Monday, July 03, 2006
I checked the blog entry I wrote after the European Championship a couple of years ago, and damn it’s happened again:
It seems my adult life has been punctuated by the England football team losing on penalties in important competitions. We think it suits us, that we’re dogged and sturdy, but I think it just lets us off the hook.
Its as if, if we really tried and went all out for a win, and believed we could do it, and then failed, that would be much worse. Because we’d put everything into winning, and come up short.
This time it was Rooney’s disgraceful sending off that let us be plucky losers – disgraceful because no professional footballer playing for his country in the World Cup has any excuse for losing the head and stamping on someone’s crown jewels.
But where was the real spirit when we had 11 men? And the lack of will and guts when it came to the penalty shoot-out was horrible to watch.
Hargreaves (the only one in a white jersey who looked like he cared) ran his legs off during the game and scored his penalty. But Lampard and Gerrard (anonymous during the game) bottled it from the spot.
I’m not sure what it is in English culture, or at least the culture of English football that creates a team of such potential that always fails to deliver.
At least in Spain and Brazil (where the same conversation is no doubt going on today), they can take comfort from the fact that they played some great football during the tournament and were beaten by a team playing very well.