• Preparation H (silence the irritation)

    Roy Hodgson's England have exceeded almost all expectations. I didn't expect the team to qualify from the group, but there have been some positive developments. Steven Gerrard's performances, for example, have been wideley praised to date. His distribution has been excellent for some of our goals such as Andy Carroll's header against Sweden, which was a classic example of English attacking potency. Walcott produced a quality strike when England really needed a goal. His shot performed that mysterious air flow phenomenon that Ronaldo and Drogba seem to get on their free kicks and was a welcome reminder to Johnny Foreigner that we do posess a trick or two. Wellbeck then followed this up with a neat piece of improvisation to seal a win and give us hope. We should consider ourselves happy to have an opportunity to compete for a place in the semi final - a wholly realistic target at this time. In preparation, Hodgson has performed his duties with the decorum and attention to detail we have come to expect from this principled, good man.

    And yet, this unexpected progression out of the group leaves me feeling delighted and disappointed at the same time. The performances have not been nearly convincing enough to satisfy the football pragmatists, never mind the purists. There is a plausible argument that elite club football (i.e. top end Champions League football) will always appear to be more coherent than international football (see Jonathan Wilson's article in the New Statesman).

    Yet if that is the case then surely that must apply to every team. Spain and Germany don't suffer this fragmentation so there must be something else at play. I knew there was a problem in the Ukraine game in the 44th minute of the ITV coverage when the old Hollywood Paradox returned - did you spot it?

    It was before the match had started and we were in the 4th (fourth!) ad break. Rooney appeared as some kind of messianic figure and as the one shot closed in the strap line was left hanging like a noose before the swoosh. I know why Rooney, his people and Nike conspired to put this out (i.e. tell 'em about the money, honey!), but he must have known he was setting himself up for a fall. He'd not played for weeks and needed to ease himself in to some game time quietly so that his conditioning could improve before stepping in to the ring against some real contenders.

    Really! If he is going to prostitute himself like that then he should expect to be fair game and have to suffer the consequences. His guardians in this tournament are no better. Having wildly overspent on on the Wembley Stadium project, The FA's marketing strategy is a real pain in the ass.

    Some people would do well to remember this: whether it's the Royal Ascot dress code, the Apple battle for computing superiority or the football philosophy that a nation projects, deep down, the marketeers know, as do we all, that style matters.


You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player