Euro 2012, rooting for Roy: ‘how wrong I was, even about England’

Sixer by Jake

If Pete Sixsmith only knew how few people would bother to stray here, he might not have delayed his departure for the Stadium of Light and Bruce Springsteen long enough to rattle off some thoughts on his developing fondness for the Euros. But I am glad he did …

A couple of weeks ago, I felt that my interest in Euro 2012 was akin to that of Samantha Cameron’s interest in the life and times of Featherstone Rovers RLFC. I don’t think that the fragrant Sam Cam is now a season ticket holder at Post Office Road, but my interest in the goings on in Poland and Ukraine are growing by the day.

There have been criticisms of the two host nations. On the field, neither progressed out of the group stage, while off the field there have been pointed observations on the distances between venues, the rudimentary state of public lavvies in Donetsk, the exorbitant prices charged by hoteliers and the relative monotony of the local diets.

Of course, none of these criticisms will apply to London 2012. I am sure that a journey from the rowing at Eton to the athletics at Stratford will take less time than the trip from Krakow to Kiev (but not by much). I am equally sure that visitors will enjoy clean public lavvies if they can find a council that hasn’t closed them all, while London hoteliers wouldn’t dream of extorting money from itinerant tourists. And as for diet, there is McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Dixie Chicken (a little feat finding one of those) and a myriad of other outlets flogging mechanically retrieved meat to the locals and visitors alike.

The stadiums have been very impressive and look like they will be in constant use after the caravan has moved on, unlike the rotting relics in Athens, Beijing and South Africa. They are a long way from the grim, open Stalinist bowls that peppered Eastern Europe in the days before the changes. The stadium at Katowice, which had no cover and was in a natural bowl a la The Valley and Odsal, is but a distant memory for Polish fans.

And the football has been extraordinarily good, which confounds Uefa’s decision to bring in another four teams next time round. Because of the tightness of the groups, there has not been one dead game and I cannot see that changing now that we have moved onto the ko stage. In fact, it should become even more intense.

From the Sunderland point of view, there is now no interest as Sweden and Ireland have gone home. O’Shea and Larsson did as well for their nations as anybody. In fact, O’Shea looked the best Irish defender – which is a bit like saying that Vince Cable is the best Lib Dem; the other contenders aren’t very good at all. Westwood should have played instead of a creaking and groaning Given, while the choice of Cox and/or Long above McClean was difficult to understand.

Seb scored one and set one up and was inches away from blocking Theo Walcott’s equaliser. He showed that he is a very competent player who has a very positive work ethic and who should continue to figure prominently in MON’s team selection in August.

The weakest eight have departed and the strongest eight remain, soon to be whittled down to four. Will England be there? Why not, sayeth this scribe.

As a rule, I couldn’t care less what happens to the England side. Managers like Keegan, Hoddle, the appalling Venables (a dodgier version of Harry Redknapp) and Eriksson have left me cold to the national team. Capello started well but became bogged down and, in my mind, used the Terry situation to extricate himself from a job he disliked, but with the money intact.

The prospect of “Good ol’ ‘Arry and the boys from the southern tabloids taking over must have left many fans feeling that they were even less likely to follow the national side than before; and then along came Roy Hodgson to save the day.

England’s football has not been scintillating but it has been organised. There has been an element of good fortune – Sweden went to sleep for 10 minutes, Ukraine’s disallowed goal – but the resilience and determination, missing under so many big name managers, is there and Hodgson is the man who has installed it.

It may well be that a Balotelli inspired Azzuri sweep England aside on Sunday, or that if we come through that one, the uber disciplined and uber organised Germans triumph in the semi final. Whatever happens, the national side does have something to work on and if Hodgson is left alone by the loud mouths in the press and on the airwaves, he may be able to put together a decent squad for Brazil in two years time.

