on languagecaster’s podcast we feature a main report and on this week’s show we spotlight England in our look at countries taking part in the 2010 World cup in South Africa. You can listen to the report by clicking above and can read the transcript below.
England, the home of such icons of football as the FA cup, Wembley stadium and David Beckham, is the largest and most populous country in the United Kingdom. It is also the UK’s most successful nation in the World Cup: it won the competition in 1966, reached the semi-finals in 1990, and has got as far as the quarter-finals on six occasions. It is also, of course, the country which gave football to the world, and for many years felt no need to compete with other countries in the FIFA organized tournament. When it did finally choose to join the competition in 1950, the professionals of England were given a rude shock when the upstarts from the USA completed the “miracle on grass” and beat the self-appointed best team in the World 1-0 in Brazil. Ever since then England fans have experienced many more disappointments in the Cup, usually after failures in penalty shoot-outs.
England today is a very multi-cultural society, with inhabitants who can trace their roots back to all four corners of the globe. This is especially true in the top-tier of its football league. The English Premier League (EPL) now attracts many of the top players from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, and matches from the EPL are broadcast back to millions of TVs in the same regions. Top teams from the league, such as Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United are also household names around the world and have recently become dominant in European competitions. But where has this influx of foreign players and success in Europe left the national game in England?
Well two years ago, England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, which resulted in the manager, Steve McClaren, losing his job. The FA turned to a foreign coach for the second time to take charge of the national team. Fabio Cappello cracked down on discipline and revitalized the team. England went on to win 9 out of 10 games in its World Cup qualifying group, scoring a hatful of goals along the way. Under the Italian’s tenure, Rooney has blossomed as a striker, and Cappello has also brought about improved performances from the likes of Lennon, Milner and Walcott in wide positions, and Gerrard in midfield who had previously struggled to match his club form for country.
So how well will the current team perform this summer in the World Cup in South Africa? On paper, it has been drawn in a relatively easy group, facing the USA, Algeria and Slovenia in the first round. Even if the US can repeat the shock of 60 years ago, England should still get through to the knock-out stages where they could face a stiffer challenge from the likes Germany, Serbia or Ghana. Even so, expectations for further progress will remain high with many home fans and pundits alike predicting a semi-final place at the least. Whether they can manage this will greatly depend on weaknesses in the goalkeeping position and left side not being over-exposed, and of course better luck at scoring from the penalty spot.
icon: symbol, hero, famous thing
to compete with: to play against
upstart: youngster who dares to challenge an older person; (in this case) a team with no long history playing against a team with a lot of history; cheeky
all four corners: everywhere, all places, a wide area
influx: a large number of people entering a country; stream of people; flood of people
turn to: look for help, ask someone for help, choose
crack down on: be strict; be severe; don’t allow any bad behaviour; stop
a hatful: a lot; many
to blossom: to grow; to develop; to mature
stiffer: more difficult; a bigger challenge