Why England failed at penalties versus Italy
Shoot outs are a lotery. It is common knowledge among trainers, players and fans alike. Yes, they are right! But only if both teams refuse to practise! Which was the case in the game Holland-Sweden at the Euro’s in 2004. Both teams had no knowledge on how to take OR stop a penalty. So the lucky ones (Holland) won against the Swedes, where Mjellberg took (and missed) his first penalty since he was….6 years old. Now, finally, England practised on taking penalties, after losing out on 5 earlier occasions. And still failed to win…how is this possible? There is only one possible reason, the Italians practised in a better way! When only one of both teams in a shoot out train on taking penalties, the team that does not practise almost always loses. And when both teams practice…well, the the team that practises in the best possible way wins. If we take a look at the penalty of Young, one can see that the player is running towards the ball in a way that is indicating a high shot. Because his body is leaning too much backwards the ball will almost certainly go too high. He was lucky even to hit the bar! In the case of Cole, the goalkeeper (Buffon) just did not go for the players initial deviation to the right (of GK). In any case, the ball still has to go higher than Cole’s shot that followed. Now it was an easy catch for Italian goalie Buffon. A coach like Roy Hodgson should know that and prepare his players accordingly.
England coach Roy Hodgson told the international press after the game that penalties are un-trainable. We know now that he is completely, utterly and totally wrong.
Both Cole and Young scored at the trainingsessions, so why did they miss? Maybe beacause they trained in the wrong way! Or, maybe they practised without any pressure. And maybe they trained with….lousy (2nd or 3rd) goal keepers! Take Ruud van Nistelrooij. When he played at SC Heerenveen, his trainer, Foppe de Haan, let him take 1 (one) penalty after each training session. If he missed, he had to pay drinks to the whole team. At Heerenveen, he never missed. After leaving SC Heerenveen his stats deteriorated. At PSV, he was still very reliable. At Manchester, after the first two years, he started missing, and at Real, other players became better penalty takers. After that, it was downhill all the way…he did not practice (enough) after leaving Heerenveen.
In the end, the bad result of England is mainly due to a lack of technique. Just look at the way Pirlo took the penalty, a real Panenka, and Young and Cole. England practised. For the first time. One can not expect to be a great violin player after one lesson. So please England managers keep up the good work. Next time you’ll beat Holland. We refuse to practice, you know.
This is just a short response to the shoot out Italy-England. Please stay informed via this website, webmaster Professor Penalty, researching penalties since 1998.