England’s World Cup Dreams are over for at least another four years ago. As in France 1998, they were ended by a petulant outburst of a temper nutured by Sir Alex Ferguson. This time though, the red card was thoroughly deserved, Rooney’s stamp on an opponents knackers being a step up from Beckhams flick of the foot on Diego Simeone.
From the moment that happened, hopes sank. Lawrenson’s hysterical high-pitched whine of “They’ll play for Extra Time and Penalties” being spot on and the best and worst we could hope for. Despite being reduced to ten men, little fault could be found with the England performance from the sixty minutes onwards, save for the usual poor ball retention. Robinson in the England Goal redeemed himself for his early nervous performances by being on the whole calm and a dependable rock. All someone needs to do is give the lad some guidance on his distribution, train him so that his first reaction to claiming the ball is not to belt it as far as he can into the opponents half. Defensively, Che Neville returned and put in a decent performance, Terry and Ferdinand coped with everything that was thrown at them whilst Ashley Cole proved to be the best left back in the tournament with another consistent display. Aaron Lennon proved that Beckham’s desire to gain 100 caps may not be quite so easy to achieve. Replacing the England Captain, it seemed for the first five minutes that no-one wanted to pass to him but when they did, he put fear into the Portuguese defence, beating three men before his colleagues spurned the chance. Gerrard worked hard but Man Of The Match was Owen Hargreaves, a suitable reposte to those who claimed he wasn’t up to it, step forward Alan Hansen. Frank Lampard was the huge disappointment of the tournament for England and yesterday proved no exception, certainly not aiding his desire to play for Barcelona. Frankly, he cannot hit the arse of a cow with a banjo in an England shirt at the moment; hardly the form expected when topped the midfield scoring charts domestically. Joe Cole did OK yesterday and has been excellent in the games prior to England’s exit. Up front, Crouch did well as a lone striker, raising the thought of what might have been had he been up front with Rooney playing off of him.
But the penalties themselves. Dear God, we were reliably informed that the players had been practising. How can they have been? Aside from Hargreaves, all of them were pathetic. Carragher was specifically brought on with Penalties in mind! The only plausible explanation is an incapability to deal with the mental pressure yet only twelve months ago Gerrard and Carragher were in the same position with Liverpool in Istanbul. Perhaps the affliction only hits when they wear the white or red of England.
And what of the media. Predictably, Eriksson has been chastised along the lines of “£20m over five years for what?” but leaving aside the manner of the performances, he was on course to put England into the semi – finals for the first time in sixteen years until the Red Mists descended. It is hard to make him the scapegoat for yesterday’s defeat, having been let down badly by Rooney. The Scouse Git is being let off relatively lightly today by the Red Tops, compared with the vilification that Beckham got eight years ago. Indeed, Cristiano Ronaldo is coming in for greater criticism and may just have engineered his desired move to Real Madrid, with a number of papers printing photos of his knowing wink to the bench, “Got him!” being the inference.
All that aside, the exit from the Competition has one saving grace. Number One Son had been raving about Rooney for a few days, showing an unsavoury leaning toward the Glazer Disneybucks. Now, a flood of tears has put paid to that.
“Dad, why did he do that?”
“‘Cos he’s a twat”
“But England lost because of him. I thought they would win”
“Welcome to the world of supporting England. A lifetime of raised expectations and dashed hopes and shattered dreams”
It’s Sunday so it’s a full on day of transfer rumours. Apparently, Arsenal will sell Ashley Cole to the Russians of West London for £20m, exactly the sum that will be spent on bringing Michael Carrick across North London, a move favoured by the player as he will not have to move home. Sol Campbell’s move to Portsmouth should be completed this week, at least that’s what is says here, with Dirk Kuijt, Curtis Davies and Yaya Toure all moving to Ashburton Grove. And nothing on Pascal Cygan leaving which is a bit of a pisser. Meanwhile, Thierry Henry is knackering his tendons according to his surgeon and will miss the start of the season apparently. Didn’t seem to affect him last night as he scored France’s winner to send Fat Ronnie and Goofy home early.
Todays Tunes continue the REM theme. These are from 1982, Carnival of Sorts bootleg: