Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Have a Close Shave ... Germany Are Heirs to Throne

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Have a Close Shave ... Germany Are Heirs to Throne

Article excerpt

Byline: James Lawton in Kiev

[bar] ASIL FAWLTY'S order not to mention the war -- and by implication the Germans -- is not so easy after their magisterial demolition of the world's fourth-ranked nation Holland.

It is especially difficult when you consider England's latest plight.

Manager Roy Hodgson's confession that key members of his squad were too drained to train seriously in their Polish headquarters after the sulphurous heat of Ukraine for the hard battling draw with France on Monday night was certainly no surprise.

England are in Krakow because it is a beautiful and diverting city where the boys might not get as bored as they did in South Africa two years ago, when their manager Fabio Capello came up with the crazed idea that a lonely patch of the high veld would be ideal for concentrating the minds of professionals facing one of the great challenges of their careers.

There would be no such lunacy this time, of course, and certainly no gruelling time stranded in the training centre in Donetsk the French used to acclimatise for more than a week. By kick-off the heat in the Ukrainian stadium was 30*F greater than back home on the pleasing boulevards of Krakow.

England did well enough in Donetsk, fighting for a draw against the gifted French team who had gone 21 games without defeat but now we are told they are seriously jaded after their effort.

It might be laughable in a forlorn sort of way if we could indeed avoid the subject of Germany. But, of course, we can't, not if we want to get to the heart of reality in these European Championships and consider why it is the Germans continually remake themselves as a major force in the world game and England, year after year, fail to draw any significant benefit from hosting what we are told, endlessly, is the richest, most spectacular, most competitive league in all of the game. …

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