Mindfart: Cabin Fever
Okay so for anyone who needs clarification, this is a flippant and manic cry of desperation! It would be an exaggeration to say I haven’t slept at all in the last 48 hours. However, due to the high levels of steroids and painkillers I am on, I have been alternating infuriatingly between unbearable brain hyperactivity and total catatonia.
There are a few serious subjects I’d love to write about, but I know that in this chaotic mental state I wouldn’t do them any justice or respect; you can see that from the quality and quantity of this babbling rhetoric. At the same time, I desperately feel the need to exorcise and purge my possessed mind. I need to keep rhythmically drumming away at the keyboard to sustain the enchantment holding back the feral, brain eating wolves that are circling my woodland writer’s retreat.
Thank goodness I included a Hipshot and Mindfart section on the website! A stage for trivial reasoning and barely comprehensible prattle. But what hollow nonsense can I address? Of course! Every electrical retailer’s last, best hope to flog you an utterly unnecessary TV. Do you realise how much better your life will be if you watch twenty two men kick a ball about on a 105 inch, Ultra High Definition, 4K resolution, 3D, curved screen?
It’s funny old game, football, especially the World Cup. With the recent Golden Generation years, and with the apparently limitless English capacity for completely unjustified hubris (Yea! Well, we invented the bloody game and won two World Wars!), I can’t I remember such low expectations of an England team going into a World Cup or European Championships. Considering the reputation of our first two opponents in the group phase, Italy and Uruguay, (who may well make the final game against Costa Rica an exhibition match and runabout for England’s players numbered 12-23), it would seem that the majority of us that inhabit this Sceptered Isle have decided a more pragmatic approach is overdue. Indeed, we may end up playing and losing to the local branch of Costa Coffee in that third game.
However, having watched the three warm up games and looking through the England squad, for the first time I can remember I might just watch the group games think to myself, “Hey there’s a football team I’d like to watch; win or lose!” Add to that the irony that this is a group of players selected and directed by Roy “1-0″ Hodgson, and now I am really bemused. After all these years of Roy’s alleged experience and success, (or as I would call it repetitive, conservative failure), is it possible that the attacking approach of last season’s top two Premiership team’s who scored over 200 goals between them, has taught the old dog a new trick?
Everyone tells us we have the best league in the world. It’s the fastest, most physical, dynamic, etc., and yet historically, at international level, we have consistently reverted to standard international tactics that suit more ‘technical’ teams, i.e. everyone else.
If Roy can carry the courage of his convictions and deliver a high paced, adventurous, attacking game (aaaaand yes I know, I know. Humidity, shmuditity. Heat, shmeat), who knows what might become of our ambition. For once, we actually have several players with magic in their feet: Baines, Gerrard, Wilshire, Barkley, Lallana, Sterling, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rooney, Sturridge. Milner (Haha! Sorry, couldn’t help myself:-)). Players that can make something out of nothing. Set them free!
That is, set them free, but don’t be a knob and ask the precocious, but barely pubescent Raheem Sterling to face up against ‘General Longtooth’ Pirlo. Pirlo the Roman midfield commander who, despite being identified before our last encounter with Italy as their keystone player, was allowed the time and space to not only manage his own Mediterranean teammates, but the whole England team as well. I draw no conclusions from the fact Capello, the then England manager was also Italian, or the fact that the Cosa Nostra are Italian, or that racist stereotypes notwithstanding, we know there are a lot of external incentives in Italian football. (It’s okay, I don’t own a horse, and I’m already terminally ill; what’s the worst they can do?!)
To be fair to the young Sterling, it’s not he who has judged himself the next big thing. It’s the usual pundits doing what they before every tournament; looking for a teenager to build up, just to knock them down again (this time it’s Sterling and Barkley, The New Gazza).
Don’t think I underestimate the young Jamaican’s talents, it’s just that his skills are most effective against weak Division Two Carling Cup opponents; against well organised world class players he just loses the ball a lot and looks silly, which is the manager’s fault, not his.
I was reminded of a film quote the other day from Sly Stallone’s Demolition Man; “Send a maniac to catch a maniac.” Well, for the purposes of the Italy game we may need to adjust that slightly to “Send a northern nutter to tackle, harass and otherwise annoy a sophisticated, cultured Italian footballer and prevent him from settling into any kind of passing rhythm.” Not as pithy, I’ll give you that; but a better tactical description.
I don’t know if such a thing exists, but if there is a Brazil 2014 Top Trumps Edition, and it has a category for ‘Running About Like An ADHD Jack Russell on Adrenaline‘, then you can be sure there is only one ’10’ in the pack; Jordan Henderson. The man makes the Duracell bunny look like a malingering slacker. Set him on Pirlo for ninety minutes and let everyone else get on with winning the game.
As for the Uruguay match, we may well have to up the stakes and actually requisition Sylvester Stallone to manmark Luis ‘overpaid, over-here and overbite‘ Suarez. What do you mean that’s ridiculous? Haven’t you seen Escape to Victory?