Monday, June 28, 2010

Layer 328 . . . A Win and a Loss, A National Disgrace, and a Game in Crisis

Summer's truly here. It's still 27 degrees at 10.30 pm, and out in the garden there's still blue in the sky, with children's voices drifting through the semi-darkness from distant houses and gardens. It's the first really hot evening of the year.

The unexpected good news is that the English cricketers have defeated the Aussies for the third time out of three this week in the 5-game one-day tournament. Ponting looked pig-sick at such a comprehensive series defeat.

The expected bad news, if you're any kind of realist, is that England have been thoroughly trashed by Germany and knocked out of the World Cup. The writing was on the wall in letters ten feet high, and it duly happened. The commentariat should feel thoroughly ashamed, having tried to talk up England's chances of winning these past few days. The pundits were rubbish. They never had a shred of evidence to support their assertions that England would win - not just this one match, but the final also.

So how was your England v Germany party? Or were you one of those who prefer to suffer in solitude and silence - alone with your TV and free to rant and swear . . . and despair. Fortunately for me, my children invited themselves round to watch the game on my HD TV, and I had the pleasure of having grandchildren around to distract me from the awfulness of England's efforts.

It's not that I'd expected England to win - far from it. In a way I don't even care if they win. But what I do expect is to be entertained by a team playing imaginatively and competently. And did I expect them to do that? Of course not. Grandchildren are much more entertaining.

Not only are England a bad team - they're just a collection of past-it and never-had-it individuals. In many cases they're well past it.

It's a law of nature that the first to mature and blossom will be the first to fade and wilt. At the age of 16 Rooney looked like a bloke of twenty something. He's now prematurely balding and playing without pace or panache. Most of the others are well past their sell-by dates too.

It has to be said also that their preparation, tactics and management were abysmal. Joe Cole had 28 minutes on the pitch in this last game, having had virtually no match practice in the group games. How on earth was he supposed to do well?

Peter Crouch never even made it on to the pitch in ANY of the games, in spite of being the team's most prolific scorer for some two or three years. Capello ignored him from start to finish in these finals. Instead he threw Emile Heskey, who never scores, into the action after it became clear that it was a question of either score goals or say goodbye. Defoe looked sharper than Rooney but it was Defoe who was substituted for Heskey. Lunacy.

Chris Waddle popped up on the radio, ranting very effectively about all the stuff we know is wrong with English football - its organisation, funding, management, coaching methods and so on. Well said Chris. Check out the Radio 4 Today (Monday) website for a replay of Waddle's points, and passion. Round about 8.30.


Will anything now change? Will English football (ie the Premiership) become anything other than an offshoot of the City and the Stock Exchange? Of course not. The selling off of football clubs to ruthless capitalist bastards who somehow manage to get control of the clubs with shedloads of debt which they somehow load on to the clubs themselves will continue to happen. That's why the Premiership exists - to make money for wise guys, insiders and fat cats. Why on earth would anyone in charge of this set-up volunteer to change it when they're getting personally rich because of it?

So well done Germany, with your supporter-owned clubs, your low admission charges and your sensible wage structures. You may not have the most watchable domestic football in the world, but you still produce quantities of intelligent, competent, thoughtful, well-motivated  players who play a damned fine game of football. You played well, scored 4 excellent goals (again) and gave the neutrals something to cheer, unlike Brazil and Portugal. Let alone France, Italy and England.

Japan for the Cup!

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