Anorak News | Just Hot Air

Just Hot Air

by | 28th, June 2006

“BORING, weary, lethargic, full of hot air, long balls, a lonely striker and a star midfield player who gave us a goal and a pile of vomit.” That’s the verdict on England of one Brazilian paper, quoted in today’s Daily Mirror. And as for the “WAGs”, well, they are “anorexics addicted to shopping with hollow, lobotomised heads," whose role is to “distract from their team’s poor football skills.”

Yes, but the Brazilian press are spoilt by their rich diet. Surely the other nations are more forgiving? Not former German international Stefan Effenberg, who proves himself a less than polite host. “I wouldn’t call this football,” he says of the efforts of Sven’s finest. “It’s a botch job.”

Bild, the Teutonic tabloid equivalent of the Sun, said that the only hot thing about England’s match against Ecuador was the air.

El Nacional of Spain pronounced England’s display “an embarrassing performance from the country that invented the game”, while El Pais summed it up as “a goal and a pile of vomit”.

La Gazetta Dello Sport was more sympathetic, declaring it “a boring, slow-moving and unimpressive match”, but admitting with typical Italian pragmatism that “for now it’s enough”.

L’Equipe found time to praise Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney, describing the latter as “a boy who sees, thinks, understands and imagines football as he lives and breathes… he improved with every ball he received”. But it handed out four-out-of-tens to John Terry, Michael “Masterclass” Carrick, and Joe Cole, and a cruel 3.5 to both Owen Hargreaves and Frank (Runner-up, World Player of the Year) Lampard.

And the Portuguese? Diaro de Noticias has no doubts: “Here come the penalties against England again!”

Those quotes are from the horses’ mouths. Then there are the stories to which the English press apply their own “spin” in order to spice things up.

“Roo are no Pele – Deco” might, for example, be taken to mean that Portugal’s Deco, who is suspended for Saturday’s quarter-final, is having a pop at England talisman, and running down his team. But the full quotes tell a slightly different story. Asked about Eriksson’s claims that Wayne Rooney is the best young player since Pele, Deco said that he is “young and inexperienced compared to Pele”, which is true, given that Pele is in his mid-sixties. He then described young Wayne as “very talented”. And Saturday’s opponents? “England are a strong team even if they are not showing what they can do at the moment. I just hope they aren’t at their best against us.”

And what of England’s favourite grumpy Portuguese? The Daily Mail reports the views of Jose Mourinho, who declares both teams to be “conservative”. “I don’t call them conservative in the negative sense of the term,” he explains, although it is unlikely that many Mail readers will have taken it that way. So what does he mean, then? “I simply consider that those who knew these teams two-years-ago [Daily Mail’s idiosyncratic hyphens] will not take more than a few seconds to understand the small differences, in the same way that when the World Cup finishes these teams will need profound rebuilding.” He is ambivalent about Saturday, however, saying only that “Portugal can win or lose against England”.

The Sun reports that Portugal are targeting goalkeeper Paul Robinson as the “England’s weakest link”, and quotes striker Pauleta as planning to “exploit” his “faults”. More revealingly, the Star reckons that Eriksson is beginning to have doubts about his skipper’s role in the right-midfield berth. “I’M NO RIGHT BECK,” announces the back page, claiming that Eriksson had planned to play Beckham as a full-back, allowing Aaron Lennon to play ahead of him. Beckham apparently declined the offer, reckoning that he wasn’t up to the job. Many are starting to say that he isn’t up to his present job either, and there is a growing feeling that he knows he is in danger of underachieving in his career.

Everyone is clear that for all the talk of results, nobody wins the World Cup without big performances. Saturday would be a good time to start producing them.

Posted: 28th, June 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink