The Euro 2012 final was a lesson in peaking sports players and sports teams. Clearly Balotelli peaked in the Semi-final which was one game too early, and possibly so did Pirlo. They had less in the tank physically and mentally during the final. On the other hand, Spain had been accused of being dull, and did not beat Portugal easily. They peaked at the right time, the final. Tactics played a significant part, but the two teams had players performing well in different matches. If it was planned it was well done!
It was a cold evening, the wind was howling outside. I was in England, trying to relax after the busy week. Then came the call, one of THOSE calls. I knew by the pause before he spoke who it was. He took his time. “Kevin, I have a job for you, but it must be finished by Monday!”. His voice always alarmed me a little. He was a very small man, a little over 4 feet 6, and with his small frame his voice was light, sometimes you could mistake it for a young child’s voice. But there was always a tension in his voice, an air of demand. It was like a child wanting to get his way, except this man was much more threatening than any child.
“Monday he said, at the latest!”. He described the job to me. I didn’t want to do it, and under time pressure too. I didn’t have a choice. I owed him. Something he never let me forget. And he took his payback, frequently. This time the job didn’t seem so bad. My weekend would be gone. But I could do this one.
So I made plans, thought it through. If I kept sharp, kept focused, I could set it up Saturday, and make the “delivery” on Sunday.
It was a tougher assignment than I thought. There were problems. Unexpected people “in the way”. But I “sidestepped” them. By late Saturday night the set up was in place. A good night’s sleep, Sunday was going to be a long day….
And so it was, this assignment was nothing more than a hard grind, laying low, my only focus to get the job done as painlessly as possible. It’s true, other people suffered. I kept away from some others, I didn’t want them to see me in this world, see what I really did.
By Sunday midnight, it was complete, I’d done the man’s bidding. I called. “Good” he said, with little appreciation in his voice. “You did good”.
Did I want to do good for this man? -Maybe one day I’ll have a choice….
- Well it wasn’t quite like that but I was reminded on Twitter that in 1984, I wrote a game for a computer magazine that was published as a listing. It was called
“European Championship Cup”.
I did write it over one weekend, under time pressure to deliver!!
You can see about it here, and
In the Fifa World Rankings England are the 4th best European team. Yet expectations are low for the team, for a change.
So according to those rankings England should make the semi-finals. No-one is really predicting much beyond the group stage. So different and so much better for the team this time around. Will it change as they progress, and how far can they go?
Roy Hodgson is shrewd. He may not be the popular choice for the role, but he knows his stuff. And maybe, after Liverpool, he can tolerate the gratuitous personal insults that come with being England manager, that come no matter what your track record or ability is!!
Well the football season is over, but more excitement is to come. Euro 2012. I don’t know about you, but when I looked at this UEFA Euro 2012 calendar
- I thought I was looking at a Chinese tournament! (The title graphics)
So Roy Hodgson is the new England manager. He knows he has been handed a difficult job. Why? Because he knows Harry Redknapp was the popular choice, and he starts up against that. But the England manager is always in the firing line. And there is a certain sector of the press, a sector that loves to publicly humiliate people, who are just waiting to have a go.
So is he not as good as Harry, what is the difference? Roy Hodgson is more in the mould of Bobby Robson, who had his fair share of abuse, before eventually being treated with respect and honour. Why do I make that comparison? – Because both are polite, fairly quiet, dignified and technically astute. They both produce results rather than noise.
This is not disrespect for Harry Redknapp, who is a great manager and people person. And it seems to me he has not been treated well in this. He may not have been the right choice, though he was a popular one. But was he consulted, or more to the point, called along the lines of “We know people want you Harry, but this is what we are doing..”. Or was he just ignored, i.e. not so subtly put in his place. I don’t know the facts but, Harry’s comment-
“Life couldn’t be better, the sun’s shining, my health is good, I’m a very lucky man” – is true, and also sounds like a cover for disappointment.
In the end, it is a job thing, Harry was passed over for a promotion, and Roy got the job he wanted!