When Roy Hodgson led his team out to play Switzerland….oh wait a minute.
He’s leading the Swiss national team out to play in the 1994 World Cup…most likely the United States which despite the happy smiling faces, would end in a 1-1 draw as Erik Wynalda equalized just before halftime…or maybe it was to pound the fock out of Romania 1-4…..or perhaps to face the pig-biting mad Colombian’s who’d been beaten 4 days earlier 2-1 by USA! USA!! USA!!! on an Andres Escobar own goal.
In any case, Roy is smiling because he’s leading a Swiss team that had not qualified for a World Cup since 1966.1 And it’s easy smile, as back then there was no weight of the world on his shoulders….no fevered expectations of repeating a World Cup victory as the Swiss, were boosted from the 1966 World Cup at the Group Stage finishing last in Group 2.2 This time around, in 1994, The Schweizer Nati were boosted out in the Round of 16 after a 3-0 whuppage by Spain.
Anyway, when Roy Hodgson led his team out to play Switzerland on Tuesday at Wembley, he was not wearing a pair of fucking red trousers. He was not smiling all that much either. Not that this England squad he leads is a bunch of worthless bums. Hardly that. They were well qualified for Euro 2016 in France before the opening kickoff.
It’s just that the weight of the world has been looming over, and on, and through3 the Three Lions ever since 1966. The ghosts of 1966 continue to haunt them, and today, even when Roy Hodgson smiles, it’s a haunted smile. Haunted by that weight of history.
England have had an easy go of it in their Euro 2016 qualification campaign. They’re in a very easy group. Switzerland is their biggest challenge there. And they’ve handled the Swiss beating them 2-0 each time, in their opening match at St. Jakob Park in Basel last year, then once again this Tuesday at Wembley.
It says a lot for the psyche of England, and the English national team that the biggest smiles were reserved for an individual and not a team performance. Wayne Rooney, who tied Sir Bobby Charlton’s scoring record for the Three Lions by plonking one past San Marino’s goalie last Saturday, final broke the scoring record by slotting home a pelanty against the Schweizers on 84 minutes.
Those smiles were more like a sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, England and The Three Lions will continue to plod along the same draery path, dissatisfied no matter what.
Well, before this latest round of Euro 2016 qualifying began, Scotland had a lot to be happy about. Like Wales and Northern Ireland who are both going to or have already qualified, Scotland has been punching above it’s weight in what passes for Euro 2016’s Group of Death….a group that also includes Germany and Poland, along with Ireland. Georgia and Gibraltar are also press-ganged into this troup of bullies, although Georgia plays tough. Gibraltar, like San Marino in England’s group is just happy to be there….although how much happiness can be derived from being bullied by the likes of Thomas Müller, Robert Lewendowski and “The Unidentified Fan”4 is up for question.
Scotland had a trip to Tblisi, Georgia5 for a 0-1 win and then it would be back to Glasgow to play host to Der Mannshaft, and hopeful nick a point by holding Germany to a draw…not likely, but a glimmer of hope perhaps.
Instead, Scotland went to the Stadion Boris Paichadze and puked haggis all over the pitch losing 1-0 on a goal by Valeri Qazaishvili at minute 37 precisely.
Then, back at Hampden Park on Monday, Thomas Müller single-handedly choked the rest of the haggis out of the Scots as Germany ran oot6 3-2 winners. Match was not as close as the scoreboard suggests. Especially since at halftime the score was 2-2 thanks to a Mats Hummel’s own goal while Scotland did manage a James McArthur equalizer at the 43rd minute.
So now what had looked like a hopeful qualifying campaign has left Euro 2016 qualification for the Scots as elusive as the Loch Ness monster.
Gareth Bale 1 Cyprus & Israel 0
Wales has not only qualified for Euro 2016, they top their group. NO small feat since their group also features the scintillating talents of Belgium whom Gareth Bale toppled 1-0 in Cardiff last June….plus the aforementioned Israel as well as the surprise team of the 2014 World Cup (until reality reared it’s ugly head) Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Now I don’t want y’all thinking that Wales is just about Gareth Bale. He’s not really The Goddamn Batman. Without the likes of Ashley Williams, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies, Wayne Hennessy, Ashley Richards and the rest, Gareth Bale would have applied for USA! USA!! USA!!! citizenship years ago. Wait, what??
In their unspectacular way, Wales has qualified for Euro 2016 and I like that quite a bit.
As for Northern Ireland, I have absolutely nothing to say regarding them also qualifying for Euro 2016. The only saving grace there for me is that Norwich City’s Kyle Lafferty has be instrumental in getting them to France.
As you well know, I’d prefer that Norther Ireland be returned to REAL Ireland with immediate effect.
And speaking of which, a qualifying campaign that seemed to be going down the bog has now been revitalized with the expected 0-4 trompage of Gibraltar, and the equally expected Ireland 1 Georgia 0 in Dublin. Ireland has found, at least for now, a little pot of gold almost the end of the fookin’ rainbow. Almost. But not quite. Not yet. As Ireland have got a little river dance with Germany and Poland, whilst Scotland has to toss the caber with Poland and give Gibraltar a wee taste of haggis.
As it stands, Scotland is 4 poinst down and 8 goals behind on goal differential with 2 matches to go. It doesn’t look good for Scotland…they need to beat Gibraltar 10-0 and hold Poland to a draw. Plausible. But as likely as spotting the Loch Ness Monster.
Austria has become a fairly surprising contender for Euro 2016. They’ve qualified with each and pounded the holy hell out of Zlatan and Sweden this Tuesday in a match that was NOT as close as the 1-4 scoreline would indicate.
Austria totally dominated Sweden and held Zlatan in check until the waning moments.7
They’ve pretty much lapped the field in Group G leaving Russia and Sweden in their wake to duke it out for the 2nd automatic qualifying spot. From the look of it, Russia8 has the momentum there.
And with that, I think I’m to grab a baguette, and a beer, and pretend that I, too, have qualified for France. But I won’t be wearing a beret.
You can rest assured of that!
- The astute among you will note that 1966 is only time England has ever won a World Cup.
- Their only goal was scored by René-Pierre Quentin in a 2-1 loss to Spain at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield
- Please believe one or two impossible metaphors daily, preferably before breakfast
- That would be Robbie Keane for those of you not in or hip to the joke
- Which is NOT just outside Atlanta, though it probably, on some level, SHOULD be
- pun intended.
- Which totally fucked up my Euro 2016 qualifying fantasy football team dropping Christian Fuchs down from 6 points to 2 points for my team. Fock you Zlatan!! Go bite the bag!!
- Since dumping Fabio Capello and sending back where he came from in a tiny submarine named СДЕЛАЙТЕ ТОТ.