Photo by kelp1966

As I was watching Spurs play Real Madrid, the missus wandered in the room and sat down. She knows little about football and could care less about it. But like all Geordies, she knows the basics having been weaned on Newcastle United’s bitter tears along with mothers milk.

Without paying much attention she says, ‘Is that England playing?’

‘No it’s Spurs,’ I say, pointing to the top left of the screen which was reading 2- 0 to Real Madrid at the time.

‘Oh, well it looks like England. They seem to be thrashing around and panicking just like England.’

Out of the mouths of babes and non-football partners do some truths emerge.

I fear this was a sub-conscious prophecy for the days when Harry Redknapp takes over as England manager

After she’d said this, I couldn’t shake the idea.

Inability to hold the ball? Check.

Desperate last-ditch defending? Check.

Limited tactics? Check.

Panicking when on the ball? Check.

Booting the ball long just to clear it and losing possession? Check.

Players losing their cool and needlessly, stupidly getting sent off? Check.

Totally outplayed and dominated by a superior side? Check.

It was EXACTLY like watching England play a top side, the gulf in technique and class all too evident. Having an English manager, such an obsession for many of Capello and Eriksson’s critics, makes no difference when your players are not good enough. But then throw in some baffling tactical choices such as Bale on the right, Jenas on the field at all and then knocking it high and long for the tiny Defoe to try and hold it and you had a recipe for disaster.

It proved, if proof was needed, that when you’re not good enough, you’re just not good enough, regardless of how good a man-manager or ra-ra merchant the manager might be. Real Madrid had better players and a much better manager; a manager who is a tactical and motivational genius…..the gulf in class on the pitch and on the bench was huge. Had Spurs been England under Capello, the Italian would have been murdered by the media. Redknapp, by contrast, got away with barely any criticism at all. It may well be different matter when he manages England to a similar defeat in a couple of years time.

Editor’s Note: Johnny’s new book: “We Ate All The Pies: How Football Swallowed Britain Whole” is available via Amazon US or Amazon UK.