Saturday, 19 June 2010

R' Wayne

Cat Deeley and polished helmet joke removed by blogger

There is no such thing as an easy game at international level.
All those teams out in South Africa are there on merit having come through their respective qualifying groups, all the deadwood teams have been eliminated and aren't involved and people would do well not to under estimate any national side, because ... oh fuck it, I'm not even going to attempt to defend the indefensible.
England were woeful last night.
There's no way of tarting it up or putting a performance like that into perspective.
I've trawled back through some fairly extensive and mundane personal archives and I've struggled to recall ever seeing an England team play as poorly as they did last night.
A picture of some cups

The cup half full optimist in me draws a minuscule amount of cold comfort from the fact that England can't possibly play as lacklustre as that again on Wednesday.
But the been there, done that, got several of the shirts (and mugs) realist in me, knows they bloody well can.
In 1974 Scotland were eliminated from the World Cup finals even though they didn't lose a game in the group stages, it isn't beyond the realms of possibility that England are on course to repeat that 'accomplishment' this week.
Some mug shots

If they beat Slovenia on Wednesday afternoon, England will have fumbled their way around in the darkness to finish at least second in Group C and will make it into the last 16, if they draw it depends on the result of the USA v Algeria game taking place in Pretoria at the same time, but that isn't a scenario I can even dare to contemplate so I won't dwell on it.
If Slovenia and Algeria both win their last group games, then England and the United States will be heading home.
England are buggering about in the group stages and leaving everything to the last minute again, its hardly a new method of doing things, in fact it's almost become a bloody tradition ... 'Feel the pain, feel the joy, aside set the little bits of history repeating' itself as someone once said.

Go Shirl!

Or to coin a phrase I heard in the pub last night 'There's the hard way, the even harder way and the England way'.

I'm loathe to criticise Fabio Capello, the man turned around the carnage left by Steve McClaren's brief but disastrous reign in charge of England and he's performed a miracle by repairing the damage in such a short time and leading England to a major tournament.
There isn't a single manager in the world I would rather see in charge of the nation's team right now.
But last night I had to wonder about one or two things.
Mainly, Wayne Rooney's contribution to the opening couple of games.
A fully fit Rooney, unrestrained and tearing around pulling the opposition all over the place and smashing home spectacular goals at will, is a sight to behold.
But through my completely untrained eye, I'd have to say he isn't quite up with the pace of things just yet following his recent injury and Emile Heskey is doing most of his running for him.
An arrangement like that works in a cricket match, but there isn't any room for a spare player in a world class football tournament, not even one of Wayne Rooney's obvious class.
And I genuinely feel it's the right time to put him on the bench and start Wednesday's game with a fully fit team.
No single player is more important than the team, or too big to replaced when the system is evidently not working.
Imagine the prospect of having the Manchester United striker on the bench to throw on near the end of the game if the need arises.
That's got to be the better option, as opposed to burning him out early in the tournament while he's obviously struggling to find his feet and play as well as we all know he can.
Things need shaking up ... a different pair starting up front on Wednesday, fully fit and raring to go would be a start.
For decorative purposes only.
I wouldn't actually buy The Sun.

