England play Italy today, which means a few things. Firstly, there's be an unbearable number of incorrect catenaccio references - I'll have to turn off Twitter, I think. Secondly, we're going to hear a lot of praise for the way Roy Hodgson is handling this England team, treating them just like he did Fulham and West Bromwich Albion and refusing to play into his opponents hand by attempting to play an expansive game his team simply isn't capable of.
And really, Roy Hodgson should be played. His England team aren't good, but they're getting the job done and are reasonably interesting in a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of way. They work hard, they win more than they lose, and now they're in with a shout of reaching the semifinals of Euro 2012. That's pretty awesome. So why am I writing about it?
Because Chelsea already did that, and they won the Champions League, which is played at a significantly higher level than international tournaments, by playing what is essentially Hodgson's style of football. Yes, it was ugly against Bayern Munich and Barcelona, but it's not like England have played against Bayern or Barca in this tournament (pale shadows of those sides, conveniently, have already made it to the semifinals). Chelsea defended their way to the European Cup, but they were also a significant threat going forward, scoring twelve goals in their seven knockout games against some very tough competition.
And they were eviscerated for it. What gives?
I can see people disliking the style of football Chelsea played. It was reactive stuff, and certainly not everyone's cup of tea. But this is a team that won the highest honour in club football that was forced to play in a specific way in order to get that far, and they were marked by the press as bad guys. But England doing it is just fine?
I'm ok with Chelsea being considered villains. To most, that's what we are: A team with unspeakable amounts of money who win a lot without any history of being a team with unspeakable amounts of money who win a lot to make the whole thing more bearable. But I do wish that, villainous though we may be, that we'd be held to the same standard as everyone else. I swear if Frank Lampard was photographed tickling a puppy the title would be 'CHELSEA MIDFIELDER CAUGHT MOLESTING 4-MONTH OLD'.