Five things we really don’t want to hear at Euro 2012

1) “England are one of five or six teams with a realistic chance”

Ever since I was old enough to comprehend a football commentary, I’ve heard this mantra intoned with a confidence normally reserved for a fundamental law of physics. So immutable is this law, that even when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 we technically still remained “one of a handful of teams that could win it”. The fact that England have rarely troubled the latter rounds of this tournament remains an inconvenient detail which is best ignored.

2) “I don’t know much about this team.”

Little Englander attitudes have generally disappeared over the years. Globalisation has exposed us to a myriad of different cultures and broadened our horizons. However, there remains one last bastion of narrow sighted nationalism, where international ignorance is casually accepted with diffidence: football punditry.

Qualification may have finished 9 months ago, providing ample time for leisurely research, however, unfortunately our pundits will have been too busy working on their golf games than swotting up.

Players with long established careers in major European leagues like Serie A or the Bundesliga (even our boys are now aware of La Liga) will be labelled as “surprise packages” for simply having failed to make it onto Mark Lawrenson’s football radar.

And expect to hear complete ignorance of the current tactics and style of any team disguised with such blandishments as: “They always make it through” or “It wouldn’t be a tournament without them.”

3) “I just wish Italy would attack”

Usually heard on ITV, commentators and pundits bemoan that Italy, with all their talent, are never allowed off the leash. Usually followed by; “oh the Italians – so cynical and dogged in defence”. They seem to forget the 2006 semi-final, where Italy went toe to toe with Germany, and with the game stretched decided to bring on another forward rather than to shore up the midfield. Or what about the 2000 Euro final where Italy dominated the match, only to lose on a Golden Goal. It’s also worth noting that for a team supposedly obsessed by ‘catenaccio’ the Italians averaged the 3rd highest total of passes in qualifying, and usually play with 3 forwards with one of whom is Mario Balotelli. It’s not 1982, get with the script.

4)  That Denmark came off the beaches in 1992 to win the Euros

If you mention Denmark most pundits and commentators cannot avoid mentioning the beaches. You’d think the Danes victory looked like the Normandy landings, with Peter Schmeichel leading the Laudrups and trusty corporal John Jensen to battle. In reality, it was more Club 18-30, than June 1944.

Tiresomely, despite being 20 years ago, the Danes beach sortie is likely to be mentioned by pundits contractually obliged to find reasons why England could win the tournament. Yes, the Danes won the Euros, yes they’d been on holiday, but don’t let that trick you into thinking that a lack of pre-tournament expectation translates automatically to a winning formula.

5) Spain have no Plan B

A charge that English football pundits have taken to hysterically shouting at the current Spanish team a bit like that crazed bloke you get in sci-fi films who’s trying to alert the world to the fact it’s being quietly taken over by aliens. The fact remains that Spain’s Plan A has successfully secured both the last European Championship and the World Cup. The last thing we need is for Spanish football tacticians to invent an even more sophisticated plan for world domination, so for God’s sake men, stopping harping on about it.

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2 Comments on “Five things we really don’t want to hear at Euro 2012

  1. we have a really tough group at this euro. there is a chance we’ll go at the group stage. i dread to think how a strike force comprising two of welbeck, defoe and carroll will get on. we have a respectable tournament record generally. at the world cups we nearly always get through the group stage, but at the euros we’ve had less joy. i think most sensible fans have a bit of perspective, the media coverage is irritating and counter productive. i think i basically agree with you!

    the thing that most gets my goat at big tournaments are the english people who ‘stop watching once england are out’, as if a tournament ceases to be interesting at that moment. i find that hideously narrow-minded.

    as regards ‘denmark coming off the beaches’. yeah, i find that the pundits endlessly reminiscing about moments in the past annoying, like clive tyldesley and ‘the night of all nights’. i suppose it is part of their job description to not shut up…ever. hence the verbal diarrhoea.

    the italians can be frustrating to watch at times, but as you point out shouldn’t be stereotyped as ‘always negative’. without wishing to be pernickety i didn’t think they dominated the 2000 final, i thought france thoroughly deserved their breakthrough, and having a high number of passes doesn’t necessarily mean attacking football, they could be passing it around their own half. john foot writes a great defence of italian football in ‘calcio’. he basically says that ‘negativity’ and ‘efficiency’ are two separate things. basically they defend better than most. there is a lot of myth too. brazil have a fine defensive record at tournaments but never take any stick for it.

    all in all, thanks, a great post!!! made me think about a number of things.

  2. and more than anything made me chuckle. good to know i’m not the only one wound up by rubbish coverage, narrow-mindedness etc.

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