Something For The Weekend (284)
I have never been to Blackpool and after seeing some documentary on the telly, when Lenny Henry played hunt the turd with an hotel chambermaid, I can't say it is an experience I regret never having. Although it might get me dismissed as an effete softy who doesn't know a good time when I see one, the idea of pulling some bird from the pages of Viz and taking a dump in the shower, has never really appealed to me.
Everyone to there own, I suppose.
But I took on a roseate glow of pleasure as Blackpool booked their place in the Premiership and proved that romance is still possible in the age when England's top tier is financed by the robber barons of neoliberalism. The fact that Ian Holloway achieved it by getting his team to attack and scoring as many goals as possible, adds to the Boy's Own romance of it all.
The whole thing has so much derring-do about it, that it might be a story by Talbot Baines Reed, himself.
Despite Cardiff's Villa connections and the delightful prospect of seeing Peter Whittington playing in his rightful place in the top tier, I was more than happy to see the Tangerine dream come true. No doubt the Wolves fans will be relieved too, as for reasons unknown Cardiff have a particular grudge against the black country club.
As for Blackpool, Bloomfield Road only holds twelve and a half thousand and getting a ticket seems likely to be the biggest problem for away fans. But at least if you can't get in, there are always those Viz girls to chase and the local B&B's to abominate.
And at least if your team can't score in Blackpool, perhaps you might.
Over in Madrid pragmatism ruled and the Special One got to show us why he's special all over again. There was no arguing with the result as Bayern didn't quite look so good against eleven men, as opposed to ten, and a couple of brilliant goals from Milito was more than enough to render the German team's possession null and void.
It has to be noted that Bayern were probably only there and were only Bundesliga champions because they paid €25m for Aejen Robben. And Inter were only winners because they paid the best part of €30 for Milito, a deal which saw half a team being swapped for the artful Argie.
So despite Mourinho's pragmatic approach to the game, it was not done on the cheap and he didn't field a single Italian.
Even though the world would no doubt have preferred to have seen Barcelona in the final, creating a symphony of pass and move, no Villa fan could condemn Inter for their use of more industrial qualities
because if Villa are going to win anything, they will certainly have to do it in the manner of Inter rather than Barcelona.
The question nagging fans of the European game, is whether, if Real Madrid ditch their dream-team aspirations for more industrial qualities, will Barcelona have to do the same?
With Inter notching up their treble, it seems that pragmatism is once more in the ascendancy, albeit pragmatism augmented with a €30m striker.
If England are to progress in the World Cup, they will have to produce the pragmatism and hope Rooney is their €30m striker.
There is little doubt that Rooney could score a couple of goals like Milito but there are grave doubts about whether England can defend like Inter to make the whole thing possible.
Against Mexico England left the visitors to their game of tippy-tappy and despite looking technically bereft, romped to a comfortable win, mainly due to a brilliant solo goal by Glen Johnson which discouraged the Mexicans enough to take the pressure off England's headless chickens.
The disjointed midfield display where the good moments were few and far between, seemed to prove that without Barry England have very little. Capello's willingness to load Gareth onto the plane in an oxygen-tent, in the hope that he will take up his bed and walk, seems to indicate his willingness to change his own rules when faced with the facts, and the realisation that he's got very little without him.
Luckily for James Milner, he looked so similar to Carrick, that I praised our Jimmy for everything good either of them did and blamed Carrick for every misplaced pass. So according to my reckoning Jimmy Milner was pretty decent and Carrick was pants. Others with better eyesight and less prejudice, said that they were both lousy.
The other sign of Capello's desperation was him putting Gerrard out on the left, which it seems every England manager has tried and with the same results. Whether it was the 2005 Champions League final when Benitez accidentally put Dietmar Hamann in midfield and moved Gerrard fifteen yards forward, or the effect of the loss of Xabi Alonso on Gerrard's form at Liverpool, it seems pretty clear what the super-scouser's best position is and what he needs behind him.
Hopefully, the experiments will be over and we will be able to base our expectations on Capello's first choice, against the Japanese, in the thin Austrian air of Graz, on Sunday. But with tensions building towards the World Cup, I expect the usual sturm and drang, no matter what the result.
That's why England is a bitch: