ED has an appointment at the dentist later this afternoon.
The idea of making the appointment for today was simple:
surely nothing could be a more powerful analgesic than the prospect of sitting
through an evening of meaningless international friendlies.
In the normal run of events, international friendlies can be
relied upon to provide 90 minutes of such brain-numbing dullness that the sheer
tedium of the spectacle acts as a giant off-switch to the human nervous
This phenomenon is easily observable no matter where you
choose to watch the game. Fans in the stands turn into glassy eyed, mumbling automatons;
those watching in crowded pubs end up having a quick 50 pence in the fruit machine
while the game is going on; while viewers at home find themselves flicking over to
the other side to see what's happening in Eastenders, or nodding off beside half-finished
cans of beer while the cat snoozes peacefully on their stomachs.
By rights, this week's friendlies should have been as bad as they get: with
the World Cup just behind us, and new football seasons across Europe either imminent
or freshly begun, never has watching a glorified and televised training session seemed more
So by the simple act of scheduling an evening of extreme
pain to coincide with an evening of temporary brain death, ED thought it would be
saved from having to blow its wages on pain killers at the pharmacy counter in Boots.
Yet when England trot out onto the pitch and Wembley tonight,
there will be so many different intrigues, sub-plots and novelties on show that it actually
promises to be - dare ED say it? - a fascinating night of football.
Actually, forget the 'trotting out onto the pitch' bit - the
action will begin half an hour or so beforehand, for the simple fact that ITV is
broadcasting the game. After their gaffe-strewn World Cup - which included HD
viewers missing England's goal against the USA - we'll be waiting fascinated to
see whether they can get through the match unscathed.
Will they cut away to a re-run of Airwolf just as a
Hungarian striker gets taken down in the box? Will Gareth Southgate have remembered
to wash his hair? Will disgruntled BBC executives have snuck in to put a
whoopee cushion on Adrian Chiles's chair?
Then, when the players run out onto the pitch, the big
moment: time for the booing. ED is pretty certain that most of the crowd will
get stuck in to the booing with the vigour of a drunk at a Christmas pantomime.
Such is the appetite for booing, in fact, that it promises
to be the determining characteristic of the match. Should Ashley Cole
start, for example, it's likely that the booing will reach such a pitch that the sheer power
of the fans' displeasure could 'do a Jericho' on the arch that towers above new
Wembley, sending the ultimate football stadium ornament crashing onto the turf.
Not that it would be a bad thing. It might even improve the
quality of the playing surface.
What ED would secretly love to see, though, would be the players
booing each other. Those who took no part in the World Cup should be given
licence by Fabio Capello to openly jeer those who did.
Even those who did
play in South Africa would be within their rights to boo each other, and perhaps even themselves.
Maybe they should be issued with pocket mirrors so that they can throw dirty
looks at their own reflections.
Possibly several of them already carry such mirrors in any
Yet with all this going on, there's still a good chance that a football
match might break out - particularly if the likes of Jack Wilshere and Adam
Johnson manage to throw off their nerves and produce the goods against a
Hungary side who have won just one of their last nine matches. What better way
to usher in a new era than with thumping victory? And what better way for Fabio
Capello to show that he still knows how to run a football team?
It promises to be a night to be savoured, a fascinating
evening of pantomime villains, Machiavellian sub-plots and fresh-faced
superstars emerging as unlikely saviours.
And, for ED, a night of undiluted agony as its adrenaline-heightened
senses turn the commonplace pain of root canal into a night from hell.
- - - - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"This is low as it gets... The position we are in at the moment is quite
similar to when we didn't qualify for the European Championships under Steve
McClaren." - Steven Gerrard blatantly overstates how bad things are, particularly considering the plights of France
and Italy in South Africa.
He's learning fast, though: if he had pointed out the
obvious - that England (a) did at least qualify for the tournament in impressive style,
(b) made it through the group stage, winning a critical game against Slovenia just
when needed, and (c) demonstrated admirable attacking zest against Germany,
even if their Light Brigade-style charge ended in a series of outrageous sucker-punch goals on the counter-attack - then he'd have been pilloried with "Gerro
defends World Cup flops" headlines.
FOREIGN VIEW: China's
youth team reached the semi-finals of an international U18 football tournament
when their South Korean opponents staged a walk-off after two of their players
were dismissed late in the match. China
were 1-0 ahead in the second half when the first player from the South Korean high school All Star
team was red carded in the 79th minute for a foul. One of his team mates
followed eight minutes after spitting at the referee, prompting Korean coach Nam Ki-young to call his players
back to the dressing room, refusing to let them play on. China were awarded a 3-0 win
and a place in the semi-finals.
COMING UP: England
kick off against Hungary at 8pm, and we'll have build up from an hour or so before then, plus full live comments from the match. We'll also be covering Ireland v Argentina, Wales v Luxembourg, Sweden v Scotland, Montenegro v Northern Ireland, Denmark v Germany and Norway v France. Plus, you can follow live scoring from the dozens of international
friendlies taking place today in one convenient place. We've also got live coverage of today's action from the European Swimming Championships in Budapest.