Mickey Blue Eyes...
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Mickey Blue Eyes


When I first heard vuvuzuela noise in a World Cup TV broadcast my initial reaction was, "Well, that's different. Better than those dreary, predictably stupid songs you get at every footy match in England." Five minutes later I was ready to stick my foot through the TV. The truth is the racket is as welcome as a squadron of low flying irate hornets in your Calvin Kleins. I even tried a couple of radio broadcasts in case it was better sound-filtered. It wasn't. Worse, one broadcast had a commentary by resident BBC arsehead Alan Green; naturally it lasted about thirty seconds after I figured I would rather have vuvus in both ears than listen to that Hibernian moron. It triggered a memory of CD Everton in Chilé last year when owner Antonio Bloise heard the same blaring noise before a home play-off and asked bleakly, "Whose bloody idea was that?" I also recalled mass use of air horns by Rapid Vienna fans in the 1985 Cup Winners Cup Final, and knob head drum bangers at Bolton and Blackburn. Meanwhile, in South Africa, Desmond Tutu announced, "We should blow our vuvus harder," which is about what you would expect from someone who wears a frock in his day job.


If that opening tirade reads to you like I am trying to avoid England's opening performances.........congratulations, you're spot on. But now, like all of us, I am forced to face what passes for the "music." A mediocre opener against an energetic USA was followed by a truly appalling, self-pitying display against modestly talented Algeria. I watched the latter game with a jaw that dropped so low I could pull carpet tufts off my chin. The performance was utterly inexcusable and so awful I expected to see a post match interview of one of the guilty parties saying (after the fashion of, bless him, Steve Watson), "We know that was unacceptable." You could fucking say that again. While I don't believe in booing your own team - any more than I heed masochistic crackpots and paranoid Plastic Celts who hate the England side - I could easily understand travelling fans that lost patience with the shambles. You couldn't blame the ball, the altitude, goalkeeping, Fabio Capello, lack of vacuous wags, tactics, team formation, refereeing or the vuvus for any of the dismaying, spiritless nonsense at Rustenburg. Basic passing and athletic attitude were noticeable only by their glaring absence, for which the players and nobody else must take total responsibility. If any prole did his or her job in similar fashion they would be fired instantly and escorted from the premises.


The point is these really are the best we have and they are not bad players. Two of them, Wayne Rooney and Steve Gerrard, are world class and would get into any other national or club team. It should have been enough to give us at least one win out of our two opening games. Instead, we got a team that literally couldn't string three passes together or fashion scoring opportunities, until it got to the embarrassing point where Algeria were the better team for long phases of play. In the end the North Africans could count themselves unlucky not to win. They at least were clear of purpose and effort and used their abilities to the full. Truth is, England were football shameful, and it hurts at that level. At least it does if you have any personal pride. Mortifyingly, we had hardly finished sniggering at a hapless French loss the previous evening only to find we were even worse.


All of which means it is useless trying to analyse a situation so bizarre it would have Franz Kafka licking his lips. I suspect Capello feels almost helplessly angry after watching it. I mean, what is he supposed to do (any more than Moysey could do anything when a group of entrenched players told him five seasons ago he wasn't going to get another season of effort) when he is faced with such mass abrogation of accountability?.......Rant?.......Threaten?.......Change formations?........Throttle one of the irresponsible, lazy bastards?......Does anybody really believe the formation matters if the players couldn't give a shit or haven't got the inner strength to motivate themselves? If they can't raise themselves sufficiently to give everything to try to beat Slovenia and qualify for the next stage then footy history will treat them accordingly. They can have no complaint, something Wayne Rooney especially best learns fast if he is to take the final step to true footy greatness on a World stage. And the English game would do well to reflect on the damage done to our indigenous game by virtually unrestricted access of foreign players.........the best example being the decades-long disaster that was the Spanish national team until relatively recently. There is a balance to be achieved, and we are a long way away from it at present.


Not that the tournament has been any great shakes thus far. The most attractive football has come from Mexico; if they were better in the final quarter of the field they would be a match for anybody. The two most effective displays have come from Argentina and Germany, but nobody has really set the World Cup alight. Maybe the knock out rounds will put that right, though defeats of Spain and France sent out a couple of waves.


