Soccer/ Euro 2008 Qualification / English press doesn't give Israel much respect
The Israeli national team did not garner much attention in the British press in the wake of its 3-0 loss Saturday.
The Israeli national team did not garner much attention in the British press in the wake of its 3-0 loss Saturday. The English papers focused on Michael Owen, who not only returned to his scoring ways, but did so elegantly; the not-so-bad-after-all appearance of Emile Heskey; the injury of Steven Gerrard; the boos against David Bentley; and preparations for the really important game against Russia in two days. Those who did cover Israel discussed the team's level of play.
"Slack Israel make it too easy for England" declared the Guardian in is headline. The article said: "Israel were so poor you wondered how they ever managed to come to Wembley in second place in the group and how England could work themselves into such a state about having to beat them." The paper also stated that English goalie Paul Robinson got a chance from coach Steve McClaren to play, but didn't get a chance to touch the ball during the game.
The BBC said the team played so terribly that "Israel did not even force a save out of keeper Paul Robinson." And the Daily Mail stressed the difference between a weak Israel and a strong Russia. Under the headline "Don't get carried away, England," the paper warned coach McClaren: "Owen's 38th goal for his country... was the highlight of an easy win against an awful Israel side," but it "will be a different test altogether when unbeaten Russia arrive in London."
The Sunday Telegraph jeered at Israel for failing miserably, trying to come in and ruin things for England without knowing how to do it.
The Independent was downright insulting: "McClaren may have stuck his neck out in sticking with Paul Robinson in goal and recalling Emile Heskey, but as it turned out he could have fielded David James, Gordon Banks or Brian Barwick [Director of the English football association] between the posts without anxiety." The paper concluded: "Israel's record of only one defeat in 18 previous qualification matches over the past two tournaments was made to look inexplicable as they struggled to contain some lively English attacking and made no headway whatever themselves, still using only one striker 40 minutes after falling behind."
The Sunday Times noted the poignancy of playing "Nessun Dorma," a tribute to Luciano Pavarotti, before the game. The song may mean "none shall sleep," the paper joked, but falling asleep "is always a temptation when Israel, with their preoccupation with defense, are playing."
A cruel joke, perhaps, but poignant nonetheless.