Archived: Euro 2012: England, Fines and Football. - archived

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We have now completed the group stages of Euro 2012 and there have been some interesting games so far as well as some drama off the pitch. Lets start with that.

Before the competition even started there was a fear of racism and violence erupting in the host countries Poland and Ukraine thanks to the Panorama documentary. Fortunately the incidents that have happened haven’t been as bad as what the documentary exposed (there has been no stabbings that I’m aware of) but there have been racist chants, neo-nazi flags and banners and a bannana thrown on the pitch.

Hilariously, UEFA, the European football governing body has done little to deter this racism, saying before the competition that this was a chance for Poland and Ukraine to show their true colours and the heads of the national FA’s saying that their country didn’t have a racism problem. More to the fact, after Danish striker Niklas Bendtner showed his “Paddy Power” logo’d underpants after scoring, he has been fined more money personally than the FA’s of the countries that have been accused of racism. What is up with that?

European fans be crazy. If they’re not racist then they’re doing something else ridiculous, like Poland and Russia having themselves a little fight before their game or the Croatian fans who refuse to let a game go by without lighting a flare or two. Not only have a number of games been stopped due to smoke on the pitch, but some fans decide that throwing the flare onto the pitch is the way to go. What are they thinking? Not only could it hurt someone they are interupting the game. Do these people not care that they’ve paid so much money to get to a game? That they think it’d be more fun if they can’t see it through smoke? Bloody idiots.

Then there is England. Before the tournament we were all dejected and thought we’d never get very far. We draw with France and beat Sweden and the Ukraine to finish top of our qualifying group to face Italy in the quarter-finals. Despite having such low expectations everyone is now secretly hoping we will do well and somehow the English football public have a grown a very blinkered vision to the display the team is showing.

France is a top nation and one nobody expected us to beat – much like Italy – but somehow we managed a draw. Two wins out of the next two games and headlines are starting to believe Wayne Rooney when he says we can win the whole thing. I’m sorry, I don’t want to sound unpatriotic but c’mon! I’ve seen England play three games and the performances have been dire. Simple passes keep going awry, all the players sit far too deep. Gerrard, who would once boss the midfield in a box-to-box manner is now just sitting in front of the defenders and picking out passes, some which are spectacular (cross field balls to Ashley Young) but most have just been given away.

I’ve seen Danny Welbeck appearing to play in midfield when he’s been a lone striker, the whole team is taking a very defensive approach to the game. Against France we managed to hold on despite being exposed time and time again at right back, Glen Johnson has been very weak all tournament so far but who is our other option? Martin Kelly? Ugh.

Our attacking is virtually non existent, when we do make a break down the wing we have no options in the middle of the park. In fact the only time England have actually looked dangerous is when we’re playing teams on the counter attack and either Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain are on the pitch with their pace and fearlessness.

But somehow we’ve come out on top in games against Sweden and the Ukraine when in both games, England have been the weaker side. My point being, I don’t want us all to start beliving. We’ve got tough competition coming up next in the shape of Italy and if we get by them, then it’s more than likely Germany in the semi-finals, unless Greece pull off something special.

We started this competition with no hope, no expectations. Lets not change that mentality when its clear our style of play is more reserved. Italy will attack us, they will pass the ball around but even they have weaknesses. England will need to be resilient like they have been, but they probably will be unable to stand the pressure for ninety minutes so they need to have an outlet and have the confidence in themselves to keep the ball and not give it away cheaply. Too often passes lack conviction and possession is lost.

England will have to start playing like a team. They have been very individualistic so far, offering little support. I can’t remember how many times Cole or Milner or anyone has had the ball, been surrounded by several opponents and had to try and wriggle their way through rather than having a simple passing option or support to block the bodies coming round the back or overlapping.

Let us keep our heads, keep our nerve and start playing like the team we should be. Believe, but don’t expect. Come on England!

Archived: Euro 2012: England, Fines and Football. - archived
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