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Des Kelly: England don"t stand a chance, right? So just enjoy Euro 2012

Des Kelly: England don't stand a chance, right So just enjoy Euro 2012

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UPDATED:

00:45 GMT, 9 June 2012

Give me an E. Give me an N. Give me a
G. Actually, just give me a whole load of Es, because the only way I’m
going to carry on with this England cheerleader nonsense is if I’m on
mind-bending drugs.

There’s no need for the pom poms this
time. It seems the majority of people in this country have finally
accepted that we need to treat the national team in a truly English
fashion, with a cough of embarrassment and a muttered apology.

Over me head, son: Andy Carroll is caught out by a playful attack from team-mate Wayne Rooney in training

Over me head, son: Andy Carroll is caught out by a playful attack from team-mate Wayne Rooney in training

Over me head, son: Andy Carroll is caught out by a playful attack from team-mate Wayne Rooney in training

Instead of ranting and raving at the
inevitable — and yes, I include the media in this — the public have come
to regard the football side in the same way we view so many other
perennial disappointments of this nation’s daily life, like the weather,
public transport, daytime TV and Nick Clegg.

We put up with it. We make do. We
tell ourselves, ‘mustn’t grumble’, join the queue and wait patiently in
line for the only cashier on duty.

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It seems England has acknowledged it’s fine to keep the face paint to a minimum and leave the Jubilee bunting in the garage until the Olympics.

As far as the country is concerned, this Euro 2012 tournament is the sporting equivalent of a Bank Holiday washout, where people sit on the beach in the freezing rain, eating their ice cream cone under an umbrella. Yes, it is grim, but there is still a bloody-minded determination to extract some small delight from the ordeal, even if it is through chattering, gritted teeth.

In light of this prevailing mood, there should be no problem with the fact that most of the media believe Roy Hodgson’s side don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of success either.

Yet a constant moan is heard that England’s chances are somehow being undermined by reports suggesting — and you may need to sit down before you read this — the team aren’t particularly scintillating right now.

Broadcasters and Football Association suits are running around saying how we ‘must be positive’, as if Noel Edmonds’ cosmic ordering baloney will somehow propel Hodgson to the European crown.

Why It is not unpatriotic to remind everyone Hodgson is taking a depleted squad into a major championship after minimal preparation. Or that he has stupidly landed himself with an unpleasant subplot involving Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.

No matter what the FA ostriches think, it is not the media’s role to stand on the touchline waving little flags to ‘get behind the team’. Asking questions is the job.

And Hodgson has still not dealt with his ludicrous assertion that Ferdinand was left out of Euro 2012 for ‘football reasons’. Nor has the presence of obvious passengers in the squad like Martin Kelly or Jordan Henderson been accounted for.

Fostering a bond: England players visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and former concentration camp, in Oswiecim, Poland

Fostering a bond: England players visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and former concentration camp, in Oswiecim, Poland

Perversely, people have twisted the
pessimism into something else. This near-complete lack of expectation
has led to a bizarre ‘logic’ where some genuinely believe England will
do well — because it is assumed we won’t.
If I haven’t lost you already, the argument, as I understand it, seems
to be that because the squad are ostensibly poorer than any in recent
years, the pressure is off and this offers England a better chance of
victory.

Why didn’t we think of this ruse before If this is the yardstick of
likely success, then the favourites, Germany and Spain, are out of it
already while the Republic of Ireland will surely walk away with the
trophy because nobody gives them a prayer.

Such thinking says a great deal about the human spirit. Or it
demonstrates there are enough deranged mugs out there swallowing this
reverse psychology claptrap to keep bookmakers and casinos in business
for ever.

After a bit of spin-doctor coaching, no doubt, Wayne Rooney delivered an upbeat assessment as the team touched down in Poland.

‘We know we’re good enough to make the semis or the final,’ he said. ‘If
people don’t believe that, then it’s up to them, but I don’t see why we
can’t.’

Maybe it’s because they’re not wearing his red-rose tinted spectacles.
Of course, Rooney has to sound positive and it is right and proper he
should talk a good game. But what a shame he can’t play it too.

His stupid red card against Montenegro means he misses the opening two
group matches and England could be out of the tournament by the time he
has a chance to kick a ball rather than an opponent.

