Appropriately enough given their retro (very, very retro) kit,
England turned back the
clock last night against Ukraine.
They did not hark back as far as their 1920s-style shirts
suggest, but this was nevertheless a performance straight from England past.
From the unconvincing nature of the victory to the stupid
goal celebrations and the surprisingly muted crowd, this came right out of the
Sven-Goran Eriksson era.
Although we now deride Eriksson's
reign, it had the significant advantage that we always qualified for major
tournaments, and last night's win
can probably afford to splash out on some Afrikaans phrase books.
However, it was a fairly humdrum evening with only Wayne
Rooney looking like he was playing at full throttle - a fact that earned the
Manchester United man a customary dressing down from TV and newspaper pundits.
Late on, Rooney launched himself into an over-zealous tackle
and, even though he clearly took the ball, everyone decided that he was lucky
to stay on the pitch.
Teddy Sheringham took it one step further by asserting that
the tackle could have ended Rooney's
career, although it was not entirely clear how.
Next door to Sheringham and Andy Townsend sat Joe Cole, who made
a half-hearted attempt to defend Rooney, but was no doubt too busy wondering
how on earth he was going to get back into the England midfield.
ITV persisted with one of those pre-match sequences where
the players introduce themselves in an embarrassed fashion.
These things make for excruciating viewing - who really
needs to hear the words 'Glen
Johnson, defender' from the horse's mouth?
This kind of thing is not new. ED distinctly remembers
Italia '90, when the team
presentations were accompanied by video footage of each player silently saying
his own name.
Only Paul Gascoigne decided that he would rather mouth the
words 'f**king w**ker'. As it was an officially-sanctioned piece of film,
British TV had to show it throughout the tournament.
- - -
The biggest shock of the night came in South America, where Bolivia thumped Argentina 6-1. It was always likely that the Diego Maradona era would
unravel, but not as suddenly and spectacularly.
medical history, ED was slightly worried by his assertion that: "Every Bolivia
goal was a stab in my heart." Although it might just have been the high altitude talking.
Argentina's supporters have been quick to point out that the match took
place 3,600m above sea level in La Paz. But so is every game played in the Bolivian capital - it didn't just change altitude for the Argies' visit.
So, given the massive advantage of playing home games at
high altitude, surely that makes Bolivia
one of South America's
Well, no. They have qualified for the World Cup just once
since 1950, and have pretty much no chance of reaching South Africa in 2010
despite last night's result which improved their record to three wins from 12 matches.
So, to summarise, Bolivia
are rubbish, and Argentina
are even worse.
- - -
'There are no easy games in
ED has banged on about this before, but Poland's
10-0 win against San Marino
proves that above cliche is patent nonsense. How many times does a proper
football match in a proper competition see one team reach double figures? Hardly
There are easy games in international football and San Marino
at home is one of them. So there.
- - -
Alan Shearer takes charge of Newcastle this afternoon, which could be the
moment when hitherto jubilant Toon fans realise that the man has never, ever
managed a football team at any level.
That is not to say that Shearer will definitely prove a
complete failure. He might have some aptitude for the job, but we just don't know.
Given the massive stakes riding on Newcastle's
Premier League survival, you would think they would want more than a complete
shot in the dark.
Yes, Shearer is hugely popular and emblematic of the club -
but in what other line of business would that be considered reason enough to
give somebody the top job?
It is like Kellogg's
making Tony the Tiger their chief executive.
So forgive ED if it considers Shearer's
appointment less than, er, grrreat!
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Eeeehhh, eh, eh, eh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no." Fabio Capello's reaction to the contention that England have as good as qualified for the World Cup.
FOREIGN VIEW: Do you want to see a picture of Jose Mourinho smirking bashfully as a gorgeous young lady dances in front of him? Thought so. Here it is.
YOUR VIEW: The pick of the Alan Shearer reaction was this superb rant from st_ephen1:
"ED - WHAT IS IT WITH YOU HACKS AND NEWCASTLE? Why do you always refer to
the lowest common denominator about the fans? I lived in London,
being from Newcastle,
met some nice people some not so nice. Had some good banter. But the likes of
you seem hell bent on throwing metaphorical bags of dog @#$% at the north east.
Why is this? It's not journalism, it's purile lads mag nonsense. Have your giggles while
you still have a job boys. Stay in the worst polluted city in the whole of Europe and mind you don't
choke on your Starbucks. Morons."
ED did not see the Scotland,
Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland games last night, so fee free to
wax lyrical on the message board.
Also: given the rubbish nature of England's
goal celebrations, what should they do next time?