England Expected & Everyone Did Their Duty

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Last night’s match at Wembley always had an importance which transcended the occasion of an international friendly. That the matches in Belgium and Germany were also cancelled for security reasons, gave it an additional importance.

Security. Tyldsley was quick to point out that the helicopter sound picked up by the microphone during the minute’s silence, was one of the security services fleet and not in any way connected to the independent broadcaster. Just as ITV cut away to an overhead shot that was suspiciously high. I’m sure it was a very big crane holding their camera. No, I am. Really.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Wembley recognised the tragic events of last Friday with an impeccably observed silence, as well as appreciating the floral gestures beforehand. HRH’s presence ensured that the national anthem was sung with a rare gusto by the players and a thousand French GCSE teachers cringed at the pronunciation of La Marseillaise.

It didn’t matter. The crowd responded in the refreshingly football way: embracing the moment and everything that was asked. It wasn’t an audition, just an affirmation of basic humanity.

Beforehand, questions emerged about whether the players would celebrate. They wouldn’t, the received wisdom went, as the squads were too aware of football’s relative triviality – sorry, Shanks – in the universe. We never got to find out the reaction to a French goal but nobody told the England players to cool it. For them, it was business as usual when Alli opened the scoring. Nor were they any less subdued when Rooney doubled the lead; a cracking finish, admitting which would have stuck in the throat were it at club level.

Alli’s goal looked spectacular until the deflection from Koscielny became even more apparent. Not that it mattered; England’s Brave Clive Tyldsley ignored the closeness of Lloris’s hand to the ball. The Arsenal defender, on this occasion, won’t mind his intervention being belittled.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane – according to ITV’s commentary team – had five good sights of goal during the defeat to Spain. An interesting insight into Analyst-Speak from Glenda; I prefer, “just couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo” to his “just couldn’t hit it cleanly”. I think my view a fairer reflection but I could be accused of letting my club bias show…

And what of the Arsenal contributions? Koscielny was Koscielny. Solid, well-positioned for the most part and was unlucky with the deflection for the opening goal. Olivier Giroud was in low-key Giroud mode which suited his watching manager. As would Kieran Gibbs getting a ninety minute run-out to keep up his match fitness. I wonder what Wenger’s companion for the evening, David Dein, thought. All those years later and the red cashmere scarf remains an instantly recognisable adornment.

Wenger has urged FIFA to take the opportunity afforded them by the corruption scandal, and use it to restructure the international calendar or face the consequences: it’s the clubs ball and they are going to take it home with them. Or the clubs who pay the players wages and they don’t get a chance to rest during the season because of the international breaks.

It’s not hard to see his point but so far he has chosen the wrong targets when moaning about Chile or Wales; they were competitive matches, not friendlies. It’s a two-way street though, certainly in English football. The clubs are so driven by revenue generation that given more weeks in the year, they would see it as the opportunity to increase the number of matches they play either inventing a competition – the Premier League Cup? – or playing lucrative friendlies.

Football’s calendar needs completely overhauling on these shores. The Premier League should be reduced to eighteen teams, the League Cup abandoned by those competing in European football and FA Cup replays done away with. The latter is contentious for smaller clubs but if they want a guaranteed big draw, the lowest ranked thirty-two clubs could be given home ties in the third round.

There are solutions to fixing the problems but the will isn’t there. Instead, it’s fashionable to blame problems on international football. Would you trust the clubs to put the players first any more than you trust FIFA? I don’t.

A final thought on the England game. The final whistle brought a sense of relief that the evening had been the occasion expected. The result is of little importance; indeed, does anyone care? I shouldn’t imagine the French have one jot of concern at losing.

Thierry Henry said beforehand that the defeat in Mallorca on 9/11 was the one match he didn’t care about losing. I get that. We’d flown out of Gatwick at an ungodly hour (GMT) that morning and the first we knew of the events was from the TVs in the Costa Blanca bar where we’d decamped to watch the evening’s football. Screens on one side of the bar showed the despair that hate can bring, contrasted with the teams lining up on a Spanish island.

On that occasion, football – UEFA – got it horribly wrong. Not so last night. Football matches proved their place in the grand scheme of things. 71,000 supporters portrayed the hearts and minds of a watching world. Bravo, Mesdames et Messieurs; bravo. Jeux sans frontières, indeed.

’til Tomorrow.