Waiting for action: Wayne Rooney will miss out on England's first two games

Waiting for action: Wayne Rooney will miss out on England's first two games

Once again, we are all hoping it might come better. If England feel
insulted by the negativity, maybe it will create a siege mentality
reminiscent of Bobby Robson’s squad during their run to the semi-finals
at Italia 90 But back then they could rely on quality too, with Gary
Lineker scoring goals and Paul Gascoigne providing the spark.

And England’s best European Championship showing was when Terry Venables
got the media and the public onside at Euro 96.

MY EURO 2012 PREDICTIONS

England to scrape through in second place behind France in Group D following a nervy win over Ukraine in the final match.

Despite a couple of dogged draws in a difficult group, Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland exit the competition in the first round.
England go one stage further than Ireland but surrender to Spain in the quarter-finals with barely a whimper.

In the semis, Germany beat Italy and the Spanish edge past Holland in a repeat of the fractious 2010 World Cup final.

On July 1, Germany deny Spain the chance to become the first nation to defend the title and Joachim Low’s men are crowned European champions for the fourth time.

CHAMPIONS: Germany

ENGLAND: Quarter-finals

That was on home soil
with Alan Shearer leading the line and Gazza still offering the odd
flash of unpredictable genius.

So forget counter intuitive psychology, or the media or ‘pressure’.
It’s about good players performing when the occasion demands.

And, besides a good goalkeeper and an able left back, there’s little of that class on offer in Hodgson’s squad without Rooney.

England should still get through their group. They have enough to
squeeze past Sweden and Ukraine and they will be tidy and organised.
This is probably the best that can be said about them — and maybe we
should accept that is how it will be.

This could help. A study in America showed that the majority of people
reading a book found it more pleasurable if they knew the ending in
advance.

San Diego psychologists gave their subjects 12 short stories and in
every single case those armed with a plot spoiler preferred the
experience. They were less anxious about the eventual outcome and could
therefore enjoy the detail of the story itself.

Let’s do the same with England at Euro 2012. There are two realistic
plotlines. Either England perform with style before they are knocked out
in the quarter-finals; or they bore everyone rigid before they are
knocked out in the quarter-finals.

Now that we know how this all ends, pass the popcorn and let’s enjoy it.

On side: England's best showing in a European Championship came in 1996, when there was a measured and enjoyable attitude towards the team

On side: England's best showing in a European Championship came in 1996, when there was a measured and enjoyable attitude towards the team

Zero chance

UEFA say they have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to racism. They announce this while turning a blind eye to the fact that black players in the Holland squad were subjected to monkey chants during training in Krakow.

So I assume when UEFA talk about ‘zero tolerance’ the zero relates to the amount of effort they intend to put in to tackle this vile behaviour.

Controversy: UEFA chief Michel Platini sparked outrage by suggesting players might be booked should they leave the field of playing protest against racism

Controversy: UEFA chief Michel Platini sparked outrage by suggesting players might be booked should they leave the field of playing protest against racism

Picking Beckham makes a mockery of the motto

Speaking of cheerleaders, the reasons
people are celebrating David Beckham’s tediously inevitable appearance
in the British Olympic football team appear to be:

a) There’s a chance they might get a glimpse of his underpants, and
b) Lots of people will turn up to see him.

On that basis, Robbie Williams should get the call. He draws a crowd and even plays soccerball in the United States on occasion.

Hands up who wants in: David Beckham

Hands up who wants in: David Beckham

But ignore the bogus suggestions that Beckham can lay claim to an Olympic place based on football ability.

He will be in the side simply because of his celebrity status. This is why the British Olympic Association have told Stuart Pearce that he must pick the LA exile. He shifts tickets and will keep the three-striped sponsors happy.

To be fair to Beckham, he was an outstanding talent. Although he never makes a shortlist of the best-ever Premier League footballers, he was a superb club servant. Barring the odd silly episode, he turned out on England duty with pride too and was always charming enough to warrant his fame.

But it is all past tense on the playing front. His best was some years ago. If he has a role with Team GB, it is on the sidelines next to Pearce as an ambassador and member of the backroom team.

Olympic football should be about youth, promise and the future, not all our yesterdays and fool’s gold. Otherwise it is time to change that Olympic motto to ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius… vel Celebrer’.
Higher, Faster, Stronger… or Famous.

Interesting. Or not

Alan Shearer interviewed Wayne Rooney on the television this week. For some reason it reminded me of the day he creosoted his garden fence after winning the Premier League title.

