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ColumnistsJonnie BakerJONNIE BAKER: ‘England performed like preening cowards buckling under the pressure of their inflated self-worth’

JONNIE BAKER: ‘England performed like preening cowards buckling under the pressure of their inflated self-worth’


By Jonnie Baker

22 June 2010

I do try to keep my rambling nonsense fairly light, a froth of nothing to waste your time with before forgetting it completely in favour of the price of plums or why that lightbulb tastes like caramac. But Hell’s teeth – did you see that barrel of arse on Friday night?

Horrible stuff.

Much has been written about the tactical and practical paucity of that performance and I really can’t be bothered to go into it again. However, there were a number of comments made after the match by those involved, both immediately following the debacle and in the cold light of day, that bear examination.

Firstly, you can almost forgive Wayne Rooney for his bellowing into the camera as he left the pitch. “Good to see your own fans booing you”, and so on and so forth. He’s angry, he’s frustrated, he’s an idiot. You can kind of see his point. But then, what did he really expect?

Wayne is paid an awful lot of money to play football and is closeted and protected by an ocean of cash and sycophancy from the moment he wakes beneath his Action Man duvet to when he retires with an improving novel of an evening. For him to then question the loyalty of the fans who have paid ridiculous sums of money to watch him making an utter spectacle of himself smacks of ingratitude and a terrifying sense of entitlement that bodes ill for him when his legs finally go and he has to find something else to do with his time. In about 10 years.

Do something worth cheering Wayne and then maybe the fans will cheer you. Strut about like a dyspeptic cockatiel while singularly failing to display even a modicum of your undoubted talent and you might expect a little bit of opprobrium. Basically, young master Rooney was showing his immaturity by deflecting his anger onto the fans rather than accepting his own culpability in the horror show for which the fans were showing their disdain.

And his hair appears to be running out.

Later the tactical genius behind the draw piped up to pronounce himself dumbfounded by the ineptitude of his charges. Six million pounds a year Fabio Capello offered us this: “We lost too many passes, it was not the team that I know, the team I see when they train.”

Oh really Fabio? It’s the team we saw in the two desultory friendlies prior to the tournament. The team that beat Japan 2-1 but failed to score. The team that limped to a draw with the USA. The team you took to the tournament with a knackered centre-half, no recognised first-choice goalkeeper, a deposed captain and the world’s only defensive striker who’s scored fewer international goals than Douglas Bader.

That’s the team we’ve all seen before. You must have been looking the other way during training because every other poor sod could see it.

And while we’re on the subject. If your flying winger is failing to make any impact down the line then why, in an effort to change things up, would you send on a slightly inferior version in the shape of Shaun Wright-Phillips? You could have brought on Joe Cole, he’s quite good. Or Adam Johnson if you’d bothered your arse to take him.

And finally the captain. Steven Gerrard. Now, I may have misheard this because I was a seething ball of rage following the game and he was talking pitch-side while a German commentator translated over the top him. But I’m pretty sure he said: “You’ve got to remember, this was their World Cup final”.

At which point my ears tore themselves off my head and marched out of the room in disgust.

Could he have possibly come up with something more arrogant and simply wrong-headed if he’d tried?

Their World Cup Final? No Stevie G, which in itself makes you sound like a failed Eurovision contestant, their World Cup final would be the World Cup final. In the same way that England’s World Cup Final would be, and I’m sure you’re getting the drift here, the World Cup final.

What you’re suggesting here is that to play England is the pinnacle of Algeria’s footballing hopes. The very zenith of their footballing history to this point. When in fact what it was was a group game that they could very well have won against a team of preening cowards who buckled under the pressure of justifying their ludicrously inflated self-worth.

But then, a win against Slovenia and we could find ourselves in the next round.

Or as we should all think of it from now on: our World Cup final.


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