Something For The Weekend (291)
I mean Howard not Harry. Harry may not have been quite the full Elvis but he sure had his moments. Howard on the other hand, haunts the dread dreams of the dismally disappointed and frustrated football fans, across the globe.
Up until Sunday night, Villa fans might have had their complaints about Howard dismissed as the sour grapes of poor losers, but England's representative in the World Cup Final, repeated the failings of the FA Cup Semi-final in spades and in front of a television audience of 700 million.
He was shockingly inept and the Villa fans were vindicated.
It seemed that, in an effort to avoid the accusation that he spoilt the World Cup final, he set out with the idea that it was his responsibility alone, to keep 22 players on the pitch, and having been relieved of that
responsibility themselves, the Dutch players responded predictably by kicking everything in a different coloured shirt, they could get close to.
Sadly, Howard Webb produced a spectacle which shamed the game and then having let too much GBH go unpunished, he had to make some aberrant decisions, to produce the result which justice and the world demanded. Worse still, was that his poor decisions, in the minutes before the winning goal, gave credence to the Dutch claim that they had been robbed, by crass and glaring errors.
So he not only failed to save the game, he got all the blame in the end, as well. It seems his idea of what his role and contribution to a game should be, is in desperate need of a rethink.
But no doubt, the Webb apologists (and there are plenty) would make the claim, that without Howard's contribution, the game would have been as tedious as one of those three hour continental movies, which inevitably include the word 'longueurs' in the review, because the reviewer can't quite bring themselves to use the words, 'arse-ache'.
Using the same rule of thumb, the game was bound to recall the oeuvre of Ray Wilkins, for anyone who can remember how he played.
No one can deny the fact that Spain pass the ball like no one else (even if that is true of England too, for other reasons) but their habit of not playing a central-striker, except when they were desperate enough to play Llorente against Portugal, seems like a negative evolution of the game.
No doubt this will be a cause of celebration for some chairman, as they can now avoid shelling out the big bucks for a centre-forward and tell the fans, the team is going to play like Spain.
Meanwhile the Germans have been handed their Ä360 000 bonuses for finishing third but this needn't upset England's golden generation too much, as it amounts to little more than a fortnight's wages for top performers like Frank Lampard and John Terry. Wayne Rooney won't be too unhappy either, because Man United are to give the boy a rise, to ensure that his stunning World Cup performance will not attract too may head-hunters.
Its been a good week for Rooney all round, after he won his court case, where some company were suing him for the loss of their share of his recent image-rights. This has made him instantly £4.5m better
off. What he doesn't know yet is that there are a lot of England fans queuing up to sue him for hurt feelings and disappointment, after his World Cup performances. The legal term for this sort of thing is known as a class action, but in this case, it will be referred to as a lack of class action. (Geddit? Okay, please yourself!)
C'est la vie, but it looks like we will have to forgive him at lightning speed because England play Bulgaria, in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, on September 3rd (yes folks, your suffering resumes that quickly) and now that Emile Heskey has retired from international football, Sir Wayne will have to take even more of the share of the blame. And unless Defoe proves himself to be the team-player we know him not to be, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be much talk about Emile's contribution and some pious talk about patriotism, should he decline to return, if asked.
I am not sure Carragher never regretted his own change of mind.
But the good news for England fans is that their team has actually gone up a place in the FIFA rankings, since the World Cup and they now find themselves rated 7th in the world, one place behind Uruguay (population 3.5 million) and two behind the Argies in 5th. The question the fans are asking, is which of the many great England World Cup performances won them the promotion but the unfortunate answer is, Italy. Yep, there is something the English need to thank the Italians for apart from Lambrusco and Lamborghinis - the Azzurri were so bad, they made England look good. Quite a feat, when you come to think about it.
You have to laugh, or Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!, as the Italians
Vesti la giubbi because the show must go on:
All this maintains England's status as top seeds and means, they can avoid the teams who usually beat them, until the next tournament finals, when the fans will find out the truth all over again - should they qualify. But it might be a good idea to start discussing the resurrection of the Home Internationals, to give England something to do, in summers to come.
England are required to do something Spain failed to do, to qualify for Euro 2012 - beat Switzerland.
Back in Brum the Villa unveiled their new kit and sponsors to the gathered handful, and their choice of a Greek finance company FxPro did not pass without a chuckle of irony from the fans, as it invited speculation as to whether they now need the money a bit more than they did when they were parading their compassion, with the Acorns logo, a little while ago.
With all the fan-talk being about who they will sell in the next few weeks, rather than who they will buy, Villa expectations have slipped back in the face of what looks like professionally managed PR.
Have no doubt that Villa still have a very decent squad, whether they buy or not, but no one can avoid acknowledging that things can stagnate if new blood is not continually drafted in. As every Liverpool pundit will tell you for nothing and more times than you might prefer - a club needs to buy when it is strong.
And that is as true now as it ever was.
I want = Ich Will!
Keep the faith!