In a week when we were offered the possibility of
salivating over Tanzania staging Wigan versus Middlesbrough in 2011,
we may have forgotten about some exciting performances by England
players in the recent match against Switzerland. It has not been
often since we could make such positive comments about an England
team. Nearly forty-two years of hurt and we can only really dream
about that 5-0 versus Germany on Saturday 1st September 2001, Euro
96, and that iconic team in Italia 90, but have times changed? I
found the performance against Switzerland to be totally refreshing.
One of the players that told us that there is an alternative to an
eternity of long ball damnation, with ‘passion’ was Jermaine Jenas.
At this point, I have to admit that I have followed my football at
Portman Road for the whole of my football-watching life. The links
between Ipswich and Spurs have not always been positive with many of
our talents making the journey to White Hart Lane and not always
achieving their ability that we had witnessed in Suffolk. What links
these two clubs is a passion for ball to feet, quick passing and
dynamic football play. Jermaine Jenas has at last begun to show that
he has the ability to contribute to this sporting feast in a
positive way. In some ways, I wish Jenas had begun his career at
Portman Road because he has all the attributes of being an Ipswich
kind of player.
A quick web search can gain access to a number of positive comments
about Jenas that have recently been made in the national press. The
Daily Telegraph appears to be offering regular Jenas comments
at the moment with much positive comment from a multitude of
different commentators. It is understandable to see why. During some
of the more turgid moments of the first half versus Switzerland, I
relied on Jenas with his positive attitude and surging runs to stop
me from changing channels to Location, Location, Location.
I have always wanted to see an England midfield that has the
confidence to do something with the ball rather then retreat like
Custer’s last stand to their penalty box. I have become depressingly
familiar with balls that are lashed out of play, dribbled back to
the goalkeeper, or desperately lashed up to a solitary striker who
is meant to perform Pele-esque miracles within a two foot area
surrounded by a baying defence.
In collaboration with Cole, Barry, Gerrard and David Bentley,
Jermaine Jenas showed that England can enjoy a bright future and we
can possible enjoy more from South Africa in the summer of 2010
rather than just normal news reports. We should not regard him
solely on the goal that he scored, although it is nice to see an
England player that can effectively beat the offside trap without
crashing into the goalpost, or humiliating himself with a
half-hearted Cruyff turn.
Whether we hand the credit to Juande Ramos, Gus Poyet, Martin Jol,
Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer at Newcastle, Paul Hart at Nottingham, or
the support of his peers from the East Midlands that include Michael
Dawson and Andy Reid, I don’t know but we should be tentatively
enjoying this exciting talent with the space to give Jenas time to
develop. When we watch Jenas we need to understand that we are
watching a player who will work with the ball rather then just palm
it off like a ticking time bomb to one of his compatriots. One
commentator from somewhere within football’s commentary black hole,
told us Jenas “wants to be loved” in a team. The fans can be a key
part in this love-in.
So my message, which is coming from a championship
supporter but with an eye for exciting young talent, is one of
patience and quiet celebration. With the ability to actually perform
a decent 1-2 without the ball ballooning into Row Z, we are watching
a player who is still got much more to give. We all hope that
whether you will be watching Jermaine Jenas in Bangalore, Baghdad,
Botswana, Barnsley or even Bolton in 2011, I hope we will all be
watching an English born player who is still contributing to a
refreshing antidote to an increasingly bizarre sporting world.