You go abroad, and everything is just a little better. People treat well made coffee as an everyday occurrence, not some grand and noble quest that requires gentrifying Hackney and Peckham and a Twitter feed to record every minutiae of what is regarded as progress. When asked if they want to invade a country in the Middle East, again, most of them say, ‘Not really, thanks.’ They have nicer wine and they charge less for it.
It doesn’t work like that for international football, though. When you go abroad, you’re stuck with the England team, something that everyone watching and everyone involved with is on the verge of admitting is just a bit too much of a hassle. Two wins, no goals conceded, and still there’s plenty to argue about.
International football as a whole
Hatred is the lifeblood of football. Some people say it is competition and the thrill of seeing your own club succeed, and that’s just not true. Various forms of antipathy - jealousy, schadenfreude, rage, impotent rage, quiet rage, loud rage and drunken ramblings about referees - are all that football is about. Without them, you have international football. What is there to hate about Estonia? Who of San Marino can be laughed at when they score an own goal? Nothing and nobody. Tomorrow, the big match sees Hong Kong take on Argentina.
Burnley versus West Ham cannot come soon enough. No, wait. Newcastle versus Leicester City. No, wait. Man City versus Tottenham! Yes, that’ll do. For a second then the Premier League almost appeared to not be The Best League In The World.
He scored a goal, so he still can’t be dropped.
You have to hand it to Hodgson. If it wasn’t definitely beneath the man to do so, you would have to assume that he simply enjoys winding up Liverpool in whatever way he can, simply because he was out of his depth at Anfield, and treated fairly poorly by their supporters.
At the start of October he fell out with Brendan Rodgers over the fitness of Daniel Sturridge, who ultimately sat out of Liverpool’s games in the run-up to the international week and then missed the San Marino and Estonia matches. Hodgson then followed this up by letting the world know that Raheem Sterling had claimed to be too tired to take part in part of a training session, and others have said he might not have wanted to start the match.
For someone who reads, we are told, books and therefore is intelligent in a way that the general public simply cannot comprehend, it seems like Hodgson is unable to speak in a way that doesn’t cause uproar (see: Andros Townsend and the ‘space monkey’ speech), or that he’s trying to wind up one of the most important clubs in the country. Neither is encouraging.
5 Things We Learned From Estonia 0-1 England
Last week Sterling pulled out of a bit of some training that made up part of a portion of the week’s preparation for the game against Estonia. He said he was, according to Hodgson, too tired to play. As a result, possibly, we don’t exactly know, he started from the bench, and won the free-kick that resulted in Rooney’s winner for England. He did that after a substitute performance full of verve and energy, and so ultimately he had, er, given an essentially match-winning performance after not putting his fitness on the line for a bit of some training that made up part of a portion of the week’s preparation for the game.
As evidence mounts that players are concerned with the amount of football they must play each year, and as mental and physical health problems only become treated seriously when a player simply can no longer go on, Sterling now faces criticism for, as a teenager, recognising when he is at his limit and acting accordingly.
If that means missing a fraction of training in order to win the match for his side later, it’s hard to see what the problem is, or why so many people need to invent a story about it.
Are soldiers too tired?
But what is perhaps the least edifying trend to have come out of the Sterling tiredness crisis is not the papers, but the rank and file jerks on Twitter.
For all the jokes about soldiers deserving footballers’ wages, there were a few who, apparently seriously, asked if soldiers are given the chance to miss their work as a result of tiredness. Without researching the real answer, it’s reasonable to assume that ‘mild tiredness’ would not be an acceptable excuse. However, and please brace yourself for the following answer, as it is going to resolve years of arguments: being a footballer and being a soldier are different jobs that have different requirements, and the two aren’t analogous in any way.
Is that a funny answer? No, but then I receive neither soldiers’ nor footballers’ wages for my work, and am too tired to come up with a funny line.
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