MARC ILES' WORLD CUP SIDESHOW: Boot out this odd-coloured footwear fashion
Updated 4:46pm Thursday 19th June 2014 in Sport
IF Roy Hodgson wants to really strike a psychological blow against Uruguay tonight – he could start with his players’ footwear.
Imagine a troop of 11 Englishmen coming out of the tunnel, ready for battle, wearing black boots, and not something that looks like it was fashioned somewhere In the Night Garden.
This World Cup has been immensely enjoyable so far and we should be getting misty-eyed about the fact teams are actually looking to score goals in the group stages rather than clam up and nick something on the break.
But it has become a fashion show for the likes of Yaya Toure, Cesc Fabregas and Mario Balotelli, who can’t even decide which ridiculous colour to pick.
Puma’s new Tricks range have different coloured boots, designed, says the pamphlet, to showcase the individuality and confidence of the players wearing them.
“I have to be honest, the first time I saw the boots, I thought the Puma guy was mad,” confessed Balotelli – torturer of England last time out. “But when I realised he wasn’t, I was already excited.”
You read that right. Mario Balotelli just questioned someone else’s sanity.
Sir Alex Ferguson once banned his young players from playing in coloured boots and insisted on regulation black attire.
I remember Kevin Davies keeping faith with traditional colours while he was at Wanderers too. But it seems the black boot is heading the same way as headbands, snoods, vuvuzelas, old plastic pitches, endless cup replays and back-passes, so old fogeys like me are in the minority.
England need to find that kind of edge, though, and they have done an excellent job of keeping things upbeat this week.
It helps when you have got good talkers like Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge to put the message out there.
Wayne Rooney’s little Facebook side-swipe aside, there hasn’t been any negativity in the England camp since the Italy defeat, and I do fancy them to get things back on track with a win.
I stick to my guns about Rooney, though. Whether or not he went in for extra training off his own back or not, he needs to snap out of whatever malaise he is in before it’s too late.
He remains England’s most talented player and would, in top form, be the one that Uruguay feared most.
I hope I am proved wrong but the little jibe at his press conference this week does not paint a picture of a man in a happy frame of mind. And knowing the kind of treatment Uruguay are capable of dishing out, there are alarm bells.
It’s time for England to put their best foot forward – and then hope it isn’t wrapped in fluorescent green kangaroo skin, or something equally ridiculous.
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