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Harry Maguire is a nice lad with a hard forehead
#1
Giles Coren. Times today
 
Twenty reasons to be glad that England lost
 
We’ll be spared more boozed-up morons throwing beer in the air and losing 10-0 in the final with the world watching
 
Oh, put away the Kleenex, you muppet. You’d never even heard of football until a couple of weeks ago. Don’t you understand that it is a GOOD THING we didn’t make the World Cup final? Here are 20 reasons why (because they didn’t have space for the rest):
 
1. Had we made the final, it would have been via a miserably inglorious route that would have taken the shine off it. On the way to the semis, we beat four inferior nations — all of them either tiny or very poor or both — and lost to the reserve team of the only half-decent country (also small) that we played. To have beaten yet another very small and poor nation to get to a World Cup final would frankly have looked like bullying. Croatia, on the other hand, have beaten Argentina, England and the host nation. That’s how you win World Cups.
 
2. It was better to go out fighting in a close match against a small country with no football league to speak of, than to beat them and go into a final against an actual footballing nation in front of the eyes of the whole world, and lose 10-0.
 
3. We were all able to get home after the match, driving through nice empty streets. Whereas if we had won, the streets would have been full of cheering drunken morons jumping on cars and we’d have been stuck in traffic till midnight. (I genuinely worried all through the game about getting my kids home from the party we were at in Dalston, and a little piece of me genuinely celebrated the Mandzukic goal because I knew we’d be able to get back okay).
 
4. Winning is vulgar and teaches us nothing. Losing builds character.
 
5. It’s in Russia, so it is all fixed anyway. Like Argentina ’78, Russia 2018 will be looked back on as a farce and whoever wins it, it won’t really count.
 
6. Kylian Mbappé is the player of the tournament, a teenager with pace, skill and intelligence (Harry Maguire is a nice lad with a hard forehead, but come on) and it will be good to cheer him on in the final in earnest, taking unalloyed pleasure in his genius.
 
7. Kyle Walker will probably get a Pizza Hut advert.
 
8. Nice girls on Twitter will stop going on about how the only thing this World Cup needs now is for darling little Raheem Stirling to score a goal.
 
9. There’s no pressure to go out and watch the final on Sunday on a big screen with a load of boozed-up morons throwing beer in the air. Now you can watch it as television is meant to be watched: at home, alone.
 
10. My dear friend David Baddiel will not now move to the top of the Sunday Times Rich List on the back of his Three Lions royalties.
 
11. Had we made the final, the BBC was planning to fly the surviving members of the 1966 team out there for it. They are mostly around 80 now and I’m sure a couple of them would have died from all the excitement, which would have been awful.
 
12. If France lose to Croatia it will be doubly humiliating for them. Being beaten by England would have been bad, sure, but there would have been some honour for the Frogs in defeat at the hands of a heavily-funded, big-hitting rival with massive international support and a glorious history. But to lose to a weeny nation of nobodies will mean nothing short of national disgrace. Huzzah!
 
13. I didn’t like where Gareth was taking the whole thing, talking in overtly political terms about the problems Britain is having and how his team was helping to heal the wounds. If England had won, I am pretty sure he would have mounted some sort of soppy Lib Dem putsch and we’d have ended up living under a mealy-mouthed, centre-left dictatorship with compulsory waistcoat wearing and inflatable unicorns for all.
 
14. It’s put a stop to all this nonsense about the glory of teamwork and how planning, collective spirit and hard work is more important than experience and individual flair. That was a terrible neo-Stalinist message to be putting out. It’s no surprise all the Corbynite snowflake whingers were so behind this England team, for it represented the total eradication of self-expression on which their dream of a socialist future depends.
 
15. It’s only 21 days till the English football season starts again. We need a break from the mania. And we need it to start now. Not next week. Now!
 
16. If England had got any farther in a week when BBC salary revelations restarted the gender pay-gap dispute, the spotlight would have fallen on players’ incomes and how the likes of Trippier and Rashford and Kane are paid considerably more than Winifred Robinson and Martha Kearney. Which is of course an absolute outrage.
 
17. We can finally stop the dreary, misinformed conversation about the “diversity” of this oh-so-special England team and how it is a better representation of the country at large than it has ever been in the past. As if the teams I cheered for in my youth were some ghastly collection of pasty-faced Nazis. In fact, England’s last World Cup semi-final in 1990 featured two black players out of 11 — Des Walker and Paul Parker — which was and is a very fair representation of the black-white ratio at home. And in most of the matches John Barnes started as well, making the team over-representative even then. So for a load of weepy white middle-aged media tarts to sit at home tweeting about how five or six black players in the side sends some beautiful message of diversity is frankly vomitous. It’s what everyone said about the French World Cup-winning team in 1998 and the country has been more or less in flames ever since.
 
18. I put £50 on Croatia at 33-1 before the tournament started (thanks to a fellow dad at the school gates to whom I said, “what’s a good long shot for the World Cup?”) so I stand to win £1,650 if we, I mean, they, pull off a miracle against France tomorrow.
 
19. Summer is for cricket, not football. The Test series against India starts in a couple of weeks. That’s proper sport, that is.

20. Look at how the memory of 1966 crippled our football team for half a century. Are you really telling me you wanted that to happen AGAIN?
Blairite Scum
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