World Cup blog: Win flatters unconvincing England

As a penny-pinching student, there are several things I have to do without. One of these is a television for which British citizens are charged £145.50 a year. I could smuggle one into my flat and hope that I evade the prying eyes of TV Licensing. But as I am a law-abiding member of society, this is not an option.

Also this is the time of year where few students remain in Lincoln—and the majority of those that do are cramming for exams. That made the pub a no-go. For those reasons, I had to absorb England’s latest friendly via the power of the radio waves.


Fabio Capello still has plenty of decisions to make before heading to South Africa. Photo: Paul Blank

It’s a very different animal to the television coverage that many of my generation are accustomed to. The listener relies on the commentator to inform them of everything that is going on. This results in unrivalled suspense when the commentator is drowned out by huge crowd noise or when he stutters out of excitement.

This was, of course, only a friendly, but the amount of times it seemed a Mexico cross drifted “right across the six-yard area” worried me as a radio listener. As did the descriptions of England players who had gone down injured. Whether it would have been the same if I had seen the images is a different matter. Had it been a World Cup situation, the potential for cardiac arrest would have certainly been substantial.

The match itself answered few of Capello’s questions. If anything, it posed even more. England were blown away in the first half as the quick and technically-sound Mexicans probed their way through the English defence.

The fact that the home side managed to go into half time ahead was bizarre and undeserved. The second period was a similar affair but, like most modern international friendlies, became incoherent when both teams made substitutes. England ended the game as 3-1 victors.

Steven Gerrard, in the left flank position which he has occupied in England colours for some time now, found it hard to have any influence on the game until he was moved centrally in the second half. As a midfield pairing, James Milner and Michael Carrick did not impress, and the latter, who would have been looking to finalise a place on the plane to South Africa, may have hindered his chances.

However there were some positives for the England manager. Despite the hyperbolic coverage of the state of the Wembley pitch in the days running up to the game, no player picked up a tournament-threatening injury. Also Ledley King managed to get through an entire 90 minutes for his country—a feat which may well secure his place in Capello’s final 23.

England have one more friendly against Japan on Sunday, May 30th, before heading south. The first group match is on June 12th against the United States. For my nerves’ sakes, I will be in front of a television for that one.

One Response to World Cup blog: Win flatters unconvincing England

  1. Again an excellent insight, I am beginning to really enjoy reading your blogs. It reminded me of being a twelve year old boy listening to Radio 2 coverage of England international matches, there was no Radio 5 in those distant days or television coverage apart from highlights perhaps on BBC Sportsnight of ITV Midweek Sports special, but you are right, the atmospehere of listening to a game on the radio and having to use your imagination to turn the words into visual images is an art long forgotten and perhaps more of us should do.