skip to content

Des Kelly: Gerrard's all ours on England nights

More

23 Nov 2010 15:30:55

Des Kelly: Gerrard's all ours on England nights

Club managers do not pick the England team. Lord knows they would like to and some certainly try, but the day that officially happens is the day we might as well roll up the flag and have done with it. Right now we are pretty close. Which is why Liverpool's 'head of fitness and conditioning' (another way of saying 'physio') thinks he can rant, rave and dictate the terms under which one of England's senior players performs without being dragged off to the Tower of London in the middle of the night. Down and out: Gerrard suffers a hamstring injury late in England's defeat by France Australian Darren Burgess, the man at Anfield armed with a sponge, a bucket and an ultrasound machine, described Fabio Capello's decision to play Gerrard through the second half against France as 'amateurish, incompetent and absolutely disgraceful'. He added: 'Unbelievable from all associated with England and the English FA,' on Twitter, before smashing up his BlackBerry in a sulk. I sympathise with his frustration, if not the idiotic way he chose to express it. I also understand DES KELLY ON TWITTER Click here to follow Sportsmail columnist @Des_Kelly_DM Liverpool will suffer during Gerrard's month-long absence with hamstring trouble. Regular readers will know my views on the midfielder's outstanding contribution to the Anfield cause. But if an appearance for England really were the be-all and end-all for a player in the modern game, then we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Full commitment would be taken for granted and the consequences accepted. Sadly, it most patently is not. When a rugby union or rugby league player pulls on the international jersey, it is the pinnacle of his career. Nothing else matters. It is the same mindset in the world of cricket and just about any other professional or amateur sport you care to mention. But in football, it's about money. International matches are regarded as an inconvenience beyond the insane spikes of interest around major tournaments every two years. Hiding to nothing: Fabio Capello Be honest, I'll bet many of you didn' t even see Gerrard' s departure. By then, you would have switched over to The Apprentice after England's dire struggles in the first half, which is why the BBC reality show topped the football in the ratings. The public obviously decided they'd had enough of a bloke looking on with a face like a walnut soaked in vinegar as his hopefuls failed with the simplest of tasks. So they turned over to another bloke looking on with a face like a walnut soaked in vinegar as his hopefuls failed with the simplest of tasks. But the idea that Jay Bothroyd, plucked from Cardiff City in the Championship, would ever solve England's problems on the international stage is like expecting the Apprentice buffoon Stuart Baggs to become Chancellor of the Exchequer and lead the country out of recession. RIGHT TO REPLYThe Premier League has written to Blackpool boss Ian Holloway seeking an explanation for his decision to make extensive changes for the games againstAston Villa and West Ham. To help, I've drafted his reply. 'Dear Premier League. I made changes to the Blackpool teambecause I am the Blackpool team manager. Yours Sincerely etc.' I think that should cover it, Ian. What choice did Capello have, though? Friendlies are a hiding to nothing for an international manager. They are supposed to provide an opportunity for a team to gel and offer a framework for new prospects to be gradually introduced. Instead they are an exercise of picking whoever from whatever turns up and pretending valid conclusions can be drawn from the muddle. At least Capello has tried to salvage some of the importance of these games. Under Sven Goran Eriksson, the England team were built around half-baked compromises and cameo appearances that were simply not worth paying to watch after half-time. But here's the rub. People still do pay to watch. Instead of hitting the remote control button at home, 85,495 made their way to Wembley on a cold, wet, winter's evening. Even with the numbers bolstered by subsidised tickets, it is still a miracle of faith when you consider what is usually on offer. It ranked as the largest international attendance on the planet that night, with 52 other countries in action around the world. For that, the public deserves to see an England team that is more than a gaggle of leftovers. For that, they deserve to believe everyone involved thinks it matters. And for that they get to believe Gerrard is not Liverpool's for a night, but England's.  