The Independent London Newspaper
23rd April 2019

SCORE BLIMEY: Why it’s hard to lionise Gareth as England boss

    Published: 6 October, 2016

    EVERY England manager who comes into the job starts by promising they are the man – that man – who can take the tough decisions. 

    In the past, it usually involved the statement dropping of David Beckham and then being rubbish in the next major football tournament, but nonetheless the tradition continues for all new bosses of the national side. 

    Take Gareth Southgate, who this week claimed his past “experience” would enable him to take on the hard choices, starting with working out whether to play Wayne Rooney up front, in midfield, at sweeper or not at all. Forgive me for being a pessimist, but the idea of Southgate suddenly changing his trademark look of a teary Walter with sand kicked in his face into a real life Mr Nasty ready to crack the whip, seems a little hard to imagine. 

    He’s attempted to toughen up or look wiser or whatever he’s trying to do - pull in Shoreditch? - by growing a beard but, no, he isn’t fooling anybody. When he talks about this golden managerial experience in his back-story, what have we really got? 

    A guy who was relegated in charge of Middlesbrough and then some milling about with England’s kid teams. Wayne Rooney is really going to want to listen to this guy.

    l IN the annual horror movie that is Tottenham Hotspur’s football season, this is the bit right at the start when everything is wonderful and nothing bad has so far happened.

    They are the fit young couple in the movie happily running away with themselves in a soft top, over the hill and far away. But it’s only 10 minutes into the film, so all of us – apart from real thickos – know it’s all too good to be true and soon the couple/Spurs are lost in the forest with no mobile phone connection and it’s getting dark.

    Exhausted, they stop to rest in a deserted cabin and, what do you know, St Totteringham is hiding out the back, dressed like a porridge-faced yeti, ready to ruin it all. Bam!

    For as much as we were all impressed with the way Tottenham munched Manchester City on Sunday, there was a haunting quality to Sunday’s schedule of football.  It should have been accompanied by ominous violin music.

    For there were Spurs busting their lungs and being brilliant, claiming three points, but straight after followed us Arsenal fans watching our team playing in their full-on can’t-really-be-bothered mode and yet still claiming three points of their own with a goal that was handball, offside and scored with time well up. A win’s a win, folks.

    So, while Tottenham had a marvellous victory to celebrate, in the back of their heads they couldn’t help but be itched by lucky old Arsenal, and that annoying habit they have of popping up above them at the end of the film.


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