I watch a lot of movies and often take a look at the comments posted by amateur reviewers on the Internet Movie Database, IMDb, website. Among the genuine reviewers lurk trolls and shills and a favourite opening sentence for an IMDb troll is, ‘That’s ninety minutes of my life wasted and which I’ll never get back.’ That sentiment exactly sums up my feelings after watching England’s finest play football against Scotland’s finest last night in the first stage of the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. The game was simply awful. It consisted of ninety minutes of ball passing, backwards and forwards, with virtually no shots at goal and absolutely devoid of any excitement. I liken it to the random scurrying back and forth of the ants in an ant colony. The players were running around in a seemingly aimless way looking for an empty spot and waiting for the ball to appear at their feet whereby they immediately passed it to another player waiting his turn. That’s all that happened. I’ve seen more excitement on a table football. England’s players were dressed in crisp white shirts, white shorts and long white socks looking more like a bunch of model wannabes for Calvin Klein men’s underpants than professional footballers. In fact, one of the players had dyed his hair white. I couldn’t figure out if he was truly albino or a ghost running around looking for his spot.
I’ve written about premier-style football before—Euro 2016: Portugal 1 France 0—that too was a boring game; and the 2015 FA Cup Final, what I called the pat-a-cake game. I understand and appreciate that the finer points of a game can only be understood if you were once a player (that’s certainly true of rugby) but any finer points in last night’s game were well and truly hidden. Reactions in this morning’s press are mixed. Scotland is praised for forcing a goal-less draw against England—praised?— whereas England is criticised for unimaginative play. Apparently, Gareth Southgate, England’s manager, defending his team’s performance said that it was more important to qualify through to the next round than to win. The man’s an idiot!
The only consolation I have is that during the first half of the game I found an unseen-by-me episode of the comedy TV show, Would I Lie To You?, on another channel and switched over thus missing around 20 minutes of the game. As a result, I only wasted seventy minutes of my life last night, not ninety.