Like most of you lot I sat through England’s paralysingly shite game against Belgium yesterday and, whilst I was happy to see Danny Welbeck get his first of many for England, I am continually amazed by how utterly crap England are, as both a team and a medium of entertainment.
This is the same team that fooled me into thinking they were decent during the halcyon days of ’96. I grew up watching an England team that didn’t have to qualify for major tournaments and, when they got there, beat Holland, Scotland and Spain before heroically losing on penalties to the eventual champions.
Reality now bites, and I have come to realise that not every England player is a demi-god, not every England team deserves to win and every tournament will end in crushing disappointment. Regardless, the least we could do is actually try our best to win the damn thing. As long as boneheads like Andy Townsend are around, however, it’s going to be pretty fucking tricky.
When Welbeck was brough off yesterday, Townsend cast doubt on whether the kid had “done enough” to push ahead of glorified caveman Andy Carroll in the race for a starting place against France a week tomorrow. This is laughable. Carroll ineffectually threw himself around Brede Hangeland for for however long he was on the pitch in Norway, failed to threaten the goal and tried really hard. Danny Welbeck tried equally hard, was a handful the entire time he was on the pitch and, horror of horrors, scored a goal.
More fool him. Scoring goals is not a requirement for a long England career as a striker. Just ask Emile Heskey. 62 caps and 7 goals, enough to ensure he kept bouncing back into the squad at the expense of FAR more talented players. Is the role Carroll is destined to fulfil?
As if to further highlight his complete ignorance of what makes a decent football team, Townsend awarded man of the match to serial ball-giver-away Steven Gerrard, a player who can’t spell possession let alone keep it. After mulling over whether or not our profligacy with the ball will cost us against more talented opponents than the Belgians (it will) he then went and awarded man of the match to the main offender anyway.
Such confused punditry is endemic within the English game, both in the commentary box and the dugout. Can you imagine the blood-and-thunder crap we’d have to tolerate were Stuart Pearce still in charge? At least Hodgson has some vague idea about how to form an effective football team, although the way that he went about using Marc-Antoine Fortune for WBA at the back end of the season (i.e. kick it in the air to him and chase it) is cause for concern. Needless to say, we’ll spend 90 minutes tossing the ball up to Carroll’s head against France, lose 3-0, and then bleat that we need to be better at keeping possession as if it’s some sort of fucking surprise.
The very fact that there’s debate as to whether Welbeck should start ahead of Carroll demonstrates that we’re fucked on the international scene for another generation at least.