An essay I wrote a couple of months ago, and emailed to a few friends. The first of several football essays I aim to post.
ON EURO 2008
I have enjoyed this tournament. The reason is simple - no England. With England present, all the media attention is on them, the half time break will be spent interviewing their players who are due their game next week, and pundits analysing their chances. Without England, there is none of this rubbish, the hopes of the English are not with their team, and they do not have this fear of losing that they always have and ruins the spectacle for them. So they are more happy, and with happiness comes joy at watching these tournaments.
Does everyone notice how the commentators and pundits are trying to bring England into every single game. Perrotta and Kazim Kazim (why don't they call him as he is called on the screen) are 'good' because their father or mather are British, Cristiano Ronaldo is 'the best player in the world' because he is playing in the best league in the world (he is not, and I feel like hitting him everytime he goes up to take one of those lame freekicks, spreading his legs apart, sticking his knob up, and taking a deep breathe in as if he is going to blow into a spirometer), Ballack is the best player on the pitch because of his performances for Chelsea (apart from a free kick and a header, what has he done, really. To say he is the best German player is saying nothing). The worst was David Pleat comparing Pavilechenko (or whatever his name is) to that great legend of the English game - Teddy Sheringham. I mean, comparisons are meant to be with classic players aren't they!
But England not being there has been a blessing. It goes to show that they are a poor team, although now with Capello controlling them - he will turn them into a new Italy. For me, a manager has to be from the same country as the players - because a football team is a reflection of the manager's ideas, tactics and decisions. Great national football teams, never hire foreign coaches. Imagine Brasil being led by an Italian, or Argentina led by a German. It is pathetic. There is something called national pride. If a nation has no national pride, they ought not be called a nation, and should play in that thing they call the Champions League (where even a team placed fourth in a league can win the tournament..it's all business and economics). It makes no sense that a great national team is managed by a foreigner. Where does the heart of Guus Hiddink lie when Holland play Russia, or Sven Goran Eriksson when Sweden play England. I know where it lies. In their pockets and on their next pay cheque. There is no loyalty in these people.
And the following comments by Joao Havelange expose the team fully. If Maradona did the hand of God (followed by the greatest goal ever I hasten to add), then this is what the former FIFA president had to say:
There you go guys - the 1966 World Cup was fixed. That World Cup should have been won by Portugal - anyone who saw highlights of that World Cup (the first colour broadcast) will see how incredible they were with Eusebio leading them.
I must say, apart from the most overrated team in the world not being there, it has been the most enjoyable tournament I have watched since Euro 92 - when Gullit, Van Basten, Rijkaard, and Bergkamp played for Holland, and USA 1994 (Maradona's last tournament, Baggio was there, Romario, Stoichkov, Hagi, Baresi) (the absence of England being the common denominator with USA 1994). There have been no good individual players (there is a big hoo ha about Arshavin, but he's nothing extraordinary), but some incredible teams. The Turks! What can I say, team of the tournament. They amazed us all didn't they, even against Germany. Perhaps even most of all against the lucky Germans! How could they do what they did! The Croats played some nice football, and so did the Russians. The Dutch played some wicked counter attacking football. And the Spanish - what can I say, very impressive indeed. It goes to show that getting rid of your veterans Moussier Domenech is the way forward. No Raul. No Guti. Ok, yes Aragones still needs a Brazilian to anchor the midfield, like the Turks (there are seven Brazilian players in Euro 2008). And he needs the Italians to flop on a penalty or two. But they are good.
Ah the Italians. What can I say. They have not played a decent game of football to my mind since USA 94, the game against Spain then sticks out in my memory - does anyone remember Signori's great pass and Baggio's lucky finish. Spain could have won that game if Salinas did not miss an open goal. But it was Italy's last good performance. They played ok against Bulgaria in the semis, and the final against Brasil is the only one in World Cup history to end goalless. That says it all. Since then, does anyone remember Italy playing a decent game. I certainly can't.
The problem with Italy is that, although they always had excellent flair players (Vialli, Signori, Baggio, Giannini, even Donadoni himself), and still have them - Del Piero, Totti, Pirlo and Giovinco stick out in my mind, they actually pride themselves in the creation of Catennacio, which in today's terms is synonymous with negative football, with a hyperdefensive attitude to football. It is football stripped of all joy - whether individual or team-related. When was the last time you saw an Italian smile on a pitch. They prefer the Shoaibs (AKA Gattusos), Aquilanis and De Rossis to those players. For them football is a business to be won by any means. It is digusting. And them winning the World Cup last time was a big blow to attacking football, and Cannavaro winning the 2006 best player award was an equally great blow - it should have gone to Zidane, if only for the way he destroyed Brasil in the quarter finals - the greatest individual performance I have seen since Maradona's days. Even his penalty and that headbutt in the final was extraordinary.
And for Donadoni to say 'Donadoni: One Penalty Got Me Sacked' is pathetic, but even more pathetic is his stubborness, saying in his post-sack interview:
“In these two years I believe that Italy has done something positive, and the last match can not delete this.
“I never felt alone and I would do everything all over again. I am satisfied with what the players have done, they gave their maximum, and it was a wonderful experience.”
