Something For The Weekend (242)
No doubt there were a few elderly Germans poking each other in the ribs this week and muttering such as, 'Gott strafe England', after their boys gave England's U21's a sound thrashing in the final of the U21-Euros.
Losing to Germany was as excruciating as ever.
Four-nil was rather worse than expected and as England also conceded three in the second-half against Sweden, it must be assumed that they had certain unresolved defensive weaknesses, which their traditional Teutonic nemesis exploited. Those damned Bosch.
Oddly enough, England had finished ahead of the Germans in the group stage but as ever, when it really mattered, the Germans did the business. Or, more likely, England made such a mess of their semi-final, which they allowed to go into extra-time, that they had nothing left in the tank for the final, three days later. So, as ever, England's defeat arose as much from the self-destructive spirit of Gazza, as from the usual German competence.
Ever was it thus. Für immer war es so.
The consolations were plenty though and beating both the Italians and Spanish, suggests there is not much wrong with English football. All that needs to be put right is the lack of a mindset or management vision, to get them into a final with their best guns on the pitch and the required amount of gas in the tank.
Hopefully, there will be some hurt pride amongst the England boys and when they hear Capello's speech before the final of next year's World Cup, against Germany, they will feel to their bones the need to put things right and avoid the hurt, which has become a predictable English habit, and is beginning to look like an addiction.
The undoubted star of the final was a young German called Mesut Özil, of Werder Bremen. Like all German footballers he has had the occasional disastrous encounter with a peroxide bottle and enjoys all the benefits of an umlaut, which has the fans saying, 'Oooo' before he's even kicked a ball.
Mesut had me scrabbling and clicking for his Wiki entry, to find that he comes from Gelsenkirchen, which is twinned with Newcastle. So it looks like he's the German Gazza, without the mania or quite the mad talent - light or dark.
Good player though and definitely one to watch.
The Confederations Cup offered the only other respite from the heat and the sad lack of meaningful football. The final turned out to be a total cracker, where the US of A suffered similarly to the England boys and were just too leg-weary to withstand the Brazilian tsunami, in the second half.
When Clint Dempsey brilliantly finished the sort of breakaway goal, Villa might have practised on the training ground, and made it two-nil, it looked like it was all over for the stuttering Brazilians and that we were about to see world football stood on its head. But just like when England dared to take the lead (WC 2002) and Ronaldinho bamboozled Dave Seaman with his wonder-goal, so a piece of brilliance from Fabiano created the breakthrough and American legs were turned to lead. Kaka, who up to that point had done nothing except poke a few people in the eye, produced some wonderful wingplay and the inevitable became a certainty.
A bullet-header won the game and just to prove that Brazil are driven as much by passion, as their renowned fancy stuff, they all burst into tears. It was only the Confederation Cup but it surely would have been the end of the world if they had lost it. Dunga was spared the dunga.
Although the pitch looked like it might stand on the annual migration route of the wildebeest, the Confederations Cup proved a useful rehearsal. The main thing we learned is that it is likely to be cool during next year's World Cup (Kaka wore gloves) and much suited to England and the Europeans. As for crime, hijacking and murder? We will have to wait and see, but I can't wait to get my pith hat and my colonial Eric Morecambe baggy shorts. Needless to say, I already have the perfect knobbly-knees for the job (Butlins finalist circa 1980's).
Apart from some unsubstantiated rumours from such unquestionable sources, as Mon's wife's hairdresser, Randy's window-cleaner and the man who paints the goalposts at Bodymoor Heath, there is no solid news of anything going on at Villa Park, as far as anyone can tell.
Even Michael Owen's agent's public auction of his diminished asset has shifted to Old Trafford and so it must be assumed that the ex-England striker's desperate attempt to get paid a £100k a week, have shifted away from Villa and now reside elsewhere. Owen was even caught picketing the gates to the ManU training ground. He's so desperate not to take a pay-cut.
I am not a big fan of Michael as a bloke, his ego was a bit too visible for my taste, and I was always sure that Owen's special status at Newcastle lay at the heart of the club's malaise. His erstwhile automatic claim on the England shirt was not very good for the national team, either. So I won't be heart-broken if he goes elsewhere but just as Sir Bobby extended Shearer's career by surrounding him with pace, when walking sometimes looked difficult for Mary Poppins, I think Owen's undoubted ability to finish could be utilised in the right set-up. I am sure there are plenty of clubs who would be willing to take the gamble but are rather leery about paying him £100k a week to lie on the treatment table.
The question everyone must be asking David, is why, if he is so confident about his fitness, he is so reluctant to sign a pay-as-you-play agreement? He's got nothing to lose has he?
Man United, with more dosh than most, can at least afford to take a punt and hope that even if he doesn't knock-up forty games for them, he might provide a few crucial goals when they need them.
In the meantime, it is only six weeks until the Premiership returns. There is the prospect of Villa's participation in the Peace cup and should they win it, they literally will be over the Moon. (Geddit?).
Until that six-weeks is up, I will have to content myself with nagging Martin O'Neil to go out and buy some quality players.
I've told him once, if I've told him twice, if he wants to start winning stuff he just has to........
Just like the song:
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