Well that’s it. I can’t stand another penalty shoot out involving an England team. I listenned to the under 21 Euro Champs semi-final in the car on the way home from Brighton. The match itself wasn’t up to much but the drama of the penalties was just sensational on the radio. What must it have been like on TV? Carol had gone into Tesco’s to do some shopping for dinner when the penalties started. She literally got back in the car just as the final penalty had been scored. I just said England have just lost 12-13 on pens in a semi-final. She must have seen that look on my face, as if I’d just awoken from a recurring nightmare, and said ‘not again babe’. Oh yes it had happened again; England going out of the latter stages of a major tournament on bloody, bloody, sodding penalties.
I was at Wembley the night we lost to Germany at Euro ’96. It’s just so hard to take. I genuinely thought that night that there’d be a riot; the atmosphere was so horrible after the match. Such a gloriously incisive way to win but a savagely unforgiving way to lose a football match. And we keep on going out this way. Pearce said that his team had practiced penalties every day during the warm up and throughout the tournament. He would know the pain of course from not being prepared. And the training shone through as the team brilliantly executed their kicks. For once we were magnificent and ready for the challenge. But… so were the Dutch lads. Do they all have to look and act so bloody competently when it comes to taking pens against the English? Couldn’t one of these teams have a frigging off-day, just once? I mean 12 successful pens is pretty brilliant – at least for us. But they had to better us by one didn’t they!
Is it time for change? I’m not sure I could witness another shoot-out now. We’re just not going to win via this method. Shouldn’t the FA be lobbying FiFA and EUFA to change the method of deciding tied matches? I’m far happier knowing football matches get decided by the clock so for me playing an extra 15 mins until a winner is found would be preferable. There’s always the issue about things dragging on too long. But who’s complaining if a match lasts 2 and a half hours and it’s still compelling? TV I guess but let them deal with it. End it at 3 hours if need be with a count back on shots on goal, corners achieved or something but no more pens please. Our footballing tradition is all about battling not precision shooting. That’s just circus football like ball-juggling and we are and always will be crap at it – or at least 1 goal worse than every other team in international football except Spain and Scotland, who we hardly ever get drawn against. So come on Brainiac Barwick, get your emissaries to start their lobbying and get things changed in time for the next World Cup and Euro Championships. Poor old Stuart Pearce is probably never going to sleep easily again until we change things. You can’t ask a man to go through that wringer like he has and like we have done on, what, 8 occasions now?
Mind you if we’d won all those shoot-outs like the Germans I suppose, I’d probably love them. No I wouldn’t. When was the last time you saw an English guy try that fast run up and then dink it over the by-now prostrate goalie? Or to pass it forward to allow a team mate to run into the box and score like Henry and Pires attempted, albeit unsuccessfully? We just don’t so pens. So BB get some changes made or I’ll not be watching next time other than through my nail-bitten fingers.