Euro 2012 – dreaming about you.
Now that was a nice distraction. All discussions around bail-outs and currency and interest rates and EU/IMF were concentrated on events on the football pitch in Poland and Ukraine over the past month. From the kick-off in Poland to the trophy being lifted in Ukraine all European matters revolved around football in my house. My 3 kids were driven to distraction by my demented warblings about the political situation in Ukraine. European history was discussed around whatever game took place. Russia and Poland – let’s talk about Glasnost – England v France – gentle rivalry across the channel – Germany v well anyone really and World War 2 raised its head. And then there was the Spanish – my son’s project on Spain became about Homage to Catalonia and how it was notable that the Spanish team don’t really sing the country’s national anthem (maybe like the Irish rugby team they could make one up……)
But what about the football?? I coach an Under 11’s team and have been drilling into them for the past couple of years the importance of passing the ball and trying to keep possession. Goalkeeper must roll the ball out and players must rotate all positions. If you don’t start a game one week you sure as hell will be starting the following one. It is all about learning the game and how to play as a team for these lads. Of course that means they make mistakes (the best way to learn) and they score less goals than the opposition in some games. But every game they do something worthwhile and it doesn’t involve any mirror image of the way Ireland or England played in the tournament.
How disappointing were the Irish and English national teams? I felt Ireland were going to have a torrid time as the three teams in our group were so superior but I had hoped that we could achieve something notable against them. I suppose we did this, but for all the wrong reasons. Least passes? Ireland, least shots on target? Ireland, most goals conceded? Ireland. Our neighbours across the Sea may have fared better with results (they finished the tournament unbeaten) but their football was awful. It was a worrying trend this season when Chelsea won the Champions League. I am all for the underdog but can’t accept Chelsea being the poor relation of Bayern Munich or Barcelona. They played a bad brand of football and the English national team played like them in the Euros. Thankfully Italy put paid to theat style.
Imagine saying that that about Italy, but they were great to watch – as were Spain. Every pass was a joy for me. I can now prepare for pre-season training with what will be the Under 12’s safe in the knowledge that it is ok to pass, it’ll pay dividends in the end. Stay true..