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Nelson Muntz
17-10-2005, 08:07 AM
This salad won't wilt
By Aki Riihilati

WHY ARE YOU URINATING INTO YOUR own tent? I donít understand your unreasonable negativity. You even pay miserable people hiding behind big tables to overanalyse. Or you want scandalous headlines. Most of you just moan in the pub. Many of you seem voluntarily to want to put celery into your own food. Itís almost an art how much you English people can criticise your own football national team.
It canít do anything right, can it? It is always surrounded by J.F.K. theories. You have doomed it to be eternally toothless, which I find very harsh, especially with English dentistry. Even if youíd have experienced years of false hope and disappointment, which you havenít, I still donít understand your wanting to write bad endings beforehand. Iím not questioning your patriotism or passion, but reminding you that mixed passionate reactions to mixed results is a dangerous combination for the best support to your country. Your own expectations and pressure can be your biggest enemy.
Why is it not enough that England is comfortably in the World Cup as a group-winner? France is not worried about the points dropped in the qualifiers. Italy is proud of playing the most calculating and boring football in history just because they qualified like that. Argentinians donít care who their coach shagged. They are all preparing for the World Cup instead of moaning how short in value their countriesí leading export, football, could be.
If my country, Finland, ever qualified for any big tournament I couldnít care less if it happened playing torturingly horrific football surrounded by only luck and scandals in a group full of Andorras. I would just be proud and give all my support for my country. Which, Iím sure, English people will also do when they realise they actually have good cards in their hand because:

1. Itís easier to break into Fort Knox than go through Englandís centre defence! There canít be many more dominating players in the world than John Terry. Besides Abel Xavierís hair, I have never been scared on a football pitch except once going to a heavy challenge with the Chelsea defender. Even if full backs are sometimes a bit too adventurous, a Terry pairing with Sol Campbell or Rio Ferdinand is a great foundation for any successful team.

2. England has great goalscoring midfielders! Getting more than five goals from midfield is a big step towards the podium. And that is just Frank Lampard. In addition to that, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Joe Cole will always be dangerous, which is important in international football, where strikers are often effectively being isolated by solid defences.

3. The World Cup is like English Christmas madness! Players in England are used to playing ridiculous fixture lists at carnival times. Tournaments require different kinds of players than mid-European leagues because highly competitive games with a high tempo keep on coming much quicker than Royal Mail. Seasons with heavy Boxing Day to New Year fixture lists might finally pay off for English players.

4. English kitchens might for the first time get it right! This team is like a quite tasty and heavy salad. Enough green desire and hunger, mixed with international experience and spiced up with Rooney.

Iím not saying Iím handing you the trophy here. Iím also a bit worried and sceptical, probably because Iíve lived in England for a while. It is always easier to criticise, after all. I can also see reasons why England might fall short:

1. Pressure and expectations are huge home-made obstacles before you can even start climbing the mountain! Possibly Englandís biggest enemy comes from the promised land of fish and chips, the stiff upper lip itself. English people put too much pressure on their national team for it to function in a healthy and supportive environment. It is almost Realmadridised: winning games is not enough, it has to be done with style, entertaining and individuals pulling rabbits out of the hat. If the world champion team, Brazil, have room for basic role-players why canít they be accepted in England? I have even seen an honest youngish player with only a few caps being booed by his own supporters before he has even touched the ball. Eventually, if everything works inside the lines, the press will find some off-field scandals to sell papers.


2. Not strong enough strike force. Take away Rooneyís thunder and there are mainly clouds in the sky for international standards. Many good options is not enough, you need three to four strikers who can change the game with one moment of magic, especially for times when things arenít going your way. Brazil has ten of them, but there is no transfer window for a national team, otherwise Russia would have probably already claimed the title.


3. English mentality is not cynical enough. English people and football are too passionate and honest. Itís great to watch but it rarely wins you any trophies. At times, you have to be cynical, even boring, and see the games off in the traditional Italian way. Instead of freezing the game, England always go with full gas, taking initiatives until the end, which is admirable and entertaining, but very risky. It is not always about being the better team, sometimes you have to win like Uruguay.


4. There are other world-beaters around. Just look at the teamsheets of Brazil, Argentina, France and Italy and you realise whoever wins the World Cup has deserved it. England has its strongest team for a while and will upset a few other giants, but odds for going through all the way are high.

I have dreamt about it. I have lived for it. Suddenly you are at your late twenties, another disappointing qualification group behind you, and you realise the time is running out to fulfil the boyhood park-game promises to play in the World Cup. Iíve never thought grass could be greener on the other side of the border but Iím so jealous for all the players and countries that have experienced this biggest sports event in the world. Maybe Iíll never be playing there myself but my proudest moment would be to see my home country just reaching the tournament, to be part of it. I think you English people are privileged for that. I envy you. However, not being part of it, I also support you. Without ever wanting to urinate into your tent.

WorthingEagle
17-10-2005, 08:21 AM
"Not strong enough strike-force"

I'm sure AJ will be delighted to read that! :eek:

palace_crystal
17-10-2005, 08:22 AM
another great article by Aki!

Neil 154
17-10-2005, 08:29 AM
I wish Finland had qualified. Aki's the best.

Oddjob
17-10-2005, 08:36 AM
Good stuff as always

zonin2000
17-10-2005, 09:01 AM
I :love: you Aki!

Maidstoned Eagle
17-10-2005, 09:11 AM
Spot on

toucaneagle
17-10-2005, 09:25 AM
The guy's a genius. Good on ya Aki!

smileysmith
17-10-2005, 11:11 AM
Some very sound comments from our Aki there.

AndyStreet
17-10-2005, 11:20 AM
Still a rubbish player mind.

Clapham Grand
17-10-2005, 11:26 AM
Originally posted by AndyStreet
Still a rubbish player mind.

:clown:

stevey_d
17-10-2005, 11:36 AM
Realmadridised

Love it!

Palaceboy222
17-10-2005, 02:40 PM
"but there is no transfer window for a national team, otherwise Russia would have probably already claimed the title."

:D classic

eastend eagle
17-10-2005, 04:08 PM
There's great characters at the club now - with Aki, Dowie and Simon Jordan all worth a quote or two. I'm sure we'll look back at this as a golden era for characters.:)