Anorak News | It Gets Worse

It Gets Worse

by | 5th, July 2006

IF you thought it was all over, you were wrong. The papers are chock-full of England (of which more later), and the Mail reminds us that there will be an Englishman in the final on Sunday.

This news awakens Mr Anorak from his slumbers. He wipes spittle from his lips and hauls himself upright. Like Sir Francis Drake, he is ready at any time to rise and come to his country’s aid. ‘What’s that?’ he asks, reaching for his ankle-high footer boots and trusty tin of dubbin. “Has my day finally come?”

No, sir. You go back to sleep now.

A look of alarm comes to his face. “You don’t mean that Graham Poll has been awarded the final, do you?’

No, sir. The Mail is simply pointing out that Simone Perrotta will be playing in the final. The lad was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, you see. If Anorak’s sources are correct, he is a former pupil of St Anne’s Roman Catholic Primary School. The Mail reminds us that Perrotta’s essential Englishness “gives us the excuse (like we needed one) not to support Portugal or France”.

Perrotta has no plans that we know of to make an emotional return to his place of study, but the paper says that seven of his Italian team-mates could be. The imminent relegation of clubs like Juventus means that there is likely to be the football equivalent of a fire sale.

One of the players mentioned is Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The paper reckons that Arsenal ‘admire’ him, which is a curious thing to say. After all it would be odd if they didn’t admire the man generally considered to be the finest ‘custodian’ in the world. But we assume that this is a mealy-mouthed way of implying that Arsenal are planning a bid. Where does this idea come from? Before yesterday’s semi-final, Buffon’s advisors apparently put the Arsenal story out. Given that Germany’s goalkeeper is Jens Lehmann, who has been outstanding for club and country, could it be, as some have suggested, a simple case of mind games?

If so, it had no discernible effect on the Arsenal man, who made several good saves before being cruelly denied the opportunity to use his penalty crib-sheet. The papers are united in their praise for both sides, who contributed to a classic football match full of skill and intelligence, but also the bite and thrills of a proper cup-tie.

The immaculately coiffeured Brian Woolnough of the Star turns his eye to the spectacle, and as usual there is not a word, nor a hair, out of place. “WOOLLY’S VERDICT” is stark and simple: “England, at this World Cup, would not have got near these sides.” Sad but true.

Which brings us back to Our Boys. Before the rebuilding of the team commences, there are important off-the-pitch matters to consider. The FA, as ever, has its priorities right. First, there is the problem of David Beckham’s resignation, which is expected to lose £20 million of sponsorship money. Then there is the news that England were the only team without sponsored tops. Thank goodness they devoted their energies to securing a new improved deal for Eriksson instead.

There are pages and pages devoted to the aftermath of Black Saturday. The Mirror offers a pull-out Becks souvenir: “BECKHAM: 21ST CENTURY FOOTBALLER.” It is divided pretty much 50-50 between the football and the fashion, which is probably how he will be remembered.

Meanwhile, his team-mates are finding it tough going. “Embarrassed to go out the door,” declares the Sun. “RIO: MY AGONY.” And there is Rio, with his hand over his head. The gesture is not intended to hide his cornrows, and the headline has nothing to do with the lad’s physical appearance. He is embarrassed to meet the public after England’s performance in Germany. “I went into Sainsbury’s with my girlfriend Rebecca and people were coming up to me and saying ‘Well done,’ reveals the central defender. ‘They all had the best of intentions but all I could think of was ‘Well done for what?’ We hadn’t done anything. It’s better than being told you’re c**p I suppose, but it was still uncomfortable.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Carragher is fighting back after claims by England’s fitness coach Ivan Carminati that he ‘bottled’ his penalty. (Of course that isn’t what the coach actually said, but the Sun helpfully interpreted his words in this way.) The paper says that last night “Carra” told Carminati to “belt up”. Or rather, he told a Sun reporter that “What happened in the shootout is one of those things that happen in football and you have to get on with it… The fact is, we didn’t go out because we lost on penalties – we went out because we didn’t do enough to win in 90 minutes.”

And if Sr Carminati is reading this, we’ll translate it once again into simple English: Belt up, and tell your countrymen that if they win on Sunday it will be mean nothing because the moral champions are ENGLAND.

Got that? Good.

Posted: 5th, July 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink