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International Football

Very cheeky Mr McClaren

by Thomas Rooney

I’ll be honest. The fact that England are not competing in Euro 2008 hasn’t exactly effected my summer so far. I’m happy enough without the stress and despair that following England in this tournament would inevitably bring. When we didn’t qualify, I was disappointed, but not distraught. I have enjoyed watching the games anyway, safe in the knowledge that I don’t really care who wins it.

However, the other day – it all changed. I was suddenly angry that England didn’t qualify or more specifically angry at the manner in which we failed to qualify. Why? I listened to a certain Steve McClaren summarising a Euro 2008 match on Radio 5Live, doing so in the smug ‘my god I know what I’m talking about’ way that he has become all too well known for. Talk about rubbing salt into the wounds of disgruntled England fans.

After listening to him moan about Greece’s tactics for half an hour, the image of him holding an umbrella and sipping a coffee while we lost to Croatia came flooding back. What was going through his head at that famous moment? ‘We might not be qualifying, but I’ll be able to get a nice summarising job on the radio – so I will be there, that’s what matters.’

Maybe I am being naive in thinking that McClaren would turn down such an opportunity. However, if he still felt bad about failing to qualify (which he should do), surely he would take a second and consider the feelings of the England fans. The last thing we want is to be reminded of our non-participation by the arrogant voice of the man who was largely responsible for it. Throw in the fact that he is presumably being paid for doing so and you can see why this situation angered me.

Anyway, now that is off my chest, let’s talk about Euro 2008. In the games I have watched, I have been impressed with Spain and Holland. The Dutch in particular produced a fantastic result against Italy, something even their own fans wouldn’t have bargained on.

However, the team who look the most capable in my eyes are Portugal. They have won their opening two games in style, overcoming tough opposition in Turkey and Czech Republic. Inevitably Cristiano Ronaldo has been involved in everything they do well going forward. He produced a neat finish in the 3-1 win over Czech Republic and set up another – when he plays well, Portugal play well Considering he is currently the best play in the world, this theory bodes well for the Portuguese fans.

One thing that could distract them is the news that Luiz Felipe Scolari will take over at Chelsea from the 1st July. I think that this will add an extra incentive to win though – they will be doing it for their departing manager. That is why, as long as their boss can get to grips with not having to knock out England in the Quarter-Finals, I would bet on Portugal to win Euro 2008.

Like I have mentioned though, I don’t really care who wins it. I’m more concerned with who Norwich are signing this summer. I do wonder though, who would Mr McClaren want to win? Probably Croatia. Just so he could smugly state during his summarising ‘at least we went out to the winners.’

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