Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Dreary England

Regular readers of this blog will be able to tell by now that I tend to criticize things that are closer to my heart much more than the things I hate. This is exactly why I am writing to tell you that I am quite dismayed with having spent two hours of my life watching England play Sweden instead of using the night to get some sleep.
The score line might tell a different story: 2:2, four goals within 90 minutes is not that bad a ratio for a game that can easily sport no goals at all. No, it’s not the goals that were the issue, but rather the uninspiring way in which the game was played.
To start, I will make it clear that I like both teams. Sweden features Swedish girls, and they also happen to have one Freddie Ljunberg. But it is England that I like more, and it is England that I liked since the days of old; I guess you can blame it on Peter Shilton’s charming individuality or on Maradonna’s unfair hand of god, but they captured me, mostly with the way they always lose with this certain level of tragic panache that makes you remember World Cups by the way England was taken out. A World Cup is probably not a World Cup unless England is controversially taken out: I already mentioned the famous hand of god, and then there’s Beckham’s red card from 1998, or Ronaldinho’s mis-kick that failed to inspire David Seamen. There’s always something in the air.
You have to feel pity for them. They have such lovely characters on the team, poetic souls like Guscoin (excuse spelling), sexy players like Beckham (I can’t stop dreaming about him at night – not), but also stupidly excellent players who never get to properly express themselves (ala Steven Gerard this time around). And when you think about them having to settle with English food all of their lives (the not so English Hargrives excepted), you just have to feel sorry for them.
Tonight, though, I mostly felt sorry for them because they had a manager that lacked the balls to be daring enough to clinch the game using the talent he has on his side. You can accept it once or twice, but the third time is unacceptable, especially as it was obvious it would take the equally poor talented manager on the Swedish side a hell of an effort to rob the English of the first place in their group using the inferior tools available to the yellow and blue side.
Simply put, England was playing in a manner that was designed to minimize the blame that may be attributed to the coach when inevitable defeat comes along, rather than on a way that would make them get the results, or (god forbid) make us enjoy the game for a fine display of sportsmanship and tactics.
Sadly, it seems as though we’re doomed to have a miserable England in the future, too, with the appointment of Mclaren as Ericsson’s sequel.
Which makes me think that perhaps it is the British people that are to blame for this phenomenon, as it is their representatives – in the form of the British press – that drove all the good managers to the havens of more tolerant team/countries (anyone heard of Scholari, by any chance?)? While I am truly glad this approach prevented England from robbing Arsene Wenger from the helms of my team, I think it does tell one thing or another about the inner workings of England and probably Britain as a whole, and the picture is not exactly flattering.

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