Something For The Weekend (190)
Only a week to go until I can stop worrying about the credit crunch and the price of diesel and start thinking about more important matters, such as who to support in the European Championships 2008.
Not as though you'll get a word out of me on that front, at this point, as I tend to decide as I go along. It takes some complicated calculations, on my part, to come up with my coefficient of worthiness, based on skill, moral-fibre, romance and the propensity to cheat or just looking too Teutonic. This usually excludes the Germans but I haven't entirely eliminated them as candidates, just yet, as I cannot ignore the very favourable certainty, that if I support them, then they will definitely lose.
However, I've tried supporting the Germans in the past, with the same idea in mind, but I couldn't keep it up. Such sado-masochism must be grouped together with flagellation and nipple-clamps - only public schoolboys need apply, and besides, it's almost impossible to follow a game properly, if your eyes are watering - high-definition telly or not. Of course, not quite having the sort of legs that look good in Lederhosen, totally disqualifies me. Looking smug in leather, is not something I've ever managed.
Unfortunately England didn't have much to feel smug about on Wednesday, when yet another chapter in our nation's perpetual work-in-progress, opened with the new guy, trying once again to crack the mystery of why Lampard and Gerrard fail to bring their club form to the England team. This ongoing experiment, seems to have the same place in the England set-up, as logarithms used to have in the educational system - the same lesson every year, which no one quite understands but which they never give up on. And its the same old problem of remembering how negative and plus values work together - as the aged amongst us will recall. As ever, there was a whole lot of people unsure about the answer - even now that teacher has dropped the Italian and explained it all in English, even Brummies can understand. As always, it was all Greek to me.
Anyway, all those who watched it, will not need telling that it was very much business as usual. The defence looked decent enough and of course Rooney lost his temper for no apparent reason. Beckham supplied one moment of supreme quality, which took the pressure off, while Defoe played the role of not-quite-up-to-it striker. The midfield, as hinted at previously, had no discernable shape and trying to detect one, was like taking a Rorschach test - it was just a case of making of it what you will. Hargreaves stated his case once again, while Lampard and Gerrard fell over each other, or were
totally incommunicado. And as ever, patience was once again shown not to be an English virtue.
Fortunately the BBC had provided the rather amusing commentary team of Motson and Lawro, which lightened things up a bit. My favourite piece of Colemanballs, from the witterings of Motson, was his suggestion that one day Rooney might be England captain, which he uttered, at exactly the same time as England's problem child was throwing his toys out of the pram and knocking over the furniture. Its on occasions like this, that you begin to realise that his brain is as woolly as that famous sheepskin of his. Rooney just wanted to live up to the hype and was finding it difficult.
Things got better in the second-half. America's finest had run themselves ragged, chasing English shadows, Gareth Barry came on, and with his first touch produced the perfectly weighted pass, which made Gerrard's goal a routine execution. Suddenly a shape was discernable to England's midfield. All hail the Villa hero. Lawro then upset the Villa fans by saying that such a fine pass would put Gareth's price up - something we don't want to hear. With the Yankees looking knackered and a bit fed-up, England relaxed and started to knock it about a bit, which should have given Bentley ample opportunity to demonstrate how he is the natural successor to Beckham but he didn't do a very convincing job of it.
All in all, it was a rather consoling reminder of why England are not yodelling their way to Austria and Switzerland, right now, and why they would have not won the tournament if they had not missed that particular boat. Confusion in midfield, a collection of goal-keepers, who are all cases for care in the community and not a striker worthy of the name, would have made it yet another disappointment, for a nation so deluded by media-hype and puerile pipe-dreams of football grandeur. The quicker England become ordinary again, the quicker they will start winning.
The weight of the whole childish delusion seems to have settled heavily upon Wayne Rooney's shoulders. There is little doubt that he is a very good player but why, oh why, do those BBC bullshi*tters keep droning on about him being a world-beater? He's not even the best player at United and he has been displaced from his favoured role by Tevez. Relieved of the millstone of being England's saviour, surely he would function as a very talented component of the team, instead of him struggling in his losing-battle, to live up to the total bol*ocks, with which idiots try to glorify their punditry with. Its just not fair on such a young fellah and they should let him be.
And after all, he has enough on his plate, what with that wedding and everything - it must be driving him nuts.
Meanwhile Villa's twin stars of Castor and Pollux were sat on the bench, knowing they were not about to get the call but possibly aware that none of the second-tier players on show, had offered anything, that might delay their own selection for too long. Ashley might have confidently assumed that he could have matched Beckham's quality of delivery, for the opening goal (set-pieces are still essential to England's offensive armoury), while Gabby might have equally concluded, that given thirty caps to get his eye in, like Defoe, he might have hit the back of the net a bit more often. Hopefully, if they can ignore the distraction of countless big booted babes, on their trip to the Caribbean, they will get a chance to show Capello, just what they can do.
Villa stars now - England stars of the future?