Something For The Weekend (286)
Let the football purdah begin!
I'll be taking the phone off the hook and will be telling the butler to tell all callers that I am not at home for the next month and I am looking forward to weeks of never having to think of a more elaborate excuse not to go out, than I am watching the World Cup.
Four weeks of wall to wall top quality footie, only interrupted by the odd England game - is something to look forward to.
As us stalwarts of the sofa know full well, its a bit of a marathon and perhaps some matches will best be recorded and then watched at X2 on the VCR, but it is much better than what I understand to be
called real life.
Close consultation of my notes from 2006 has enabled me to compile a check-list of dos and don'ts, or more accurately a list of don'ts.
Don't drink beer during the daytime matches because you'll fall asleep and get too angry.
Don't eat endless salty snacks because they take the skin of the roof of your mouth. Don't hate the Germans too much because you'll only feel miserable when they win. Don't pretend that the rules of the game can be extrapolated from the decisions that referees make. Don't pretend that the political desire to keep an African team in the competition won't affect the results. Don't think that the word 'mature' can be applied to Rooney. Don't pretend England can win it and that there is a conspiracy to stop them. Don't take it out on the missus just 'cause England lose (mine's inflatable so I can do what I like).
Note to self - send for puncture repair-kit.
Do accept it is going to end in disappointment and that eventually the whole four weeks is only likely to yield enough good bits for a thirty minute TV special at the end of it. Do remember that you'll be expected to return to something like a normal life afterwards.
Oh yes, and four weeks is a long time to spend without thinking about girls, so here's Kylie in her knickers (and who cares about the tune?):www.youtube.com
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Nice work if you can get it.
Of course its not going to be an easy watch for Villa fans because ever since £30m has been the asking-price for James Milner, you can't help feeling like some bloke who has just discovered he's got a million-pound treasure on the Antiques Roadshow, and is trying to get it home on the bus unbroken.
Let's just hope Villa have updated their insurance on the lad, since his value went up.
But as far as England are concerned, from recent matches, no matter what the papers have said, they don't actually look too bad once Capello quits trying out some bastardised Frankenstein formation, to see if Wright-Phillips could be used in goal, or whether Carrick can actually play.
Milner had a great game playing a little bit further forward, against Platinum All Stars, and Heskey demonstrated how he creates room for other players, for a couple of the goals. Big Emile might not score as many goals as Crouch but he's rather less static, in and around the penalty area. Only fans who are ball-watchers fail to see it. Which basically means most of us.
And I actually quite like the idea of Stevie Gerrard as captain, even if it was hilarious listening to him, telling us how he never swears and how wrong it is to do so.
So England are looking capable if not quite spectacular.
If Barry proves to be fit, he looks capable of providing the sort of protection England's back-four will obviously need and offer enough security for Gerrard to get forward and combine creatively with Rooney.
For me, the key player as regards the tournament is Joe Cole. I just think he adds an extra dimension which is missing when he's not there and provides a lot more variation in the play. He seemed to reach
a peak under Jose at Chelsea, when he gave up the over-elaboration stuff and suddenly looked twice the player he had been up to then. Just like when Villa had the team with two brains, when Merson and
Carbone (still playing at 38) combined so well, I think the combination of Rooney and Cole in those deep-lying areas outside the box, makes for a very tricky combination to deal with. And, played out wide, I think his final-ball is better than the two speed-merchants in the squad. Obviously Villa's Ashley Young has the technique and really should be there, but it seems Capello found him a little too diffident for his liking, this time round.
Next time Ashley, next time!
But that's enough of the positives. If we are going to get through this thing together and not get sucked into that killing maelstrom called hope and expectation, we will need to keep in touch with our negative emotions, too. Four weeks of faith, hope and charity, can only lead to madness.
Luckily there will be plenty of help at hand to keep our teeth grinding, our fists clenched, and our necks stiff with indignation.
This is where the TV commentators will come in handy, with their idiotic opinions, inane banter and simpering apologies for incompetence, foul play and criminally poor refereeing.
There will be that horrible gargling sound which John Motson emits when he's trying to sum up something superlative England might have done, or the nasal braying way he says Wayne Rooney.
Then there will be Clive Tyldesley who is guaranteed to put on that horrible pandering voice, which I always associate with his lick-spittle commentary every time Man United are playing in the Champions
League, as he crawls up Old Trafford's collective arse.
There will be plenty of reasons to flip the channel or throw stuff at the telly, to keep us all nicely grounded.
But don't think for a minute it is going to be easy. Four weeks is one hell of a long time to stay interested and sooner rather than later you are going to suffer hype-fatigue, or witness a game so bad, or a decision so bent, that you'll want to throw the towel in.
The only thing is to hang in there and hope that the next match might be as good as the 1970 final and you will get to witness why they call it the beautiful game.
It just might happen.
And if it does get boring, there is always girls in their underwear to think about:www.youtube.com
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Keep the faith!