While driving into work on Monday, I normally listen to BBC 606 podcast from the day before. Usually, it’s the lovely Kelly Cates and Ian Wright. This weekend, for no reason other than it was an international weekend, we had Jason Mohammed and Robbie Savage.
The main topic was England’s performance against the mighty Lithuania or lack of it depending on your view. One call particularly caught my ear. He was banging on and on about the lack of ‘passion ‘of the England players were producing and we should be more like the Welsh or Irish or even the Scots. Chest beating and fist thumping our way through games. Screaming at the opponents like a Gladiator facing a foe to the fight to the death.
This, as any sensible person will tell you, is crap. When England won the World Cup in ’66 I don’t seem to remember a lamb being slaughtered in the middle of Wembley’s pitch. Nor do I remember Sir Bobby Charlton screaming at the German’s faces, reminding them of the battle ahead.
As usual though Savage was in agreement, nothing to do with him being Welsh or anything. And maybe we should all bow down to his international knowledge of 0 World Cups and the same amount of appearances at Euro tournaments.
‘England should have put 6 past them’ was the cry from the callers. Yes, how dare those Lithuanians play with 7 or 8 defenders. They should know we are England; inventors of football, why don’t those strange folk just lie down and let us pass?
What the fickle few don’t seem to grasp is that other nations learn after a while that putting as many players behind the ball as possible will hurt the stronger nations. And yes I’m fully aware that at the moment Germany can score 500 goals against these ‘weaker’ nations.
But if we take this game against Lithuania, can you image the guy who called into 606 in 18 months when England play their first game in Russia chatting to a mate, let’s say he is called Dave,
Dave: Mate what’s up?
Phone guy: Dave, I’m so angry. I know we are here at Moscow but that game at Wembley still bugs me!
Dave: Let it go, mate. Was last year, plus we won. And with those 3 points meant we qualified for the World Cup.
Phone guy: I can’t! There was no passion in the play. No fire.
Dave: Passion? To be fair it was Lithuania mate.
Phone guy: Not the point, we should have scored 10 against them. Then pushed them all against the ground and made them aware we are superior to them in every aspect of life, spit venom in their faces, squash any hope of happiness from their lives, bite heads off bats, eat metal, summon satan!!
Dave: I think you need a lie-down mate.
Of course by Russia all memories of qualifiers would have been forgotten about, I mean we won 10 on the bounce in the previous one and look what good that did us.
Passion is too much of a buzz word these days. What we need is confidence from our players. A swagger I think Southgate said. Now and again we will get a Nobby Stiles or a Stuart Pearce comes along and that’s fine, they had a charm about them, but also skill. But remember Vinnie Jones played with ‘passion’ and normally that ‘passion’ would mean a Gary Stevens ending up in the stands 4 rows back. Does this mean we think Mr Jones was more successful than the more placid Gary Lineker? No.
So please can we just, for once, get behind the lads. Make loads of noise, we have the talent, we have the skill and we have the knowledge. Just leave the passion alone. Or if your that desperate for some, buy a bloody J2O.