Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith makes 10 points from the opening sequence of the Euros but I seem to have reduced them to seven. I began yesterday in a rage against the moronic English ‘fans’ who, as I have witnessed at first hand, are as obnoxious a group of people as you’d hope not to meet. But if they – and of course I mean the sizeable minority of trouble-seeking louts – had already behaved atrociously in one of my favourite French cities, Marseille, their lowlife thuggishness was more than matched by an evil bunch of Russians, in particular, and by some French ‘fans’.
Pete fears there will be trouble wherever England play, even when the English are not wholly or even mostly to blame. As for the football, disappointment for England, a dark start for a man with SAFC pedigree – Lorik Cana, who must have even Lee Cattermole tit-tutting – not to mention another red, albeit away from the Euros in the Copa America) DeAndre Yedlin – and a great opener for Wales. Now let Sixer admire French stadiums and French midfielders …
And so, after four games, what have we learnt from the opening stages of this tournament?
- There is a magic template in France that produces midfield players who are of a similar ilk. For example, Dmitri Payet and Wahbi Khazri both play in the same way with Payet being a better player than Khazri – although not by much.Ditto N’Golo Kante and Yann M’Vila. Both win the ball and bring it forward. Kante may be marginally more accomplished than M’Vila but there is little in it.
- The stadiums are impressive. The aerial view of Bordeaux makes it look like a huge box and the sweeps and curves of Marseille are reminiscent of a young Brigitte Bardot or Madame Salut. Lens is boxy but not bad for a town smaller than Darlington.
- There will be trouble wherever England go, some of it caused by a small number of England supporters, some of it caused by a desire of French, Russian and whatever to have a go at the English. Occupying a square, drinking excessively and singing about German bombers does not show them to be good Europeans.
- Wales showed how it should be done. Their magnificent rendition of Land of my Fathers seemed to lift the team when they were flagging against a not very special Slovakia team. The dirge that is the UK National anthem wouldn’t inspire anyone .
- The Welsh did well enough on the field. They have one world class player in Gareth Bale (remember him equalising for Southampton in 2006) a couple of good ones in Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams and then a group of honest players who have ability and commitment. They will cause England’s defence problems in Lens on Thursday.
- England played some attractive football but failed because;
- They cannot finish teams off – Jermain Defoe and even Andros Townsend might well have been able to get that second goal to win the game. Either was a better option than Jack Bloody Wilshere; runs around a lot, achieves bugger all.
- They lose concentration in defence. Poor Danny Rose was left trying to mark a large Soviet style central defender at a free kick. Where was the leadership on the field? Who was organising the marking? Why was the goalkeeper not dragging Kane or someone to pick up at the far post?
- Lorik Cana is as handsome and as deliberately clumsy as ever. He stumbles better than anyone I have seen in a red and white shirt.
- The commentary teams are as useless as we expected. Glenn Hoddle challenges every refereeing decision, Clive Tyldsley is probably wearing a Crusader suit while he is failing to describe what is going on and as for Robbie Savage……… words fail me.
There are stacks more games to watch so let’s enjoy them and hope that Lens and St Etienne are more pleasant experiences for all than Marseille was.