Posts Tagged ‘john terry’
At times like this my dad used to tell me that it was just a game. And I would lose my rag. A nation lost its rag today. The rag may never be found again. Even Gareth Southgate seemed vaguely ticked off. Apoplexy polluted the airwaves and jammed the phone-in switchboards to be fomented by the populist posturing of Alan Green, who decried the plight of the wretched masses who’d opted to migrate south to follow their team.
Firstly, if you enjoy finances sound enough to afford the pilgrimage to South Africa then you should consider yourself infinitely more fortunate than the impoverished hoards that reside there. Secondly, if you are shallow and near-sighted enough to allow a game of football to ruin a trip to an exotic land then you are not deserving of our sympathy.
The motif of the majority of the griping was that the fans felt betrayed by a lack of spirit in the trenches. But it was that desire that informed the witless display in the second half, as England lost their composure in the face of heinous injustice in the first. Steven Gerrard deciding that his captain’s armband was a licence for increasingly vainglorious attempts at the German goal. John Terry assuming that his imaginary armband was a permit to take permanent station as an attacking midfielder.
I was completely serene at the conclusion yesterday. Overwhelmed by the sudden knowledge that this pair and the rest of the squad are divorced from reality. They are not representative of me. So let’s move on. It really is just a game.
I don’t really like John Terry. I don’t think many people do. He is admired mainly by small children in Chelsea replica shirts who choose to concentrate on his strengths as a footballer and ignore his manifest failings as a man. It’s probably easier to gaze at the poster on the bedroom wall and not consider a career polluted by self-interest and tawdry off-field escapades.
But watching Terry fearlessly launch his head towards a three-way collision with the Jabulani and the Port Elizabeth turf this afternoon, I was able to forget his patent unlikeability too. Heroic to the point of self-parody, there are few more stirring scenes in football than a defender attempting to head a ball mere centimetres off the ground.
If only there was some way we could keep Terry in captivity on the pitch. If after every game a secure van could wait to transport him to the next stadium where he’d be forced to wait in confinement in the hospitality suites until the remainder of his team-mates pitch up days later. Then we wouldn’t haven’t to listen to him or read about him or speculate on whether Wayne Bridge will ever shake his hand again.
Then I might like him.
I bet there was a funny atmosphere in the England dressing room before the game last night. You subtract a very charismatic reserve left-back out of any equation and it’s bound to have an impact. In fact all that would have been left of Wayne Bridge was a scrunched-up dayglo bib lying in some corner, serving as a luminous totem of the deleterious effect of “going there” with your mate’s ex.
Franco Baldini will have taken Wright-Phillips and Walcott, the little ones, aside and explained gently that Wayne wouldn’t be coming back but he was in a very happy place. Do you mean Center Parcs? Yes, that’s right Theo, Center Parcs.
The rest of the squad will have known the dark actuality. That at that moment Bridge was sitting on the bottom step of the staircase in his Knutsford mansion rhythmically knocking his head against the wall and failing to cleanse his mind of the images that torment him.
JT will have puffed his chest out and tried too hard to carry on regardless, making inane comments about the new kit and flattening his mohawk to one side to attempt wan impressions of Bobby Charlton. No wonder the team wore black armbands.
They played in the first half as if they were distracted by Bridge. Like his massive face had appeared floating behind the goal at one end of Wembley crying large puddles into the dogtrack.
Who knows what happened at half-time but I like to think that as Fabio Capello stared down his battered players a voice piped up:
It is I, Baines. Leighton Baines. I may have the name of a Welsh miner from the 1970s, but I am the future. I promise to uphold the noble traditions of our vanquished comrade Bridge by looking quite going forward but being a bit rubbish at the back. Follow me and I will lead you to glory. Not literally, that would ruin our formation. The second half is afoot, follow your spirit and upon this charge, cry God for Wayne, England and St. George! Who’s with me?
And after a minute of silence as the squad fetched their jaws back up off the floor, Peter Crouch slowly stood up, scooped up Shaun Wright-Phillips into his papoose and said: “Baines. We’re with you, Baines”.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
If injunctions were enacted to prevent tedious reportage then the one that John Terry’s lawyers used would remain robustly in place. He is a footballer, they teach you these kind of indiscretions on your first day at the soccer academy. Terry did not sign up to the unwritten charter of probity that politicians do for instance, if he wants to commit wilful acts of unloveliness then it should have no bearing on his ability to captain his country. In fact his skill for relaxed duplicity may be requisite for the role, he does have to tell his troops that they’re capable of winning the World Cup after all.
The fact that he was bonking the mother of Wayne Bridge’s child is also a red herring. The credo that “you shouldn’t go there with a mate’s ex” should only form opinion in Croydon nightclubs and Grange Hill. Besides, if we were to scratch every potential England captain from the list on the grounds of dubious moral integrity then we would end up with Gareth Southgate as skipper. And no-one wants that. Particularly not in a World Cup year.
Brazilian footballers tend to take a more cavalier approach to making the distinction between given names and nicknames. Hence a good proportion of the boys in yellow run around with something a little out of the ordinary written across their shoulders. This ranges from the amusingly prosaic like Fred, Jo or my personal favourite, Tim, to the scatalogically infantile such as Kaka and Dudu.
But sometimes the choice of moniker can represent an unfair advantage. During England’s one-sided friendly in Doha last week Givanildo Vieira de Souza was brought on to make his debut. Otherwise known as Hulk. The provenance of this sobriquet is disputed but what is certain is that it strikes fear into the heart of any opposition defence. Hulk is aptly named: muscular, stocky and a generally a nuisance. Particularly when he’s angry.
I’d argue that Fifa should introduce a law that entitled every international team to adopt this relaxed approach to the naming of squad members, but Wazza, Crouchy and JT don’t really share that same sense of menace.
One tiny little goal scored in this week’s Champo League semis may seem a paltry morsel compared to the veritable KFC Family Feast of football we’ve been served up in recent weeks, but for me it represents a comforting return to the stolid tactical fare that is normally dished up, particularly on the European stage.
Don’t be mistaken, I like goals as much as the next fan. And I have slurped up the recent action like a greedy toddler with his milkshake. But my entertainment is laced with strange brand of paranoia. That the current pandemic of defensive incompetence is part of a hideous conspiracy to make football a more palatable prospect to a global audience.
The inane defending from normally solid yeoman such as Terry, Vidic and Skrtel suggested that they were now beholden to a restraining order stating that they are not allowed within ten yards of a would-be attacker. And was an electric circuit wired around Petr Cech’s frame which completed when he laid two hands on the ball thus delivering an unpleasant shock?
Similar thoughts resurface every time there is a freakish upsurge in goal-scoring – which happens more regularly than you think. I am never quite sure who is responsible for these sinister edicts but this is paranoia. It’s not supposed to be rational. It wouldn’t be paranoia otherwise. It would just be thinking.
Happily, normal order was resumed this week. The plot has failed, and cagey football has won through again.
Or maybe it was simply a failure with the circuitry on Cech’s electrokit.