“No one believed in us at the start,” Steven Gerrard said morosely after England beat Ukraine 1-0. Since he mentions it, some of us still don’t believe that England will win this tournament, or that they deserve to, although we’ve already seen that virtue and quality are not always rewarded.
My brother’s favorite description of a technically poor soccer player is that “his second touch is a tackle.” I might add, “and he’s probably English.” There was a moment at the very start of the second half of today’s trouncing by Germany where the flaws of the very essence of English soccer were so clearly evidenced as to be borderline hilarious (if you DVR’d it—and why would you?—go to 45.45 and watch for a minute). Here’s what happened: Schweinsteiger attempts a stupid over-the-shoulder pass, square at the half-way line, and Steven Gerrard picks it off, pings it to Rooney, who checks an
Pele, the greatest footballer ever, has proved a notoriously dreadful analyst since his retirement. But perhaps none of his pronouncements has been so widely mocked as his suggestion, before Brazil and England met in the 2002 World Cup, that the best player at the tournament so far had been the English defensive midfielder Nicky Butt. Even the jingoistic Daily Mail couldn't get behind that one. Nicky Butt was the greatest case of social promotion in modern football.