My tips for the semis are Portugal, Germany, England and Spain, with Germany and Spain playing each other in the final. Iniesta v Ozil, Xavi v Schweinsteiger, Casillas v Neuer; clashes to set the pulses racing and the heart fluttering.

In the meantime, we have Ashburton Grove on the August 18 to look forward to. And maybe even some new faces …

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31 thoughts on “Euro 2012, rooting for Roy: ‘how wrong I was, even about England’”

  1. It’s just a ‘balanced and articulate ‘difference of views Jeremy.I know the context is different for someone like Banks who won a World Cup winners medal (mind you so did Felix) but I feel Monty is the best keeper I have ever seen.As for Bonetti I was making the point that he was better than you were implying.In an age of cotton gloves his handling from crosses and corners was faultless.

  2. Pampered premiership poodles come up short again, out played, outclasses and massivly overpaid and hyped, This is England.

    Would Walcott, Chamberlain etc be in the England Squad if they were playiong for Sunderland, not a chance. Bent, Super Kev etc were leading goalscorers of the their day, still not chosen.

    Bents case particularly irritaes as Capellow stated that he would take the ‘Form’ players

    The London Centric media and the joke of the FA have stystematically destroyed any sense of fair play in being selected for England and this is mirrored by successive failures on the pitch.

    England, undone by Italians, Capellow, who should never have been given the job and their National team, who are to be honest a pale shadow of italian sides of the past.

    Internationl football is just a side show for supporters, particularly of England, Bring on the Premiership.

  3. “Even if Monty had been the better of the two he would have been unlikely to get picked simply because he played for us. A far better keeper than Bonetti who did feature in the absence of Banks, under Ramsey though.”

    Not sure what you are disagreeing with Ken. I think we are on the same page because this is what I said in the original post. I completely agree with you about his chances being limited because of who he played for.

  4. Going back to Springsteen what about that knobead journalist – Kitty – writing in the guardian, praising the Tyneside crowd. At least she has had the decency to update the article and now praises the WEARSIDE crowd. Don’t journalists do research?

    • The Journal referred to Springsteen getting the crowd going with “favourites such as Born In The USA.”

      Which he didn’t play, and hasn’t for a while. And the crowd didn’t leave soaked to the skin, as the rain had stopped long before the end, only restarting for a little while. I suppose it made for better reading than “mildly damp.”

      PS. Young and Rooney were awful last night, as was Milner, who ran as if he was pulling a sledge

  5. Oh for the days when keepers wore green jerseys except for those who could wear yellow.
    If you’re too young to understand ask your grandad. Who was it mentioned old farts earlier?

  6. A matter of opinion,but having watched Monty for nigh on twenty years,had he played for a more fashionable club ,international honours would surely have come his way.How anyone could have preferred Alex Stepney to him is beyond belief.I also disagree Jeremy, for Bonetti was a fine ‘keeper whose reputation was severely damaged by just that one game in Leon.His performances for Chelsea were consistently exceptional.Still not as good as Monty though.

  7. Malcolm said “If Alf Ramsay had had Greenwood’s mentality Monty would have had a bucketful of caps!”

    I have to disagree there Malcolm. Much as I loved Monty, Gordon Banks was always a considerably better goalkeeper than Jimmy. Even if Monty had been the better of the two he would have been unlikely to get picked simply because he played for us. A far better keeper than Bonetti who did feature in the absence of Banks, under Ramsey though.

  8. Steady on chaps. You’ll be talking about the Captain next. That’s Mr B not Mr C. Italy we are gonnA Booglarize you.

  9. It is a waste Goldy and sadly only in years to come will the extent of this waste be fully recognised. It was similar to the nonsense approach that Ron Greenwood took with his goalkeepers, playing Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence alternatively, because he couldn’t choose between them. Only a monkey would look back at that time and consider Clemence to be comparable to Shilton.

    Just because you have a surplus of talent which may be above the norm at a particular moment doesn’t mean that you don’t have to make a choice. Spain don’t have a problem leaving players like Mata and Fabregas on the bench.

