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Bemoaning the English commentary
The problem with the commentary on national games is that there’s no need to be impartial like when commentating on a Premier League game. When Man Utd play West Ham you get unbiased opinion. You don’t have to pretend that Harry Maguire’s a ball playing defender, you don’t need to pretend that endless passing among the midfielders and defenders is controlling the game and you don’t have to patronise and insult the opposition. At a national game you can default back to where you think you, as a nation, are in the pecking order and the problems come when your opinion and reality are vastly different. However, in the prem you can watch the match as an impartial and just ignore the biased stuff that comes out of ex-players mouths in the papers. You can’t do this during an England match because those ex-players are spouting their jingoistic bullshit straight into your ear.
As an impartial, England matches are a strange mix of misery, stubbornness, optimism, pessimism, arrogance, denial and bias. Yes, you should be beating Bulgaria and Kosovo but you don’t have to mention it every five minutes and ask when the flood gates are going to open up. As the Dude says, you’re not wrong Walter, you’re just an asshole. I know the commentary’s not meant for me but I don’t know how England supporters listen to it. Last night’s game was an assault on the senses with that ‘band’ dirging, the surprisingly large number of people who still have their vuvuzelas from South Africa and the nonsense from the commentators.
Not enthused by England? Are you old?
Who pissed in Tom’s cereal this morning?
Let me explain why you feel ‘cold’ at this England team Tom. It may take a while so stay with me…
Oh, look it didn’t actually. Watching the national side is a young man’s pastime. I remember the Japan and Korea 02 World Cup. I was 18. We had qualified that year beating Germany 5-1. We had been in Kavos for that match on a exceptionally drunken lads holiday. I think I slept (passed out) that night on a concrete staircase in a t-shirt and shorts. Then we get to the finals and we are playing games at 9am and its perfectly acceptable (to us) to get smashed for the game and then carry on getting smashed for the next 15 hours. No cares, no worries, just an excuse to have a good time. Yes, ultimately we fell short but it was a great ride.
For comparison, yesterday’s game was recorded because I was never going to get my two-year-old daughter in bed and asleep by 7:45pm. Thankfully my equally exhausted girlfriend was working late and so I watched the game (instead of having to spend time watching bake-off with her). That said, it was still watched on double speed to get it finished before 10pm, giving time to clean up and be in bed before 10:30pm. Why oh why do I not seem to have as much fun watching England, Tom?
Generally I get annoyed by the whole, ‘things were better in the old days’ spiel. Unless your talking about the environment and bio diversity, very little was better in the old days. People look back with rose-tinted glasses because most people were happier when they were younger and full of hope and expectations and possibilities, when they grow up and their expectations for a highly paid career instead becomes dead-end middle management and they have aged like a warm pepper, disdain and bitterness sets in.
Also, picking the England football team for a whine about modern football is a hiding to nothing. I remember the 90’s too Tom, and they were a dreary pile of sh!te. Fashion consisted of iterations of black bomber jackets, poorly fitting dark shirts and nondescript jumpers with a lovely pair of curtains to crown it all. Music was not better, you were just blind drunk. Yes we had Brit Pop, but that consisted two very good bands, Jarvis Cocker and a load of meh. Today’s British music scene is a kaleidoscopic spectrum of quality, from Grime to Indie via Adele and Jorja Smith with virtually every historical album available to stream for a tidy monthly prescription. But most of all the 90’s were about England football being crap. For the vast majority we were a middling national team who struggled as much against the Eastern Bloc as against South Americans. It consisted of watching Norwich thrill British viewers as they dazzled their all the way to the heights of the UEFA Cup 3rd round. Yes Euro 96 was good, but mainly because we had suffered such dross directly preceding it.
This team are different to then. They are more professional, much, much more professional. We need look no further than the pic of Gazza heading the article for a representation of where things have changed. Now we are not technically inferior, relying on athleticism and a never-say-die attitude to make up for pathetically basic coaching and a tendency to pick the biggest boys at youth level as they will no doubt be better suited to long ball football. Instead, we currently possess two exceptional talents blessed with dribbling and trickery, sandwiching our world-class striker. The only real parallel is that Southgate seems to come from the same Nice Guy school of management as Bobby Robson. This England team hasn’t lost a qualifier for 10 years. 10 Fcuk!ng years! That’s home or away. That is insane. We have more talent coming through than at any other point in my lifetime. And like Sancho, they seem a lot more concerned with game time and advancing their careers to be the best they can be, than sitting on huge pay packets and pissing their talent away. ‘Bang average’ they are not. Whatever your inclination toward the ultimate quality of this team, one thing that cannot be levelled at a team unbeaten in 10 years in qualifying, ranked fourth in the world and coming off a World Cup semi-final appearance, is they are bang average, it’s just easy to say that without any real comprehension of what that implies.
