Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Thoughts of the Week

Ancient Babylon fell more swiftly to the Persian Cyrus, but the fall from expectation has been far more painful for the England team. But which England team? Ahh, that this the nub of the gist because the answer is all of them. This week has been another painful one for "our" sporting heroes. The cricket team got thumped by Sri Lanka. The rugby team got whacked by Australia for the the 2nd time in 2 weeks. The football team managed to reverse traditional theory and play as 11 individuals rather than a team. Do you know what these results all had in common ? (apart from being inept and woeful performances that is) Yes, the plenitude of excuses that followed. Let us quickly trawl them.


After England lost 43-18 to Australia, coach Andy "Haven't won in 5 matches" Robinson gave the following analysis: "The forward display was pretty impressive, and we had 63% possession." Come again? We were pretty impressive? Had 63% of possession? And still lost! There are many questions that could be raised here, firstly how can a team with the majority of ball in hand actually lose by 25pts? Or how a coach of a national side can make the above quote and not be sacked, but hey, remember there are always excuses...


The euphoria of last years Ashes victory has long been replaced by the return of the usual dirge that English cricket has produced for the last 20 years. England lost to Sri Lanka in a ODI yesterday by 20 runs. Stand in for the Stand in Captain, Andrew Strauss offered the following post game review, "We didn't put the ball in the right areas, maybe we were striving too hard to take wickets and Sri Lanka took advantage of anything loose". OK run that by me again. England were striving too hard to take wickets. Umm forgive me for asking, but isn't that the bloody point! How can you strive too hard? Isn't this akin to being a little bit pregnant, either you are or aren't, either you try hard or you don't. It is a nothing comment and insults anybody who is desperately untalented, but dying for the opportunity to play professional sport. So England are missing players, so what? There are more English players than any other country in the world. We can' find 11 to win a game? Excuses...Excuses Excuses...


Let me get the first part of the rant out the way. Sven Goran Eriksson the magnificently paid England manager picked 9, yes NINE midfielders for the England 23. Oh and 4 strikers. None of whom are what we could say were 100% at the moment, in either fitness, age or talent.
It does seem strange to criticise an England team that has 6pts from their first 2 group games. I have failed to recall how many "must win games" England have had over the years to avoid the embarrassment of not qualifying. Eriksson however, has any numerous amount of excuses to explain away England's current malaise. They are good ones as well, from "it was very hot out there" (vs Paraguay), well forgive me for raising such a pertinent question, but what exactly were you expecting in Germany in summer? The other cracker is the oft used "They put 10-men behind the ball", well it would then help enormously if our only tactic wasn't hoofing in the air to a 6ft 7" beanpole whose idea of a 6-yard volley is to hit the corner flag. Anyway, as I have said before, excuses...
English sport is lost in a continual myriad of failure explained away by erroneous lies. When our national teams lose, frequently, it is not because of the weather or the referee (unless he is Ecuadoran) it is simply because we are not good enough. Why is this so? The biggest contributor in all of our 3 national sports failures is the total of foreign players plying their craft in our various leagues. Arsenal had 2 English players from 11 in the Champions League final. How can this be good for the development of the English game?
This is not to adopt a xenophobic littler England-er mentally. I want the great players. Our own can learn from them. Eric Cantona altered Manchester United's mentally, helped alter revolutionalise part of their training exercises. Brian Lara's 501 for Warwickshire can only draw people to cricket. The guile of Phillipe Saint-Andre or the raw power and brutal talent of a Francois Pienaar helped English rugby move from the dark ages of the "57 old farts" to World Cup Champions.
English talent is being stunted by employing foreign players because they are cheaper to sign and wage than an English counterpart. By continuing this practice, the myopia of English sport is just going to increase. After all, Australia have already beaten us at football.
I finish this by recalling a Sean Connery quote. I would love it to be from Bond, after all there is something exquisite about a Scottish nationalist being super cool for England. No it is from the movie The Rock. Connery's character said roughly the following:
"Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and **** the Prom Queen"

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