Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Uruguay 2 England 1

How many times in my life am I going to have to watch England disappoint at a major tournament? Every two years it's the same thing.  We score from a set piece, we win ugly, we get out of the group then lose beautifully to the first good team we meet.  Or on penalties.  This time we haven't even managed that.

"This time will be different", we were told.  "We are just pleased to be there".  "Getting out of the group will be an achievement".  Well if that is the case why do I feel like this?

Twenty minutes into the game and the warning signs were there.  Nervy play.  No continuity.  Couldn't string a pass together.  Pressed high up the pitch we were reverting to knocking it long.  Not that Uruguay were much better.  It was always going to be a game where the team that took their chances progressed.  Rooney headed against the bar.  Suarez headed it into the net.

Half-time.  The writing well and truly on the wall.  England should have been dead and buried within ten minutes of the restart.  Uruguay then tried to play the game out.  Rooney missed another chance.  A snatched effort straight at the keeper.  He would have scored in a Man Utd shirt.  The pressure.  The pressure.

We were watching in a corporate suite at a plush hotel.  Free beer and snacks.  With kick off approaching the place was half full so the organisers invited fans in off the street.  Not sure they thought that through.  The atmosphere darkened. "Fuck the foreigners" someone shouted at the screen.  We moved outside. 

I started to pace and put my hands to my brow.  The clock ticked along.  I puffed out my cheeks. The Uruguay players developed cramp. I looked to the heavens.  Every hold up or mis-controlled pass would lead to me swearing at the screen.  "Fucking hell, ref!"

And then finally we scored.  Blissful relief.  I danced alone and then with my colleagues.  Punched the air.  "Come on!"  Could we snatch this?  I would still take a point.

I was looking away from the screen when Gerrard flicked the ball to Suarez.  How many times was the last part of that sentence said last season?  I turned back just in time to see Suarez running in on goal.  Joe Hart was never going to save that.  And he didn't.

And that was it.  Back to where we started.  Effectively knocked out of another tournament before it's really got going.  Now for the recriminations.  "It's Roy's fault", "it's the players fault", "it's the systems fault", "it's that cheating Uruguayan's fault".  Who knows who's fault it is.  Ultimately it's my fault for putting myself in this position time and time again when I know exactly what is going to happen. 

Off to Fortaleza in the morning to watch Germany show us how it's done.  A nation famous for long-term forward thinking both politically and on the sports field.  Maybe one day we will start listening.

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