Wednesday, June 21, 2006

England v Sweden, BBC Radio 5 Live

Listening to England games on 5 Live is something of a trial. Two words: Alan Green. But also because there's a sheer defeatism to their commentaries, no matter the seriousness of the game, we've always found. Ah well, into the breach, ignoring much of the build-up largely because it was some stuff about Noel Gallagher and Mark Clemmitt with the fans somewhere up north. Mark Pougatch has been our guide, suggesting to Graham Taylor and co-commentator Terry Butcher that "England are a bit constipated at the moment" and wondering "is it too much to play with a smile on your face in the World Cup?" What exactly does that mean? Butcher compares the Sven approach to that of the Swedes, as apparently "they're not forcing DVDs into their pockets". That can't be legal. Taylor is called upon for comment on "Olly" (Mellberg), adjudging him "a quiet man" who "has his own point of view", particularly remembering the question "why do I have to go out and, say, get tipsy?" when assigned on a team bonding night.

Mike Ingham's first up, starting with all sorts of historical reminders, not least that it's the same referee who did Northern Ireland-England. To his credit he spots Owen collapsing and crawling off very early on, Butcher delivering a helpful "ooh, terrible" upon seeing the replay but immediately diagnosing it as the medial ligament. It takes Butcher less than two minutes to mention Defoe as the stretcher arrives and only a couple more to put a word in for Walcott - "why think of the future when you've only got five games left?" That confident, is he? Taylor is called upon for occasional comment, Ingham claiming he'd "deliberately looked at Owen Hargreaves". Taylor sees him "looking round him all of the time, he's taking pictures, as they say in the game". What game that is is never specified. After 21 minutes Terry is quietly positive despite the news that Owen is apparently having "ice treatment" on his knee - so standard procedure for knee injuries, then. Ingham is so keen to give us this he doesn't notice until late that the free kick on the edge of the England area didn't go England's way. Luckily for him "in goes the ball, it's dreadful". "A quick word from Terry Butcher on a twisted knee and then it's Alan Green." Ah.

"I know the temptation is to say you can't legislate for an Owen injury, but Eriksson could have done and should have done. Those chickens are coming home to roost for Eriksson. Oh, and we have to say Sweden have been the better side." And hello to you too, Alan. All his hopes, as with everyone else, are with one player, as he gives away announcing "inspirational from Rooney" as he nearly gets a chance. "Ashley Cole almost tripped there! Gosh, that was nervous." He's got edgy, you can tell, especially when Sweden get a free kick from which "Paul Robinson will be put under pressure...not the greatest pressure". Luckily then "Joe Cole, dipping volley...oh, it's into the net!" It briefly sounds like his larynx is going to give way, but he recovers enough to chide Butcher for predicting a 1-0 England win with a Cole goal. "No, no, no, I don't want you to say any more, put the microphone down... when you apologise for getting it wrong four years ago I'll let you take the credit". No explanation of that one, although he does find time to drop in a reference to those "listening on SBS radio in Australia and All India Radio, er, which is, oddly enough, in India". There's a lot of jibing around the last win over Sweden in 1968, Alan unconvincingly claiming "I was two years old!" before referring to Terry calling a striker of the day 'Geoff Hunt'. At least Terry remembers 2002 when "England were 1-0 up in that game...", only for Alan to interrupt with "I've mentioned this!" At least the lead holds up to half time when Green asks Butcher about scoreline likeliness and gets a slightly confused, and not unreasonably so, "what, Sweden 0 England 1?" Well, yes. "Graham, a little bit of Joga Bonita!" Thank you, Mark, cheque's in the post. Worryingly, Anita Anand gets to plug her later phone-in, "what smell reminds you of Sven and his players?" Us neither.

"Corner kick to Sweden, AND IT'S THERE!" Well, that was coming. It was, after all, the second half of an England game. As Ingham shouts Terry is insistent on pointing out Green told him the ball was outside the corner quadrant at the time. "Here's a man who knows all about Marcus Allback!" is the new official introduction to Taylor, who reckons he was signed for Villa as "on a wet and windy afternoon in November and December he would keep working". That's specialising. "Sweden look like a Premiership side, not an international side" is his verdict. Ingham just can't rest, not when "Larsson flicks it on, and it's off the crossbar... (long pause) and it's perilously, perilously close". What he was waiting for wasn't immediately obvious. Ingham is by now panicking at every corner ("Campbell didn't get it...") while Taylor offers the helpful "I'm sure that everyone at home's enjoying the game, but we've got to win the game". Alan, meanwhile, has a note about Ferdinand's substitution: "According to the FA, Ferdinand's substitution was tactical. Oh, it wasn't tactical." Well prepared.

With Rooney off Taylor claims 4-5-1 is "what a lot of people have been asking for", although whether they meant this way around is another thing. Alan is still watching the subbed player, demanding "Wayne, will you calm down!". There's a growing resignation in his voice, admitting "I wouldn't say it's the most wonderful of second half performances". Until..."Gerrard with the header...and Steven Gerrard has won the group for England!" "England limp over the line!" is his second offer. Steady now, even if Butcher is backing him up with "at last we've got a victory over Sweden". Taylor is still going on about it being "a club game", and if it is then you'd want immediate defensive coaching, Green at one point shouting "Robinson was absolutely nowhere!" at goal volume. Speaking of which, "oh, and it's gone there, oh, and it's into the net!" "England have themselves to blame" he sums up, which seems obvious. Butcher puts it more brusquely - "England are absolute pants at defending on set pieces". Excellent. Still, it's still a group win, and Alan declares he's "proud of that!" as Gerrard puts a clearance into the second tier. At the final whistle the top position and Ecuadorian future is confirmed, to which Butcher immediately ripostes "yeah, but they should have had the three points here". Fair enough, but all in good time. Mark's opening gambit is "Graham, I thought England was the home of the set piece?", then starts talking about Beckham apropos of little. Taylor follows by blaming the clubs for the lack of invention in friendlies, and the level is summarily reached at last.

What we've learned: England still can't get it together after going ahead; there's a chance for Owen Hargreaves yet; Sweden appear to be styling themselves on a Premiership overachieving side from about ten years ago; Alan Green is still unshakeable in his grumpiness.

4 Comments:

Blogger Del said...

Finally despaired of the ITV coverage then? At least you were spared the 400 repeats of Owen's leg turning to ligament jelly over and over again (not ITV's fault, but still).

As for England, I feel like we're now damned if we do and damned if we don't. The positives were Cole and Hargreaves, who were both excellent. Part of me hopes that the Owen who comes to the rescue plays for Bayern Munich rather than Newcastle (Tyldesley can have that one for free).

10:53 pm, June 21, 2006

 
Blogger Ben said...

Del: Gerrard looked good when he came on too.

Alan Green and Terry Butcher - Christ, now I'm thinking Tyldesley, Pleat et al might not be quite so bad...

11:10 pm, June 21, 2006

 
Blogger Matt said...

The directors defintely enjoy their slow motion replays of players getting injured. They showed the Trinidad player's leg getting horribly bent out of shape from about six different angles. Perhaps if you listen to the home commentaries they add sound effects of something snapping in half or trees being felled to lessen the effect.

1:04 pm, June 22, 2006

 
Blogger Del said...

Maybe they played the sound of Freddie Sheppard vomiting over Owen's.

1:57 am, June 23, 2006

 

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