Yes, You Did Let Down the Nation

I’m no expert on rugby but it seemed pretty obvious to me that England were absolutely dire last night — neither possessing any organisation or any flair or imagination. The right hand literally didn’t seem to know what the left was doing, which isn’t surprising bearing in mind Lancaster’s indecisiveness and chopping and changing selection not just over the tournament but throughout his old tenure.

Lancaster seems to be something of a Moyes — unable to deal with players with any personality or individualism. Despite only really following the Six Nations and the autumn internationals ,I can remember far more players from years back (Moore, Johnson, the Underwoods, Dawson and many more) than I expect I’ll be able to remember of the current, faceless lot.
Woodward and Wilkinson were a disgrace as ITV pundits — more concerned with trying to head off the storm gathering towards their cronies than giving honest analysis to the people who pay them. Australia were in a different league — but that was always likely to be the case. England should have treated the Wales game like a knockout but they thought they were too clever for that.
Seems like the more expensive the public school they went to the more they choked under pressure. If your parents pay £30,000 a term for you to go to school, you’re not going to be motivated in the same way as a ginger kid from Langley however ostentatiously you sing the national anthem.
I’m genuinely sorry, not for the useless bunch of losers on the field, but for the fans who have paid a fortune for tickets and the licensees of the pubs for whom an England run might have made the difference between profit and loss. I’m not so sorry for all the bullshit marketers who came up with crap like ‘Wear the Rose’. I’m sure the players will be full of contrition but, fair or not when it’s a game of sport, their actions will have had a negative impact on thousands of people’s livelihoods.
No rugby types can give football fans a sanctimonious, hypocritical lecture now about failure. True the football team went out in the group stages but they played in a rainforest after a long season. The rugby team had home advantage and everything else in their favour (except possibly a draw but this only required them to beat a depleted home nations rival).

England v Germany

Under an hour and a half away from England against Germany — yet again.

I watched the Slovenia match in the place where the rules of association football were drawn up — the Freemason’s Arms in Long Acre, Covent Garden. It seems a bit of a football venue anyway — about half a dozen screens all around the walls — sensibly high up to ensure everyone has a good view.

The place was heaving to the rafters with ‘laads’ — as packed as terracing used to be at real matches and the floor was like a beer lake by the end of the match.

I patriotically consumed Shepherd Neame Spitfire throughout the game — that would be rather appropriate for this afternoon’s fixture given the opposition.

I shall have to watch today’s match virtually sober as I need to drive into London to see who, IMHO, is the greatest cultural figure of the 20th century — bar no-one: Paul McCartney. Ordinarily this would be the highlight of the day — or week — and it’s been expensive enough to get the tickets. It’s in Hyde Park so I guess by turning up late and, unfortunately, missing Elvis Costello and Crowded House, I’ll see a tiny little figure several hundred yards away and I’ll no doubt be too far away to see the screens properly. Nevertheless, he’s 68 now and how long is he going to be able to keep this up for? Even if his voice isn’t what it was, it’s going to be a very rare experience to hear some of the greatest pieces of music ever written performed live by their composer.

But to the match — I’m rather annoyed with the USA that they scored in the last minute to prevent us from playing last night. Anyway, I thought England were pretty useless in the closing stages of the Slovenia match — once Rooney had gone off. However, they’ve defended pretty well. The only goal conceded has been the error from Green. I think the Germans will find it hard to score against us. We can’t play badly indefinitely and I think the occasion will bring the best out of Rooney (if fit), Gerrard, Terry and, who knows, perhaps even Fat Frank?

I’m going for 1-0 to England — scored in the first half by Rooney — and then a second half of the Dunkirk spirit. If it gets to penalties I’ll be listening in the car so that will be agony.