Summer of sport set to be exciting – Edge of the Box

Just when should we get excited about the summer of sport

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UPDATED:

21:46 GMT, 3 June 2012

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it quite difficult not to peak too early. I mean to say, at what point am I meant to get REALLY excited about this summer’s events Should I have gone for it on the Jubilee Will that leave me enough for Euro 2012 Or do I hold some back for The Olympics Oh, and there’s the Test matches!

Or perhaps I just have a nice long lie down and wait for the start of the new football season

As I say, this weekend hasn’t helped. In fact, it hasn’t even finished! And on Saturday morning, there I was, tangled up in bunting and caught up in the emotional goings on at Epsom. Not so much with Her Majesty’s celebrations, but more with whether Clare Balding would explode with tension as the family horse Bonfire ran in the Derby.

Stunning summer: Camelot won the Derby at Epsom on Jubilee Weekend

Stunning summer: Camelot won the Derby at Epsom on Jubilee Weekend

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Given the circumstances, the horse whose name you might well associate with the blowing up Parliament losing out to the fabled Kingdom of Camelot was probably the right result.

1-0 to the Englerland was also the right result from Wembley, as we swapped from BBC to ITV, and from three-year-old colts to Three Lions on shirts. The game gave us a chance to cheer the team off on their quest in Europe, and also to get a glimpse of the newly installed experiment of Hawkeye goal line technology. And before the game kicked off we were given a glimpse of the camera, so far from the goal, it appeared to have been mounted on the Hubble space station.

We also heard at half time from David Beckham – judging by the extraordinary new face furniture, entering into the spirit of the weekend by coming as the French Envoy to the Court of Elizabeth l – and it felt as odds on as Camelot that he would also figure in much of the rest of ITV’s coverage for the evening, as sport remained very much on the entertainment agenda.

Strangely enough, the genuinely funny, deadly accurate impressionist Alistair McGowan didn’t break out his celebrated Becks for the first episode of his new ITV series, You Cannot Be Serious. In fact, you might sniffily argue that the best impression he did in his new half hour topical sports show was of Harry Hill, because much of this looked and felt like the now sadly departed ITV staple, TV Burp.

This, though, was no coincidence because it was made by the same company – one of the sharpest on the block, too, Avalon – and executive produced by Hill himself. So in this case, imitation deliberately set out to be the sincerest form of flattery.

Welcome return: Impressionist Alistair McGowan is back on our screens

Welcome return: Impressionist Alistair McGowan is back on our screens

Because it relies on still warm material – Frank Lampard’s Euro withdrawal was referenced, for example – McGowan steered the ship from a desk, and flitted between neat one-liners (‘Better check. Ah, Petr Cech!’), You Tube clips, running gags, guest appearances (Carl Froch and Duncan Goodhew in the house) and of course, razor sharp impressions –both from where he was sat, and in more elaborate pre-recorded sequences.
Now you may ask why and how David Mitchell and Jedward can justify making an appearance on a topical sports impressions show And of course the simple answer to that is, well he does them really well.

However, it’s also likely that it’s because this is prime time ITV, and you’ve got to get all the family involved – which is not necessarily something the keenly honed Colin Murray or Brendan Foster are going to do.

It will be interesting to see, accordingly, how the show fares in this slot, and also just how much fun he can have with his rather epic Roy Hodgson impression over the next few weeks!

If you were having Beckham withdrawal symptoms during that show, it wasn’t long before the commercial channel provided you with a fix – with a show about commercials. Although this may be a lot like them having their cake and eating it (after all, we do stop looking at adverts so that we can watch some adverts), The Greatest Footie Ads Ever did provide some proper entertainment, albeit of the feather-light variety.

Star: David Beckham was a regular feature on our TV screens on Saturday

Star: David Beckham was a regular feature on our TV screens on Saturday

The fact is, lots of money, talent and creativity is thrown at commercials, and football seems to be a particular beneficiary of that. Soccer sells. And with the sheer range of ads that have tapped into the game across the decades, if there was a dull moment, it was gone in 30 seconds.

Paddy McGuiness was the ideal ‘bloke’ to host such a show – filmed inside his ‘pad’ – even though he was often man marked by a pretty journeyman script (‘they’re the best ads on the box – as impressive as Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant’), but with the players he had around him, he was always on to a winner.

There was some great vintage stuff with George Best, Bobby Moore and Brian Clough ( ‘jogging down to his East Midlands Electricity Shop’), those often, slightly bewildering foreign imports, lots of Beckham (naturally) and an Umbro ad so rude, I can’t even begin to describe it.

