Oh. Dear. A nation in near-mourning today, as England played last night as only England can. I’m pretty sure the BBC commentator said something along the lines of “It’s all going according to plan” at around the 40-minute mark, which – as E&T was watching the game late last night on BBC3 – seemed horribly ironic and irresponsibly prophetic. Whenever a commentator says anything like that or “This team has never won on this ground”, you just know that the historically underperforming team in question is about to lamp the opposition 4-0.
So with all due respect to the man, E&T sincerely doubts that Fabio Capello’s masterplan hinged on England goalkeeper Robert Green palming the ball in to his own net just before half time. “Howler” is the word du jour whenever goalkeepers make such a mistake. You have to feel sorry for goalkeepers, though – no matter how badly the team in front of him perform, as soon as the ball crosses the goal line, it’s all his fault. OK, in this instance, Green had to hold his hand up (and he did) to acknowledge full responsibility for the “glaring error” (another media phrase du jour, along with “horror show”, “blunder” and “gaffe”, a cursory Google news search tells me this morning), but look at the performance of Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama against Argentina earlier yesterday. He was like a one-man brick wall against what is supposed to be one of the tournament team favourites and one of the world’s best strikers in Lionel Messi.
Apparently, according to the Angola Press today, Enyeama declared that, “God is my secret. God made the difference. God kept me calm and helped me to play well. I thank God for my performance today.” I wonder if it’s too late for Robert Green, David James and Joe Hart to make time for Jesus.
Anyway, today we turn our panel’s predictive talents away from domestic concerns and focus on the supposed minnows in England’s group – Algeria and Slovenia. Although with last night’s result fresh in our minds, it’s looking like a whole group of minnows right now. England to beat Slovenia seemed like a walk in the park two days ago, didn’t it? Now if one of these two can collect three points today, they’ll be sitting pretty at the top of the group table with England playing catch-up. Ho hum, twas ever thus.
Here are today’s predictions from our panel:
- Dr Ian McHale, a Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Salford: “A win for Slovenia.”
- David Williams, head of PR at Ladbrokes: “A draw”.
- Chris Day, goalkeeper for Stevenage FC: “2-1 to Slovenia″.
- Laura Daligan, ‘psychic, artist and pin-up’: “For Algeria vs Slovenia, I feel Algeria are strong winners, possibly with an amazing second half comeback. I am seeing one player (possibly a water sign) stealing the show.”
I wonder if the Desert Foxes’ striker Karim Ziani is a water sign?
Incidentally, it was our stats man, Dr Ian McHale who predicted the result correctly yesterday, even though it pained him to say it at the time. Ah, the bittersweet victory, such complicated flavours.
Remember: this is just for fun and all predictions are for entertainment only. Any mortgages lost or other sums squandered based on the information supplied are your own responsibility! And yes, I will keep mentioning this every day (you see – I told you yesterday that I would).