Anorak News | Calamity James

Calamity James

by | 6th, September 2004

‘THE news for Newcastle United fans looking for their club’s next manager is that, if England continue playing like headless chickens, Sven Goran Eriksson could be Sir Bobby’s replacement quicker than you can say “Poland 2, England 0”.

‘Which way are we going?’

Not that any move is being lined up – yet. There are stumbling blocks to trip up on, like the £14m it will cost the FA to sack the small-minded Swede.

Newcastle’s kingmaker Freddie Shepherd likes talking in telephone numbers, but surely such a huge sum is too much to pay the FA in compensation for Eriksson.

Better to do as the Sun says and go for David O’Leary, a man who can be Newcastle’s for the more modest fee of £2m.

That’s the amount Dough Ellis, the Aston Villa leader, wants from Newcastle for his current manger.

So what then of Eriksson, who is seen by the papers as being less than the marauding Viking of his arrival?

While the Sun questions what the Swede actually does for his cash (and it’s a short feature), the Guardian hears Eriksson say he’ll only resign if England fail to qualify for the next World Cup.

Judging by the way his team snatched a 2-2 draw from the jaws of victory, that could be sooner than he thinks. (At least then the papers can get behind the much-improved Welsh.)

But it’s not Sven’s fault. And the Guardian (“ENGLAND’S LEADERSHIP CRISIS”) says that David Beckham, England’s captain, must shoulder his share of the blame.

The Telegraph’s Alan Smith agrees, arguing that “dropping Beckham might even do him a favour – a timely jolt to his career”.

It’s a nice idea, but such is Beckham’s state of self-delusion that, when dropped, he’d probably retire from the international game, saying that if he’s good enough for Real Madrid then he’s good enough for England.

But why stop at Eriksson and Beckham when you can toss David James, England’s accident-prone goalkeeper, into the blend?

The Telegraph labels the likeable James an “international liability”, a fact underlined by the Guardian’s “moment of calamity” in which the paper’s readers can watch the Austrian equaliser dribble under the goalkeeper’s body over four stills.

But enough of England’s overpaid, cosseted footballers – and overlooking their cricketing counterpart’s defeat to India in the final one-dayer – and let’s celebrate the Times’ lead story: Jonny Wilkinson is back.

A few of you may recall when Wilkinson was the greatest thing ever.

Well, now he’s back from injury, wearing the colours of Newcastle Falcons and pictured in familiar praying mantis mode ready to kick for goal.

After the game – in which he kicked 15 points – Wilkinson said that he felt fine.

“I must keep the level of pressure on myself and make sure I answer to myself and my team and strive for a bit more,” said he.

“I’ll let everyone else decide when I’m ready for representative rugby.”

Well, we’ve thought about it for a few nanoseconds and can say that he is ready.

Get you jersey on, Jonny – with Beckham’s star going down with all the grace and poise of Vanessa Feltz bombing off the 10m diving board, sport needs a hero unsullied and ready to work…’

Posted: 6th, September 2004 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink