I’ll get onto the Norwich City stuff in a bit (it’s not as if it’s been an uneventful week) but it wouldn’t be right to start anywhere else but Copenhagen.
The scenes witnessed last night were among the most harrowing I can ever recall watching as a football fan. They were among the most harrowing I’ve watched full stop. Those minutes between Christian Eriksen collapsing and then those official Getty images emerging of him on the stretcher being led awake but, mercifully, with his eyes open were excruciating.
In the midst of all though – in those excruciating minutes – the best of humanity came to the fore.
- The brilliant medical staff who brought Eriksen back from beyond the brink.
- Denmark’s captain, Simon Kjaer, who gave first aid to his friend before the medical team arrived, and ensured he didn’t swallow his tongue.
- Kasper Schmeichel being the hero that we already know he is.
- Eriksen’s team-mates forming a protective shield around their friend as he fought for his life.
- The Denmark and Finland fans chanting “Christian… Eriksen…”
There were other examples. Loads of them.
The BBC has quite rightly taken lots of flak for the gratuitous use of close-ups as events unfolded but their feed was from the host broadcaster and so they had no directorial control over the coverage.
Either way, the close-up of Kjaer and Schmeichel comforting Eriksen’s partner at a time of such peril was at the far extremity of poor taste.
The BBC’s mistake was to not pull the plug sooner, although fair play to Gary Lineker, Cesc Fàbregas, Alex Scott and Micah Richards for when they did. That was a baton no one wanted and, in the circumstances, all four of them did the best job possible. Respect to them for that.
And then the moment. Those first images appearing on Twitter showing Eriksen, on the stretcher, to be conscious and breathing.
A last-minute winner for England in the final on 11 July will not come even close to generating that feeling of exhilaration. At that moment, football, the sport, felt so insignificant.
It’s an emotional game; one that has proven many times that, for all its frailties and weaknesses, it does retain the ability to bring people together. But it is just a game.
It goes without saying that our best wishes go to Christian Eriksen and his loved ones.
It seems a little trifling to talk about Norwich City losing their best player in the circumstances, but we have. Last Saturday was the day when the news unofficially broke that City had done a deal with Aston Villa to sell them Emi Buendia – one of the greatest players ever to wear the yellow and green.
It hurts, just as it always does when you lose the services of a player you would prefer to retain. But it happens. That, as they say, is football, especially when you’re a “self-funded” club, which has the profitable sale of players as part of its raison d’etre.
We get it, just as we get that every player has a price and virtually every club on the planet has the ability to lose their best players to those with deeper pockets and more ambition.
But what I don’t get is the need for said deal, and its ensuing pain, to be seemingly dragged out for a whole bloody week. We know he’s going; let’s get the farewells over as quickly as we can and move on, but no…
This one is now dragging into its second week, and we’re still awaiting the obligatory picture of a beaming Emi doing keepy-uppies while wearing the Villa shirt followed by the equally obligatory bloody shirt holding alongside Dean Smith.
Instead we get drip fed daily instalments, each one twisting the knife a few more millimetres:
- Monday – more unofficial details emerge of Emi Buendia signing for Aston Villa.
- Tuesday – Villa officially announce the signing of Emi Buendia.
- Wednesday – Villa formally announce the signing of Emi Buendia – just in case there was any doubt
- Thursday – Norwich City formally announce the departure of Emi Buendia.
- Friday – Emi Buendia announces that Emi Buendia is signing for Villa and thanks Norwich for being a lovely stepping stone.
I fully expect to be sitting here next Sunday citing another week of step-by-step movements in the transfer of Emi Buendia as he edges his way along the A14, to eventually be greeted by cheering crowds clad in claret and blue at Spaghetti Junction, before being granted the freedom of Birmingham.
Oh the joy.
We loved you Emi, but you’re not ours anymore. Just go, mate. It’s business.
And then, of course, there was the small matter of BK8 – the faceless and tasteless betting giants from the Far East whose buck was initially irresistible to Norwich City Football Club until it was pointed out to them quite how faceless and tasteless they really were. And then it was resistible.
They weren’t giants either. I’m not sure they even qualified as minnows. I’m not even sure they qualified as an entity. But someone somewhere did have a lot of money.
Unless actually they didn’t and they were the Far East’s version of Galway Roast. We’ll never know.
It’s since emerged that Dafabet were no angels either although whether this has been an unknown or whether a blind eye was turned, I’m not sure. Or maybe it’s because Dafabet was a brand we’d heard of and who sponsor other teams in the UK? Again, who knows.
Either way, both Dafabet and BK8 have both gone the same way as those other giants of the gambling world, LeoVegas, who ironically now appear positively wholesome by comparison.
And to think we took the pee out of Ipswich for having shirts bearing the name of Ed Sheeran’s latest venture.
I mean, fair play to the club for listening to the protestations of some fans and fan groups but I did struggle a bit, if I’m honest, with the celebratory aftermath given it was a gargantuan cock-up of the club’s own making in the first place.
Maybe that was just me.
But there is, of course, a financial hole that needs filling.
Is Cathy Dennis planning a comeback?
And, finally, as England start their own Euro 2020 campaign later, the usual debate around Gareth Southgate’s starting XI has been overtaken by talk of whether of not a minority of England fans will continue to boo when the players take a pre-match knee.
How crazy is that? Especially when Southgate and the players have explicitly gone out of their way to explain that the gesture has absolutely nothing to do with politics.
To quote from the FA’s statement: “They are doing this as a mechanism of peacefully protesting against discrimination, injustice, and inequality”.
Note: no mention of Black Lives Matter or Marxist revolutionaries with Southgate leading from the front as our own Che Guevara. Just a statement intended to remind us all that prejudices have no place in football and in society in general.
What a great start to England’s tournament it would be if, for those eight seconds, there’d not be a single boo.
I’m a dreamer.