Thursday, 29 July 2021

Euro 2020 Postscript

In the days when I wrote a monthly fanzine for a Sunday League team I played for (a ‘playerzine’?) my player/manager suggested I conclude my supposedly witty match reports with “player ratings”. I didn’t take up this idea, as I feared I was causing enough offence to my team mates already, and indeed had nearly been dropped by that same player/manager on the morning of a game for comments about him that he had taken to heart. I talked him round eventually, but considering we only had 11 players turn up that day, leaving me out really would have put me in my place. 

My Euro 2020 reflections will cause the relevant subjects less resentment, partly because I am not a qualified observer of the professional game, but mostly because they will likely never read them. Which is actually a good thing, as I have licence to say what I like without worrying about reprisals. Yes, definitely a good thing…Mr Matterface, can you hear me?

Thing I hated Most About Euro 2020 (apart from stampedes, abusers on social media and taking-the-knee booing)

Seven Nation Army blaring out from the speaker system when a goal was scored, especially in front of a noisy, nearly full capacity crowd watching the home team in a Final. Any additional, external accompaniment (including Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, which seems to be the chosen tune of celebration, as after the England- Denmark semi, and also featured on William Hill adverts; you can bet someone’s making some money out of it) in this event is a blatant insult to supporters (everywhere) and serves only as the latest message that fans should know their limits. 

That said, I am about to contradict myself…

2nd Thing I Hated Most About Euro 2020 (apart from…)

It’s Coming Home. No, It has to stop. 

Match I would watch again

Italy v Spain semi-final at Wembley. As the best commentator, Steve Wilson, said: “It’s been a fantastic first twenty minutes”, and it continued to be fantastic for the next 100. Actually, Steve may have said “football match” rather than “twenty minutes” but luckily I would watch it again so will hopefully find out. 

NB: “Its been an excellent twenty minutes”, he says, so I was wrong on both counts. 


A weird moment I can think of

Jonathan Pearce (oh yes), going on about the number of Crystal Palace players out of contract during Holland v Austria. 

A couple of Rio Ferdinand quotes

“But can you really see them winning it?” (Italy)

“England beat both those teams” (after Italy v Spain)

“Gareth Southgate has come up with the trumps so far”  (during England v Italy)

“If there one thing I would criticise Gareth Southgate for, it would be the team sitting back” (after England v Italy)

Bit of xenophobia creeping in

The memes doing the rounds of Italy and Spain (and then Italy again) practicing diving. Did you not notice how England got their penalty against Denmark?! Or how Harry Kane and Jack Grealish spend half the match?!

Unlikely Hero

Clive Tyldesley. Knows there was a 2nd Group stage in the 1982 World Cup. Acknowledged the irony of taking the piss out of Ally McCoist’s playing career. Presented inclusive commentaries. Predicted France v Switzerland going all the way at the start. Mocked the ‘Mexican wave’ during the same game (“I think this game deserves better than that”. Shades of Brian Moore there). Is still the best ITV commentator.

A Disappointing game

France v Germany. Bloodless, thanks to France. 

An Interesting Studio Panel

Keane, Vieira, Neville (hosted by Mark Pougatch) for France v Switzerland. The 2005 Highbury Tunnel panel, you could say. 

Players I Enjoyed Watching

Olmo, Saka, Bonucci, Donnarumma, Chiesa, Tierney, De Bruyne, Pedri, Renato Sanches, Shaw, The England Captain.

Biggest Surprise 

Jorginho being Italian/Soyuncu Turkish/Digne French. 

I Love You Ian Wright…

Stop the Marvel references, though!

Favourite Goals 

Damsgaard for Denmark v England

Insigne for Italy v Belgium

De Bruyne for Belgium v Denmark

Morata for Spain v Croatia

Chiesa for Italy v Spain

Schick for Czech Rep v Scotland

Sterling for England v Czech Rep

Gonzalez for Croatia v Spain

A contentious issue

The person at the Final who was showing off their England shirt with Mrs Grealish on the back and the number 69…harmless fun, or a betrayal of womankind?  Similarly, those fans who are captured on camera, and play up to it like it's the highlight of their lives, even if their team has just conceded a vital last minute goal. Harmless fun, or a betrayal of footballfankind?  

To sum up then...

I liked that the player who scored the first goal of Euro‘88 became the winning manager of ‘20. There’s no real symmetry there, but I just like it anyway. 

I can’t pretend to have seen all the games - maybe I only saw the majority of a quarter of them, and would have seen even less if my daughter hadn’t shown so much interest in the England Semi Final and Final. As it was, and to my relief, she wanted to stop watching the Final after twenty minutes, as the tension was too unbearable. After all, she had Italy in her class fun sweepstake, so had a vested interest. 

As for me, I need to have a think. I spend every two summers waiting desperately for England to be knocked out of a major tournament in similar anxious circumstances to the Champions League Final of 2019, where Spurs took the reins. When there is so much about modern football that invites you to step away for good, sometimes I have to consider how much good this is doing me. 

Anyway, Ciao for now!



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