/06/03/article-2154220-1366DCC8000005DC-743_468x295.jpg” width=”468″ height=”295″ alt=”Fears: Sol Campbell is concerned about racism in Ukraine this summer” class=”blkBorder” />

Fears: Sol Campbell is concerned about racism in Ukraine this summer

Wednesday on BBC 4 and a host of top turns told us ‘How to be England Manager’. Main conclusion: ‘thick skin’, although Al Murray added ‘look into your pension and severance arrangement’.

Channel 5’s Mega Builders on Friday told the inside story of the construction of the Olympic Aquatic Centre, with chief steel erector Paul Frampton setting about the 3-crane lift anchor truss T9 with his pocket tape measure.

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Will.i.am carries torch in Taunton

Crowds flock to see Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am carry Olympic torch in Taunton

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UPDATED:

20:06 GMT, 21 May 2012

The Voice judge Will.i.am carried the Olympic Torch on Tuesday.

The Black Eyed Peas star was cheered on by thousands of people as he ran through Taunton carrying the flame.

The United States-born music producer was a surprise addition to the line-up on day three of the relay.

Where is the love: Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am carried the Olympic torch through Taunton

Where is the love: Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am carried the Olympic torch through Taunton

Will.i.am, 37, looked at ease in the warm weather as he jogged through the Somerset town centre.

The Metropolitan Police Torch Security Team, which runs alongside the torchbearer, kept a watchful eye on the cheering crowd.

The music producer's torch was 'kissed' by that held by 26-year-old taekwondo instructor Chloe Lock, from Honiton, Devon, to light the flame.

Popular man: The crowds flock to see Will.i.am

Popular man: The crowds flock to see Will.i.am

Before he started running he was passed his mobile phone and was tweeting as he set off down the road under Union Flag bunting and surrounded by screaming fans.

He held his phone in the air indicating to people to follow him on the social networking site.

After a couple minutes he waved to the crowd while smiling broadly.

Crowd pleaser: Will.i.am carries the torch to the cheers of the watching crowd

Crowd pleaser: Will.i.am carries the torch to the cheers of the watching crowd

Multitasking: Will.i.am looks at his phone while carrying the torch

Multitasking: Will.i.am looks at his phone while carrying the torch

He also turned around to perform a short moonwalk to the delight of onlookers.

Thousands turned out to watch the torch travel through the town unaware of the surprise appearance.

They waved colourful flags and children held homemade torches made from bright yellow and red paper.

Will.i.am's turn in the relay was over in under five minutes when he passed the flame to the next runner, biathlete Emma Fowler.

Speaking after his run, the music star said: 'That was like a surreal moment.

'I remember in 1984 the Olympics in Los Angeles, me being a little Will watching it on TV wishing I could be at the Olympic Games.

'I had that flashback when they handed me the torch to run in Taunton.

'It's like a blast moment and a surreal moment and a can't believe it moment all at the same time.

'I got a little more nervous this time than all the things I have done.

'I am not holding a flame when I am performing in front of people and the last thing you want to do is make a mistake with fire in your hands.'

Will.i.am said: 'I'm a huge Olympics fan. I want to see the swimming match, I want to see Usain Bolt.

'I want to see if he's really that fast because I want to race him one day. I wouldn't win but I want to see how close I would come.'

The star said he was amazed at the number of people who had turned the relay through Taunton into a real family occasion.

On the run: Will.i.am jogs through the streets of Taunton

On the run: Will.i.am jogs through the streets of Taunton

Job done: Will.i.am passes the Olympic flame to Emma Fowler on the relay leg through Taunton

Job done: Will.i.am passes the Olympic flame to Emma Fowler on the relay leg through Taunton

'I just saw everyone coming out, excited that the running of the torch was here in their neighbourhood, in their city and pride for the city,' he said.

'To see families and little kids and their parents and everyone just having a good time – I am so glad I came here. It's great people, great energy, a great vibe.

'There's one area, it's like a village of houses and it looked like the neighbourhood I came from in Boyle Heights, where the neighbours looked after the neighbours, and it looked like a real community and that reminded me of the community I come from.'

He confessed he had never been to a cricket ground before and added: 'But I reckon I would be pretty good.'

There were no mishaps for Will.i.am, real name William Adams, unlike earlier when the torch went out for the first time during the 2012 relay and had to be relit.