What are we to make of Wayne Rooney's verbals about the England fans booing?
Well, ironically his petulance might actually be a good thing.
The angry and slightly unhinged version of Rooney is more effective on the field of play than the tethered and well behaved one ... and to that end he's got his stroppiness and arrogant edge back, so his rehabilitation is half way there, all he needs to do now is to really get a sulk on and let his feet start doing his talking for him.
He was definitely out of order and in the heat of the moment let himself down and managed to insult a lot of people. It wasn't the first time he's done it and doubtless it won't be the last.
The supporters who have spent thousands to watch the team playing in South Africa and those who live there but who still have to make expensive long distance journeys given the size of the country, were entitled to be pissed off by a no show from the team like the one we all saw last night.
And rather than chastise fans who've committed so much time and money into being at the tournament, for being unhappy with the awful display they had just seen, it is time for some very well paid professional footballers representing their country to take a bit of responsibility for their actions and to knuckle down to the job in hand.
Rooney's pride and ego was obviously stung by the jeers ... well, those who were expressing their feelings were hurting too.
It is often said that without referees there would be no game, but without fans the spectacle of such big tournaments and the vulgar wealth attached the to star names would be non existent too.
Wayne Rooney is without doubt the best footballer in England, to be honest I don't care about whether he's a dubious role model to kids or not, or if he swears on the TV.
But what I do care about, is that he is going to be burnt out by playing whole 90 minutes in group games when he his blatantly still struggling to find his feet after rushing back from injury.
If England are going to progress in the tournament he will be needed later on, so give him a rest now ... not because he was disrespectful to the thousands of disappointed fans in the stadium after last night's horror show, but because the whole squad is there to use and there are fit players available who will be out of the starting blocks with fresh legs if they're picked on Wednesday afternoon.
I can understand players not wanting to stand down, because it's easy to keep picking a winning team and they might lose their place if their replacements click with the remainder of the side and yield a turnaround in fortunes (ask Jimmy Greaves, eh!?), but it is a team game and though I still have faith and trust in Fabio Capello, the time is now ripe for him to be ruthless and give others a chance, because the system he has stuck with thus far isn't getting the desired results.
If Rooney scuffs home a flukey last minute goal on Wednesday to scrape a 1-0 win for England, nobody will care what he said on Friday night in the aftermath of a pitiful game of football anyway.
Cannon Square, Retford, 1.10AM Saturday 19th June 2010
One needs to eat something to soak up those refreshing beverages one
drank to excess in town ... Urgh! I'm getting too old for all this

Whilst typing up these thoughts about the England side, I received the following message on my phone.
'England are replacing the three lions on their badge with three tampons, because they're a set of bleedin' fannies having a bad period.'
I've actually amended one of the words.
Bad period?
12 World Cup games, 1 defeat, 2 draws and 9 wins.
Hardly the worse run of form in the world is it ... even though they have been disappointing to watch in South Africa, they are still unbeaten out there and 1 win away from the last 16.
I replied to the message, though heaven knows why I felt I had to counter such sheer stupidity from somebody who claims to be an England fan and presented them with the above facts.
Their crass response was, 'Well you can knock the Japan win off that lot smart arse because they scored two own goals and beat themselves.'
So I found myself in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.
'Japan was a warm up game, a practice match in Austria before the World Cup to give some of the injured players a run out, the result wasn't important I didn't count it'
'Well those results from those games should count, you are just using figures to defend a shit team'
Maybe I was. However, I reluctantly accepted that the results from the pre tournament friendlies should be included and countered that there were now 3 more wins from 3 games to add onto the already impressive statistics. And added, 'So England are stuttering a bit but they're obviously capable of winning games, so consider this ... if they win on Wednesday and are then unbeaten in the next 4 games after that, they would be world champions'
I know! But if you can't blind people with science then the baffle them with bullshit rules have to be applied ;-)
The message sender then changed tack, 'How do you think Mansfield will do next season?'
Crap if they play like England did last night, now piss off I'm busy ;-P
England to win their next five games?
I don't think they will do for a moment, but one average performance and one poor game do not a whole campaign make ... and they're still in it.
And though realistically the knee jerk reactionary element of England expects too damn much sometimes (most times actually) and they're openly displaying an obese amount of ignorance and arrogance that lives in a dark murky corner of their psyche' most of the time, far too readily during this (and every other) World Cup, there is ALWAYS hope.
On TV today I heard Jurgen Klinsmann (probably with his tongue firmly in his cheek) say England could win the 2010 World Cup ... I don't think they will, especially if Argentina maintain the head of steam they are building up, but mathematically it is still possible, as long as England utilise the entire squad, ahem ...
Joe Cole ... ready!

It's a very open tournament so far with almost every team showing they can pull off a result on the day, tomorrow Italy play New Zealand, the former are favourites to win the game but the latter have a former Worksop Town player Leo Bertos in their line up, along with a former Mansfield Town player Shane Smeltz and a lad who looked like 'the next George Best' when he was a promising youngster in Barnsley's youth team (a drinker of no small standing then).
I've watched every game as a neutral so far, except the England ones, but might be a little bit biased around tea time on Sunday.
After a tentative start the 2010 World Cup has really started to come to live these last few days ... C'mon England, it's time to join in as well now!
In Leo we trust :-)