Something For The Weekend (113)
By Steve Wade
Its been a good news, bad news, sort of week. First I heard that the thong is now out of fashion - that aesthetically dubious cradle of the female nether treasures - which I suppose is good news for those blessed with the sort of hips, which made the wearer look like they were victims of some misfortune with a trebuchet, but I suppose it must be bad news for those who quite like walking around all day feeling like they are balancing precariously on a piece of dental floss. For connoisseurs of that sort of thing, of which I have known a few, it seemed to prove that some things are wonderful in theory but in reality, when subjected to the female inability to decide whether they themselves are suitable wearers of such unforgiving accoutrements, proof really is in the puddings. Alas, small boys might have been robbed of something which so readily converted into a sling-shot but pleasingly the replacement article, is a huge advance, I'm told, in both comfort and aesthetics and definitely a step forward as regards the equality and relief of women everywhere, is concerned. Alas the demise of the thong, in my case, was akin to hearing of the death of a highly-esteemed friend of a friend, of whom I'd heard so much good about but who I never got to meet, before their untimely extinction.
But what has this anything to do with football I hear someone ask. Well it is the sort of thing that I force myself to think about when I really don't want to contemplate the rather sad state of the national football team.
Having traded in the Volvo, with its dual-braking and emphasis on safety, they wheeled out the McClaren which is a strange red colour and looks to have evolved from an old Scottish marque but is taken to be English, which would make it a Hillman Imp, I suppose. Having put in a few stunning practise laps and managing to convince the usual suspects that they deserved a place at the front of the grid, they duly passed the chequered flag (red and white), on Wednesday, as losers. Just like said Imp, with its light-weight aluminium engine (over-heating led to cracks appearing), it proved to be unreliable. Less Coventry Climax and more zilch in Zagreb. It had its comical moments too, even if I didn't laugh much myself.
Compared with this, contemplating the evolution of women's panties, is rather soothing and even consoling, in a lubricious sort of way.
It was rather gratifying to have my prognostications proven correct, as England reverted to type so quickly, and I think I understood a little better what it was that Sven brought to the England team, or more accurately what he took away. In the few games McClaren has been in charge, I have noticed a return to that old English trait of diving-in and when Gerrard got his yellow card, which kept him out of the Croatian game, I couldn't help but think of Gazza's famous and disastrous lunge, in that seminal semi-final, which has ever since been celebrated as a quintessential example of heroic English loss. It is the sort of passion which Rooney is so eager to reproduce and it was a sign of Sven's imminent departure, that the lad took the earliest opportunity to demonstrate his talent for it. It is the sort of passion, which, when absent from the game of foreigners, prompts us to brand them as robotic or calculating - our favourite condemnation of the Germans. When the Latins play it dead-pan, we call it cynical. I think my sincere admiration of Riquelme stems largely from his cool modus operandi, which rarely strays into the histrionics beloved by many. In comparison, England players seem to specialize in looking particularly anguished, even when they are winning. What ever happened to the stiff upper lip?
Another unfortunate trait which seems to be gnawing at the vitals of the English game, is the tendency to avoid personal responsibility, at all costs. Somehow Ronaldo was given the blame for Rooney stamping on another gentleman's knackers, and David James' excuses are legion, so we can't really expect Robinson to step forward to explain that keeping your eye on the ball is considered fairly basic stuff in the goalkeeper's coaching manual. If we can manage a ho-hum over Blair's intervention in Iraq, a dastardly divot should not prove much of a problem. It wasn't even crucial and it seemed, on further consideration, a waste of a fairly decent bit of grief, which would have been better left for a more important occasion. The worst consequences for Villa fans was the re-run of the so-called Enks blunder, which, being that in my opinion, he never actually touched the ball, is a bit like using the Dreyfus conviction, to make a case against the Jews.
But you know what really scared me and what triggered my escape into female lingerie? It was the thought that if McClaren proves as bad as I dread, then sooner or later the FA will come a-knocking, as they attempt to prize away a certain manager, native born of the British Isles, who is presently proving that he just might be a better choice, than the ex-Middlesbrough chappie. To recycle the old Woody Allen joke, I think the Villa management should put a notice on the gate, which says: 'We already gave!'.
In other words, tell them, 'knickers'.