Anorak News | England Have A Prayer

England Have A Prayer

by | 16th, June 2006

“THANK HEAVENS,” cries the Telegraph. “HEAVEN SENT,” opines The Times. Notice a theme emerging?

The latter paper’s Simon Barnes says that the chants of “Rooney! Rooney!” that filled the Frankenstadion during England’s increasingly desperate performance were emitted with “a force that was almost prayerful”. Amazingly, the prayers were answered: the Chunky One appeared. And suddenly everything changed.

“The bizarre thing about the whole business is that the hype is actually right,” says Barnes, “It really is all about one player. With Rooney back in the team, England are back with a chance.”

A chance, yes. But Rooney aside, there are still grave doubts as to England’s prospects. Even the Mirror’s aptly-named World Cup Mania supplement splashes the damning verdict of Trinidad & Tobago boss Leo Beenhakker “You’re impatient long-ball game merchants who will struggle against the top sides.”
Sour grapes? Maybe. Others share his view, though, and some of them are working as fifth-columnists among our boys in the media. “Witless England dig their way to victory,” sneers the Guardian, while the Mail offers the more balanced view that “Sven’s men have a stinker… but they’re in the next round.”

Still, never mind, Sven’s boys are through to the last 16, and it’s a time for looking forward, not backwards, as Tony Blair would say if his party’s publicity people had any knowledge of basic grammar. (And by the way, why is Blair keeping such a low profile in this year’s Eng-er-land circus?)

The Times is looking forward – rather presumptiously, some might say – all the way to Berlin. It has printed the “route to the final” depending on whether England qualify as group winners or runners-up. As winners, their likely opponents would be, in order: Ecuador, Portugal/Holland, Brazil, Argentina. As runners-up they would face Germany, Argentina, Italy/France, Brazil. Sounds easy put like that, doesn’t it?

Earlier in the week, we reported how Tim Henman described the World Cup as “a fun distraction for both the public and myself”. This of course depends on two factors: how long Tim survives at Wimbledon and how long England survive in Germany.

A clue to the football side of the equation might lie in the Star’s picture of Peter Crouch celebrating his goal. Crouch promised not to do his “robot dance” when he scores in the World Cup, and he was as good as his word yesterday. However, his new celebration is hardly an improvement. Indeed, having scrutinised the picture, we have come to the conclusion that he has pinched his new routine from Tiger Tim himself. It’s all there: the fists, the roar.

An omen, clearly, but what kind?

Posted: 16th, June 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink