Anorak News | No Prizes For Entertainment

No Prizes For Entertainment

by | 19th, June 2006

“FOR me, the problem with the English is that they are very arrogant.”

Who do you think was responsible for the above quote from today’s Mirror? The ‘for me’ bit might lead you to believe that it came from the mouth of one of our own beloved pundits.

But the anti-English tone suggests otherwise: Alan Hansen and the other various former Scottish and Irish ex-internationals who ply their trade on TV panels are well aware of where their bread is buttered, and would never publicly insult the golden English goose in this way.

Here’s a clue – and we don’t have to go back to historical cliches about Prussia to find a good example – it’s the country that gave us diffident role models of humility such as Andy Moller, Oliver Kahn…

That’s right, Germany. This particular German is Bayern Munich’s general manager and “German legend” (as the paper describes him) Uli Hoeness. He thinks the English are arrogant because: “They think that football begins and ends within the borders of England. They think that no-one else can play good football.”

Uli seems to think that winning a few international trophies gives him the right to lecture England on tactics. (“What I have been reading about Eriksson’s tactic so far have made me think: “Thank you Mr Eriksson’, because I know they cannot work.”)

Herr Hoeness conveniently won his World Cup medal in a tournament that England weren’t playing in, so we can take that “legend” tag with a pinch of salz, but he’s entitled to his opinion. It’s just that he is COMPLETELY WRONG. We know he’s wrong, because the Sun has printed an international league table, and England are second.

Oh, hang on. Sweden are top. Wait a minute…. Ah…Hmm… It seems that this particular league table is based on the number of long balls played during the tournament so far. The paper points out that our boys aren’t far behind Sweden’s 194 hoofs, having “lumped upfield an equally impressive 189 balls”. Well, not “equally impressive” actually. That would be like saying England were equally impressive in the Euro 96 shoot-out, but let’s not go back to the subject of Andy Moller.

The point of the Sun’s table is to suggest that the two sides’ affinity for Route One might make tomorrow’s match resemble Wimbledon (the tennis, although the Fashanu version is equally apt).

One thing is for sure, anyone expecting fireworks from Sven’s team is likely to be disappointed. The history of the past 40 years suggests that England won’t win, and a stalemate is likely. Former Sweden captain Johan Mjallby agrees. “It smells like a draw,” he tells the Telegraph. Or, judging by England’s recent performances, a pair of drawers.

Nil-nil would suit England, of course, and even the most boring of games would be tolerated as long as they win the group. But John Terry puts a more positive spin on things. “If we come off that pitch having kept a clean sheet it’s like grabbing a goal for a striker or midfielder,” he says – proving, as he so often does, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The final word goes to Paul Jewell. “I cannot see Kallstrom being able to track a breaking Gerrard for 90 minutes,” he declares in his Guardian column. And given that Sven is planning to rest Gerrard tomorrow, neither can we.

Posted: 19th, June 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink