Euro Diary Day 5

Sorry about the big gap in the updates, we’ve been off our barnets down at that Chessington World of Adventure.

Everyone saw the headlines, about Marcus Bent getting arrested for possession of cocaine at the aforementioned theme park, but we really needed more of the details. It’s one thing having the caper on you, but how on earth do you get caught? Was he chopping out stripes on the log flume?

And then was he tackled to the ground by two burly fellas in massive chipmunk outfits?

Given that he was Tasered quite recently, after threatening the police with a meat cleaver, the big-shot goalie-closer’s fall from grace has been quite spectacular – right up there with Gary Charles smearing his own excrement on the interior of his Merc.

Anyway, the fun back at the Euros is far more wholesome, and we have to hold our hands up and say that we couldn’t have got it more wrong about the extended format of the competition. The smaller nations – or ‘dross’, as we called them – have provided the majority of the highlights, and the ability to qualify in third place ensured that there was something to play for in pretty much every one of the final group games.

As a result, there were some absolute crackers.

All the British Isles teams qualified, with Ireland leaving it until the 85th minute to score the clincher against Italy’s second string. Robbie Brady headed home Wes Hoolahan’s cross, to the enormous relief of his Norwich teammate who only moments earlier had panicked and wasted what looked like the chance of securing the win required to progress.

For Italy, the dubious reward for winning that group is a top drawer tie against Spain who were beaten in their final match by the craft Croatians. That was another belter secured with a last-minute goal that sealed a brilliant comeback. Styles make fights, as they say, and that Croatia-Spain game seemed to highlight the schism in European football at the moment, between the disciples of the patient prog of Pep Guardiola to this more pugnacious, counter-attacking punk rock of the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Claudio Ranieri.

Another absolute thriller saw Hungary finally draw some fight out of the dreadfully disappointing Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, who came from behind three times for a draw, with two well-taken goals from the under-pressure prima donna. West Brom and Fulham favourite, and perennial David Moyes era Everton link, Zoltan Gera, scored an absolute blinder for the Middling Magyars. Nani, another of those ex-Manchester United cats we are always said to be courting, is apparently back on the Blues ‘radar’ yet again, and scored his country’s first equaliser in this game.

Talking of the Toffees, some of the stories speculating about how Ronald Koeman is going to spend ‘the Moshiri millions’ are absolutely excruciating. Juan Mata, Yaya Toure and Wesley ‘Roy’ Sneijder are two of the latest. Would signing shop-worn fellas who really, really love money really make us the new Manchester City, or more the new Alen Boksic era Middlesbrough?

Vincent Aboubakar, a Cameroonian striker not scoring many goals in Portugal is another £16 million link. Hopefully he doesn’t sign, just because whenever we get anyone with a slightly exotic name you always end up in the Euston Flyer or somewhere similar, and you get befriended by some woolly-accented fella in a minty leather and a replica shirt, on his own, with a carrier bag, who strikes up conversation which basically involves him ranting on with his massive list of internet-fuelled grievances, and at some point he will say, ‘What do you think of this bloody Abracadabra or whatever his bloody name is?’

If you’ve never met anyone like that then let’s be honest, it’s probably you.

Back at the Euros again, England, whose games have pretty much been the worst in the tournament, have somehow managed to spawn a tie against the rather ace Iceland. Aceland!

Even Roy Hodgson’s Graham Taylor-esque squad of big, fit, unspectacular fuckers should beat them. Neither of the two Everton players in the squad have featured yet, and it seems an absolute nap that Chris Smalling or Gary Cahill, whose weird head makes him look like a cub scout trying to eat his packed lunch on a rollercoaster, will get an injury just before they actually play anyone decent. Cue the Barnsley Baresi making his bow just in time to get ragged everywhere by the likes of Thomas Muller.

Given that Hodgson seems bemused about how to utilise his little knot of first choice attacking players, Ross Barkley will be lucky to even get the traditional pointless five minutes at the very end as they dip out of the competition.

There’s undoubtedly loads of stuff we’ve missed. We’ll just cram it all into the next one as it occurs to us.

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