Actually, by their own standards, the English tabloids have been pretty calm in the run-up to Sunday's match against Germany. Sure, by anyone else's standards, they're in the middle of a complete psychotic break, don't know what year it is, and are charging down the street in a bathrobe menacing passersby with their great-grandfather's blunderbuss. But these are the English tabloids; that could be any weekday. For the oak-hearted beefeaters who famously celebrated England's drawing Germany in the semifinals of Euro 96 with a headline reading "ACHTUNG! SURRENDER!", the past few days have had an air of eerie quiet.
That's not to say that they're unmindful of a World War or two. The dew hadn't settled on England's 1-0 squeaker over Slovenia before the Daily Star brought forth a giant goose-honk reading: "JOB DONE .. NOW FOR THE HUN." You might notice that there are only two periods in that ellipsis. I'm guessing that's one for the Armistice and one for V-E Day.
Today, the Star has upped the historical-reenactment ante by Photoshopping a tin hat onto Wayne Rooney — it's oddly several sizes too large for him, as though Rooney had a smallish head — then Photoshopping an England flag onto the tin hat, then Photoshopping the word "England" onto the England flag, just in case you were slow to get the point. Rooney's smiling, like he wants to pour you an ale, but he's also got his fists raised, like he wants to punch Kaiser Wilhelm right in his pointy mustache. You know, Marquess of Queensbury-style. God save the etc. Next to him, in bold, underlined text, a half-remembered quotation from Churchill floats inspiringly.
The "Wayne Rooney with his fists up" theme runs through several of the tabloids, partly because Wayne Rooney's bareknuckle boxing prowess will be England's main advantage in a game that doesn't involve the use of the hands, partly because some guy recently took pictures of Wayne Rooney with his fists up. Some guy also recently took pictures of the German players on safari. They were in a caged bus, to avoid being killed by wildlife (cowards), and at one point their tour they passed a trio of lions. You might recall that one of England's nicknames is "the Three Lions." The connection here is probably too subtle for you, but trust me, if you were a tabloid writer, you would send your kids to college on this business.
They all get in on the act, especially the Sun (note the tiny squared-up Rooney):
What no one's really pointing out here is that these are female lions. It's as if the German players aren't scared of the England team, they're scared of the England WAGs! As are we all, Jogi. As are we all.
Photos: Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Sun
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