June 13, 2010

The Tony Hancock School of Football Management

I am posting this response from John H Davies (to my World Cup sonnet no 1) in full. John is remarkable man in many ways. I will list only four. He is convinced the 1958 England team would have won the World Cup but for the Munich air disaster (plausible enough) and believes the 1970 team - Charlton plus Mullery, before Ramsey took Charlton off and we never qualified again for the rest of the Seventies - was atually better than the 1966 one and would have beaten Brazil in the much predicted Final. As a nineteen year old, he was present at Wembley when we actually won the World Cup. He saw George Best in his pomp (ie his shins kicked to blue murder by 60s centre halves but still getting through and scoring). And he is a Manchester United fan who actually comes from Manchester. Here are his thoughts on the present England World Cup hopefuls...

"Thanks for the sonnet. Now Capello knows what it is like to have an interest in England's football team. Dragon-faced? Yes, I like that image. It is accurate and well-observed. However, he remains a Tommy Cooper look-alike, and the buffoonery that surrounds him may eventually be revealed to be of his own creation. Rio Ferdinand has been injured for two seasons. Why take him? Ledley King must have been a sop to political correctness for the inclusion of the chronically disabled. Why take him? John Terry seems to be as tactically and spacially confused as he is morally confused. No doubt he is quick at getting his kit off but he is slow on the turn and on the sprint, an ageing thug, a shadow of his former self, worn down by years of self-indulgence and belief in the hype and flattery of the John Motsons of this world, starry-eyed fat boys who were never able to do it themselves, but who revelled in fame-by-association and were, therefore, obliged to continue the cant well beyond Terry's sell-by date. Carragher, slower than a journey through the traffic lights in King's Lynn. Reliant on the scything tackle, the outstretched arm, the push in the back, but unable to deploy any of these normal Premiership devices in the absence of Premiership referees. Johnson, a man who runs forward very fast but who cannot run back to defend, who always stands in the wrong place and who is always totally unaware of the presence of the winger when a ball is crossed over his head from the other wing. Green, a goalie who can't catch. Heskey, a striker who can't strike. A damp match of a man, tried time and again but who refuses to ignite, but who is chosen time and again and again and....Lennon and Wrong-Phillips, both flatterers to deceive. Milner, a one-paced work-horse who has been unable to train for three days because of a bout of ague, chosen to mark the American's key player, Donovan. Lampard, scorer of thousands of goals in the Premiership where everyone and anyone can score (apart from Heskey), but who can't shoot for toffee in international matches, linked again with Gerrard, whose face has the tortured look of a man who has sold his soul and skills to the devil of Liverpool and who last season suddenly realised it, when every human being in the world - in the igloos of the Arctic, in the mud huts of Pygmyland , in the yurts of Mongolia and Thornham - knows that they cannot play together. Every mother in the world must have said at some time "You mustn't play with him. He'll end up getting you in trouble!". So why doesn't Capello say it? Capello's is the "Tony Hancock school of football management" - he who cannot head is picked as centre-half, he who is weediest is picked as mid-field enforcer, he who cannot catch becomes goalie, he who cannot shoot becomes Heskey. And Rooney is tired and frustrated and lonely and, sorry to say it, ineffectual. So Copello is Tommy Cooper after all, a Steve Mclaren without and umbrella, a Graham Taylor without a turnip. The USA, a team comprising of rejects from Watford and West Brom, journeymen from Fulham and American Soccer! leagues, and a star player who was dropped from the Everton team after a brief loan spell, were too good for us for long periods of the game. Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Roll on the next game. You have my full permission to turn this into a poem. Name it In Memoriam, or Lament For Alf And The Boys Of Sixty-six. Bobby Charlton was at yesterday's match. Why didn't Capello bring him on?"

More responses like this please. Let's live while we can.

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