Tag: England

England 3 Hungary 1

I’m probably in a minority in so far as that I really enjoy these friendly matches. No pressure, no stress, just an exhibition involving some of the best footballers in Europe. If they contrive get their back-sides spanked by, say, Denmark or Australia, we can put it down to a bad day at the office and get on with it. Tonight’s match was an intriguing one. I don’t really know anything about Hungary (as they are now – >everyone knows about the Puskas team of the 1950s that – quite literally – dumped Billy Wright on his arse at Wembley in 1953), and places for the Paraguay match are up for grabs. It all made for an interesting evening. So… as ever, a mixed bag. The first forty minutes was poor. Not for the first time, Ericsson played it too cautious for the first forty minutes. Hungary sat back relatively well, and the “experimental” formation wasn’t equipped to pressurise them into making mistakes. Of course, as soon as they did start pressing, things started to happen. Beckham was magnificent – his best England performance for a long time – and Owen started to get into decent goal-scoring positions. Pity Lampard missed the penalty, but there we go. The second half performance was considerably improved. The midfield got forward to support Owen, and the goals started flowing. I was particularly...

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Paradise Found?

The state of the England football supporter is an unusual one, and not a pleasant one. Disliked by more or less everyone, and with ludicrously over-optimistic hopes fuelled by a media that thrives on peaks and troughs (and nothing in-between), it can be a fairly unhappy existence. No genuine England supporter was surprised by Wayne Rooney’s ropey metatarsal bone. If anything, it was a blessed relief that it happened soon enough for him to have anything like a cat in hell’s chance of making the finals. Four years ago it was Beckham. In 1986 and 1990 it was was Bryan Robson. It happens. And with England, it usually happens to the wrong person at the wrong time. What England do supremely well is drama. You don’t need me to recite the litany of travesties that they have somehow got themselves involved in, but I will say this much: when have England ever meekly surrendered in a competition, with no fight, or no drama? Even in 2002, Ronaldinho contrived to get himself sent off. You’d be surprised how many people forget that. But it happened. The upshot of this constant disappointment is unstinting pessimism. There’s an advert on the television (for Mars, I think) which shows just how little advertising men know about football. The advert consists of a tubby man in the standard garb (St George’s t-shirt, possibly face...

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