Obviously a diary implies that this will be updated every day, when you and I both know that simply isn’t going to be the case.
Still, if nothing else, being able to use a title of ‘Euro Diary – Day 16’ saves us the arse-ache of having to dream up something enigmatic or scanning through i-Tunes to find a song title that’s even remotely related.
On the pitch at least this tournament has started off pretty entertaining, with even the minnows like Albania and Romania having a decent go straight from the start. Ukraine have probably been the biggest disappointment so far, offering almost nothing against the Germans, while Croatia look like genuine dark horses, and certainly more likely winners than the other hipster tip, Poland, for whom Robert Lewandowski continues to look the ‘European star most likely to come and underwhelm the Premier League’. There’s definitely a whiff of Edin Dzeko about the Commander Data-looking Bayern Munich goal machine.
England looked far better than most expected against a dreadful Russia and were unlucky to get undone by the sort of desperate ball into the box you kind of think they would be well equipped to deal with given the nature of the English domestic game. In fairness to the pundits, which isn’t something you hear very often, when Mark Pougatch was trying to fashion a narrative by getting them to attribute the equaliser to ‘poor game management from England’, Lee Dixon and Ian Wright both said ‘it was just a hopeful ball lumped into the box and the geezer was bigger than Danny Rose at the back post’.
This idea that every goal is avoidable by ‘correct positioning’ continues to undermine all rational debate about the game and will undoubtedly boil our piss for the next month or so. We will try not to go on about it too much.
Off the pitch the scenes in Marseilles were initially grimly familiar until the arrival of hordes of former Spetsnaz and Russian cage-fighters added a whole new element of danger to proceedings. Shit got real awful quick and you’ve never seen Lonsdale trainees and three-quarter-length Lotto kecks move so quick as when confronted by mobs of ‘uncompromising’ Russian doormen.
These tournaments are like cultural exchanges for absolute gobshites of every nationality, and decades of shitehawk behaviour have created the poisonous atmosphere that culminated with people getting maimed and possibly killed the other night. The scramble for some sort of moral high ground in the aftermath was laughable.
‘We were only singing offensive songs and throwing bottles, them Russians actually wanted to knock fuck out of people’.
Listen. You, you well-dressed, urbane and effortlessly sexy Europhile sophisticate, you can’t drink in the match and you are a target for fat-necked impotent, inadequates and sexually frustrated plod when you travel to watch your team, at home and abroad, because of the behaviour of the Sports Direct Massive.
Don’t make excuses for the cunts who hide behind you, the ‘decent fan’, when it all gets a bit punchy.
The games are so densely packed here that it’s hard to keep up-to-date.
Before we go any further then, we need to nominate our phrases of the tournament so far. They are:
‘Going deep in the tournament’.
No far. Deep. Suits you sir.
The other is,’…coming on for the last seven minutes. He had a short spell at Wolves a couple of seasons ago’.
Back on the farm, Ronald Koeman still hasn’t signed. And the longer it goes, with Saints fans making out he’s shit anyway, everyone talking up this £100 million ‘war chest’, and all against the backdrop of a tournament in France, the more it’s feeling like the Summer of Walter.
We’re being linked to all sorts of players too, but with no manager, it’s hard to take any of that seriously. That said, someone made a decision to let Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar go, which marks the end of an era. They were certainly all past their sell-by date, but it would have been nice for them to get a fraction of the send-off that Tim Howard got, especially they two local lads who just about as Everton as it gets and who, you get the impression, were very much cornerstones of the ‘we don’t tolerate any dickheads here’ culture that people talk about. Well, at least until the second half of last season.
Hopefully the story about the three of them finding out through the media about the decision to release them isn’t true. They all deserve far better than that.
One player who appears somewhat less arsed about how he leaves the Blues, is Romelu Lukaku, who carried his Everton form into the Euros with what would politely be described as a ‘low key’ performance against Italy. If you were massively paranoid you could almost believe that him, and the pundits who got into him worse than they did that left-back for Liverpool after the UEFA Cup Final, were actively trying to drive his price down, such was the heft of his first touch and the acidity of their analysis.
Before writing him off completely though, just look at his age and his goalscoring record at Goodison. He’s an absolute phenomenon. Not perfect, certainly, but it will be a long time before we see another striker like that in royal blue.
The most notable tactical ‘development’ at this tournament is the way nearly all teams defend dead narrow, completely conceding the wide areas – almost said ‘flanks’ then – and packing the penalty area. As a result you see loads of crosses piled into the box. ‘Meat and drink to the centre-halves’ as they say. Will this result in a resurgence of the role of the big number nine, and will Roy Hodgson end up regretting leaving ‘Big Andy’ at home? By the same token, is Everton’s link with that ludicrous Big Brother-looking lump Graziano Pelle as a replacement for ‘Big Rom’ not quite as crazy as it at first appears?
Right, we’re going to have to stop writing and publish this at some point, otherwise it’s just going to be a massive four week ramble, posted on the website once the tournament is over. That idea is actually quite attractive. But stupid. So we won’t.
The best advertising hoarding of the tournament thus far, apart from the ubiquitous Harry Potter-eaque Energy Of Azerbaijan , is the one that promises the opportunity to ‘Win two tickets to the final and meet David Guetta’.
‘Er, hiya. Ok, great. No, no, this is my first match here, I won the tickets, what abou… oh, right, you played at the opening ceremony. Sound. What was that like? Cool. Great. What? Er, no, I don’t think so. I mean I must know some of them, I’m sure. I’ve heard the name like, but, you know, I’m more of a Dylan-head if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong I used to go the Quad in the day and get off my barnet and that, and I was into it then but not this modern shi… No, not yours, of course. I’m sure yours is boss like. OFFSIDE YOU TWAT! Kinell, he was miles off there wasn’t he Dave? Dave? Oh, right. Fair enough.’