Sunday, February 13, 2005


Chris Brooke has already started crowing, I see, but I really don't want to congratulate the French on their 17-18 victory over England this afternoon: I want to do something I would deeply regret to more or less each and every member of that England team. I want an explanation of how a France team with all the attacking verve and imagination of a tortoise on valium managed to score twelve unanswered points in the second half. I want an explanation of how England managed to miss so many kicks that they could have plausibly doubled their points total, and of why they carried on kicking for goal after it was obvious neither Hodgson nor Barkley had their kicking boots on.

England completely collapsed as soon as the French started to, God Almighty, keep the ball for more than a single phase. Pointless penalties were given away. Pedestrian attacks petered out. It was awful. They crumpled under a tiny bit of pressure. I don't think I've seen England play so badly in a competitive international since Kevin Keegan was allegedly managing the football team. Remember England - Romania in Euro 2000? Remember that pointless, stupid, ugly Phil Neville tackle on Moldovan to give away a penalty in the dying minutes when all we needed was an undeserved draw against mediocre opposition to go through? Remember how it was more or less entirely representative of the team's performance? No? Well, lucky for you. This was that bad in the second half.

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