Roy Hodgson has managed to instil a team ethic into the England ranks, which has lead to every player being as average as the next. He’s successfully prevented any England player from being the hero, and at the same time he might have prevented any of the players from becoming the villain. If every player can perform averagely, at a level of around 6 or 7 out of 10 in each game, then they might manage to achieve a slightly above average performance as a team. We want to win, but we want someone on the other team to get man of the match, thanks. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, Steven Gerrard can be tactically disciplined when he wants to.
Eating Crumble Pie
After being a bit unsure of this writer in the past, mainly because it’s often easier to mock football writing than it is to actually do it well, this article by Duncan Jenkins ended up being one of the most entertaining pieces written about the European Championships. Second only to the team by team tournament preview on the Zonal Marking website. Amidst a myriad of football writing, which would probably take you so long to read that a major tournament might be hosted in England by the time you finish, these two pieces stood out.
This is Russia
Until they tire late on because of their gruelling season and a half. As featured in a previous article, the last season in Russian football was played over a season and a half, to bring its calendar in line with the top European leagues. The Russian Football Union will be hoping global warming kicks in sometime soon, so matches aren’t played in deep freeze conditions.
The Russian’s performances in this competition have drawn comparisons with their impressive 2008 campaign, with Alan Dzagoev emerging as the star of the side with a few goals in the first two games. Andrei Arshavin is attracting interest from Arsenal after some promising displays with good delivery from set pieces, and crazy dribbling.
Maybe the This is Russia banner with a reference to Dmitry Pozharsky (some 17th century politics) was ill advised, but looked quite good.
You’d think the main talking points of a top class football tournament like this would be the exciting football, the tactics, the individual talent, or the future stars who emerge at this level every couple of years. However, none of these have really caught the imagination of the football discussion forums or Twitter trends during this tournament, and instead people have chosen to ignore the football and talk about the commentators, pundits, and TV presenters who happen to be on their tellyboxes during the games. Mark Lawrenson’s laughing has been the subject of much debate, and the general lack of football knowledge possessed by these “idiots” has been widely derided by the footballing brains of the Twitter who have a handy Wikipedia tab open so they can pretend they know everything.
Some of the best analysis of the tournament so far has come from ITV in the shape of Jamie Carragher and Gareth Southgate, with the occasional pearl of wisdom from Roy Keane – usually after Carragher asks him a question. The presenter on ITV just seems to annoy the studio guests!
Some highlights away from the football have been a bit of Chopin in the opening ceremony, the BBC playing the Joy Division track “Warsaw” on the opening night, and a whole host of ex-players and football personalities doing funny things in adverts. An example of which is shown below.