- 18 May 06, 01:05 PM
FARO - Even when England are indulging in a spot of relaxation and team-bonding the media pack is never too far away although at least we were invited by the FA to enjoy a day on the Algarve, unlike the paparazzi who've been holed up in the sand dunes all week hoping to snap something which might interest someone somewhere.
They must have been gutted that Coleen and Victoria aren't here although the absence of big names like Rooney, Beckham and Gerrard and the FA determination not to over-expose Theo Walcott made it an unusually low-key afternoon although that will all change when the circus rolls into Baden-Baden in a couple of weeks.
Which prompts me to ask are the fans as obsessed with the minute detail of a World Cup campaign as we appear to be? On my first day as England reporter at Euro 2004 I did a 15-hour shift in which the sole topic of conversation was John Terry's tight hamstring which made him a doubt for the first game. Were the nation as gripped as we were?
At least there are some proper injuries to speculate on this time. By the time Michael Owen had got to the radio reporters via half-a-dozen TV crews and a table full of the written press his monologue on his fitness was word-perfect. Wayne Rooney must be relieved he's still in the oxygen tent to aviod similar grillings. We also learnt how John Terry is getting ready for the arrival of twins and just what a nice bloke Peter Crouch is even though he was the only member of the squad not to complete the 'crossbar challenge' in training.
Just when it seems nothing really newsworthy was happening there was a commotion during Sven's media conference. Chairs, tables and anyone under 12 stone went flying as photographers scrambled to get a decent shot. Had Rooney arrived to announce he would be fit? Had Big Phil popped in to say he'd had a change of heart? No, Theo Walcott and his girlfriend were using the hotel cash-point. Roll on Germany...........