England Can Win and Other Jokes
So I’m sitting at the edge of the pool in the apartment complex. That’s the good news. The problem is I’m in Phoenix, Arizona and the temperature is already 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Talk about the Three degrees being hot! The Jacuzzi is out of the question and I’m not likely to see a soccer match around here any time soon. But of course I’m thinking soccer and I owe my loyal readers a column.
So naturally I’m pleased when my cell phone announces that Glenn Hoddle is calling and wants to know my take on the upcoming European Championships. Now I like to take a crack at Glenn as much as anybody so I ask him how’s the weather in Southampton as I mention to him I’m just stepping into the shade. He’s in good spirits as he points out just how metaphorically hot it’s been in Southampton the last couple of months and how things were eleven points cooler in Wimbledon, not to mention twenty below in Watford. I resisted the temptation to refer to the mean temperature in Manchester being 40 points above Southampton.
“Joe” says he, “Oo’s goin to win the trophy then?” “Oh well Glenn, there’s a lot of great matches to be played first and we all know that soccer is not played on paper,” is my opening remark. “All right then, what do you think of Kevin’s squad? Can they pull it off?” “Well, I’m sure you know that I wouldn’t take Teddy Sherry Ham either, like you suggested last week, but let’s look at the real squad.”
“You said Seaman, Martyn and Wright and you were right again. I suppose Seaman gets the vote in goal but I think that just increases the oppositions chances and I would play Nigel no relation Martyn as first choice.” “Nuff said Joe, I know ‘ow you feel about Seaman.” “Two Nevilles are better than one, eh! And King Kev agrees.
“It’s no wonder England only play a back three these days. They have to keep the average age of the back four down with old men like Tony Adams and Martin Keown,” I suggest to Glenn hoping for a retort but he just enthuses about their fitness, preparedness, abilities ad nauseum while he doesn’t fail to refer to the fact that he would have taken Don’t cross the Rio Ferdinand as well while the King didn’t.
“Midfield’s got to be a key in these wide open championships,” I suggest in a serious vein referring to the fact that England are 9/1 and must have a chance if they can find the right balance of flair and ball winning qualities evident in the squad. “You’re absolutely spot on there, my friend,” says himself, not missing the invitation to show up the differences in his squad and King Kev’s real world. “Jamie Redknapp will be severely missed and Keiron Dyer also,” says the once silky smooth passer of a ball. I disagree with him at great length since I wouldn’t miss Redknapp if I never saw him again, and I think Kevin has the talent at his disposal to surprise some people outside of England, if he has the courage to select them in the real games coming up. The only thing that will bring England down is playing the old guard too much, and not taking some chances. After all, what have they got to lose?
“At’s very philosophical,” says Glenn, a little miffed at my simplistic disposal of Seaman and Redknapp, “but we’ve got to score goals to win this thing.” I quickly tell him that “we” don’t have to do anything, since I couldn’t care less whether England win or not, and I’m even leaning towards not. The simple truth is that England possesses the talent to score goals and win the European Championships, but I’d like to see them do it with some style. I’m not sure the right level of confidence exists within the squad to pull it off but I’m looking forward to seeing them try.
Hopefully, Phillips gets to play, Macca produces form, Owen goes full throttle……., well you see what I mean.
“Glenn, I’m going to have to let you go, man, I’ve got Kev on the other line.”
The verbal gymnastics are over. Let the games begin.