Early Doors

Orange-tinted glasses

Early Doors

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Blimey. Didn't see that one coming. No, it wasn't a game in which both teams scored. But it was the first genuinely exciting game of Euro 2008 and a result that Early Döorß would not have predicted even with 15 shots of Jägermeister inside it.

So, in a brief hiatus from taking the piss, Early Döorß takes to its tactics truck, gives a playful parp on its air horn, and continues to make a living out of being wise after the event.

The same qualities that helped Italy to win the World Cup are now seen as contributing to an inevitable and embarrassing defeat against Holland.

Where two years ago the Azzurri described with words like 'wily', 'cunning' and 'battle-hardened', last night the adjectives being bandied about were 'creaking' and 'ancient'.

At the World Cup it was concluded that age and wisdom are essential if you want to win a trophy. Now people are incredulous that Roberto Donadoni thought he could win with nine 30-somethings in his team.

Likewise, the Dutch were considered too lightweight and disorganised to win. Now it is this agility and flexibility that is credited for their victory.

Last month Marco van Basten was condemned as a crackpot when he fell out with Clarence Seedorf and replaced Ryan Babel with Khalid Boulahrouz. Now he is a tactical genius to rival Dutch great Rinus Michels.

Pundits do not like uncertainty. They do not like the thought that if the game were played again the upshot might be different.

They prefer to believe that the result was pre-ordained before kick-off; that events could not have panned out any other way. Although, oddly, they very rarely inform the public of this outcome in advance.

Catenaccio, Total Football, Route One - in reality no style of football is better than any other, and certainly none guarantees success or failure (unless Steve McClaren is involved, obviously). The only thing that matters is whether you are any good.

Last night the Dutch played extremely well and had a bit of luck - Ruud van Nistelrooy's goal could not have been more illegal if it had been trafficking narcotics out of Colombia.

And their two goals on the counter-attack, by very definition, started with them almost conceding.

Had Giovanni van Bronckhorst failed to clear off the line or Edwin van der Sar not made his brilliant save from Andrea Pirlo's free-kick, we would have been looking at a two-goal swing.

Did the Dutch deserve to win? Absolutely. Was Wesley Sneijder's goal a peach? Hell yeah. But does it mean Holland are world-beaters and Italy no-hopers? Of course not.

Football is a confusing, complicated, unpredictable game. Having torn the Italians to shreds, the Dutch will probably struggle to find their rhythm against France, and nobody will really understand why.

Van Bronckhorst, majestic and swashbuckling last night, will have his defensive frailties exposed and be made to look like an ageing carthorse.

And descriptions of Dirk Kuyt will go from "fantastic energy and work rate" to "fantastic energy and work rate are not enough when you can't hit a cow's backside with a banjo".

Basically, in the immortal words of William Goldman and Martin O'Neill: "Nobody knows anything."

- - -

POSSIBLE GAFFE OF THE DAY: Did Steve Rider really mean to describe Holland as "smoking"? Having not sampled Amsterdam's seedy delights since it was a wide-eyed and strangely hungry student, Early Döorß is in no position to comment.

OUTLANDISH CLAIM OF THE DAY: Austrian referees' commission chairman Gerhard Kapl claims Van Nistelrooy's goal was OK because Christian Panucci was lying injured off the pitch: "The injured player behind the goal counts as a player on the field and therefore it was not offside."

LOST CAUSE OF THE DAY: Ian Wright's open letter to Cristiano Ronaldo in today's Sun, begging him to stay with Manchester United. Unless Ronaldo is a big Gladiators fan, ED doubts that Wrighty will succeed where Fergie, Eric Cantona, Bobby Charlton et al look set to fail.

FOREIGN VIEW: "Disastro Donadoni" is Corriere dello Sport take on last night's events in Berne.

De Telegraaf, meanwhile, goes for "Oranje wereldklasse!" ED can't help but notice the linguistically-boastful sub-header in English: "Van Bronckhorst man of the match". Nobody likes a show-off.

FOREIGN VIEW 2: Mexico goalkeeper and captain Oswaldo Sanchez was arrested in a Chicago hotel when celebrations got out of hand following a 4-0 friendly win over Peru.

Sanchez, who has won 89 caps, was held for two hours after a group of players partied in a room and the noise disturbed other guests.

The police turned up to stop the trouble-makers and Sanchez resisted, for which he was held for two hours and had to pay bail of $1,000.

TALKING POINT: Yesterday's message board banter was so lukewarm, Early Doors almost had to include some spam messages in its selection of comments:

wesleybell88: "Poland should try using Robert Kubica. He might add some pace to the team..."

roxydgurl: "I just knew you'd find some way to rubbish spurs again, Modric's never had the shirt on yet and you could wait 'til the tournament's over to stick it in again, still at least we got a mention."

jude_surf: "It's easy to rubbish Spurs, 'cause Spurs are ..... wait for it..... RUBBISH!!!"

Today - Can the Dutch really win Euro 2008 with a defence featuring Andre Ooijer and Khalid Boulahrouz?

COMING UP: Spain take on Russia at 5pm, in what historically is a game they win handsomely to get everyone really excited, before inexplicably falling apart.

And Sweden can do everyone a favour at 7.45pm by giving the holders Greece a good kicking.

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