Anorak News | Fatal Distraction

Fatal Distraction

by | 29th, June 2006

TWO weeks ago, Tim Henman said that he enjoys playing at Wimbledon during the World Cup because it’s “a fun distraction for both the public and myself”.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Tim’s good thing ended yesterday with a straight-sets defeat to Roger Federer. The Times reports that, when asked if he felt compassion for Henman, Federer replied that he did not.
Tennis correspondent Neil Harman’s verdict is straight to the point: “This is a brutal sport and Tim had just been brutalised.” Perhaps the paper will itself now show some compassion, and do what we at Anorak have been asking for years: change its name to “The Tims” during next year’s tournament in honour of this great servant of the game.

So now we are left with just the “fun distraction” – a football tournament in a far-off land. But the spirit of Henmania lives on. Alan Ball has already compared the England fans in Germany to the good folk of Henman Hill, and if they can muster a quarter of the energy and enthusiasm of the Wimbledon mob, then they can surely will the boys on to score a goal or two.

Wayne Rooney certainly thinks so. “Sing and we’ll win it – Wayne,” announces the Star. Well, we all know football is a simple game, but we didn’t know it was that simple. “It’s brilliant when the fans are right behind you,” says the man they call Roo (and sometimes, inexplicably Wazza). And who knows, he could be right: if the English army makes enough noise, it could indeed become the proverbial “12th man”.

An extra man would even things up a bit, because it looks like the Portuguese have already got theirs – and he’ll be on the pitch with a whistle. “England get Beckham’s red-card ref” warns the Mirror. But which red-card ref they mean? No, don’t worry, it’s not THAT one. But it’s still pretty bad. Saturday’s official turns out to be one Horacio Elizondo, who is not only an “Argie who writes romantic poetry” (the Sun), but also the man who had the temerity to send Becks off during Manchester United’s World Championship campaign in Brazil. (He later appeared to give Alex Ferguson a red card too, although he might possibly have been holding a small mirror in front of the fiery Scot’s florid face in order to alert him to an impending heart attack.)

Never mind, even if it is twelve-a-side on Saturday, at least we’re all square. Or are we? Let’s not forget that both managers will be on the same side too. As we have pointed out before, the much-hyped battle between Big Phil Scolari and Sven Goran Eriksson is just a smokescreen behind which the Swede can hide his plot to sabotage the England team for the third tournament in a row.

The Independent alludes to the fiendish scheme, reporting how Eriksson insists that “the tournament is unfolding according to plan”. Old Mr Anorak has been warning about this for weeks, of course, but many people dismissed his theory as the ravings of a senile fool. Surely they will now admit that he was right all along.

As the day of Eriksson’s retirement approaches, he has been dropping increasingly blatant hints about his true intentions. “Don’t tell me that I don’t know what to do,” he hissed at yesterday’s press conference. “I know exactly what to do.”

At this point the room fell silent. The hacks looked at one another. Had their ears deceived them? Then a thin smile appeared on the suave Swede’s face. He giggled quietly for a few seconds before composing himself and returning to his secret headquarters in an abandoned mineshaft three miles east of Gelsenkirchen.

Laughter echoed around its deep walls long into the night.

Posted: 29th, June 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink