Thursday, May 15, 2014

Meet the Team: England

File:England selection crest.png
I know...the 10 Tiny Roses!
Nickname: The Three Lions are so called because their logo has three lions on it. Okay, so it wasn't the most challenging nickname development process, but at least it's not another obvious color nickname.

Star: It's time for the second of the four soccer players your non-soccer-fan friends might know about: Wayne Rooney. A man as well known for his goal scoring acumen, as for his omnipresence in Nike commercials, his public persona and pleas for transfers, and his alleged sexual indiscretions. The source of all credit for England's triumphs and scapegoat for all their struggles, if you ever refer to English soccer just focus on saying "F*ing Rooney"--either sadly if they lose, or proudly if they win.

Hip-Star: Identifying an under-the-radar English player is a little like identifying a under-the-radar member of the Beatles. On a recent trip to Denmark the big 5 British teams (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester Utd and Manchester City) employed 17 of the 28 players (2 of those others were third/fourth string keepers). Since so many eyes are on Rooney up top I'll stick with Phil Jagieleka who serves as an excellent defender, plays for lesser renowned Everton, and comes from Polish ancestry. Let's go ahead and call him the George Harrison of the group.

The Economist, Snarkily photo-
shopping since forever.
X-Factor: While the Premier League is the highest profile league in the world, it also is the most globalized league in the world. That's great news for the bosses who sell broadcast rites around the world, and apparently terrible news for enemies of globalization in football. After all, globalized Premier League Rosters mean more foreigners in England, and fewer opportunities for local English players. If England fails this summer you can count on some people blaming the globalized league for retarding the growth of the English players. (If they succeed...then they'll blame the globalized leagues for something else..)

Coach: Why anyone would want to be England's manager escapes me (in American terms it's like the scrutiny for managing the Yankees, coaching Notre Dame football and running for President), still Roy Hodgson has the job, has committed to building the young players up for future glory, and seems happy with it...for now...

History: Fun fact, did you know the English really, really, really like soccer? Like a lot? Probably because they helped invent and popularize it around the world? And yet they've only won the World's biggest event one time (1966) and since then have been consigned to floundering also ran status in a way that makes them nothing so much as the Chicago Cubs of World soccer.

Food: While working in former colonial outposts of the British Empire, I have often been excited to see signs offering "PIE". I expect, naturally, a warm and fruity desert. Then bite in to find a savory meat/vegetable combination...disappointing if you expect fruit, quite delightful if you are in the mood for deliciousness. So all hail the Pie or Meat Pie (if you prefer specificity) or Cornish Pasty.
Seriously, that's how Farage laughs

Fool: Remember what I said about hating globalization? Yeah, that's the rallying cry of the Independence Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage who wants England and the whole of the UK out of the EU and stricter quotas on immigration. It's less a racial issue and more a European all the Italians, Spaniards, Russians and Dutch running the biggest clubs in England are a real favorite

Best Case: In England's wildest dream they top their group, knock out Chelsea run away Didier Drogba in the Round of 16, stun Spain in the quarters, unveil the man behind the curtain by curtailing Lionel Messi and Argentina in the semis and then grab the cup by demolishing either rival Germany or host Brazil. Then Sepp Blatter comes to them crying and pleading for them to take the 2018 Cup away from the conniving, invading, spooky Russians.

Worst Case: In England's most recurring dream, they cannot stop prolific Premiership scorers past (Mario Balotelli--Italy) or present (Luis Suarez--Uruguay), and then get worked over by Costa Rica for good measure to send them home with zero points in three tries.

My prediction: When it comes to England and the World Cup two things are certain. 1) They could be great; 2) They'll get in their own way. I'd bet on an opening loss to Italy to make the press frantic, and then a rally of results to first qualify for the second round, and then best Ivory Coast before bowing to Brazil in the Quarterfinals.

Added Bonus: The hottest thing in English hip-hop right now is "Grime" style, led by top seller Plan B and one of his biggest albums "Ill Manors"

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