Donadoni’s Italy record was 23 matches played, 13 wins, five draws and five defeats"
Is that a decent record, or an insane manager of 4 time World Cup winners. The Italians did not lose because of a penalty miss. They lost because they are mediocre. And because, when you have a tall striker without a football brain you will not score. As Kevin Keegan put it once, "If you don't score, you can't win a match". Thank you Kevin, another example of the retards that ITV brings to the TV (I think he doesn't come anymore though).
Which brings me nicely to one of the few other things that I dislike about football these days - other than the lack of creative genius (at the end of this email there is a small article I wrote on this topic in my spare time) and negative international football. TV. I always dread it when I know a game is broadcast on ITV. Shit pundits like David Pleat ("The Germans are completely engrossed in undesirable defensive footballing behaviour-patterns only when certain prerequisites, not satisfied except in a small percentage of actual cases, have, through some fortuitous incidence of favourable circumstances, chanced to play a team more attacking than they, like the team we have on order today, the Turks" (a statement that could have come out of hismouth before yesterday - he overcomplicates everything that guy), Andy Townsend (he drives me mad that guy), and the other quality football legends they bring - Dietmar Hamann, Boudweijin Zenden, Gary Neville - it kills me to see these faces.
Equally as annoying though, is seeing Alan Shearer. You just feel like smacking the guys. Before I thought it was just his celebrations that were dry. But no, his 'pundetry' if that's what you call it, is equally as lame, so full of cliches, so much rubbish comes out of that mouth its unbelievable. Even his attempts at originality are so comical - 'I like the way the Dutch celebrate, shows their togetherness'.
Kiss my a**.
I think Hansen and O'Neill must be loving it to have someone so dull in between them. It makes them look better, even though Hansen for me has lost his spark. But still, BBC any day. Desailly talks a lot of sense in the time that ITV devote for quality commercials like Bet365 (what is that guy doing!) and advertising beer. Don't you just hate how just before the national anthems there is a commercial break, and straight after there is a commercial break. I swear if it were up to ITV they would put a commercial in the middle of the match. "Oh, and Klose is through on goal, he's past the keeper, and - we'll show you what happens afterward after the break. Stay with us."
These guys have got the best job in the world. They are earning bucks for sitting on their arses watching football or telly. How good is that - sitting chatting rubbish on TV, drawing small circles on the screen (or in the case of Shearer, big circles) and getting paid for it.
Football is an industry. Gone is the love of the game for the sake of itself. Rupert Murdoch, commercialism, and satellite television, business men (or thieves) with no love for the game - like Mohammed Al-Fayed (of Fulham) (since when did Egyptians know anything about football) and Roman Abramovich have ruined the beautiful game. It is full of corruption (especially in Italy) and lots of evil. Even someone like Martin O'Neill is merely a mask - I like the guy, and think he is decent, but someone looking at his presence deeply will see that he is there, with his intelligent looks and glasses, to give the football that is being broadcast for commercial reasons an air of intelligence. It is not the beautiful game anymore. It is the ugly business.
Is there anything more laughable than having, in a European international tournament, so many Brasilians, who are prepared to sell out their own country for a country that gives them a passport because they are half decent footballers not yet recruited by their country (reminds me of Qatar in the last Olympics giving Qatari passports to Iranian wrestlers and weight lifters so that they represent them. They are recruiting Brasilian footballers now). It is all business. And World Cup winners needing to go through qualifiers now! I would love it if Sepp Platter decides one day to say the hosts have to qualify. And, with all the racism that Israel exhibits on a daily basis, it is kept in FIFA while South Africa were refused membership because of the Apartheid until 1992). If Platini and Platter really cared about racism, should they not consider that. That's why its all an act (all that crap about 'Against Racism' is just bollocks. Does it make sense that Aragones, who is famed for his Negro de Mierda incident wear an 'anti-racism' shirt (he's 70 - he's not going to change his mind now and think black people are angels, for those good hearted lot who think he might have changed his opinion):
"That took place in 2004 and was captured by a documentary crew. At a training session, Aragones said to Jose Antonio Reyes, in reference to Reyes' Arsenal team-mate Henry, "Tell that black shit: 'I'm better than you'," and then a phrase that, although apparently common in Spain, translated as "I shit on his prostitute mother". It was compounded by greater outrage when it appeared that the Spanish were fairly nonplussed about the incident. Under international pressure, the Spanish football federation eventually fined Aragones £2,000".
So football is an act, a business, a mafia, full of racism and dull, unintelligent people. I am slowly disliking the sport. But I like a few things about it at the moment still and I will keep watching it until they stop.
Seeing the dull corrupt Italians collapse as they did. Seeing the blatant falsehood of the astrology as in the case of Domenech ('Leo needs to play with Taurus in defence etc') which many Arab monkeys I know still believe in and read avidly (we are becoming so superstiitious). The national anthems (I am in love with the Russian national anthem. And of course the German and Italian ones are the best). Seeing teams like Turkey who play with their heart and soul - that was a real delight, a heroic team.
But it was yet again, a tournament lacking heroes. Gone are the days of the legends. We are not in the age of individual heroes anymore. Teams, maybe. Individuals, definitely not.