by Rob Shepherd.
Don’t Mention Ze Score!
It was an intro I couldn’t resist when I reflected on England’s 5-1 win over Germany on September 1 2001.
It was an incredible night in Munich. The adrenalin was pumping. It was pay back time for Italia 90, Euro 96 and the last night at the old Wembley when Germany demolished the Twin Towers and Kevin Keegan.
A touch of Fawlty Towers-style jingoism didn’t feel out of place.
To trounce Germany in Bavaria by such a margin was almost surreal.
I think that is why that game more than any other England match is captured best by a picture of an electronic scoreboard.
Deutschland 1 England 5.
Later some of the players admitted they kept looking up at the neon lights after the final whistle to make sure they weren’t dreaming.
In terms of the record books it will go down as one of England’s all-time great wins. Yet on reflection I suggest it was one of the WORST results in England’s history. And one of Germany’s BEST.
The outcome convinced everyone that Sven Goran Eriksson, in his seventh match in charge of England, was a tactical genius.
And that a crop of very good young-ish players were a ‘Golden Generation’.
But a brave new world proved to be false dawn for England, while at the same time it was a wake-up call for Germany, convincing them they had to change things after their demise at Euro 2000, to erm, Keegan’s England.
Given hindsight it would be churlish to say England just got lucky that night in Munich. It was a tour de force of counter-attacking football.
But it was also one of those games where every time England pressed a button green lights flashed.
It meant that even when, and not long after, Eriksson was prepared to jump ship and go to Manchester United, or when other frequent flirtations seemed to get in the way of his job as England manager, he was fire proof.
Even when Eriksson’s affair with England had outlasted its stay, it was a bit like Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca who always had Paris; Eriksson always had Munich.
And while the result did put England back on track to qualify for the 2002 World Cup finals after the Keegan regime had lost its way – and it was a night always to remember as well – looking back it proved how one-off, stunning results can be misleading.
So in the wake of defeat against Chile and looking ahead to Tuesday’s tough meeting with Germany, whatever ze score, a sense of perspective is needed.
It’s not what a team does ahead of a tournament, it’s what they actually do when they get there.
And in terms of expectation, another potential bloody nose for England at Wembley on Tuesday against Germany, a decade on, would not necessarily be a bad thing.
England often do best when expectations are low. In the wake of that seismic night in Munich expectations for that era became far too high.
More to the point, the powers that be at the FA might look into what measures the Germans took after they were caught with their lederhosen down on that mad night in Munich.
The odds on England beating Germany 5-1 again are understandably long at 200/1, with the German’s priced at 100/1 to turn the tables to that extent.
More likely, if you think Germany will win, is a repeat of notable success in 1972 when they effectively knocked England out of the European Championships with a 3-1 win at Wembley.
It was a night when Germany wore green shirts and England were left green with envy of a German midfield maestro called Gunter Netzer who ran the game in the rain.
3-1 again is 16/1, a German win 5/4.
England to win? That is 2/1.
The draw? That’s priced at 5/2
1-1 is 11/2 and 2-2, which could be worth a tickle, is 12-1.
Odds from Bet 365