SWANNY'S WORLD OF SPORT: Relief as the preaching Welsh team return home
Thank goodness Cristiano Ronaldo decided to turn up to show Gareth Bale what a real superstar does by producing in the biggest games.
Wales’ departure from the Euros came as a welcome relief. I was getting sick of Bale’s smug face delivering non-stop digs at England. We’re quite capable of slaughtering our own team, manager and players, thank you very much.
I was also getting sick of being told who I should be supporting. Many Welsh people of my acquaintance believe they should be able to ridicule, humiliate and laugh at England, while expecting total support in return.
Sorry, life isn’t like that. The sight of Wales’ players celebrating England’s defeat at the hands of Iceland is one of the enduring images of these dull, over-long Euros, and not in a good way. Particularly as they tried to play down their immature excitement the following day,
The Welsh contingent should enjoy the moment (while realising going further than England in a major tournament is no big deal as virtually everyone has done it) but please stop the preaching.
Qualifying for one tournament as a lucky runner-up and then taking advantage of English incompetence to find themselves in the soft half of a draw does not all of a sudden make them tournament experts.
Wales played well against a weakened, disharmonious Belgium side, but they should enjoy their fun while it lasts because it will soon be over. I predict this is not the start of a glorious chapter in Welsh football, but a one-off bounce in form. Ultimately Wales went out with a whimper against Portugal and lost the only chance they will ever get of reaching a major final.
Only one team from the European World Cup qualifying groups automatically qualifies for Russia in 2018. For a team reliant on the availability of a couple of players that’s a concern.
But in one way Wales have provided an excellent service to English football.
Well, they have as long as any of the over-paid, clip-board-carrying, statistic-loving, behind-the-scenes dwellers at the Football Association are listening, which I doubt as they’re too full of their own self-importance to emerge from their bubble full of like-minded sycophants to find out what those living in the real world are thinking.
Well, they have as long as the multi-millionaire playboy prima donnas who made up the most pathetic team in English tournament history have been watching, which I also doubt as they’ve already started to react to easily-ignored Twitter taunts by flaunting their wealth in a series of luxury holiday snaps.
The Welsh have laid to rest the lie that our players are too tired to compete effectively in competitive matches in June and July. Bale and Aaron Ramsey have played as many important games as any Englishman and they were still able to break beyond a trot in the knockout stages of the Euros.
The Welsh have also exposed the myth that throwing a fortune at a highly-paid coach is a necessary evil to deliver success.
Chris Coleman has turned Hal Robson-Kanu into a far better player than Harry Kane on a fraction of Roy Hodgson’s salary.
Robson-Kanu, who will be a mid-table Championship player again next season, played with a smile and with bravado. In contrast Kane has been turned into a quivering wreck by Hodgson’s brain-dead tactics, most notably his use of inside-out wingers and the plodder that is Wayne Rooney in midfield.
England’s players were still getting kicked after their embarrassing demise against Iceland.
France’s demolition of England’s conquerors should have hurt Rooney, Joe Hart and the rest, but not as much as the success of Wales.
Every English player should have smarted at every Welsh victory, especially if they saw that childish reaction of Bale and co to the final whistle of the catastrophic Iceland match.
But I doubt they know or even care.
Their pampered lifestyles mean humility, shame or blame-taking don’t even exist.
We can expect stage-managed press conferences at the start of the Premier League season when those England players capable of string a coherent sentence together will pay lip-service to ‘making it up to the fans’, but nothing will change.
They’ll claim they care passionately about playing for their country, but in reality they will care more for the publicity, exposure and personal fame and fortune that England caps bring.
England will storm through a World Cup qualifying group and we will all fall for the hype and over-ambitious predictions before the inevitable collapse in 2018.
I just hope Wales aren’t there to laugh at us again.