The Page That Has Mastered One Stroke

World Cup failure Paul Merson says it can't get any worse for England, Shaun Custis says Andy Carroll would have made a difference and Martin Samuel does his usual u-turn...

Last Updated: 26/06/14 at 12:36

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Chapter And Merse
"This is the lowest of the low for England. It doesn't get any worse" - Paul Merson in the Daily Star.

And yes, that would be the Paul Merson who played a part in the failed World Cup qualifying campaign for USA '94. To be fair, he probably doesn't remember.

Dossing It Off
Perhaps we should have stopped reading Shaun Custis' Sun 'England dossier' at the point when he suggested that Roy Hodgson erred when taking Rickie Lambert to Brazil instead of Andy Carroll. Custis is such a fan of his fellow Geordie that he lambasted Fabio Capello back in August 2010 for not picking Carroll after two games of his first full season in the Premier League and wrote in May 2012 that 'ENGLAND'S Euro 2012 glory charge will rest on the shoulders of Andy Carroll'. In short, he loves wor Andy and his love is blind.

But we carried on. For you. To read such gems as...

* Hodgson 'negated Rooney's goal threat by playing him on the left'.

From where Rooney missed the best chance of the game against Italy.

* 'Sterling ended up in a more alien position on the right when Rooney went back into the middle against Uruguay.'

That will be the 'alien position' where he largely played for Liverpool last season.

* 'Bringing in psychiatrist Steve Peters could be questioned because not every player goes for the mind games stuff.'

Not every player needs a physiotherapist either, Shaun. Probably best to take one, though.

* 'Everybody was just a little too happy-clappy when bums needed kicking.'

Honestly, we're losing the will to live here.

The U-Sual Suspect
Martin Samuel has a theory on Luis Suarez in the Daily Mail. It's marginally better than Wednesday's theory that Roy Hodgson's major problem is a lack of goalkeeping cover (apparently illustrated by the fact that legendary Northern Irish goalkeeper Pat Jennings would get into this England squad. Yes, really), but it's still a) deeply flawed and b) at odds with everything Samuel has said before. Standard.

Samuel's theory is that 'everything he despises about the English game is what keeps him in check'. Which basically means that the ten-match ban Suarez was given for biting Branislav Ivanovic last year has somehow stopped him from doing it again. For a whole year. Or 47 games.

'Only the quiet men of the FA's disciplinary arm have succeeded in controlling those animalistic excesses,' writes Samuel, seemingly forgetting that a) Suarez managed a full two-and-a-half years between his first and second biting offences and b) that lengthy ban for his use of racist language didn't curb too many of his 'animalistic excesses'.

Samuel also forgets his own reaction to that ten-match ban in April 2013: 'The FA is increasingly a rogue regime in need of monitoring. Flushed with the success of banning Luis Suarez for 10 games for an offence that previously received a yellow card, the FA wishes to further nail its other racist bogeyman: John Terry.

'The time to address biting was in 2006 when Defoe did it, but the FA chickened out. Now they have Suarez and a perfect storm in which a referee was blind-sided and missed the action, they can appear tough.'

It seems they did an excellent job of 'appearing tough', Martin. After all, they 'kept him in check'. Ish.

The Good Book
The Daily Express' John Dillon is sensible enough to admit that Greg Dyke reading a book called 'Death in Brazil' (a 'story' which made the back page of The Sun on Tuesday) is a 'minor incident' but then loses his sensible head in a storm of nonsense to rival that if his contemporaries at more successful newspapers.

Dyke reading a novel by Peter Robb that describes Brazil's multicultural history through the mediums of sex, food and death apparently 'offers a glimpse into how the English game is being run at the top'. Erm, what?

'Those pictures undermined any belief the supposed crusader in the corridors of power has his mind fully on the job of ending the imbalance between the big clubs and the national side.'

Forgive the repetition, but erm, what? So the problem is no longer what he was reading but the fact that he was reading at all. The snooty b***ard.

Puppy Love
The search for What's Wrong With England (apart from the FA chairman reading books) has taken the Daily Express to Michael Owen, who tells us it's because players are 'mollycoddled' in the Under-21 system at their clubs, unlike Owen, who made his Liverpool debut at 17.

'He says that a player like him would these days have been parked in an Under-21 side and found it so much harder to break through.'

Yes, it was terribly tough for the mollycoddled Jack Wilshere, Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling to break through after making their league debuts at 16, 16, 17 and 17.

Scratch that excuse, it must be the books.

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have an awful lot in common: Both play occasionally for Manchester United, both are incredibly lucky to be at the World Cup, neither has looked remotely any good for around two years. They also now share a new favourite word.

Phil Jones: "I'd like to go back to the club and cement a regular place. I've said in the past few years that sometimes it doesn't really affect me but it is nice to cement a regular place. Hopefully I can do that."

Chris Smalling: "It's the end of the season so obviously we will go on a break and next season I will look to really kick on and cement my position. Roy knows that I am a centre-back and I really want to cement it and be that number one. I feel that if I get my chance like I did today, I can go out there and deliver. Hopefully if I can go back to my club in the summer and really cement it, I can hopefully cement it for England as well."

The building trade awaits.

Sympathy Quote Of The Day
Luke Shaw on the fight for England's left-back spot: "There's not just Leighton Baines - there is the likes of Kieran Gibbs and, obviously, Danny Rose."

Has an 'obviously' ever been less, well, obvious?

Headline Of The Day
'Deeply flawed character has kicked Liverpool in teeth' - The Times.

Worst Headline Of The Day
'Goo or die time, Korea' - The Sun.

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