So, Harry Redknapp, eh? A few months ago all was falling before him, Tottenham were being excitedly mentioned in the same sentence as phrases like “title race” and “best team for years” and the man himself, well his ascension to the England manager’s job was a mere formality. And then it all blew up, hilariously and explosively, Spurs dropped like a stone and Harry’s cheeky chappy image dissolved as each week his attempts to pull the nose up on his bottling squad failed miserably.
And what I find particularly satisfying is that conventional wisdom is only partially correct when it says that Tottenham’s misfortunes began when the England manager’s job became available and good old ‘Arry was being paraded by the newspaper that he works for as the only possible replacement (a columnist in the most high profile football job in the country, they must have been wetting themselves at the prospect). The distraction was too much for them, people say but I think there was one other factor that gets overlooked a lot.
You see, Tottenham live for the hope of getting the better of Arsenal, and last season I really believed at one point they were going to get their wish, and when they finally had it within their grasp – 2-0 up against us in our own ground, set to extend a ten point lead over us, we brought it crashing down for them. Bacary Sagna scored that memorable header with the even more memorable “right, fuck this” celebration, and that was our cue to stick five goals past them. They were crushed on the day, and they remained crushed for the rest of the season. You can talk about the distraction of ‘Arry and the England job if you like, but I don’t think they ever recovered from the pasting they suffered at our hands that day, and as a result Harry Redknapp now has plenty of time for his column writing and is now just another Spurs manager that has unremarkably come and gone during Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal. Bring on the next one.
Anyway, to footballing matters and what about yesterday’s Euro 2012 results? The “Group of Death” lived up to its billing as it would appear one of the major contenders for the championship are out after Holland lost a second match consecutively, going out to what looked a very good German team indeed from what I’ve seen. Mario Gomez confirmed that he’s a much better player than what we saw from him against Chelsea last month and he was supported by sheer efficiency and quality. They might be young, but there’s no doubting that they’re German.
Of course there’s always the peril of peaking too early at these tournaments, the first team to show real quality is rarely the one that wins the tournament but to me the Germans look on a single minded mission to dominate Europe. Errrrrrrrrm…. well they look very good anyway.
The other game was a bit tasty as well if the highlights that I’ve seen are any indication. Portugal’s 3-2 win over Denmark leaves qualification from the Group of Death a very interesting question. Germany of course are in no peril at all but Portugal and Denmark now sit on three points apiece. The impressively well drilled Danes now face a German side that can afford to change things up a bit and take their foot off the gas, although that doesn’t sound very German. The Portuguese for their part must take on a Holland team that desperately needs to salvage something from their performance at this tournament. It’ll be a curious last day, that’s for sure.
Today’s games look fairly interesting. The Republic of Ireland’s David-and-Goliath encounter with Spain is bound to generate a lot of neutral interest. Ireland’s loss to Croatia in the first game means they can’t afford to lose to the world champions today, and though many wouldn’t give them a prayer, it’s the sort of occasion that every now and then goes down in folklore as an incredible upset. Even a draw would leave them some hope of qualification, so who knows?
Italy Vs Croatia is a very interesting game indeed in my book. I like the cut of the Croatian jib personally and although they were quite credible against Spain, Italy are always good for a suspect result in the group phase of a major tournament and I think there’s a surprise in the making in this game. I’m going to stick my neck out here and predict a Croatia victory, maybe we’ll even see our old pal Eduardo on the scoresheet.
So far I have to say, Euro 2012 has been a success. The threat of racist chanting has been there just below the surface throughout but it hasn’t really risen to the fore apart from that Dutch training session and I think there was the question of some chanting during Spain Vs Italy. I wouldn’t seek to downplay the significance of some incidents but it is important to keep these things in perspective, they have been the result of the behaviour of a minority of idiots. The football has been very enjoyable, and the overwhelming majority of fans have gone along and had a great time in the stadiums and in the host countries by the looks of things.
There was the incident before Poland Vs Russia where there was violence on the way to the ground but I think the Polish government were possibly a little misguided in allowing the Russian fans to hold a hugely provocative march through the city. Though the majority of decent fans let it be, I don’t see how the authorities ever thought that such a thing would fail to attract the attention of the idiotic hooligan element. Still, it was an isolated incident, and the actual match, Poland Vs Russia was one of the standout occasions of the tournament so far, and far from the poisonous atmosphere I expected to see in the ground, all the fans seemed to showcasing themselves. I’d have loved to have been there to see all those Polish fans singing and waving their scarves firsthand, as it was their equaliser got me out of my chair in celebration. More games like that please!
So, let’s hope today brings more excitement and quality, do take it easy and I’ll return soon.