Chris Goreham: The fun and games of the international break in 2018

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:59 11 September 2018

The England band were on duty as Carrow Road hosted an under-21 international last week 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

The England band were on duty as Carrow Road hosted an under-21 international last week Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Popular culture doesn’t really appeal to me anymore and neither should it.

Over 16,000 fans cheered on the England U21s at Carrow Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesOver 16,000 fans cheered on the England U21s at Carrow Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

I am old enough to remember Chris Evans jacking in a high profile BBC breakfast show to go to Virgin Radio the first time and so have accepted that modern trends aren’t really meant for me.

My relationship with the zeitgeist is the same as the one Norwich City supporters have with the Premier League. We used to be right in amongst it in the early 90s and always taped the chart show off the radio, have had the odd flirtation with it in recent years by perhaps buying an Arctic Monkeys album but now any sort of connection is limited to what we see on the television.

Nothing demonstrates this better than City fans dedicating a version of Blur’s ‘Parklife’ to Daniel Farke and it feeling to me like it was bang on trend.

There are some things that cause large enough ripples for even those of us without our fingers on the pulse to know of their existence. Things like UFC, YouTubers and those disturbing looking speakers that can turn over your television when you tell them to.

I don’t fully understand what any of those are and don’t have the time nor the inclination to find out but I do know that a lot of people seem to like them and so they must be cool.

It does mean that any gaps in my knowledge tend to be filled by the heady mix of imagination and what I hear callers say about them on radio phone-in shows. It is because of this that I know about a video game called ‘Fortnite’ that is all the rage right now. Lots of young people seem to love it, the squares like parents and teachers apparently have huge concerns about the amount of time youngsters are spending playing it and what damage it might be doing to their still forming minds.

This craze has given me an idea. The only computer game that I have ever played for an unhealthy amount of time is Football Manager. Devotees of it can talk for ages about the time they took Norwich City to Champions League glory or led King’s Lynn Town to the Premier League title with Ronaldinho banging in the goals. The fact that Ronladinho, who has now retired, remains my go-to modern day superstar does little to improve my street cred.

Like most sensible adults my days of trying to figure out which virtual signings to make for my pretend Norwich City squad are long since gone. These games became far too complicated and the amount of time it took to fine tune training, tactics and manage a team through a single game meant that things like work, family and real life would no longer be possible.

So here’s an idea to bring together the generations: How about a computer game where the idea is simply to manage a team through the first couple of weeks of September? There are no actual matches to worry about but you will have several of your players away on international duty.

Challenges could include trying to find the right channel to watch Teemu Pukki score for Finland against Hungary and hoping he doesn’t get injured, making sure that you can think of enough training ground drills to keep those left behind interested and to keep tabs on your top young players who may be tempted to have one night out too many.

You get to experience a bit of modern day football management without having to spend ages at it. It’s interesting enough to appeal to old gamers like me but not so engaging that young people would bunk off school to play it.

‘Fortnight – The International Break’ coming to a console near you in time for Christmas.

Club v country

Covering England Under-21s’ 0-0 draw with the Netherlands was a refreshing experience.

We spoke to some supporters on BBC Radio Norfolk immediately after the final whistle. They reflected with composure and calmness on the disappointment of not seeing any goals but with an understanding of the facts that it was young players on show and that England were trying to qualify for their European Championship next summer rather than simply entertain the 16,000 strong crowd.

We tend to find that goalless draws don’t go down quite as well with the Carrow Road fans we speak to when Norwich City are involved.

It’s understandable because, James Maddison or not, the England U21s don’t put the same fire in the bellies that watching the Canaries in a competitive match does. A home defeat for City really hurts yet, had England lost last week’s game, the blow probably would not have lasted beyond the walk back to the car afterwards.

It made me reconsider what sort of things we are expecting when we open the phone lines for Canary Call, look at social media or speak to managers straight after the final whistle. The aim might be for accurate and fair analysis of what the previous 90 minutes on the pitch has provided but this is probably unrealistic.

What people love about football is the passion that it stirs and it’s the entertainment that comes with hearing people allow their emotions to get the better of them that makes it such an engaging sport to follow.

England games always sound different to club matches too. Anyone who was at Carrow Road last week would have noticed that the chanting was several octaves higher than it usually is owing to the greater portion of younger fans that were in the ground.

This was underlined by the number of free flags that were still being enthusiastically waved in the final few moments. Again, you wouldn’t get that at a Norwich 0-0.

The presence of the England band was something that attracted plenty of comment. The jolly trumpeting of the Great Escape and the spells of loud drumming emanating from the South Stand would no doubt have attracted plenty of emotional post-match feeling from anyone sat nearby.

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