As an English woman, I am obliged to at least touch upon the harrowing mess that was Sam Allardyce’s first match in charge of my troubled country’s national football team.
Despite the wild provocation of the last twenty years, I’m not a subscriber to the theory that England’s relentless ineptitude has anything to do with who happens to be occupying the managerial piñata at any given moment, but it would be remiss say that Big Sam hasn’t made the effort. After a woeful ninety- five minutes in which England’s conquering heroes failed to register a shot on target until sixty five of them had passed, Adam Lallana finally bundled it through Matus Kozacik’s legs and the former West Ham, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Sunderland manager had this to say on Wayne Rooney.
“Wayne played wherever he wanted to. I can’t stop Wayne playing there.
I think that he holds a lot more experience at international football than me as an international manager. Using his experience with a team, playing as a team member, it’s not for me to say where he is going to play.”
It’s tough to see how a man who’s been in football for forty-eight years could so wilfully misunderstand his remit. So with a nod and a wink to Occam’s Razor, I’m going to ignore the most obvious explanation and swing wildly into the empty air with my big stick. Mind your face on the backswing. I’m notoriously clumsy.
Sam Allardyce, for all his bluster, is not a stupid man. His knowledge of football is deep and his experience extensive. He’s held in high regard by Sir Alex Ferguson, for goodness sake. In football terms, that’s essentially deification.
So might it be possible that Sam’s alluding to the fact that he’s not ‘allowed’ to dictate to Rooney, because Rooney is such an integral part of the England ‘brand’ he will play regardless of form or function? The selection process has been a source of much bafflement to England fans since the days of Sven Goran Eriksson and the unholy midfield trinity of Beckham, Lampard and Gerrard, who would have played for England in neck braces if Sven had figured out a way to sneak them past the medical staff.
Since those heady days of quarter-final glory, the same passive resistance to change has persisted, culminating in that humiliating exit to Iceland in the Euros. Of course, there’s an element of media pressure too – no one could ever accuse the British press of being supportive of our national team – but the consistency and egregiousness of England failures under as varied and palatable a menu of Eriksson, McClaren, Capello, Pearce and Hodgson is utterly inexplicable otherwise. It must run deeper.
Either that Sam was told to say something massively stupid to deflect attention from former Premier League referee Mark Halsey’s comments about officials and directives this weekend. Who knows?
Hands up who doesn’t love Megan Rapinoe…
*scans the room*
… excellent. We don’t have to waste any time going into how awesome she is and can segue directly into the USWNT midfielder’s latest act of slow burn; namely to offer her support to Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest. Before last night’s Seattle Reign match vs. Chicago Red Stars, she knelt on the pitch during the anthem, confirming later that it was intentional.
All the feels. All of them.
And finally, we’re obliged to offer this picture of Paulo Dybala crying because no one’s ever seen it happen before.
Dybala, who was sent off on debut during Argentina’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory vs. Uruguay, told the press:
“I don’t cry. At home nobody’s seen me cry. And now the whole country has. And the world.”
If it wasn’t for this picture of him playing football with a dog, we’d be inconsolable this morning.