Belfast Telegraph

Don’t blame the WAGS if England fail in World Cup

By Jane Graham

I’m no great admirer of the Alex Curran/Colleen Rooney way of life but the tone with which footballers’ wives and girlfriends are spoken about by ‘respected’ men of football these days is ignorant, delusional and offensive.

It’s easy to shake your head at stories of Queen WAGs like Coleen spending £900 in 10 minutes on Gucci shoes and to laugh at pictures of a tangoed Alex tottering through Liverpool with seven designer bags and heels higher than husband Steven Gerrard’s football socks ... yeah it’s easy, and that’s why I can happily while away an hour doing it.

But while I might roll my eyes and feel superior with the best of them, the truth is that the WAGs are just ordinary women who hooked up with extremely rich and famous men, and responded accordingly. They’re not role models, but they’re not nasty or dangerous either. The worst thing they’ve ever done is spend lots of money, babble gibberish and dress in classless outfits. Hardly hanging offences.

Yet lately we’ve been hearing numerous men — men in positions of power and leadership, the kind impressionable chaps put on a pedestal — talking about these women as if they were a disease threatening to curtail the brilliance of their male partners.

England manager Fabio Capello actually referred to them as ‘a virus’ and has banned them from being anywhere near their footballer spouses for more than a couple of hours a week during the Wold Cup.

England hero Geoff Hurst gave Capello his backing, admiringly comparing his approach to Hurst’s old manager Alf Ramsey who once “physically prodded (Hurst’s) wife in the chest and said, ‘We're not going to Mexico for your benefit — we're going to win the pot'.” Charming bloke. Of course numerous (male) commentators have long blamed the presence of the WAGS on England’s mediocre performance at the last World Cup.

Even onetime England captain Rio Ferdinand said the “circus” they created was a serious distraction for the poor lads trying so hard to stay focussed on their million-paying jobs.

Pictures of Frank Lampard’s ex-wife Elen Rives — gasp! — dancing on a table at a party (which her husband didn’t attend) shocked and disgusted sports journalists, who one can only assume have never seen the likes on their nights out with premiership footballers.

Well, we know how low-key and classy the likes of Ashley Cole and John Terry like to keep things. If only these pure-white footballing geniuses could be kept from the corrupting influence of the evil leech known as Woman!

Let’s just step back onto planet reality here. England didn’t do well in Germany because they weren’t good enough, not because the team had their wives near them. If anything created a circus, it was the moronic, salivating, greedy paparazzi pigs who chased the WAGs around, not the girls themselves, who did nothing more than go shopping, enjoy a few drinks and let their hair down the odd night.

The truth is, these men, like many other hard-working guys in vaguely decent relationships, benefit daily from the influence and companionship of a good woman. They are pampered and comforted, supported when disappointment hits, and even, in the best relationships, inspired to be better at what they do.

And most important of all, they represent a readymade foil to blame if, after four years of self-delusion, the men yet again fail to walk it like they talk it.

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