After the disasters and cheating

4 07 2010

1. England

This last week saw Britain fall under the leaden shroud of despair, the nation was quite literally inconsolable.

As with other times of national grief there was shock and bewilderment at first, then there was anger – “How very dare they laugh at such a time!!!!”. –  When there was calm there were explanations; Tiredness, pressure, overpaid players, overpaid managers, bad tactics, splits in the camp, the sale of playing fields, the end of the gold standard, Gordon Brown, Decimalisation, the wrong type of air in South Africa. Even “that dick Savage” weighed in with an opinion.

Then, as if we hadn’t suffered enough, last Wednesday GMTV greeted us with the unedifying sight of Max Clifford perched on his Rolls Royce. Max, beautifully framed by his palatial mansion,  explained, in clear, concise and solemn language, just how the players had let themselves down, let their friends down and let the school, ahem, he  meant the country, down. More importantly he told them how they should react in order to remain multi-millionaires. Who are we to doubt the authority of a man with such ostentatious wealth?

After the explanation came the advice about how to put it right. Everybody from the tabloids to the broadsheets had their answer; we need less foreigners, we need to practice with the tournament ball, we need 40 hours of PE in schools a week, we need less rain, we need to bring back flat caps, we need less rain, we need, we need, we need.

A week is an eternity in football, let’s scroll back to last weekend….(Cue wobbly visuals and smoke)

Last Saturday afternoon the Jet Set were in Club 147 trying to watch the second half of Uruguay’s second round match. The friendly barman, part of the footballing wing of the Llandudno Jet Set, sauntered into view. Eventually our conversation turned to England’s prospects;

“So do you think England will go through?” we enquired.
– “Oh yes!!” he replied.
“Don’t you think Germany are playing quite well, Özil looks a good player doesn’t he?” 
– “Yeah but we’ve got the players to win as well” 
“Well I suppose….”

Upon reaching that definitive full stop the Jet Set devoted its attention towards Uruguay’s brilliant win, a truly fantastic win because it was secured by a curling shot off the post.

On Sunday morning we arose to find another beautifully sunny morning. We turned on the TV, BBC Breakfast presented us with the front page of the Mirror, it said something like “Roo’s going to get you”. In the mid morning we read the BBC’s website. Steve Mclaren thought the Germans were scared of England. At about lunchtime we strolled past two fellows having a chat; “Well it’s like Muhammed Ali soaking up the pressure, the other guy swinging and swinging, knackering himself out.  We’ll just hit them where it hurts.” At about 2:20 we turned the TV on again, Alan Hansen said something like; “The German side, they’re ordinary. Man for man England are better”.

The prospect of listening to more jingoism meant a trip to the supermarket, followed by a picnic in their picturesque car park. During the picnic we received a text saying England we one nil down. A little voiced spoke to us; “Calm Calm down, there’s still 65 minutes left!!”.  After arriving in Rhuallt (a small village next to the A55) we settled down to watch the classic comedy film “Carry On Up The Khyber”. At roughly 4:30 a commercial break afforded us the chance to switch over. England were losing 4-1. This was not even remotely funny.

Actually three days is an eternity in football, not a week. On Saturday the Mirror told us Germany were scared of lions. On Sunday they told us the English were going to do the Gerries. On Monday their front page said “Rout of Africa -England Humiliated”.

Inside last Monday’s mirror  furious fans demanded the head of Capello, a “World of Hurt” existed, the fact there were “”No Moore Heroes…..” was bemoaned, there was a plea for Goal-line Technology (due to the retrospective help it would give  England) and England were castigated because they’d “PROMISED SO MUCH…..DELIVERED SO LITTLE”.

So how did the glorious England Stars from the Glorious Premier League manage to fail yet again? It first it was a mystery because the Germans were supposed to be crap;

If this was, as touted, one of the worst and most inexperienced Germany teams to play at a World Cup…….”

There’s no better quote to highlight  stunning arrogance and breathtaking insularity of the English media,  even in this era of instant digital communication.  They self-proclaim the Premier League to be the best in the world and hey presto, the English players are the best in the world. The lack of interest, or even memory from the last two weeks,  in relation to other national teams is startling. The Jet Set are not the most astute judges of footballing talent but even we noticed that Mesut Ozil was a good player.

The English media are still stuck in 1930s assumption mode; England are automatically one of the best teams in the world by dint of inventing the game. It’s like 1953, or even 1993, never happened. They can’t grasp that other countries have good players.  To claim that Germany are crap because you’ve never heard of their players is stupid beyond belief.

