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The Antagonist - The lull before the storm

Published: 21 May 2010 - 10:51:43

As the domestic season winds down with a flurry of play-off matches, impending contract negotiations and rumours of close-season transfers, the build-up to the 2010 World Cup creeps up on us, almost insidiously.

In World Cup years, these next few weeks are often the lull before the storm. It's almost as if we all need to re-gather our strength after an arduous season before the emotional turmoil of the Finals wreak their havoc.

These are the times when we mark England's definite and potential match days on our calendars. Woe betides anyone who dares commit us to any social engagements on those hallowed dates.

We spend hours working out the possible permutations of fixtures which will lead England to their seemingly inevitable destiny on July 11th.

There is also the sometimes difficult decision about the chosen venue for watching the games.

Would we rather be cocooned in our own front rooms suffering the ecstasy and the agony of England's stuttering progress, unencumbered by the need for social nicety or do we prefer to share the experience with like minded fanatics in a pub or social club risking the chance of a beer shampoo or a sharp blow to the back of the neck from someone else's moment of uncontrollable joy?

When do we get the flags out? Do we wear an England shirt or is that just a bit naff and slightly hypocritical for a middle aged supporter who scoffs and jeers when he encounters other middle aged men in replica kit setting off on their summer holidays at Gatwick airport?

Do we take an optimistic view of England's chances, risking the possibility of inconsolable despair if they fall short, or do we take the Victor Meldrew approach, in which case a draw against Algeria will seem like the pinnacle of our expectations?

These are the sort of thoughts that are occupying English football fans all over the Country. If you thought you were on your own in this, think again.

Even the journalists appear to be in deep pensive moods, seemingly treading water and drawing breath in anticipation of the 'Big One' kicking off on June 10th.

'Carlo Cudicini has signed a new one year contract at Spurs', 'Nolberto Solano is to be offered a new deal by Leicester City', 'No violence from Millwall fans after their play-off victory against Huddersfield', exemplify some of the riveting reading earlier this week in our national tabloids.

Without the Triesman story and the Fabregas/ Barcelona saga there has been little else of substance to read about. One even wonders whether the former was precipitated by the genuine lack of anything else sensational to put on the back pages. I mean, who really cares if some old fart from the FA, who patently knows little about the game, succumbs to a bout of paranoia in a private (or so he thought!) moment.

I don't and nor, I imagine, do the rest of the nation. All we care about at the moment is the state of Wayne's groin, J.T's bruised toe and whether Fabio dare risk our most gifted keeper (David James) despite his propensity for Coco the clown moments.

This, traditionally, is the time for gentle contemplation before the real thing gets underway. At that point, maniacal behaviour will be the norm and people who normally wouldn't know their Fat Franks from their Stevie Gerrards will be seen shouting hysterically at their TV screens and then, shortly before half[time, ask which colour we are playing in.

For me, this is one of the most amazing spin offs of a World Cup. It engenders huge national pride and feelings of unity from the most unexpected quarters that few other events, other than, perhaps, a World War can illicit.

Personally, I think the overall benefits of a World Cup slightly edge out those of another World War.

On second thoughts, if recent form is the criterion, maybe I should reconsider my opinion!

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DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the antagonist
Love him or loathe him you cannot ignore the Antagonist. His Friday blog tackles the big issues in our game today in an abrasive, often controversial style. He goes where others fear to tread. From wages to wags, diving to drugs - no subject is "off limits", no individual beyond reproach. Miss him at your peril!

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