Young people nowadays look at us with contempt and confusion. They are increasingly uninterested in following the pattern of previous generations just because those previous generations. “Why did you drink so much?” my teenage nephew asked me the other day after a high-larious story about getting so drunk I urinated on my friend’s couch. “It’s just what we did back then,” I answered, with the feeling like that didn’t really capture a generation’s infatuation with absolute drunkenness. His confused look highlighting why an increasing proportion of young people shy away from extreme drunkenness for either abstinence or just drinking without getting inebriated to bed wetting proportions. They make decisions for themselves. They take responsibility. Not all obviously, far far from all, but an increasing proportion. And the footballers are just the same. They are coached better, more worldly and increasingly under no illusions that attitude and application are as important, if not more so, than talent. Hudson Odoi referred to his time in the local caged astro-turf as like gunslingers turning up to duke it out. He wanted to be the best, That’s what these new players are. They are gunslingers and with a few more talents in the right places, we might do what we could never do in the 90’s, and bring football home.
…Is Tom Reed suffering from hindshite? I too remember Euro 96 more fondly than any other tournament since but apparently I didn’t take our eventual (and inevitable) demise at the hands of the Germans as badly as Tom. Picking the Holland game is a bit cheeky as generally England actually weren’t so hot for most of Euro 96, drawing with Switzerland and Spain in drab affairs and beating Scotland at Wembley. Aside from that Holland game and parts of the Bobby Robson era, England were largely shit between 1970 and Euro 96, struggling to even qualify for tournaments – who knows if we’d even have managed to qualify for Euro 96 if we hadn’t been at home?
So to blame the Premier League for England being rubbish is wrong – England being rubbish is the default. And suggesting the ‘middle-classification’ of football is a bad thing is plain offensive. Apparent middle-class English sports teams in rugby and cricket have won World Cups more recently than the football team. I suspect that somehow England have been rubbish at football for reasons other than class.
We like the current team because it punches above its weight, works hard, appears humble and is led by a man who embodies these things. We have young exciting players and contrary to what people would have you believe are not reliant on any one player (yes Sterling is the man right now but where was he at the World Cup?). Let’s not denigrate this team because they occasionally get beaten by good teams or concede three against Kosovo in a game in which they scored five before half time.
I’m sorry England don’t make you feel anything Tom but I think you’re wrong about the reasons for that.
…There’s so much wrong with Tom Reed’s world view displayed in his article on the current England team, that I struggle where to start.
Firstly, I guess I am of a similar generation to Tom and I loved that 96 team deeply. But to someway be critical of the current generation trying to reclaim the positivity of 1996 summer, is downright weird. Young people enjoying sunny days watching England and drinking with mates is not the sole preserve of a given generation!
Secondly, in the current environment of increasing right wing views in both our politics and press, to somehow have a downer on such a diverse likeable selection of lads that currently represent England, suggest more about Tom that anyone who is trying to get behind this team.
Thirdly (I’m conscious the order’s off here, but I’m p*ssed off), that 1996 England team were absurdly lucky to even get to the semi-finals, they were outplayed by Spain and a horrible lineman’s call saving them from second round ignominy. So to criticise this England team for getting done over by Croatia even though who knows what would’ve happened had Kane scored that sitter in the first half, is just weird.
I guess it’s a curse of age that you often remember the past more fondly as being young is basically much better than being old. But this England team seem likeable, they seem grounded, they play some very watchable stuff a lot of the time and they have got a lot of people engaged with the national team in a positive sense, as opposed to the skinhead-England-fan-throwing-punches-in-European-squares sense. This. Is. A. Good. Thing.
John, Wolves, London
P.S. I understand it’s important to show your football hipster credentials by being down on the national team, but try not to be so transparent about it.
…Tom Reed’s piece. You’re full of shit, mate. Euro 96 was great and for years nothing lived up to it but have you forgotten how Southgate’s crew took apart Spain and Croatia in competitive games about a year ago? Last night wasn’t perfect but this side aren’t the soulless Golden Generation, and a lot of those age group winners are playing Premier League football now – Mount, Abraham, Walker-Peters, Cook (when he’s fit), Calvert Lewin et al. And we didn’t win Euro 96, either.
Sterling not all that, says Liverpool fan
Any chance we can stop the wa**f4st over Raheem Sterling and his performance v Kosovo, yes he was good/above average but he certainly wasn’t a 9/10 or Messi like as someone posted in the comments section, or simply sensational or magnificent as per Mediawatch. To be fair his pace is frightening for defenders but he never seems to be in full control of the ball and Kosovo’s tactics were tailored made for him as possibly will be the better teams we will face and the chance of counter attacks, if our ‘defence (cough)’ can ever win the ball.
