For someone who purports to love football, I am struggling to enjoy the games at Euro 2020. Not all of them, just most of them. The England games, I revert to nervous wreck watching mode, for the rest, not so. I try to latch onto a team to support but more often than not I find myself latching onto a team hoping they will lose. This flies against everything I have been trying to do in recent years, gradually removing the hate from my head. It’s not healthy.
Take tonight’s match between Wales and Turkey. I had no reason for wanting either team to win. I have been to more games than I care to remember watching Welsh sides who often hate the English teams more than they like their own. I’m sure not all Wales fans are like that – it’s probably just most of them – but they are the ones I remember when Wales are on the telly.
The BBC dispensed with any idea of neutrality today by assigning Robbie Savage to the job of co-commentator. At the best of times, Savage is a poor pundit who, like the worst pundits, and I’m looking at you Steve McManaman and Jermaine Jenas, have nothing useful to add to what you have already seen. But these were not the best of times: Savage became a cheerleader, the one-eyed twat on the terraces who only sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.
Wales, as it turned out, won the game with something to spare, largely thanks to the enduring brilliance of Gareth Bale and the slowly fading but still very good Aaron Ramsey, who led their largely journeymen team mates to victory. It would be churlish of me to point out just how crap Turkey were – how the hell did they qualify? – but discredit must be given where discredit is due.
So that was one game where I didn’t want one team, Wales, to win, but I didn’t care much for Turkey either. And there are plenty more games like that, too.
Take Italy v Switzerland. How do I decide who to support in that one? Do I support Italy for giving us Benito Mussolini, Silvio Berlusconi and Zucchero? Or Switzerland for producing Sepp Blatter, Cuckoo Clocks and a punctual train service? Blatter is the equal, I would suggest, of Mussolini and Berlusconi put together, Cuckoo clocks get on my nerves and I can’t forgive Zucchero for making a terrible pop record with Paul Young. The trains swing things towards the Swiss, but that only means I will be disappointed with Italy romp to an easy victory.
Finland v Russia was easy. It was a straight slugfest between Vladimir Putin and Anssi Jaakola, Finland’s third choice keeper and Bristol Rovers’ number one. Too easy, it’s the Finns every time and naturally Russia win and I’ve backed a loser again.
So, I approach the rest of the tournament on a wave of apathy unless England are playing. And this week, we play Scotland who are probably the second best team in Scotland after Rangers (I suspect England would be scrapping for a Europa League place in the Premiership). It’s still better than nothing, I suppose, and there’s a lot to be said for having a tournament to bridge the gap between last season and next season. But then, I’m faced with another season of wanting Bristol City to lose as much as I want Rovers to win. By the time Euro 2020 is finished, the pre season friendlies will be well underway. I really can wait.