29 thoughts on “England Expected & Everyone Did Their Duty

  1. HenryB says:

    Morning Yogi, glad you are back at the coal face producing your daily-ish Post! 😀

    Hope that Damon is on the case too. 🙂

  2. Damon says:

    In light of the events over the past week Henry, I felt my usual morning greeting wasn’t too clever. More shizzle going down in Paris this morning, I hear

  3. HenryB says:

    I watched the England v France game more out of a sense of solidarity, but felt I was observing something which was of little import in itself, but raised to another level because of recent events – and that feeling was bounded by the continuing news this morning of more violence from Paris.

    A sense of gloom hangs like a pall, and then exacerbated by the news that Jonah Lomu that great Kiwi, All Black had suddenly died.

    The macro and the micro, one a man made act of tragedy, the other a natural event and both deeply saddening.

  4. HenryB says:

    Hi Damon, yes, I understand, but your cheerful greeting of the new Post always brings a much needed smile to my face and would not have been taken amiss.

  5. Highbury says:

    Papa Bear

    Your earlier post re Wilshire’s injuries and Keown’s observations. When you consider that every Arsenal player is faced with the same conditions, Keown’s explanation increasingly sounds implausible. Why is it only Jack suffering the injuries out of the dozens who train on the same turf?

  6. Nicky says:

    Poor commentating when our first goal was clearly deflected…… even to we spectators in armchairs in homes throughout the land.

  7. Phil says:

    Great post YW.
    Sport is both nationalistic and yet it transcends borders.
    Kudos to all involved at Wembley last night.

  8. Phil says:

    Wavey,
    I am sure it won’t be for long.
    Good luck.

  9. Phil says:

    Lomu,
    An outstanding career ended prematurely.
    His life, the same.

  10. Papa Bear says:

    Highbury

    Well, as I am no expert regarding injuries plagued players root problems, that’s why Keown’s opinion might gave another possibility perspective especially for the injury prone type players as Wilshere. Wilshere has been plagued, in particular, by problems with his right ankle but both the player and Arsenal medical and fitness staffs believe they have found the right rehabilitation routine to prevent the setbacks that have been the cause of understandable frustration in the past. Even Wenger admitted that he might have overplayed Wilshere in previous years because he was so keen to make use of the precocious youngster who had graduated through the club’s academy. Maybe pitch problem used in training ground would affect more to injury prone players like Wilshere. It is more important than ever that Wilshere recovers from his injury troubles and stays fit for a sustained period of time.

  11. dukey says:

    Sad to hear the passing of Jonah Lomu. this guy made people take notice of rugby(for a while) I remember friends who knew nothing about rugby and didn’t like the game suddenly start watching any game he was involved in and then started playing the game all because of him, he was a superstar. I know a lot of the other kiwis were put out by his fame but he done a lot for the game, the game could do with someone like him now to bring it back to the masses. it is a great game to play.

  12. Nicky says:

    @Phil,
    Re Lomu…….only the good die young.

  13. Damon says:

    Nicky

    What does that say about you then? 🙂

  14. Nicky says:

    @Damon,
    If I could have had 3 guesses as to who, among all the Untold regulars , would come back at me …….you would have been top of my list! 😉

  15. Nicky says:

    And regulars of ACLF as well! 😉

  16. C says:

    Arsene on a personal mission to attack and have anybody and everybody hear his case about what he sees wrong in thr English game.

  17. C says:

    Interesting, the Zagreb President has been arrested and charged with corruption.

  18. Brevity says:

    Looks like Arsene is bored in the interlull too then.

  19. C says:

    If reports are true that Dortmund only want 42M fot Pierre, please Arsene make that happen, actually why aren’t you on the phone with them already. Stop trying to take on irrelevant topics like FIFA corruption and doping and lets focus on pulling 42-47M out the bank, handing it to Dortmund and we take Pierre; then pair him Theo, Sanchez and Ozil and lets destroy Europe.

    Sounds like a extremely solid and doable plan to me.

  20. philmar says:

    ….cuz Klopp will pull the necessary heartstrings and financial levers first

  21. Bill says:

    Yogi.

    Thanks for keeping up the posts. These international break always feel long but this one seems worse then most.

    Its never as much fun around here when there is nothing to debate and argue about. Perhaps you could write something really controversial in your post in the next couple of days. 😉

  22. Phil says:

    How about a column on why Bill is always right?

  23. Bill says:

    Phil

    Many years of history has proven conclusively that there is nothing controversial about saying Bill is usually right.

  24. Buckagh says:

    Even if he is a little long winded

  25. C says:

    Well he was wrong about the importance of a DM 😉

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