Even Clive Tyldesley managed to notice that the German squad was a mixture of players from squads that were Euro 2008 runners up and 2009 U21 European Champions, but this passed people by. The fact that the Germany’s  U21s beat England’s U21s 4-0 in the final of that European Championship last year also passed them by. What does it take for people to be warned that things can go wrong. All they say is “It don’t matter. Germany are crap, we’ll do them, we’re INGERLAAAAAAAAHND!!”.

Germany, you may remember, got to the final of Euro 2008, the final of the 2002 world cup and the semi-final of the 2006 world cup. Germany aren’t that bad in other words, so why all the negative rection? You have to wonder, why do people that are obviously interested in football become surprised when England lose?

So we return to the central assumption underpinning everybody’s troubles; England have the greatest league in the world (sorry to repeat it!!). To put the sentiment into to the words of Jamie Redknapp, “Our “Golden Generation”, Lampard, Gerrard, Terry, Rooney, Beckham, would walk into any team in the world!!” But would they really?

Where’s England’s Zidane, or their Messi, where’s their Xavi? Where’s the Cannavaro? Are the Italians crying out for Terry, or the Argentinians for Gerrard, or the Spanish for Lampard? Would the Brazilians swap Rooney for Robinho? They’re all excellent players but they’re not that much better than the rest of the football world, they’re certainly not better because they’re English.

We’re amazed that a lot of people haven’t realised stuff like this before. But then the hype had turned heads again. They’ve had their hope built up again but they’ve been dashed again, forgetting that it’s the distance between hope and reality that leads to problems.

The sense of entitlement has been betrayed again. Why do people seem to believe that England are predestined for glory. Is it because we gave the game to the world? Is it cause we won duh war? The “Iron Pyrite” Generation seems to have dulled the senses of people.  Where does this sense of entitlement comes from?

Why can’t people become a bit more philosophical about it when defeat occurs? Out of the 16 world cups that England have qualified for they’ve won one, they have yet to win a European Championship either. Yet when they’re knocked out again there’s wailing and gnashing. People talk themselves into it, “it’s our turn” at every championship. Why? Why? Why? When people started to come up long-term problems as reasons why England lost why didn’t people notice them before last Sunday? The problems must have been there all along.

When you see everyone hoping for victory it makes you wonder what’s it all for anyway. The moment of joy (hours, days even weeks) will subside. How can it make lives better? France wasn’t really changed by the world cup win. England would have to win every world cup to prolong the feeling.

Three days after the world-ending defeat, the process is starting again.

It’s alright!!! They’ll have great players next time!!! They’ll have players who will give them a “chance at glory of 2014”. By all accounts Jack Wilshire is a fantastic prospect and the others play for  Premier League clubs but the whole argument is in the area of hope not reason.

Wales too have many wonderfully talented young players; Aaron Ramsey, Jack Collison, Joe Ledley, Adam Matthews, Gareth Bale but does this mean we should start planning our trip to Brazil for a chance of glory? We could of course but football being football Ramsey could break a leg again, or just as plausibly, those players may not develop as predicted and then where is your chance of glory? Do you remember Freddy Adu and Nii Lamptey?

You’d think they’s wait until at least October 2013 before talking about chances for glory but that’s the quest for England’s glory for you, it will never be enslaved.

2. Uruguay

On Friday the Jet Set watched our team frustrate and entire continent when they knocked out Ghana, the last African team. As if that wasn’t bad enough Uruguay did it through cheating. The Jet Set were basking in Uruguay’s glory when we first heard the dulcet tones of Andy Townsend slinging the moral mud, “Ghana have been cheated, yes cheated Adrian, out of a semi-final place. I’m disgusted”. This idea spread like a plague over the other panelists.

The Background; Uruguay had cheated because Luis Suarez had prevented a certain goal with his hands in the last minute of extra time. Suarez had earned a straight red and Ghana had a penalty. The world was poised to cheer on the Ghanians, history was about to be created!! Then Gyan missed and Suarez celebrated on the touchline. Ghana lost the shootout and were eliminated.

Not only did ITV’s panelists, and their master- Chiles, use that righteously indignant tone the When Saturday Comes messageboard went into meltdown as well. The usually analytical and enlightened denizens gave in to “Townsend’s Syndrome”. Suarez was a moonfaced snivelling shitbag cunt and his parents should be shot.

Not many things can transform a passing fancy into a stream of unfettered insults and offended posturing, that’s the beauty of football!!!

We’re still trying to work out people managed to feel so much anger. People had obviously forgotten that the free kick, which led to the cross into the box that precipitated the penalty incident, shouldn’t have been a freekick. People seems were transfixed by the thought that the world was going to suddenly become fairer because the plucky Africans had reached the semi-final. Don’t you just detest patronising football fans.

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