Oooops there goes gravity............Back to reality!

By Terry Smith on Feb 26, 10 01:50 PM in

Listening to Sir Clive Woodward today on Radio Four's Desert Island Discs, I was struck by how fate can change history and how 'great' managers or coaches can depend on literally the toe of a player's boot. In 2003, with barely 26 seconds to go of extra time, Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal was the difference between Australia and England, the difference between glory and another hard luck story: Woodward the Wonder instead of Woodward the Wally.

Pan forward 7 years to a cold night in February at Goodison Park. Another young England star, casually back passes with disastrous effects: a penalty is awarded, a key defender dismissed and ineligible for the vital second leg and the momentum handed to a side low on confidence. The whole Europa venture crashed at that moment, and yet it will be the manager who is scrutinised rather than the players. Forced to play a semi-injured Senderos and the fragile Yobo, Moyes' tired midfield of Osman and Piennar could not help Arteta to create anything of note and the lacklustre Donovan and Saha looked pale imitations of the stars of the last month.

Did we under-estimate Sporting's undoubted ability? We do it every time in Europe. Did we believe the usual pre-match hype from Phil Neville? That sells papers and creates mirages. Should Moyes have left a tired Saha on the bench and made Yakubu and Anichebe earn their wages for a change? Maybe, but hoping for a bit of King Louis magic was a gamble worth taking (as was using Jags who showed more control in 10 minutes than the other two did all game).

But the facts will be recorded as going 2 goals up and being well beaten by another Lisbon lot. That makes a grand total of an unlucky 12 goals against and 2 goals against Portuguese teams this year. (I lied about the 'unlucky' bit!).

From Moyes the maestro to Moyes the misery in just 6 days, the fine line between heroes and zeroes, from hype to tripe, has been determined by the misplaced kick of young pup's boot.

One of the songs Sir Clive used to inspire his 2003 heroes was Eminem's "Lose Yourself". Maybe Moyes should have played this at half-time. The words might have struck a chord:

"Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?"

Mind you that might have been tempting fate as that is exactly what we do every time: lose OURSELVES! We lose it in the newspapers before a ball's even kicked and this time we lost it before we came off the pitch at Goodison.

Oooops there goes gravity............Back to reality!

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