The Premier League season has only been over for a matter of weeks but already major football action returns today, with the 2012 European Championships set to kick-off in Poland later this afternoon, following months of anticipation.
However, amongst all the hype it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that nothing is every really perfect – and in typically cynical fashion, here we are to point out a few of the things that may have you burning newspapers and throwing bricks at your TV over the next few weeks.
After Chelsea squirmed their way towards Champions League victory last month, we thought that we’d be able to enjoy our summer without the mindless verbal vomit of Adrian Chiles and Co. Sadly, we forgot the Euros were on their way. This means that we’ll have to watch every game that ITV broadcast with our fingers on the mute button as we place bets with our friends on which match-winning goal that ITV sweep aside so that they can run a Honda advert instead. You’ve not forgotten what happened at the World Cup, surely?
While most of us have already got the Domino’s Pizza number on speed-dial ahead of England vs France on Monday evening, we’ve first got to put up with an incredibly drab opening tie before the meaty stuff kicks off good and proper. The curtain-raiser for Euro 2012 sees the unfancied co-hosts Poland take on a Greece side that’s got less entertainment value than a wall of wet paint. Choose your games wisely.
Before a ball has even been kicked, the vultures of Fleet Street are circling on the new England manager. Roy Hodgson has made a career on being a capable, rational and tactically astute coach – of course once you take the England job, those qualities are thrown right out of the window and burnt by a mob of blood-seeking journalists. The reality is that England have been dealt a terribly difficult group, they’ll be without their best player for two games and the squad’s harmony is in question due to issues of captaincy and race abuse by a senior player. The common factor? All of this gained notoriety in Fabio Capello’s reign. Hodgson deserves a medal just for taking the job.
He may not have been picked to play in Euro 2012 (despite the infamous “best midfielder in the country” statement), but this doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to avoid the pantomime villain of English football this summer. Wherever major football stories go, Joey Barton follows with his Blackberry, Twitter account and bucketloads of inane, egotistical opinion. We could all wonder how Barton will manage to incorporate the works of Nietzsche in his Euro 2012 analysis – or we could just choose not to care.
The rain-soaked cloud hanging over the European Championships this year is the issue of potential racism in the tournament’s host countries of Poland and Ukraine. Sky have spiced things up with a meaty documentary looking at Eastern Europe’s football gang culture, while the normally conservative BBC have aimed a fully-loaded Panorama documentary right into the faces of Ukraine football officials. Racism does have the potential to undo this tournament – let’s just hope that the Hollywood-style disaster coverage that our media has presented prior to this event doesn’t increase the influence of this minority even further.