What Now For Ruben Loftus-Cheek? | Brian Glanville
Whither now Ruben Loftus-Cheek? Of whom so little was lamentably made use in the recent World Cup. With Gareth Southgate reluctant to call up a disappointed Jack Wilshere, whom Arsenal have now cast out without a transfer fee, this England was seriously lacking in surprise and invention. When at last he was given a chance and a start in the third-place match against Belgium, Loftus-Cheek had an excellent game, using the back to good effect, forcing a corner on the only major occasion when he was tackled.
Significantly he was generously praised by none other than Glenn Hoddle, both in his half-time summary of that game and in the follow-up after the game. Though alas he didn’t get a word from the commentating triumvirate of Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Lee Dixon.
Hoddle knows all about being side-lined. A player of unusual ball skills – he once told me that he had mastered all his repertoire bar one trick in his back garden by the age of 11 – he made a superb debut at Wembley only to be dropped from the next England game with Ron Greenwood, then the manager, remarking: “Disappointment is part of football.”
When Bobby Robson became the England manager, Hoddle was initially ostracised. When he did at last gain a place he was bizarrely banished to the right flank where his skills and use of the long pass were nullified. It was only when the team went to a friendly tournament in Mexico that the other players virtually conspired to bring him into the middle. Ultimately as we know RObson had what you might call a Damascene moment when he suddenly in training camp eulogised Hoddle, comparing him with his old Fulham partner, Johnny Haynes.
Loftus-Cheek, though he played so well on loan to Crystal Palace last season remains a Chelsea player, but will they find room for him?
We hear an awful lot at present from Gary Neville whe even for reasons somewhat obscure was called in front of the Parliamentary committee, saying that the FA’s plans to sell Wembley are absurd, the price ridiculous, a “pittance…a short-term plan we’ll regret forever.” But why? The fact is Neville clearly has no idea of the history of Wembley stadium which has come into the ownership of the FA only every recently indeed. It was initially and for many years owned by Arthur Elvin, who had a mere tobacco kiosk at the great Wembley exhibition in the early 1920s. After the reign of Elvin there were various owners, the FA’s attitude to them and Wembley bordering on the deferential. In due and ultimate time it would become a fearful wreck of a place which desperately needed its eventual, and arguably too costly and prolonged, rebuilding.
Whether the price the FA is reported to be getting if it does sell is right is another matter. But Neville, something of a self-appointed expert, should be more assiduous with his facts.
All good wishes to Barry Davies now that he has retired from commentating. The phrase which was largely attributed to him on his announcement was, “Interesting, very interesting,” which has always seemed rather self-concious to me.
In his prime, he was better remembered for his the fortissimo, “Look at his face, just look at his face” when Franny Lee was I believe the star involved.
I’d certainly rather have him commentating the recent World Cup Final on the BBC than the complacent Guy Mowbray who could not even properly pronounce the name of Brazil’s star winger and later manager, Mario Zagallo (who added an L late in his career).
Mowbray called him ZAG-alo which made you wonder where he rather than Zagallo has been all these years. Davies and Motson would never have made that mistake.
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