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03 July 2006


Gary Naylor

You can't rail against the N word on the 28th June and claim England look spoilt on the 3rd of July - both are reductionist views of complex histories and interplays of personalities and cultures. But the Africans underperformed, England lost on penalties, Germany are playing, er... efficiently, and my, don't those Italians defend well.

This World Cup is many things, but as an underlining of national stereotypes through play and results, it is almost 70's Northern Working Men's Club Comic accurate. So much for the melding of styles through transnational coaching and competitions.


I found Williams's theory (that Hargreaves played with more commitment and skill because of his austere German environment) a little pat and unconvincing. After all, in the last five years, Hargreaves has never previously been England's outstanding player.

Surely a more likely reason for Hargreaves's relatively strong performance this time is that, barring the defence, he was the only player who was allowed to play in his most natural position? Hargreaves simply replicated his Bayern Munich role, while everyone else was unhappily improvising.

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