Tangled in the Web
Much like the defending on Saturday evening, the Blue Bell regulars left it to each other to find a way of watching the England match against Ukraine.
Following a lot of narked buck-passing by all and sundry, Tony Thompson organised a posse to scour the surrounding area for some sort of information technology that we night be able to plug into the telly. You've never seen so much computer hardware lugged in toa boozer before: I swear the word Amstrad appeared on more than one of them.
Cables that had apparently been cocooned in dust for a couple of decades were unwound and various ends were put in various sockets until the place looked like a particularly shoddy market stall.
Carly the barmaid's Aussie boyfriend works in IT and he eventually got it set up for us, but by that time no-one could quite commit £11.99 to watch the last 15 minutes of back-to-the-wall defending.
Yeah I know it probably worked out at 70p each but it's the bloody principle of the thing. Besides which, Brucie had just popped on to the box in the snug to remind us that the Beeb had the highlights.
It's a joke. How can the rights to show this game be costing an arm and a leg to your average punter? Of course the internet broadcasters are claiming the whole thing was a success but as far as I can tell the total viewing figures were about half a million which is, by the standards of a national terrestrial broadcaster, tiny.
You always got the impression that when Setanta were talking up the number of subscribers they had , it had more than a touch of the angler in the pub with his hands held wide apart to demonstrate the size of the minnow he threw back that morning.
A couple of mates watched in a cinema across town and said the experience had all the atmosphere of a teetotallers' whist drive. Plus the darned thing was freezing every couple of minutes. According to them, it was less like telly and more like a really bad slide show that managed to miss out the important images.
People have accused me of not exactly being at the cutting edge of new technology - we've only just stopped toasting the bread under the top grill at our house, I've never trusted them microwave things 'cos of the laughable way they churn out a jacket spud (less a jacket and more a cheap T-shirt), and I must have broken a dozen All-in-One remote controls by throwing the disobedient bloomin' things into the street.
But for goodness sake, England matches go on national telly! Normal, proper telly! If the utter Etonian Cameron wants to be Prime Minister he could do worse than start with that. ALL ENGLAND MATCHES ON PROPER TELLY!
Any road it seems that Capello's master plan continues to thrive. His team talk must've gone summat like this:
"We've got two games ahead of us that mean nowt so we'll tell the papers that we're committed to victory and then we'll get some real howlers out of the way. Rio, I want you to play with all the speed, pace and stamina of a Twiglet, son.
"Ashley, you know when left-backs suddenly fancy themselves as ingenious ball-playing Ronaldinhos and get horribly found out. No? Well you know your missus was kind of OK in the all-girl group but is foolishly trying to sing a fancy solo next week? Now's the time for that, fella."
(Incidentally, I dunno what it is about Cheryl Cole but I fully expect loads of couch-dwelling soppy males to write in to this blog protecting the saintliness of Mrs Cole and suggesting that not only is she a fine singer she's a lovely sweet person too..)
Anyway, back to Capello: "Jame-o - don't worry we'll find a way for you to get on the park and prove your worth. Emile, remember how people laughed when McClaren recalled you? Let's make 'em laugh all over again. Stevie, how's the groin? Of course it is. We'll give you 45 - frankly it's nice that you showed up at all."
What's reassuring is that the team knuckled down really well in the second half and despite the 10 men and the lack of importance, they were up for it. Clearly Fabio's got his message across and they're all genuinely feeling the need to keep working at it.
None more than Rooney, who was once again relentless. I'm quite pleased the lad's got the more-than-handy calf strain. We need him to heed the niggles all season if we don't want another premature hobble out of the big tournaments.
I'm sure that he'll somehow get fit by Saturday, mind. It's blinking miraculous what these Big Four physios can do.
Flares light up the sky in Ukraine
The throwing of flares was a bit unnecessary 'n all. The lads did well to avoid them - both on the pitch and as a post-match excuse.
In my day it was bog-roll and we were happy with that. You lobbed it on the pitch and no-one got hurt but the keeper had to do a bit of tidying while the ball was up the other end.
You'd never chuck things at your own keeper unless you were Man City fans with balloons at Bramall Lane and you had some sort of death-wish. Ahh, that was in happier times when Citeh were still a laughing stock. And Bryan Robson was the Blades' boss.
Someone said on Saturday night that he'd heard Robson was managing Tie Rack now. Apparently it's Thailand. I'm sure he'll know the difference.