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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Foot Fetish Football (Tasting Defeat)

Many years ago, I watched the very first series of Big Brother. Back then, it wasn't anything like the freakfest that it is now; I think only around 300 people applied to be on it and it was actually more of a psycho-sociological experiment - let's stick a dozen people in a house for 8 weeks and see what happens. Well, nobody really paid attention until the Nasty Nick episode and by the end of the series, it had really taken off. And everyone's favourite was Craig, that loveable Scouser. Obviously I didn't vote or anything, but I also rather wanted Craig to win. Until he had won, and was filmed at the gate of the house with his two bull mastiffs, flexing his muscles. And that was the point when everyone realised "Oh shit... What have we done? We've chosen an uber-chav"

And that's kind of how I feel about Roy Hodgson as England manager. When all the talk was about Harry Redknapp, I wasn't sure I wanted him. Yes, he's a good man-motivator, but unashamedly non-tactical. And when Roy Hodgson's name was mentioned, I thought absolutely. Uncle Roy would be a much better manager, from a tactical perspective at the very least. And two games into the Euro's, I feel just like I did after that first Big Brother. What have we done? Now that I see him in his real environment, I can't help but wonder if we've maybe made the wrong choice...

I've been really disappointed with the negative approach we've taken. Yes, I know we've had some injury problems. I know we don't have the world-class players that Spain or Germany have. And I also know that Uncle Roy has only had 6 weeks to prepare. But nevertheless, this safety first approach is really worrying.

I thought we'd played ok against France for the first 20 minutes. But we were lucky against the Swedes. I still think we'll get out of the group - but I can't see us beating either the Spanish or the Italians. Do we have to accept that we're only a half-decent team? Do we have to accept that from now on, we'll be perennial underdogs? Difficult to beat, unspectacular, pragmatic?

And here's the really tough one - what if it actually brings success? Look at Chelsea - Champions League winners. Would you rather support Chelsea, who won, or Barcelona, who they beat in the Semis? Barca clearly played the most exciting football (as Bayern did in the final), but Chelsea's revolutionary 10-0-0 formation won it for them. Is victory at all costs worth it? Personally, I think no. If I was a Chelsea fan, yes, I'd be thrilled we won. But I think I'd feel slightly embarrassed as to how we did it. I'd want my team to outplay the opposition, to be the better team. Not win by playing anti-football.

And that's the rub, I guess. Win ugly or glorious defeat? Perhaps with Harry Redknapp we'd have been given glorious defeat, a team that plays attractive football but never quite having the tactical nous to bag the big prize. However, I worry that with Roy we'll end up with worst of all worlds - We'll still end up losing, but losing ugly.

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