Monday 30 June ~
Coverage of the Euro 2008 final has acknowledged that the best team won. So today's reports are positive and packed with Spanish puns. Much has been made of Spain's 44-year wait for a major trophy, a record which will be surpassed by England if they don't win the next World Cup. The English media were greatly appreciative of the fact that the winning goal last night was scored by a Premier League footballer. Once they'd acknowledged the “win made in Merseyside” the press indulged in some mass neurosis.
Many seemed inclined to overlook Spanish teamwork, skill and application in order to insist that there were no crucial differences between Spain and England in attitude and technique. The Mirror's Martin Lipton was determined to reference England in every paragraph of his report, beginning with: “They've been called the England of continental Europe, the great underachievers, the only real rivals we have when it comes to serial bottling.” Paul Hayward of the Mail opined at great length that England no longer had a friend in the “sleeping giants society”.
Most papers pointed out (as if it was strange) that Fabio Capello and his coaching team had been present at the finals and attempted to show what England could learn from the tournament – although this amounted to stating the blindingly obvious. Jamie Redknapp decided that a good mentality was important and that “Football can be won with touch, movement, quick feet and quick brains. It's not all about being a beast”. Alongside Tony Cascarino's thoughts that “aggression is the key... you have to be aggressive and proactive” the Times printed “tactical tips for the three lions” and stated that Capello will have “taken a a lot of information from the displays of Europe's finest”. This “information” included the conviction that you must learn from your rivals, that “balance in midfield is crucial”, “stars do not always shine” and a team shouldn't rely on set pieces. Hopefully Fabio Capello knows these things already.
For those not there Henry Winter's report in the Telegraph, which started and ended with the phrase “Fiesta time”, also gave an unwittingly depressing insight into the musical aspects of the Euro 2008 experience. Winter seemed fairly happy that You'll Never Walk Alone was played before the match, wondering whether it had inspired Fernando Torres, and concluded that Robbie Williams's Let Me Entertain You pounding from every speaker as Spain celebrated was a “good choice”. It's difficult to see how.