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Well that was a farce. Some idiots predicted that Thomas Müller would pose very litttle threat to Ashley Cole, but that may have been a little wide of the mark. As wide, say, as a Steven Gerrard’s crossfield pass. No, England just got stuffed in so many ways on Sunday in Bloemfontein.
I watched the whole thing tensely at first. There was the feeling similar to the quixotic state of bliss you are supposed to have just before you drown. “Don Fabio knows what he’s doing, Don Fabio knows what he’s doing!” I kept saying to myself. But then it turned out, like the rest of us, he didn’t really.
England were caught out in the end by four superb goals, that were tactically, beautifully concieved and came from moments of quick thinking from well within Germany’s own half. England were as flabby as the rubbish that Clive Tyldesley used to greet them on to the pitch for ITV in England.
“But then Andy, you’ve got to expect to beat the likes of Germany!” Er, yeah.
It’s easy to say after the fact, though. I did expect England to beat Germany. Even thought we probably had a right to. But then, as Willie Nelson said “What has changed is that nothing has changed… that’s what has made me more unhappy than everything else.”
Nothing’s changed, I even feel a bit sorry for Ashley Cole having to do two men’s jobs on the left because Steven Gerrard isn’t a left winger. The argument about whether he and Lampard can fit into the same midfield is surely now dead forever. It’s the same old shit and just hiring Harry Redknapp to put a nationalistic fire underneath their arses ain’t going to do it. What do you think that Stuart Pearce was there for. He’s a lovely bloke, apparently, is Psycho. Doesn’t like to be called Psycho though, and once stormed out of a record shop my mate was working in because he addressed him as such, but he’s a punk rocker – a Lurkers fan – and a passionate man. He used to advertise himself as an electrician in the forest programme so he must be alright. He’s a football man with passion… He was also in charge of the under 21s that got humiliated 4-0 by a Mezut Özil-led Germany in the final of the European Championships last year.
I don’t know what Jagger made of it all, watching this shower without even the company of a former president to bend the ear of, but at least he didn’t have to watch it in a German bar. I don’t think that the guys who had been ribbing me for days about the massive loss England were going to have to deal with really believed it themselves, but as Schweini, Özil, Khedira and Müller tore England apart – like they had finally got in the team to play against the blind school – it all clicked. Clicked like Brazil have done, like Spain have done and like Holland have done. It may not have been pretty all the way, but momentum is important, and England simply never built any up. We came second in a group with the USA, Algeria and Slovenia. Played four won one, scored three conceded five.
So with Germany due to play Argentina, which way does the one-eyed Englishman go? Which particular cliches about which particular wars do we try to shoehorn in for this one? They, of course, have previous from the World Cup four years ago, when Germany won on penalties but that was mostly seen as fair enough after the final of Mexico 86. The less said about the bad-tempered and life-sapping final between them in 1990 the better. As the World Cup has slowly taken off and provided us with the spectacle, we seem to think we deserve this game that has the makings of a corker.
For the record, the people in the pub I watched it in were sound. Magnanimous and not even too smug. After Lampard’s goal that wasn’t, it was clear. “2-2 would have been a different game mate, unlucky,” said the bloke behind me. Turned out he’d lived in Kent and had the estuary drawl to go with it, but was as mindful of the elephant in the room as everyone else. “Still mate, that’s payback for 1966 innit?”
With five minutes to go, I paid the bill and within half-an-hour was at Südstern waiting for a train into the country. It’s pathetic, I know, but the fact that people were being nice made it worse. I ran away. If I was Fabio Capello, I think I’d do the same thing too.
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