Although the final nail hasn’t been put into the collective coffin of Steve McClaren and his merry bunch of underachievers, falling to Russia 2-1 and now having to rely on a result from the plucky Israelis, storm clouds continue to hover over English football.
But after sorting through the ashes of the Three Lions’ almost predictable collapse in Moscow, I can’t help but wonder if amongst the debris there resides a Phoenix for Liverpool fans of the non-Ingerland-supporting-type (as in “We’re not English — We’re Scouse” variety, amongst others). Should McClaren & Co. fail to beat Croatia and the Israelis fail to vanquish the invading Russians, England’s players will be spending next summer in the comforts of their own homes with their heels up. And quite frankly, it can’t do anything but help Liverpool.
If England don’t make it to Austria/Switzerland (Switzria?) in 2008, then Steven Gerrard (and less importantly — Peter Crouch, who may or may not even be with the club by then) will then have the summer off and can properly recharge his batteries. Assuming England would come out of the group stages (a big assumption these days) only to crap out in the semi’s (like death & taxes), that’s five matches and a solid month of training with the squad that the England vice-captain won’t be taking part in. The effect on his body, his form and Liverpool’s fortunes the following season could be significant.
The season directly following a World Cup, how often do we hear how fatigued and burnt-out the international players are because they’ve been ‘playing non-stop for almost two years’? Playing for such long stretches not only takes its toll on the muscles and joints, but can leave even the most fervent footy enthusiast feeling jaded. Although they’re professional athletes whose bodies are conditioned to perform, everybody needs downtime to revitalize both body and mind. (Red Bulls don’t count)
I don’t think there can be any true argument that a fresh and rejuvenated Captain Fantastic would be a major boon to Liverpool’s fortunes next season. I’m sure watching the European Championships on TV will bring him back to training chomping at the bit, wistful from missing out on such a grand stage. Hopefully, he’ll be coming back to training fully-healed, energized and motivated to defend Liverpool’s Premier League title. (*knock on wood*)
So, as a Liverpool fan, don’t you owe it to the club and yourself to root against England and Israel next month?
I know who I’ll be pulling for.
(and for any reason should somebody be looking for a writer/correspondent to send to Austria & Switzerland for next summer’s tournament, Ich bin Sie Mann.)