    Would Superkev have been sitting on the bench if he’d won the Golden Boot while playing for Spurs do you think?

  10. John Mac, it was Phillip’s failure to get off the bench in Euro 2000 that was the most ridiculous. He was the European Golden Boot winner at the time.

    What is absolutely clear with how this side are performing, is that a decision to play either Gerrard OR Lampard should have been made years ago. Whether or not they were both performing to world class standards around 2006 (which they were) we couldn’t accommodate them both. This has happened too late for Gerrard now. What a waste.

  11. I was lucky enough to see them twice before Lowell’s tragically early death.

    I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow
    I’m drunk and dirty don’t ya know, and I’m still, willin’
    Out on the road late at night, Seen my pretty Alice in every head light
    Alice, Dallas Alice

    I’ve been from Barnsley to Crystal Palace,
    Huddersfield to Liverpool…. … .. . . . . . ;oD

  12. No Jake. Dixie Chicken is one of my all time favourite albums and gets listened to more frequently than you’d expect. This site isn’t half a refuge for old farts these days.

  13. Was this “a prayer for the souls of the departed?” Ie Russia, Sweden, Croatia, Poland, Ireland, Holland, Ukraine, Denmark and now the Czechs?

  14. They are still worth a listen, Jake. I have rediscovered them recently and enjoyed their distinctive style.

  15. I stopped caring for England a good while back. I went to an international at Wembley expecting to see Dave Watson and found he hadn’t been picked. In the 40 years since then there has been nothing to suggest that England selectors and managers pay North-eastern players any heed.

    Think about it. It’s 2006 and you are short of a striker for the World cup. Do you,
    a) Pick a 17 year old untried player from Arsenal, or
    b) Pick an experienced and lethal 33 year old striker who scored over 100 goals when playing for Sunderland. Kevin Phillips played only 8 times for England. Go figure!

    But I’m pleasantly surprised and have enjoyed the Euros this time around. Maybe age is mellowing me

  16. Good read Pete. My thoughts as well. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the games and the tournament in general. I was expecting something dour and turgid in places with the media spotlight being on England fans crowd trouble and lots of mentions of fans coming home in a coffin to spice up the papers. To date, thankfully, all vastly over-exaggerated.

    The ROI performed as expected but that’s no criticism of them. You can only play with what you have.

    Greece strike me as a team little better than the ROI and I expect to see Spain, Germany and Portugal in the semis. I think England v Italy is the closest call but I’m going for England. For the first time for a while we look better when we don’t have the ball. Organisation looks good in defence but things seem to go a bit awry in Young and Milner. Can’t put my finger on it. The media drowned out any claims that Rooney actually had a crap game and looked like a luxury player, but he scored and that’s important.

    Looking forward to this weekend’s games (surprisingly).

    ps Jon Bell

    No membership required. It appears you already have M. Salut’s approval and that’s all that counts. Welcome.

  17. If it was a choice between Springsteen and the Euro Final then I’d be “Dancing In The Dark” in “My Hometown”, hoping for “Better Days” . I’d have a tenner on Germany hoping to make some “Easy Money”. I’m hoping that Sunderland will be a “Lucky Town” next season and the lads will adopt “No Surrender” as their anthem, and we’ll be “Tougher Than The Rest”. The Stadium Of Light will become a “Land Of Hope And Dreams”, and afterwards we can cross “The River” and disappear into the “Night”. Never forgetting of course that the Mags were “Born To Run”, they live in the “Badlands” and with a bit of luck they will just “Fade Away”. Anyway, gotta go “My Ride’s Here”. I’ll get my coat.

  18. Great read, i stumbled upon this from looking at Sunderlands team profile on Absolute Radios’ website. If there a way of free membership here?

    • Hi Jon – glad you like the site. There’s no membership here but you can come and comment any time. I think there’s also a facebook / twitter feed that you can subscribe to … this about reaches the limit of my technical knowledge!

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