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Anorak | Crunch Time For Crouch & Co

Crunch Time For Crouch & Co

by | 13th, June 2006

“GROUP B CRUNCH – 2 DAYS TO GO,” announces the Sun, in an attempt to generate some much-needed breakfast table excitement. But the truth is that with two matches still to play, England’s match against Trinidad and Tobago has about as much crunch as a bowl of soggy Rice Krispies. Or Coco Pops, if you prefer.

As a consequence, the England ‘news’ is rather insipid. “Crouch: I will not dance again until we win the World Cup” appears to suggest that England’s beanpole has officially decided to stop scoring until he is bestriding a stage that is commensurate with his status. Closer examination reveals that he simply intends to drop his robot dance in favour of a more dignified goal celebration ritual.

What Peter Crouch does depends a lot upon Wayne Rooney, and the Mirror echoes the feelings of the Anorak sports desk as we watch the pugnacious talisman fling himself around the training ground, clattering into all and sundry. “Calm down Roo!” the paper cries, amid fears that the lad’s Gazza-style exuberance could end in Gazza style-tears.

Elsewhere, there is further discussion of England’s tactics, with several papers reporting that Newcastle United officials are unhappy about Eriksson’s long-ball game, which they feel is doing Michael Owen no favours.

The Guardian seems happy enough, though, and they have even printed a colourful diagram showing exactly how far Paul Robinson managed to launch the new FIFA beach ball during the victory over Paraguay. Robinson’s prowess means that the team now has three players capable of spraying fifty-yard passes all over the pitch. What’s required now is someone who can pass it accurately and lethally over ten yards – preferably into the path of an England striker.

In an attempt to spice up Thursday’s game, the Mirror has helped generate a “war of words” by making space for T&T coach Leo Beenhakker’s remarks about the England team. Mr Beenhakker compares them to Real Madrid’s “Galacticos” – that is to say, a bunch of pampered underachievers who are there to make money and generate publicity rather than win trophies.

Of course, his actual words are a bit more diplomatic, and he acknowledges that England have “great players” and a “great coach” – something which many England fans would regard as a rather premature judgement, given that none of them has yet to reach the semi-final of an international tournament.

If this counts as a war of words, and Thursday’s game is a crunch, then perhaps England have less to fear in than we had thought.

With no England action, the Times attempts to cash in on the exploits of other countries in order to extol the virtues of Sky’s major asset. “PREMIER PUNCH” declares its football supplement, reporting how Australia’s Tim Cahill “leads English clubs’ goal rush”. And to Cahill’s name must be added that of Arsenal’s new signing Tomas Rosicky, whose two superb goals for the Czech Republic would have been part of a fantastic hat-trick, had another terrific shot not crashed against the bar.

All in all, it’s shaping into a pretty good tournament, and with Rooney on the way back, even England have cause for optimism. Should it all go horribly wrong, though, another hero waits in the wings.

Alan Ball recently compared the scenes at England’s opening game to Henman Hill. And there on page 57 of the Mirror is the great man himself, insisting that he likes to play during the World Cup because it’s “a fun distraction for both the public and myself”.

So come on England, do your bit and keep us distracted for another month. Or at least as long as Tim’s knocked out…



Posted: 13th, June 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink