England, by any other name


Jeremy Robson has already commented at another Salut! Sunderland post that France’s abject failure means Slovenia – maybe – couldn’t have chosen a worse time to face us, so great will be England’s fear of following France into the early departure lounge. But as this piece of whimsy shows he’s having it both ways, dreaming up a novel explanation in case we stumble again …

Everyone is puzzled about the poor form that England have shown thus far in the World Cup.

Even those of us who had low expectations of success in South Africa have been surprised at just how bad the national team has been.

Why is it that players who have been pulling up trees for their clubs over the course of the season have looked like hungover pub players against a pedestrian side like Algeria? It’s very strange.

Honduras have a player called Georgie Welcome, who if I recall correctly came on as a substitute in their first game against Chile. Pure exotica. Georgie Welcome lines up in his national side alongside the familiar and equally exotic sounding Maynor Figueroa.

The Italian side should be scintillating with names such as Antonio di Natale and Vincenzo Iaquinta, but unfortunately for the Azzuri they are coming up short. Even if the current crop of Italian players are not quite of the same calibre as years gone by, they have the most enviable record in World Cups, and have only marginally been out done by Brazil.

This makes me think that there must be something in it. The FA tried to change things around when Sven Goran Ericsson was appointed.

Sadly the only cups that Sven got his hands on were those in Ulrika Jonsson’s underwear. Fabio Capello sounded exotic, even if he turned out to less charismatic than say Frank Clark or Joe Royle. We shouldn’t be put off by this. Our players just sound rather plain and boring.

Imagine opposing coaches telling their players: “You’ll be up against Gareth and Frank tomorrow, and you’ll have to keep Wayne quiet.”

“Gareth Barry”: that’s a bus driver’s name. “Wayne Rooney” sounds like a club comedian from the 1970s. Gabriel Agbonlahor should have been in the squad because he sounds like a star. His name alone would terrify defences. It’s exotic, and exciting. We’ve Shaun, and John and Glen. What we need are some name changes.

Watching the Brazilians with their exotic brand of play and their illustrious names; Luis Fabiano, Robinho, and Julio Cesar etc, they just sound good. They’ve always had great names (and great players), Pele, Zico, Socrates,Tostao, Jairzinho etc.

Sometimes of course their names would be too long to just slip off the tongue. The wonderfully named “Casagrande” a striker from the 1990 World Cup was so named simply because he was wealthier than some of his team mates and was named “Big house” as a result. Nobody probably knew his name and it didn’t matter anyway.

Next time England are on the verge of a major tournament. If England ever qualify for another one that is, then the coach should be encouraged to give the players exotic sounding nicknames. If the Brazilians can do it then so can England. Come on FA get your fingers out!

In the interim Capello will have to make do with some of the following; Atentas (Green) in goal, with a defence featuring Tartaruga (Terry), Sonolento (Johnson), Joelhos Fracos (King), Aposentado (Carragher), with Carafeia (Rooney) and either Elevada (Crouch) or Grandeboi (Heskey) up front, supported by Macante (Barry), Fraude (Lampard) and Desolo (Gerrard). Such a strong squad that Cursonao (Bent) didn’t make the 23.

If you can sound Brazilian then maybe you could play like a Brazilian.

1 thought on “England, by any other name”

  1. “Wayne Rooney — a club comedian from the 1970s.” Perfect! He looks the part, too; one of those aggressive types with a grating catch-phrase who were never as funny as they thought they were.

    The problem with exotic Hispanic nicknames is you might find yourself playing like Honduras. Mind you, England HAVE been playing like Honduras….

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