England found a novel way to help out the fans back home who can't stand the sound of vuvuzelas last night: play so poorly that viewers are compelled to change the channel.
Fabio Capello's side were so bad that flicking over to Gardeners World Live, or even the woeful Godfather Part III, would have been a better proposition than watching Our Boys labouring to an insipid 0-0 draw with Algeria in Cape Town.
Early Boers would have loved to have had access to such distractions at the Green Point Stadium. Never mind watching the bird that perched on the roof of the Algeria net, at one point EB became hypnotised by the flight of a moth above the stand. Frank Lampard was readying himself to take a corner at the time. Watching an insect dancing in the gaze of the floodlights was more compelling.
Booing your team is rarely condoned on these pages, but the thousands of fans who made the long and expensive journey, and effectively made the match a home fixture despite it being 6,000 miles away from London, had every right to vent their frustration.
One fan even went to the lengths of invading the dressing room and confronting David Beckham. At any other tournament, he would have been one of the first culprits to criticise, but this time he is without blame.
The relief that David James completed 90 minutes of football without making a heinous error, despite the best efforts of prompting him into one by his defenders, is an indicator of just what sort of state that the team is in.
Too often England have managed to somehow smuggle their way to victory past far lower-ranked sides who have outplayed them, but without the hazardous Wembley pitch to hamper their opponents they are being found out. No one can argue that Algeria were not the better side.
Any prediction of a comfortable victory against Rabah Saadane's team now looks rather foolish. The pre-match results sweepstake amongst the journalists following England has, unsurprisingly, rolled over to the next match.
It's been a bad trip to Cape Town all round for the English press corps. Phones have been stolen, bags have been lost, and one reporter was arrested on Thursday for trying to jump a fence at the ground.
After the draw against USA, a few writers entered the coach doing impressions of Private Fraser from Dad's Army ("We're doomed"), but they embarked the coach last night with little more than stony silence and a few not-so-ironic jokes about starting a 'bring back Sven' campaign.
How has it come to this? How have England managed to degenerate so far since qualifying? Since they beat Croatia 5-1 at Wembley last September, there has not been a single performance that has truly inspired confidence in the team.
The records will forever show the ensuing results against Belarus, Egypt, Mexico, Japan and even Platinum Stars as victories, but England did not look good in any of them.
The loss of Rio Ferdinand before the tournament was a blow, certainly, but England are fortunate enough to have stronger reserves in central defence than any other position. And how they need to mine them now. Jamie Carragher's suspension for the next match has further shortened the average life expectancy of an England centre-back. If selected, expect Michael Dawson's first cap to last about five minutes.
Wayne Rooney was rushed back from injury and run into the ground by Alex Ferguson for Manchester United's ultimately fruitless end-of-season drive. Still in search of his first World Cup finals goal, he elected to vent his frustration by directing some colourful language at his captain, Steven Gerrard. Such obvious disharmony reveals that Beckham's presence on the England bench as the squad's morale booster-in-chief is as irrelevant as his absence from the playing staff through injury.
Capello urgently needs to start justifying his £6 million salary now. His offering of the pressure on his players as a potential excuse will just not wash. Are England the only side in South Africa under pressure from their home fans? After failing to reach for the last major tournament, was there not already enough weight on their shoulders going into the qualifying campaign for this competition?
England now know they must beat Slovenia to guarantee their place in the knockout stages. When they met in a Wembley friendly last year, victory was achieved with the help of a Rooney dive that won a penalty. With the form he is in at the moment, that could be the only contribution he can realistically make in Port Elizabeth on June 23.
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After all the excitement provided by the evening matches, the England stalemate was the first headline act that proved a box office bomb. Even a half-decent game would have made Friday comfortably the best day of the tournament thus far.
Germany's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Serbia at least brings the tantalising prospect that, should England not book their ticket home next week, they may avoid facing them in the next round.
Lukas Podolski missed the first penalty for the Mannschaft in almost four decades. After his missed spot-kick he will surely have become Polish again in the eyes of many fans.
Meanwhile Slovenia and USA provided possibly the match of the tournament thus far with their 2-2 draw in Johannesburg, with Valter Birsa and Michael Bradley both scoring stunners as their respective teams showed the sort of fight that England don't look like mustering any time soon.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's nice to see your home fans booing you." - Wayne Rooney fails to see the balance of cause and effect.
FOREIGN VIEW: "The manner in which they played (against Mexico), is unworthy of a World Cup, it looked more like they were playing in a warm-up match. What really shocked me, is the manner that they accepted the defeat, nobody showed any fire in fighting back. One felt that they really weren't a team." - Franz Beckenbauer was talking about France, but it could easily have been about England or even Germany's latest efforts.
BOERMY ARMY TWEET OF THE DAY: "@EarlyBoers Germany miss penalty for first time since 1974. Odds on England breaking tradition in a penalty shootout? I'm not betting the house on it" - Right now, istoyanov, getting to the stage where England can take part in a shootout would be spectacular achievement.
COMING UP: Well, if Slovenia v USA proved anything, it's that you just can't tell where the next cracking game is going to come from. Follow live text commentary of Netherlands v Japan (12:30), Ghana v Australia (15:00) and Cameroon v Denmark to make sure you don't miss out on the next one.
Armchair Pundit gives you his latest World Cup cheat sheet, plus expert analysis from Arsene Wenger and co.
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