With Euro 2008 all over and the winners Spain still celebrating their great success and the losers Germany still licking their wounds, I thought I would take a hopefully ‘light hearted’ look at who might be awarded the Soccerlens ‘alternative awards’ for the tournament.
There are many categories we could look at but I don’t think we should bother with what went well, everyone gets enough praise and financial reward for that. Let’s hand out some awards to those who were less fortunate and will be grateful to win anything.
Worst goalkeeping error
Petr Cech is undoubtedly a great keeper, but his error in the decisive group game against Turkey must win this award. Not only did he make a complete hash of a simple catch from a poor cross, he managed to drop the ball at the feet of Nihat, the only Turkish player in the penalty area. On top of that, the mistake actually cost his side a place in the quarter-finals. More importantly than all of that however, is the fact that I had the Czech Republic to win in a sweepstake and he cost me a fiver. No contest. Cech it is!
Worst piece of defending
Eric Abidal was obviously regarded by French manager Domenech (a man who believes he should pick his side according to the player’s birth signs!) as a better bet for the left back slot than Patrice Evra or Gael Clichy. Thankfully, after one very poor performance against Romania the manager came to his senses, presumably realising that Abidal was a Taurus and Uranus was rising, or something similar, and left him out. Then, just when we thought Abidal’s agony was over, in the deciding game against Italy, not only did Abidal get back into the side but he found himself playing at centre half.
His early contributions to the game were understandably nervy and showed a distinct lack of confidence. Then, twenty odd minutes into the game he allowed Luca Toni to get away from him after being caught on the wrong side. Now, we all know that the likelihood of Toni actually scoring was very small indeed, judging by the other chances he missed in the tournament, but Abidal felt the need to bring him down in the box, get sent off and give Italy a goal that was likely to be decisive. The phrase, ‘oh dear’ doesn’t really do the incident justice!
Mario Gomez came into the tournament with a fantastic reputation. It was largely undone in his totally anonymous performances against Poland and Croatia, but then came a defining moment in the third game against Austria. It is amazing that in amongst the absolute catalogue of previously mentioned misses produced by Luca Toni for Italy we can’t find one to rival the one of Gomez, but the awful moment in the Austria game means that Gomez is unchallenged.
Not only did he miss a simple tap in to an empty goal from six yards by scooping the ball straight up into the air, he then made a really weak effort to head it in as it came down. In fact, he didn’t get off the ground and allowed a smaller defender to barge him out of the way and head the ball to safety. It was truly abysmal.
Malouda was average at best all season at Chelsea. Most French fans would have been delighted if Malouda could have reached the rarified heights of average in this tournament. It is difficult to put into words just how poor the winger was in his two appearances.
I really thought that he would show everyone what he could produce in this tournament and explain why Chelsea wanted him in the first place. He didn’t. I’m still a bit confused.
France, Greece, Poland, Austria and Switzerland all staked a claim for this award. Austria and Switzerland were both expected to get knocked out without winning a game. Switzerland actually did pick up a victory and Austria got a point more than they should have done. For those reasons and the fact that they hosted such a good tournament, I am ruling them out of the running.
Poland would have lost heavily in all of their games if they hadn’t had the excellent Artur Boruc in goal. However, he is part of the team, so they can’t be the worst. Greece never looked like getting anything but nobody really expected them to. They probably performed up (or down) to expectations.
That leaves France. Not only were they very disappointing for a team that was one of the favourites, they actually were pretty awful as well. I think they are worthy recipients of the worst team award. Italy ran them close with their performance in the quarter-final but it has to go to the French.
Most boring game
Romania v France in the first round of games was one of the worst games I have ever had the misfortune to watch. I can’t say it was actually the worst for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve watched Watford and England all my life and secondly, I fell asleep and missed the last fifteen minutes.
Raymond Domenech handled his French side with all the skill and ability of a poorly performing Steve McClaren. Not only did he make strange team selections and substitutions, he also came out prior to the tournament and announced his belief in picking his side according to the powers of Astrology.
If you wrote the story of Domenech as fiction you would be laughed at for writing such an unbelievable tale.
Lifetime achievement award for not being very good
Maybe controversially I am going to give this award to the French super striker Nicolas Anelka. He has won many trophies in his career but few friends and few individual awards. His record of eleven goals in fifty-one internationals is pretty poor and his club record of ninety league goals in his last two and seventy three games for seven different clubs since he left Arsenal back in 1999, is not the record of a world class marksman.
Some people rate Anelka really highly and I value the opinion of some of those people. However, I just can’t see it, so as he has won so few individual awards I thought I should give this one to him.
Worst Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Czech Republic, Chelsea)
Worst Defender: Eric Abidal (France, Barcelona)
Worst Miss: Mario Gomez (Germany, Stuttgart)
Worst Player: Florent Malouda (France, Chelsea)
Worst Team: France
Most Boring Game: Romania v France
Worst Manager: Raymond Domenech
Lifetime achievement for not being very good: Nicolas Anelka
Let us know your picks for the SL Euro 08 awards in the comments below.