Alan’s thoughts on the FIFA bribery allegations surrounding the Qatar World Cup, England’s preparations for the Finals in Brazil and Terry Venables rallying call in his book, “Born to Manage“.
Alan’s 2014 Summer Diary No. 8
Monday 2 June
The papers are full of articles picking up on the Sunday Times allegations of bribery in the process of awarding the World Cup to Qatar. If we are going to see stories about corruption and scandal I’d rather see them about other countries than causing problems for England. The Star has gone into silly mode with a headline saying England have got that World Cup instead. Even if corruption was proved I don’t see us winning a re-vote. It’s a bit like the Eurovision song contest; there are already too many political affiliations against us, bribery aside.
Qatari officials are already being quoted as saying the guy involved was not employed by them and anyway it’s just a question of culture, “gifts” are just the way they traditionally do business. It was clear from the second the announcement was made that something was not right. As Sepp Blatter wiped his hands on his suit after he handed over the World Cup to the Qatar representative he reminded me of Lady Macbeth trying to scrub the imaginary blood from her hands. The obsequious look on his face replacing the usual arrogance – like a dog seeking the approval of his master.
Wednesday 4 June
A 2 – 2 draw against Ecuador in Miami with a much changed team. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain our best player before he went off with a knee ligament injury. Flashes of brilliance from Ross Barkley. Wayne Rooney played on the left but kept drifting inside. He was standing next to Lambert when he whipped the ball off his toe to score. It would be interesting to know whether that positioning was his idea or the manager’s. Lambert got a cracking goal to put us 2 – 1 up. Valencia went berserk in reaction to a rash late Raham Sterling tackle, which ended with them both being sent off.
The latest unnecessary undermining of the players comes in the Mail, also referred to in the Sun which highlights Adam Lallana’s neighbours’ complaints about the mini soccer pitch he has had put up at his home without planning permission.
Friday 5 June
Roy Hodgson says he has until next Thursday to decide whether to get a replacement in for Oxlade-Chamberlain and will make full use of the time.
Terry Venables Rallying Cry
I have started reading Terry Venables’ autobiography, “Born to Manage”. It starts near the end of his managerial career when he managed England in the run up to and during Euro ’96.
His pride in being a Londoner and an Englishmen stand out. His family background is not dissimilar to my own and he has written the best explanation of how that shapes your character that I have seen. It could be me talking. It wouldn’t do any harm for the current crop of England players to read it, if they are looking for inspiration in Brazil. Venables commenting on his desire to manage England, ahead of the interview, said,
I went into the interview prepared to do the job for nothing.
He went on,
“There is a difference between nationalism and patriotism. Patriotism is about the way you are brought up. It came not just from my family and what they felt about our country and how they instilled those feelings in me but also from the community I grew up in…what brought about the deep emotion to support my country at all costs…that loyalty was inbred: that loyalty to family friends and neighbours, to our area of East London and to be passionately, overwhelmingly loyal to England.
We didn’t think twice about it. I was brought up in the post-war era to honour and respect those around us. The raw suffering of the Second World War was borne by the survivors in memory of those who did not make it through. We were that ‘One Nation’ they have been striving for ever since brought closer by the austerity of the times. When you understand that background, you will understand my feelings when I accepted the offer to manage England, having won honours as a player at every England level from schoolboy…to senior including amateur. I had also coached the England under 21s and now I was the national coach.”
COME ON ENGLAND!
I have recently drawn attention to the sniping by the English Press at the England team and players. Terry Venables’ team suffered the same treatment in the run up to Euro ’96 and he does not beat about the bush. Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand and Jamie Redknapp went for a drink in a nightclub on an official 48 hour pass-and the Press went to town on them.
“I was incensed by what I considered to be outrageously over-the-top reporting. I described the action of some reporters as the work of traitors. I meant it then. Traitors! Why not call it that when they dragged every minor incident onto the front page of the newspapers, every radio and TV bulletin? The press had turned it into a huge scandal and witch-hunt in the middle of a major international competition.”
I think most fans feel the same as Terry Venables. Today’s Fleet Street editors please take note.
Would you believe it? England’s last preparation game in Miami paused for 45 minutes by a lightning storm after 22 minutes of play. We started quickly, with first time flicks forward, none of which quite came off. Honduras had an early corner and cross similar to the one we conceded from in the previous game, before we even had a shot on target. Just before they came off Daniel Sturridge spun a full 360 degrees in the penalty area but it must have made him dizzy as he clipped it past the post.
Adam Lallana gives it away on the edge of the area, Hart saves. Sturridge and then Gerrard hurt by late tackles. Honduras seem quite nasty, one England player after another taking knocks. Their number 7 lucky not to be sent off after whacking one into Sturridge’s plums as he lay on the floor.
2nd half, Rooney and Gerrard off at half time. Barkley and Wilshere on. Sturridge missed a couple of chances. One Honduran thug sent off for elbowing Leighton Baines in the head. It ends nil-nil.
Pundits express disappointment. Gerrard agrees there is a lot of work to be done. Sterling could be the difference…Post match, Gerrard confirms we have no more injuries and Hodgson is confident Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit to play in the tournament.