Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Billy on the Box: There’s nowhere to Heidi for Fabio Capello

England manager Fabio Capello

I will do my best to finish this piece but I’m so tired after a long and hard season my arms and legs may just fall off, so I can empathise totally with the poor diddums in the England team.

I mean there are players who can rightly claim to be knackered, Ryan Giggs immediately springs to mind — living proof that giving up international football enables you to keep on going like the Duracell bunny.

For those lesser mortals who have to juggle what can be as much as a 16-hour week with the tortuous burden of a game for their country every couple of months, it was really unfair of Uefa, clearly siding with Fifa putting the boot into the FA, by making them play international powerhouses Switzerland at home last Saturday.

And where is Sepp Blatter from? Yes, that’s right, Switzerland. I’m spotting a conspiracy afoot here from those yodelling Toblerone fanciers.

I’m led to believe that Fabio Capello burst into the dressing rooms to find the visiting players peeling off masks and there sitting we had Messi, Xavi et al, sniggering at having pulled the wool over the eyes of mother football. They would have got away with but for those pesky stripy kits.

Not that I’m saying that England would be patronising or belittling about foreign football, not when they can call upon players from some of the world’s biggest teams — West Ham, Aston Villa and Fulham — the Swiss had 26 Cantonas to call upon so they were bound to be great. Oh, cantons, I stand corrected.

“Fabio has plenty of players trying to catch his eye today — like Darren Bent,” said a partisan Adrian Chiles as ITV waded into battle against the neutrals. Oh, Darren certainly did that, not many men can miss an open net from 10 yards with the keeper sprawling about the ground like an upturned tortoise, but Bent’s the boy.

Still, as long as things were okay at the other end, there was little to worry about.

“There’s a lot of confidence and I think it comes from the goalkeeper,” said Peter Reid, before Joe Hart became more like Tony Hart having morphed into Robert Green/Paul Robinson/David James (you get the idea).

The first goal was a belter, the second showing that at this level goalkeepers can run, but they cannot Heidi. I’ll get my coat.

Still, I’m not the only person saying silly things, Peter Drury, a former goat-herder, who clearly also owns the Big Boy’s Book of Switzerland, stating when the second goal went in that ‘England’s hill to climb is becoming Alpine’.

Gareth Southgate wins the prize though for stating that “Wilshere is the closest thing England have to the prototype emerging from the Barcelona academy.” I think we now know why Middlesbrough are where they are.

So, 2-1 behind at the break, halfway to humiliation at half-time, but cheeky chappy Chiles pulled off a pearler.

“So, as we were saying so confidently before kick-off, England have turned the corner, lots of bright new talent, glory almost certainly ours next season — we’re there,” he said, suddenly going up in my estimation.

“Tired legs, I’m getting tired of it,” he added at the end with a 2-2 draw and a degree of pride restored, and I worryingly started to nod in agreement, but like a stumbling three-legged Milka cow, he soon came crashing down again talking about the standard of the opposition.

“If the Swiss players were better they’d probably be playing in the Premier League and then they’d be as tired as us, so what do we want, players who are less good who don’t make it to the Premier League?,” he mused, as Gareth and Peter looked at each other nervously looking for a vat of emmental to dive into.

I’ve looked at their squad. Seven play in Switzerland, seven in Serie A, four in the Bundesliga, one in France and two in the Premier League, including Johann Djorou of Arsenal who fouled the new Messi to give England a penalty.

He was clearly tired after a long season.

And the FA wonder why no-one likes them? They must be cuckoo.

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