Sorry FIFA, you're an apology for a ruling body I'm sorry, but have you written your apology to FIFA yet? If not, get on with it. Apparently we have a lot to say sorry for. Those sensitive FIFA delegates are about to cast their World Cup final votes and it's not a decision based on logical, objective criteria, such as whether the stadiums will be ready in time. No, the delegates take more important factors into account; such as whether the chocolate on their hotel pillow has melted, the wife gets a free handbag, or some nasty Press man might mention they are as bent as Uri Geller's Meccano set. After a Sunday broadsheet unearthed enough evidence to shame FIFA into banning two of their executive circle and four former committee members for a total of 16 years it was deemed terribly embarrassing. Not for FIFA, but for England. SECRET OF SUCCESSBolton Wanderers are the success story of the season so far. Manager Owen Coyle has transformed their style of play and they are even daring to dream of Europe. But Coyle might have another secret weapon to unleash on the Premier League. In a midweek friendly against Cliftonville, one surprise name had a goal disallowed, set up Ivan Klasnic for the first goal and then scored the second himself with a deft chip. His name, Coyle, aged 44. The manager should give him a run out. Luckily, our 2018 bid committee is on permanent call to tug a forelock and express deep regret for the fact that events like this are not hushed up as they would be in Russia, for example. One of the bid team was even said to be ready to flagellate himself (don't worry mother, it's clean) on the steps of FIFA's Zurich headquarters in a show of penance. The same bid chiefs are now accusing the BBC of being 'unpatriotic' for scheduling a programme about FIFA's murky past before the final vote. The 2018 campaigners are demanding that a repeat of Ronnie Corbett's sitcom Sorry! is shown instead. But this is not enough. England must apologise to FIFA for so much more. Let's start with the fact that we just don't do proper riots these days. Not like the Russian fans that clashed with police in St Petersburg while another mob smashed the goalposts and tore out seats at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Perhaps we should also apologise for the fact that we don't embrace football racism like our Russian rivals do any more? They taunt black players with bananas painted on giant banners, certain Russian clubs dare not sign black talent for fear of a supporters' revolt - and yet here we are apologising about how our media highlights a history of corruption? It's madness. The International Press Institute reports that Russia is the most dangerous country in Europe for working journalists. 'Reporters Sans Frontieres' ranks Russia 140th out of 178 countries for freedom of expression, 10 places below Iraq, because of the dangers posed by criticising those in positions of power. That is why FIFA receives a better press in Russia. It's not necessarily because journalists are more 'patriotic', but because they might get a bullet in the head for their troubles. I hope England 2018 are sorry about that too.  Did Haye misquote himself? Boxer David Haye boasted that he, his family and friends had cashed in with a massive bet on his third-round victory against the Cowardly Lion. 'I put money on the third round,' said Haye. 'A lot of my friends and family did too - ask around. I told everyone I'd KO him in three.' So I did ask around. Someone ringside told me Haye had slapped £100,000 on the outcome, although it was just a rumour. Still the champion: David Haye Butsince the champion was also the promoter and matchmaker, fighting a professional pacifist and 'former friend', it was all beginning to stinklike a wheelie bin at Billingsgate Market. During a binman's strike. Ina heatwave. ONE TO ONEOn the same day that Jason Manford, presenter of The Do-You-Fancy-A-Quick-One Show, wisely closed his Twitter page, Tiger Woods launched his own online account. Clearly cyberspace, like nature, abhors a vacuum. On hearing he was acting illegally, Haye sought to clear matters up. He announced he hadn't had a bet after all, thereby becoming the first sportsman ever to insist he had been misquoted by himself. Influential promoter Frank Warren threw his clout behind my call on BBC 5 Live's Sportsweek for the British Boxing Board of Control to hold an inquiry. The BBBC sprang into action with secretary Robert Smith saying: 'If Haye had admitted it, he would've been in breach of the regulations, but he has denied it. We'll carry on as normal.' So that's the extent of the investigation. If you don't confess you're in the clear. It's not exactly the Spanish Inquisition, is it?  The ECB have released a video of the England cricket team doing a 'crazy' dance called The Sprinkler. It is apparently designed to demonstrate how relaxed and happy the camp is as the first Ashes Test approaches. It is undoubtedly encouraging to see England in good form. But personally, I'd save any dancing for the cameras until victory is sealed. A series win in Australia can never betaken for granted. It's a bit premature to be taking the, er, sprinkler.  I'm behind you, gaffer! Torres backs under-fire Liverpool boss HodgsonUnder-pressure Grant praying West Ham can break 47-year Anfield hoodoo  Explore more:People: Frank Warren, Ivan Klasnic, Ian Holloway, Fabio Capello, David Haye, Jason Manford, Tiger Woods, Ronnie Corbett, Jay Bothroyd, Robert Smith, Owen Coyle, Steven Gerrard Places: St Petersburg, Moscow, Liverpool, London, France, Australia, Iraq, United Kingdom, Russia, Europe, Tower of London


Daily_Mail

Sponsored links

advertisement

Related Liverpool News

advertisement

advertisment