Phil Jones for England proves that you won’t die
On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. Have a look. Frank Lampard knows it. Questions which remain for his career: will it have to be a minute’s applause rather than a minute’s silence in order to counter the booing? Death is coming and Lampard proves it. His decline runs at a pace that his legs could only dream of: fewer goals, sloppier in possession, slower to the ball. Bye, Frank. More reminders of death? There’s tiki taka, which asks that audiences hope for death; there’s Steven Gerrard, who has never been found guilty of beating anyone up and risking death.
But unfortunate reminders of the ticking tocking focking clock are the opposite of the intended effect – opiates are supposed to help pretend it’s all going to be fine. So when England played Phil Jones and Scott Parker in one midfield, the sense of relief around Wembley was palpable enough to feel from home (this is untrue.) Here Fabio Capello had found the formula – the avoiding thoughts of funeral homes formula.
Scotty P and Phil ‘Duncan Edwards-Bryan Robson’ Jones beat Spain. Red faces, exhausted to begin with, but ready to cunt someone whenever called on, had beaten the world champions. England went with men who could run. If it was in one sense an acceptance of one kind of fate – that this national team will not be stringing together 30-pass moves – the only really important denial was set up brilliantly: you aren’t going to die, because Phil Jones can chase Xavi for eighty minutes without stopping. He can chase Xavi forever, without stopping.