Leicester: Cities in England do not get more multi-ethnic than Leicester. They say this is the city which is the most tolerant when it comes to absorbing people from various backgrounds. Something like the ‘Doodh ma saakar‘ story which runs in Gujarat, of how the state absorbed the Parsis from Iran like sugar in milk.
And the people from other communities are also as immersed in English culture as their adopted country. No surprise then that there was an Indian man, decked up in a well-cut suit, looking through one of those frames which you wear only on special occasions and a pint of Carling in his hands…but with and England no.10 shirt beneath his coat.
“Come on Micah!” he went as the marauding English right-back reached the penalty areas in one of the attacks that a young English squad produced.
There was a choice of pints, straight from Down Under in the form of Fosters (of course, since Australia has still kept Queen Elizabeth II as their government apex), Belgium’s Stella Artois, English favourite Carling and an international brew in the form of San Miguel.
It was an exciting atmosphere at the Oadby Owl, one of those pubs whose name may raise eyebrows in other countries but not in one where there are bars which are also called ‘The moon and sixpence’. People were wearing their kits, flaunting their national pride and showing off their colours with a sense of excitement… a similar one to that which a new-look English team evoked.
The eyes were on Scott Parker of course, with the midfielder finishing the match with a brilliant performance, showcasing his typical hard-hitting tackling prowess, ability to break down attacks which started off with the absolutely brilliant Wesley Sneijder and a lionhearted attitude of throwing himself in front of some rasping shots, all of which were met with loud cheers.
But it was more of an ebb and tide situation. The match started out with a trio of young attackers lining up to lead the attack and all the centre-backs pushing forward to try and make the set-pieces count.
“Sturridge should have played from the start,” went a fan, and he was probably right, with the young Englishman coming on shortly for Steven Gerrard and adding a lot of sting for England up front, eventually ending up as man of the match after forcing a couple of good saves from Martin Stekelnburg.
But the noise died down soon as Arjen Robben whipped in a beauty from outside the box, taking advantage of the ample space provided to him by the English defenders. Minutes later it was Huntelaar’s turn to head in Kuyt’s cross, a goal which left Chris Smalling with a gashed head and forced both players to visit the hospital for precautionary measures. Alex Ferguson will surely not be a happy man after this.
“Damn!” went a fan after which he announced that he had Smalling as a goalscorer at odds of 40/1. Well, tough luck, eh?
Burgers and chips were ordered then, as people thought there wasn’t much left to see, but their nation did display a grittiness to come back courtesy of goals from Gary Cahill and Ashley Young, with the former showing some incredible composure for a centre-back to score in a one-on-one situation.
A roar followed that but it was short lived, the buzz from the downed tequilas a memory of the past as the ghosts of losing against top sides returned… and it was that man Arjen Robben who again proved to be the difference, burying late into the match to deny Pearce much happiness at the final whistle.
It was still a match which was evenly contested… with England proving a good unit given the recent occurrences in the dressing room and the absence of players like Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand.
People may have different thoughts at the end of the match, but they were unanimous on one front — England need an attacking midfielder of immense quality — someone who can make the final pass look like a touch of genius, and until that happens, the Oadby Owl will not make much of a catch.