Media reporting has been its usual useless self. The only interesting moment it has provided came when nice guy Robbie Earl got terminated by ITV for match ticket shenanigans. Given my current mood I would terminate the lot of them, especially Gary Lineker whose cheerful chintziness is beginning to grate even more than Alan Hansen's changing hair colour or Mark "Lawro" Lawrenson's hang dog face now adorned with a worrying cancer-inducing "tan." Over on ITV Matt Smith's rip-in-a-welly mouth looks like it's full of a highly mobile set of dentures, probably as counter weight to the notoriously untalented vacuum between his ears. Adrian Chiles' winsome, gentle humour has transferred to ITV as main anchor man, which after all these years really should give the final hint to Plastic Scouser Smiffy that he simply doesn't have either (a) the knowledge, or (b) the personality to be numero uno. It's anybody's guess why he didn't take the hint yonks ago that his vocation is actually running a corner shop in New Brighton or Leatherhead.


All of which means we better beat Slovenia or I'll get really pissed off. But if we win, everything will be alright.............won't it?


Well said GD
Mike, Liverpool, 6:43 PM 23/06/2010
Maybe I'm a 'masochistic crackpot' but I really don't care about England. For my entire life, the England team has been full of dickheads and gobshites that seemingly get their place simply because of who they are. Case in point: Cockney geezer Lampard. When did that twat ever have a good game for England? Never. Also, the point that Rooney and Gerrard are world class is laughable. World class players do it on the world stage. Being brilliant for club is all well and good, but doing it in the big international tournaments is something else. Neither Rooney nor Gerrard would have got in, say, the 1998 France team, the Brazil 2002 team or the Italy 2006 team. Why? Because they're not world class. Good job really. If they were, England might actually stand a chance of winning the World Cup and I, for one, could not stand this crop of tits being held up as icons for the rest of my life. So there.
GD, west Derby, 11:00 PM 22/06/2010
Great read as always
Mike, Oslo, 1:17 PM 22/06/2010
Great read as ever Mickey. But before you hammer the BBC/ITV pundits, spare a thought for us England fans living in the US now, stuck listening to Ally McCoist commentating on almost every game. Or, occasionally, ESPN treats me to Efan Ekoku's invaluable experience as a commentary means. I almost wish those hellish horns were louder at times. Let that not detract from the issue at hand here. England have been little short of farcial. Six years ago I was in a pub in London in my Everton shirt, watching Rooney single-handedly torment Croatia. What I would give to see him put in an ounce of the passion he played with back then once more. Gerrard and Lampard are clearly past their sell-by-date; while still world class players, it makes you wonder how long it will be until genuinely prospering talent such as Rodwell will push out players that appear to maintain their position in the team solely on name basis. For the England vs. USA match, I attended an Irish bar in Pittsburgh, a sports-crazed working-class city not dissimilar to Liverpool. Admittedly, those sports are American Football and Ice Hockey, but the passion for sport in this area is only comparable to that in the English North-West. I expected only a handful of US fans to accommodate the bar; the reality was that it took a solid 25 minutes to get served throughout the afternoon. The passion of the fans was matched by the tireless efforts of the players; while Evertonians have undoubtedly witnessed first-hand the only two solid US players in Howard and Donovan, their dogged performances, especially considering their refusal to score first, should make any England supporter question why that determination has disappeared from our own national team. Support is growing out here, and I remain adamant it is only a matter of years until American "soccer" becomes an international superpower. Much like Everton under Kenwright's tenure, I fear England is in absolute danger of sliding down the rankings, going only as far as one competent manager can take the side before moving on to pastures new. Here's to me eating my words as soon as possible, with England having beaten Slovenia and Everton securing players such as Pienaar on a close-to-permanent basis. I just truly dread to imagine a future for club or country if both of my hopes are dashed.
James, Pennsylvania, 5:52 AM 22/06/2010
watched St Helens v Wigan rugby league tonight... suggest anyone that reads this gets the re-run on SKY, send it to the twats in Africa and let them see what passion, professionalism, guts, desire and being gentleman sportsmen is all about. saddest of all, proably 90% of the pampered c$*ts earn more in a week than these lads do in a year! thank god our boys in blue have abit more about them
mik, l'pool, 10:06 PM 20/06/2010
Hey...Matt's a Blue. Lay off him. At least he hasn't gone down the plastic Redshite supporter route of suddenly finding themselves outto be a 'big red'.
EvertonAl, Birkenhead, 4:34 PM 20/06/2010
the anbody but england brigade are having a whale of time this world cup but it wasnt always the case. i remember 1990 england shirts were flying of the shelves in norn iron but that was a different area the english team had real men playing in the team heroes ...legends even. The thought of pissy pants terry, david dickinson lampard , acorn dick cole , cheating scum gerrard and last but not least the world class lololololol biggest plastic paddy ever mr wazza rooney dancing round with the coup del monde makes me want to hurl my guts .
the blue sapper, norn iron, 1:52 PM 20/06/2010
Excellent article, as always.
Rob, Old Swan, 12:39 PM 20/06/2010
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