So, how many of you lot watched David Beckham’s glorious return for England last night, then? It’s a bit like the story of Jesus, with the rebirth and all. I, for one, plan to make a pilgrimage to Sawbridgeworth at the soonest available opportunity. Looking at it anything like objectively, his performance was alright, amongst twenty-two players (well, about thirty-five or so, by the time that all the substitutions had been made) that didn’t really look as if they wanted to be there. Of course, after the match Steve McClaren had a lot to say about how many “positives” there were to be taken from the performance (he’s got a bit of a thing for “positives”, has McClaren – presumably he didn’t do physics at school, otherwise he’d know that negative charges are just as important as positive ones), but the real question, so far as I could see, was this: just how bad exactly are Brazil at the moment? I mean, there were moments when their passing and movement was a joy to behold, but that’s the absolute minimum that you should expect from them. Otherwise, they were really lacklustre. Defeat against this England team should have been, for them, a national humiliation, but they were spared by a generous England defence, who allowed them to retain a little dignity, on paper at least. It’s onwards and upwards for David Beckham and England now, of course. The mighty Estonia await them on Wednesday night, so just allow me to take this opportunity to reiterate something that I have been saying since the draw for the Euro 2008 Qualifying Groups was made – I don’t think that England are going to qualify for the finals of this tournament, and I have never thought that they were going to. It is only their wretchedness which has ensured that Wednesday night’s match is a “must win” match. Their best hope of qualifying – indeed, more or less their only hope of qualifying – will be if all the others take points off each other (which, I know, is inevitable to a certain degree, but you see what I mean).
I wanted to write an enormous piece about this week’s matches today, but the fact of the matter is that I have never seen such an edifying roster of competitive international fixtures in my entire life. Denmark-Sweden has an element of “Scandinavian Love-in Derby” about it and I’d like to think that there is a decent chance that Latvia can nick at least two points off Spain but, really, there’s not a lot to get excited about. Therefore, allow me to reiterate something else I’ve been saying for quite a long time – European football is in a state of crisis. I mean, Spain, France, Germany and Portugal are all playing today, but none of these matches are persuading me to hunt the internet for an illicit feed of them. Should I find myself near a television later on this afternoon or this evening, the first result that I’ll be looking for will be for the match between Germany and San Marino. Of course it’s a massive mismatch, but a small part of me is wondering this: if the Germans could put thirteen goals past them away from home, what on earth are they capable of doing to them at home? You’d have to fancy them to win 25-0 or something, but you just know that they will win 4-0 or something today, just to disappoint the likes of me. I”ll leave you with the goals from the thirteen goal massacre last year.