England is the perfect antidote
The Man In The Stands THE Man doesn't go mad for England games, not because I'm a liberal, herbal tea swigging, Fancy Dan - just because it's normally dull. However, the prospect of revenge against a team that had the temerity to beat us twice in the last qualifying campaign led me to hunt out one of the few screens showing the game on Wednesday.
The Man In The Stands
THE Man doesn't go mad for England games, not because I'm a liberal, herbal tea swigging, Fancy Dan - just because it's normally dull.
However, the prospect of revenge against a team that had the temerity to beat us twice in the last qualifying campaign led me to hunt out one of the few screens showing the game on Wednesday. It did not disappoint.
The look on the Croatian players' faces as it became apparent England were out-playing them was priceless.
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It was almost as if someone was playing a cruel practical joke on them.
They looked like they were waiting for Jeremy Beadle, God rest his soul, to turn up in a wet-suit, or a copper's uniform with a false beard.
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“Are these really the same footballing cavemen we beat at Wembley?” they must have thought.
After the 4-1 win numerous commentators have said the same thing, but I'll repeat it: Emile Heskey is a very good player.
The Man never thought he'd see the day when a Wigan Athletic player led the line for England, but ignoring that absurdity, he was class. A proper English centre forward.
Theo Walcott - carrying on the fine tradition of English goalscorers named after Norfolk seaside towns - also proved the importance of pace.
As far as The Man is concerned, being quick is the most vital attribute a modern footballer can have.
I'm not saying I'd like to see a Norwich team staffed by 10 Franz Carrs, but it doesn't half get the opposition on the back foot if you've got a couple of wingers with some serious grunt.
I remember on one hallowed occasion a few years ago when we were able to field the triumvirate of injury prone jet-heelers Darren Eadie, Keith O'Neill and Craig Bellamy in the same team at Tranmere.
They simply could not cope with us.
I thought at the time that must be how Man U fans feel at every game - knowing their team is just too quick and strong for the opposition. It was a very peculiar emotion, and thankfully one that didn't last…
The momentary joy in the nation's football team - as we all forgot about our passion for cycling for an evening - also made The Man come over all philosophical.
Maybe, just maybe, international football is a future refuge for fans.
It seems to be the one remaining element of the game where, to a significant degree, money does not decide who wins the trophies.
A crappy little country - let's call them Qpralia or Chelsvakia for example - can't simply buy a World Cup or European Championships. Ronaldo can't wake up one morning and declare that he's always wanted to be Spanish, not a Portuguese slave.
Among the developed nations at least, there is an inherent equality in international football which is disappearing from the club game week by week.
Yes, the England team may be populated by overpaid, egotists; but at least they'll never go and be overpaid egotists elsewhere.
It is still normally a bit dull though.
t COME ON, LET'S MAKE IT A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
WE are back under the lights on Wednesday, which is something The Man always looks forward to.
I suppose it's a bit irrational to think that just because a game will be played at night it will be a bit more exciting; but there certainly used to be something special about evening games at the Carra.
Whenever I think of night matches my mind goes back to that game against Villa a few years ago, the season we were going for the title (yes, we did that once). The night game against Palace that season was surprisingly uplifting too. Not sure why, it just happened.
Now, clearly, we can't expect an atmosphere like we are top of the league for the game against QPR.
But it would be great if the noise levels could get cranked up for the visit of the richest, sorry, second richest club in the world.
They very rarely get a result at our place, and it would be very nice if we could keep it that way.
Even if you are dubious about the way the club is being run at the moment, that is no excuse for not getting behind the team. Kick it off…
t SOMETHING HAS TO GO RIGHT SOON
THE arduous trip to Plymouth has assumed almost Biblical significance for Norwich City in recent years.
From the sickening sight of Dean Ashton feigning injury, the beginning of the end for Worthy, and the now infamous Plymouth Six (or was it seven?), Home Park seems to be the remote battlefield on which our seasons turn.
This year may be little different.
If Roeder can get the first win of the season today then maybe we can set our sights on the top half, with two home games to follow.
If not, we face going into the second half of September still searching for our first victory, and the league table will start to look rather familiar.
As far as The Man is concerned, the fixture list has been rather kind to us this season. In the first five games we've had Blackpool, Coventry and Plymouth - without doubt three of the worst sides in the division.
Coventry, in particular, were dreadful. They just did that grubby scoring goals thing.
The Man is a great fan of Roeder, I think he has performed miracles so far, but if we can't find a win out of those lot then we are going to struggle. OTBC.