You wouldn’t pay good money to watch ninety minutes of Norwegian grand chess master, Magnus Carlsen, would you?
Sure, he’s great at what he does, but it’s hardly riveting stuff. Carlsen’s not going to get you jumping out of your seat in sheer joy and wild abandon.
So my big fear is that watching Euro 2016 is going to be like sitting through every round of a bloody chess tournament.
The game at the top level is being increasingly dominated by the tactics board – and I blame the coaches.
Tom Watson, the first manager at Sunderland AFC, used to rub whisky on his player’s legs at half time to warm them up. That’s not as simple as it sounds, either, because they were probably all sparking up fags in the dressing room. But that was about as far is his coaching went, apart from the odd shout from the touchline.
Trouble is, many players today are thick as mince and couldn’t find the bog to piss in unless you pointed them in the right direction. They seem incapable to think for themselves because the coaches tell them what to do from the minute they get up.
I’m still a great believer in the Dutch ‘Total Football’ style of the 1970s (ask your dad) where any player could slot into any role in a fluid attacking motion across the pitch. When your week consists of nothing but training for a couple of hours in the morning then golf in the afternoons (if you’re not off buying a new sports car to pull busty model wannabes) then you should be capable of doing a job anywhere on the pitch.
Over coaching? It’s like watching eleven petulant kids and their pushy mother at an American beauty pageant, so I’m desperate for some country – any country – to prove me wrong and just go for it at the tournament in France. Lump the ball into the box and cause some chaos.
Because watching play being shuffled across the back four and going sideways through the midfield is like rolling your eyes as a chess player goes to move a pawn then hesitating and returning to a pensive, pondering position.
Former Aston Villa assistant Ray Wilkins used to get mocked as ‘the crab’ during his playing days at Manchester United as he kept playing sideways. Today, he’d be hailed a genius.
So come on, somebody please and give us some excitement and something to cheer; something to believe in. Please.