The fan - Hunter Davies doesn't think much of Sven
Oh yes, I'll be blaming Sven if England fail at the World Cup
Is it because we is rubbish at football? Is that why more people are watching cricket? I have found myself turning over to the Test, despite not really knowing the rules or recognising the faces. There is something mesmerising. I'll just watch another over, I tell myself, then another. Something is bound to happen soon, or in the next five days, and I'll kick myself if I miss it, whatever it was. The graphics make me smile, as does the bloke who sits by his computer to explain LBW. All this amazing technology for something so piddling as a ball hitting a bat. Or not.
Cricket has gone working class, since last I took much interest. The players are wearing proper white pullies, so that's something, and white long 'uns, but none of them seems to have gone to a decent public school or captained Oxford, judging by the accents. And my dear, the crowds are full of lager-swilling yobs. Where are all the middle classes? In the posh seats at Chelsea or Arsenal, that's where.
Big, world-class events - Wimbledon, or Open golf, or a Test against the Aussies - are bound to get a lot of attention if they are exciting and some of our lads might do well. Afterwards, most of us forget about it for another year. It always surprises me when I see a photo of Tim Henman somewhere else in the world. Goodness, I think, don't say he plays tennis all the year round.
With all this exciting cricket, coinciding with the new footer season, there is a backlash against our spoiled, too-rich, too-pampered Premiership stars and obscenely wealthy clubs, such as Chelsea, bulldozing their way to the top.
But the real reason for any discontent with football is that we are rubbish. The England team, I mean. The humiliating defeat by Denmark will not be forgotten quickly, even if we manage in the next few days to stuff the giants of Wales and Northern Ireland.
In point of fact, England has been rubbish for 40 years, not even making the final of a world or European competition. Next year, once again, getting to the quarter-finals of a World Cup will be the best we can hope for, yet still we tell ourselves we have the best team in the world. OK, Sky tells us, and we believe it. Just as we believe we are the most tolerant country, the most polite, the most phlegmatic, with the best sense of humour, all of which is brainwashed bollocks.
Brazil, Argentina, France and Italy are miles better. Greece and Portugal have recently done better. Holland and Germany - remember, the Germans will be playing at home - will rise to the occasion. Either Cameroon or Nigeria, Japan or Korea, the Czechs or the Poles, or another South American team, will surprise us all, and England might not even make the last 16. And all thanks to Sven. Oh yes, I'll be blaming him.
We do have, by chance, a handful of world-class individuals at this moment, such as Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham, players acknowledged by the rest of the world. Most England fans are quite happy with all 11 players Sven usually picks, because he tends to go for the best, most obvious choices available at any one moment. That's his first mistake. The 11 best players don't make the best team. Thus, we end up with too many doing a similar job in midfield, cancelling each other out.
Alf Ramsey didn't pick the best 11 in the summer of 1966, otherwise Jimmy Greaves would always have been in. Nobody thought Nobby Stiles was world-class or Martin Peters worth his place. A team manager has to manage to create a team, fit different players together, even if it makes him unpopular, in order to make the whole better than the sum of its parts. Then he has to form a strategy. So far, Sven has proved useless at both. And when the individuals are patently doing badly, he freezes, doesn't know how to change it.
I can see no point in having him as manager. Most fans could do what he does. It's giving me a headache, just thinking of his England team. I'll just check out the cricket. Oh, good ball, Shaney; well played, Vaughney; Flintoffy, you're fantasticky . . .
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