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Anorak | After The Ball

After The Ball

by | 3rd, July 2006

THE World Cup is a party to which we are all invited – and that includes Britain’s paedophiles.

On Saturday night they will have headed to south-west London to join the revelries of our ex-pat Portuguese community and then headed home to sleep soundly in their beds for the first time since June 2004.

That’s because they know that once every two years England will crash out of a football tournament, and for a brief period they will be knocked off their spot as public enemy number one. The only question this year was who would replace them: Rooney or Sven? We turn to the Sun to discover Rebekah’s name-and-shame selection. And the winner is…. Neither!

Sven’s apologetic press conference, and his plea not to slaughter Rooney seems to have paid off, because the man who can no longer safely set foot on Britain’s tolerant soil is not English at all – he’s Cristiano Ronaldo, aka the “slippery Portuguese winker”.

Ronaldo’s crime was to wind up his Manchester United team-mate before the match, point out to the ref that Rooney had committed a foul, and allegedly suggest a card, and then wink and pout provocatively afterwards. Rooney is understandably furious, and, having failed to get into the Portuguese dressing room after the match, has now threatened to ‘split him in two’.

The Sun provides a Ronaldo dartboard, with the slippery one’s winking eye as the bull. Underneath is Bully from Bullseye, holding up the World Cup with the words “…and here’s what you could have won”. Clearly no room for the words “with a decent team and manager”.

Once we turn to the back pages, Sven and Rooney have to take their fair share of stick. “GOODBYE TOSSER,” says the Sun of the Swede who “tossed away” our cash, our talent and our world Cup dreams. “Sven stuffed his pockets, and then he stuffed us all,” declares Ian Wright, whose World Cup Super Goals section is adorned with the flag of St George, the patron saint of penalty shoot-outs.

The Daily Mail’s prize-winning Chief Sport’s Writer Paul Hayward “delivers his withering analysis” over two full pages, but it is helpfully summed up in three quotes. Eriksson is “the man who vandalised our team in five awful years”. Rooney “disgraced himself in his first big match”. And David Beckham “has dodged the silver bullet”.

The latter refers to Beckham’s emotional announcement of his resignation as England captain, which Hayward sees as an opportunity to “escape the celebrity culture of the Eriksson years”. He says that England (surely Team England, Paul) is “not a brand or a vehicle for advertisers” but “a football team hurtling towards a half-century of Wilderness Years”. We assume he means a half-century post-’66, rather than starting now, but in the current climate of gloom it’s hard to tell.

The Mirror offers a more conciliatory approach, and includes a poster of our David waving sadly, with the words “BYE BYE SKIP”, and some snapshots of his golden moments, for which it offers thanks.

But there’s no respite for “flop Eriksson”. The paper claims that the ice-man “stunned players” by bursting into tears as he thanked the players in the dressing room. An “insider” says that the players then consoled him. (Later, when they had finished, they all got into their pyjamas and had some cocoa and a group hug before going to bed.)

As for the future, the Telegraph quotes Eriksson on his successor Steve McLaren. “He will be a very impressive manager for England,” says Sven. “I’ve been working with him for five-and-a-half years.” And that, ladies and gentleman, is as good an example of a non sequitur as you will ever see.

Steve should take heart from the fact that if he does half as badly as his mentor, he’ll be doing very well indeed.



Posted: 3rd, July 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink