Friday, 28 June 2013

Le Tournoi, 1997

Read an interesting nostalgia piece in the Guardian yesterday about Le Tournoi, 1997. Remember it? The forerunner of the Confederations Cup? Staged in France as a rehearsal for the following year's World Cup? It featured France, Brazil, Italy and England. And, bloody hell, England won it!

Look at the youtube footage of England beating Italy 2-0 and it makes you realise just how dynamite Paul Scholes was. Interesting that when Scholes retired (the first time) a couple of years back, the leading Spanish and Italian players all came out and declared him to be the greatest English player of his generation.

How come no England national manager recognised this? I find it utterly mystifying that he was never used as the linchpin around which the England team revolved, a succession of coaches preferring the more media-assured Gerrard, Lampard and (yawn) Beckham. Sven played Scholes on the left wing. Two successful European Cup campaigns, multiple Premierships and assorted Cups for Manchester United, all with Scholes as the fulcrum. Did no one notice? Alex Ferguson was no mug. So missed was Scholes, they had to bring him back.

I also felt sorry for coach, Glenn Hoddle, dismissed for remarks in a phone interview that were never recorded or substantiated. Unpicking someone's religious beliefs all boils down to a nonsensical debate about angels dancing on a pinhead. Would the FA ban Catholic players because of their belief in Original Sin? Utter nonsense.

Look at the England squad then. Look at England now. Quite sad really. If there's a self-destruct button, be sure the FA will always push it.

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