If you’ve a passing interest in the sport the world outside America calls football but you’ve never had the time to really delve into the whos, whys, whats, whens, and how the hells then this introductory piece introducing you in an introductatious manner to some of the people in the beautiful game may be beneficial.
Since I’m mostly English and we’re right in the middle of a period of qualifying games for the next Euro championships with a crunch game against Andorra coming up tonight (no, I don’t know how it’s possible to reach the situation where a game against Andorra could ever be considered a crunch game either but it’s a crazy world we live in) I thought I’d take a look at the England football team: the key players, the important staff members, the media.
The only player in the squad who doesn’t play in the English Premiership also happens to be the best player to have put on an England shirt in living memory. Of redwood trees. Yes, he’s that good. He may make the odd mistake – getting caught in possession, passing to the invisible pixie on the sideline, assuming his team-mates are any good, etc. – but he makes up for that with intelligence, passion, fitness, work-rate, and lightly-curled hair.
For a long time there was a sports media campaign to eject him from the team on the grounds of "very nearly being a foreigner, what with playing in Germany, who does he think he is, eh?" but former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson thankfully ignored the clueless twats who laughingly call themselves journalists long enough for them to give up and move onto trying to remove the manager instead. Which sadly they did eventually succeed at.
In Summary: Owen Hargreaves = Very Good.
Like Owen Hargreaves, Wayne also often displays good fitness and work-rate. However, he also has a tendency to get upset easily and this adversely affects his game. Things that make Wayne upset are:
- being played in a different position from the one he’s good at and plays week-in and week-out are you listening Steve McClaren this isn’t rocket science sheesh,
- not offering your gran for sexual favours when conducting an interview with him,
- the tedious references to his resemblance to Shrek; it’s getting old now people,
- the tedious references to his visits to elderly prostitutes (sorry about the earlier reference to not offering your gran when conducting an interview).
Wayne was educated at the De La Salle college in Liverpool. I was educated at another De La Salle college in Portsmouth. This makes Wayne okay in my book.
In Summary: Wayne Rooney = Very Nearly As Good As Hargreaves.
Liverpool’s Steven Gerard or "Stevie Gee" or "Ste Ge" or "SG" or "S" annoys the living crap out of me. And it’s not just his football – which has moments of thrill! sprinkled with sparkly dollops of kapow! interrupting long, tedious tens-of-minutes of never hearing his name that annoys the living crap out of me – it’s his interviews after the game too. Oh God! Make the dull man stop talking!
Some people claim that Gerard doesn’t play as well as he could because he’s often sacrificed for some cunning and impossible-to-work-out plan of McClaren’s that means he’s out of position for the game. That’s no excuse for his long run of piss-poor performances for one simple reason: McClaren plays nearly everyone out of position. He’d use a rush goalkeeper if he thought he could get away with it.
In Summary: Steven Gerard = Disappointingly Crap.
Also disappointingly crap.
In Summary: Frank Lampard = Also Disappointingly Crap.
Everyone’s favourite husband of a skeletal former-pop star who is almost never photographed without her mouth open also happens to be quite a good football player. He may not be as fast as he once was but his skill in midfield – especially when compared to certain other disappointingly crap players I could mention – at picking out passes is still world class and his presence helps raise the game of the other players so that it isn’t completely obvious how little they’re trying.
Current Status: The man called McClaren … he says "No!"
Left-sided player, can play defence, plays on the left, can play midfield, can score cracking goals often from the left side because he’s left-sided, has English Violence™ running through his veins for extra passion and crunching tacklability, has played for the England under-21s on the left side thanks to being a left-sided player and, oh yes, did I mention he’s a left-sided player who plays on the left side of the pitch? The fact he plays for Portsmouth is just a coincidence. Move along, nothing to see here.
Current Status: Not in England squad because McClaren likes to play right-sided players down the left side of the pitch; the voices in his head command it so.
The former assistant to former manager Sven Goran Eriksson decided to stamp his own authority on the England team when taking over through a technique called Ejecting and Dejecting. Out went David James, Sol Campbell, and David Beckham. Down went everyone’s demeanour and fortunes. While it’s fairly important to leave your own mark when leading it’s often considered bad form to leave a mark both runny and brown.
If his tactics are based around sowing confusion among the opponents’ ranks and either lulling the big teams into a state of complacency or reducing them to hysterical wrecks and rolling around the field in fits of laughter then it could be that Steve McClaren is a genius. Steve McClaren isn’t a genius.
I didn’t want him in the job in the first place but I said I’d give him a chance. News just in! Chance over.
Former manager, former friend to disabled people, former footballer, current annoying religious pundit with a nice line in blaming poor England performances on foreigners’ abilities to fake injuries and avoid being sent off not like our true, pure, English knights on the pitch who would never stoop so low to do such things, oh no sir. Very useful to have in any half-time panel when you want to squirm in embarrassment rather than weep openly.
The Tabloid Press
These are the morons who spread hate under the guise of sports news, goading readers into supporting schemes such as:
- getting rid of that foreign-loving, traitorous Owen Hargreaves,
- attacking David Beckham for getting sent off after doing the thing we were all shouting at him to do anyway,
- setting up the England manager in a sting operation to undermine squad morale and disrupt preparations just before a big tournament,
- campaigning to have an English manager because only an English manager could understand English footballers and drive them to success in the same way as Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Rafa Benitez, oh shit let’s hope all of the people who buy this tripe actually understand as much about football as us, ooh look, Crouch is doing that robot dance again …
They brought about the end of Sven – one of the most successful England managers ever – and they’re now glossing over the fact that the brand new era of England under English management was one they heralded, wanted, and are in some considerable part responsible for. The media in general needs to be first up against the wall come the revolution and those that read their publications should be second. A shiny ‘Get Out Of Firing Squad’ free card to anyone who makes it through this rant though.