Lest you believe David Beckham’s 100th cap was the only interesting storyline coming out of England’s 1-0 friendly defeat to France yesterday, the Guardian’s Ben McFarland and Ben Doyle take time to consider the glass-is-half-full optimism of the losing side’s manager and captain.
Despite a performance as disjointed, lacklustre and senseless as a Rio Ferdinand soundbite about fireplace furniture, Fabio Capello (above) defied lazy national stereotyping and refused to throw the towel in just yet. “As I told the players, I’m happy about what they did,” he somehow deadpanned in a display of blind optimism not witnessed since Stevie Wonder insisted on playing that game where you have to get the metal hoop from one end of the wire to the other without it going “bzzzzzzzzzzzz!”.
“We made progress compared to the Switzerland game, even though we won that game,” he mumbled before not adding. “But on the hand, I’ve got four fingers and a thumb. I was in the attic the other day with the wife. Damp and dusty … but she’s great with the kids,” … and so on and so forth. Straightening his Fez and thrusting his arms down the sleeves of a suit jacket stuffed with doves, rabbits and linked handkerchiefs, Fabio added: “Another thing I’m happy about is that I made the team play in two different ways.” Sadly, neither of them were very good.
Despite “taking up the mantelpiece” of the England captaincy in rather uninspiring fashion, Rio Ferdinand was similarly upbeat: “You could say we took a stride forward in certain areas: the players were not scared to get on the ball, we were passing it very well at times, maybe without creating many openings but I’m sure that will come.”
Will it Rio? Will it really? Or is that nonsense coming from your curvy lips again? Still, the future may still be bright for England’s manager and players. Taking time out from clowning around with Bunsen burners, some white-coated boffins recently revealed that those with a sunny outlook on life tend to experience a 50% lower rate of early/premature death.