For the first time in 56 years, an England team played football and not long-ball.

Voices Monday, June 23, 2014 - 05:30
By Sumon K Chakrabarti “Ya Boom - Pine...apple wine - ya dollar fifty all da time  Ya Boom - Pine...apple wine - ya dollar fifty all da time  Turn 'round and let me see ya Turn 'round and let me see ya Ya Boom - Pine...apple wine - ya dollar fifty all da time” “The Pineapple Song (Movie: After The Sunset)” Wonder how all the raving and ranting has ended. But then how can it end? It’s the Three Lions after all and the stakes are too high. After all, Roy Hodgson presided over England's worst World Cup in 56 years. They were in the group of death in Brazil and the footballing gods were not on their side. But I find it amusing that from legend Gary Linekar to the outlandish former manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, everybody is busy putting the last nail on Hodgson’s coffin. But the fact is simple. For the first time in 56 years, an England team played football and not long-ball. The fact is that an England team was brave and played electrifying football with a style and swagger that was bold, beautiful and apt in Samba nation. Having despised the English styles since my footballing birth, their performance in Brazil reminded me of The Pineapple Song from the Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek starrer “After The Sunset”: “I got a new dance Hot like pepper-pot From the old to the young Gonna make your body rock” Because Daniel Sturridge lit the field with his silky tricks, Raheem Sterling danced in the midfield and Wayne Rooney played with flair and fire, and the likes of Adam Lallana and Jack Wilshere promised a different England in the future – an exciting England. The only frailty in Hodgson’s tactics – playing Danny Welbeck in the hole behind a striker. It failed because Welbeck is not the man for the season and England only lost because their defence was awful. But for the first time ever, the English FA has taken the bulls by the horns and was not swayed by manufactured popular perception. They have stuck to Hodgson! With Theo Walcott, Lallana, Sterling, Ross Barkley, Wilshere, Rooney and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in ­attacking roles, England’s Golden Generation is just about coming to the fore. Dread them, because if you ignore them, you might be taken by surprise soon. ********* And after a long drought, France is also turning it on even without Franck Ribery, voted the world's third best player just six months ago, and the footballing gods seem to favour them. In South Africa 4 years back, the team imploded in an open revolt against a insipid manager Raymond Domenech. But if you know French footballing history, its not form and fitness but the morale and bonding in the squad which make the team soar. It’s an old story of rhino-sized egos that have hurt, divided and combusted French dressing room since their World Cup victory in 1998. Players either hated each other or their manager. In Japan and South Korea, the team arrived in Asia as defending champions and shared the same fate as Spain in this World Cup -they did not even make it to the knockout stages. In Portugal at the 2004 Euros, where legend Zinedine Zidane was at loggerheads with Robert Pires and Les Bleus lost to Greece in the quarter-finals. And then in 2006 and 2010, it was the baffling choice of the Raymond Domenech that ensured that never beat the wall nor the woodwork. Domenech was bad as a coach and manager and a talented Les Bleu under the leadership of Zidane refused to speak to him 2006 while in 2010, could not even score a goal in three group-stage games as Nicolas Anelka insulted Domenech, was sent home and the players went on strike, and disgraced the whole country. What we see in Brazil is a mesmerizing Les Bleus. It justifies coach Didier Deschamps’ decision to leave out in-form playmaker Samir Nasri. The camaraderie within his squad is reflected in the cohesion demonstrated on the pitch – they have eliminated the cliques and the way they have clicked, its already sent shivers down other teams. And as the Les Bleu revel in entente cordiale, I am again reminded of “The Pineapple Song”: “A young man broke his leg  Old granny broke her back And Jimmy got a migrane from a falling coconut The doctor was confused He has a solution - a bottle of the apple wine was his prescription It cured da broke leg It cured da bad back It cured da migrane - even cured da heart attack The people started jumping 'Cause they were feellin' fine The city's greatest sin was the boom-pine-wine All youv'e gotta do is just move your waist line Move it to the left and then move it to the right Move it up and down and then move it all around Shake to the world as the sun goes down” Sumon is a Journalist and Football fanatic.
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