Don’t Panic, Captain Kane!

Note Of Optimism Despite Another Screen Test Flop

When we announced on June 10 that we were planning a flow of Euros-themed posts for the duration of the tournament, we referred to the likelihood of a novelty item somewhere along the line. And here it is. David Instone has used a stay in Devon to catch up socially with a former Molineux boss and gain an inside track on whether there is ANY chance that it’s coming home…..  

How the Wolves programme more than 25 years ago showed Colin Lee welcoming John Ward as his assistant at Molineux.

It was time for a vote. ‘All those who want to forget the game and turn on to an old Dad’s Army on BBC2, please raise your hands’.

Match night on the big screen at Teignmouth Rugby Club was going off with good humour amid the letdown of another underwhelming England performance.

Give or take a little journalistic licence, the address continued: ‘Actually, I’m wrong…..Dad’s Army has finished and it’s a party political broadcast now but it might still be more interesting.’

Thank goodness, after 58 years without a major international trophy since the 1966 World Cup, we are able to take the mickey out of ourselves.

Then it was over to Colin Lee to make some sense of the latest dull stalemate, explain one or two tactical nuances and keep around 60 guests encouraged that Gareth Southgate’s side may yet make a telling impact on the European Championships.

Lee had predicted a 3-0 win at the start of the evening – staged in conjunction with the Back On The Ball podcast on which he features with Dean Edwards. And I went for 3-1 when asked on mic for a forecast by MC Dave Fitzgerald during his walk round the audience.

The former Wolves manager had held court in the same room on the day of the all-Manchester FA Cup final a month earlier but this was the national team, with no divided loyalties and with all of us willing the ball into the Slovenia net.

Duo at work, with Dave Fitzgerald (left) in his familiar role asking the questions at the mic.

We were impatient for lift-off following the stumbling against Serbia and Denmark….alas, it wasn’t to be. Cue more dissatisfaction, more questions, the main one of which remains: “So where is it going wrong?”

Lee, based in nearby Torquay, spoke beforehand of the England forwards’ habit of going short for the ball from colleagues rather than spinning to stretch opponents by running at pace towards their goal.

“That is basics,” he said. “I have done drills with young lads loads of times, teaching them to show as if they want a short pass and then they turn and go the other way.

“In many ways, your attacking is dictated by the players without the ball. If they aren’t offering themselves in good positions, it’s very difficult for those in possession.

“There are very few options for the players with the ball in those cases – and there was loads of possession for us in this game. It must be very frustrating for them.

“I would think about switching the system and move away from four at the back. A change like that sometimes produces that spark we need. But I don’t know whether Gareth will do that at this stage.”

Colin presenting lifelong Wolves fan John Fellows with the spoils of first place in the raffle – a signed print of Plymouth-born Olympic star Tom Daley.

Just once or twice, the noise level in the room rose dramatically, notably when Bukayo Saka had a goal disallowed in the first half. But not often. This was a curry and match night aimed more at couples than lads on an all-drinking, all-chanting evening out – and there was little else to get us out of our seats.

Fitzgerald, a Devon media personality who formerly worked for the BBC and Sky, kept the audience well entertained and his parting shot was along the lines of: “Right, we’ll be home in time to watch the highlight and see some of Denmark 0 Serbia 0.”

First, though, he drew out the opinion from his good friend that all is not yet lost.

“This place is being used for another event when we start in the knockout phase on Sunday,” Lee added. “But it’s free for later in the tournament if we need it – and I think we will.” 

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