His decision-making in particular was awful, running into five defenders when teammates were left and right unmarked, trying to shoot through three or four defenders with unmarked teammates again, even his “assist” for Sancho’s second goal was the result of a mis-kick and very often his execution of a final pass is woeful. His second half performance encompassed the arrogance and over confidence referred to by ChrisJ and HarryB.
I still maintain he is lucky to play/have played alongside some of the best footballers in the world and feel that at 19 Sancho offers so much more in terms of potential than he did at the same age. He has developed under Guardiola (who wouldn’t with KDB and David Silva putting things on a plate for you) and as an England supporter I hope this continues (as an LFC fan, at Real Madrid!)
but I can’t help feeling all the undue praise will result in a John Barnes/Gazza scenario where he is given the ball and everyone else sits back waiting for that ‘wonder’ moment.
As for all the Henderson haters out there, there’s being biased (see my comments on RS!) and there’s blind stupidity, can’t recall the England defence being put under pressure as a result of a Henderson mis-placed pass or error, same can’t be said for Pickford, TAA, Maguire, Keane, Rice or Barkley, if you doubt his worth or what he brings to the team, google national newspapers for June nd 2019, some lovely pictures of him all over the front and back pages.
Howard (Sancho, Kane, Rashford is the answer) Jones
Ross Barkley is confusing
As a podcast host for a Chelsea based series, I feel it is a must to watch all Chelsea games, over pre-season our best player was easily Ross Barkley, top of the class, surely 2019/20 is the season he kicks on and becomes the player he was destined to be?
Sadly it seems not, he hasn’t been great for us in the games he has played so far and wasn’t the best for England last night as many an England fan would shout, have any other players had an incredible pre-season only to then totally fall away during the competitive season? Would love to hear from fellow Mailboxers if so.
No wonder footballers are dull…
Hi there – one thing that has really started to anger me, and the pinnacle was last night, is the post-match interviews and in general the overall structure. 19 year old Jadon Sancho, just scored a brace and his first England goals, is being interviewed for ITV. Now we are being told that footballers should become, or are becoming, more of a personality and have their opinions voiced and become more humanised. A part of me got really annoyed last night for two reasons. Firstly how quickly these pre-written questions are fired at him and how has to (and is being trained to) answer them as media-happy as possible i.e. offer no opinions or personality as questions are bombarded at him. Secondly, he dedicated his goals to his late grandmother who passed recently. He said this, and the interviewer went straight in with another question without even a flinch. No “condolences” or “that’s lovely of you to dedicate that” or “I am sorry” or even one bloody acknowledgement for a NINETEEN YEAR OLD’S recent suffering. It actually made me feel quite sick. What is the point of the interview?????
I’ve lost my train of thought, but sometimes I do feel sorry for these footballers.
A Nostalgia XI
So, we have a lull and no letters, so here’s my al time 11 based on happy memories and stand out moments.
Not the best 11, not the best players, just an 11 each of whom have provided me with a wonderful stand out moment in my football memory bank or put a smile on my face.
GK: Pat Bonner (for penalties against Romania in Italia 90)
LB: Paolo Maldini (for being the first person I saw catch up to and overtake Andrei Kanchelskis in full flight)
CB: Paul McGrath (for his MOTM performance against Italy at USA 94)
CB: Tony Adams (for that goal against Everton in 98)
RB: Cafu (Standing on the plinth – World Cup in hand)
LM: Robert Pires (for his chip over Schmeichel & the penalty balls up with Henry)
CM: Aaron Ramsey (winning goal v Chelsea in the FA Cup final)
CM: Santi Cazorla (for the 1st goal in the Arsenal comeback from 2 – 0 down v Hull in the FA Cup final)
RM: (It’s only) Ray Parlour
ST: Robbie Keane (for his goal against Germany in 2002)
ST: Thierry Henry (for his comeback goal against Leeds)
Subs: Rene Higuita (for the Scorpion Kick), Per Mertesacker (for his performance against Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final), Matt LeTissier (for doing exactly what I predicted – scoring a Hat Trick for England B against Russia and still not getting a call up & for his last goal at The Dell), Gianfranco Zola (Twisted Blood)
Manager: Jack Charlton (For the time he insisted on paying for his drinks in the bar I worked in, so he could legitimately say he’d bought the staff a pint.)
It’s obviously Arsenal and ROI heavy, but these are all moments that make me smile when I recall them to this day.
Anyone else got a fond memories 11?
Doug, AFC, Belfast