It's still early, and there's plenty of time for the kind of frothing, pun-spewing meltdown I know we're all hoping for, but so far, the response from the English tabloids to their team's 4-1 loss to Germany has been downright tepid. Words like "shame," "disgrace," "trampled dreams," "surrender," and "Beckham" are being tossed around, but almost apologetically, as if the writers know it's expected of them but are too depressed to give it their best try.
I mean, anyone can write a SHOCK PANIC END OF DAYS headline, but it takes something special to write a SHOCK PANIC END OF DAYS headline that really tells the story. Or that successfully spreads the information that the linesman who incorrectly ruled out Frank Lampard's goal, thus STOMPING on the PRECIOUS HOPES of ENGLISH BOYHOOD everywhere, was Uruguayan. Uruguayan! Why, in England, he'd be an immigrant! Anyway, as usual, the Sun gets off to the best start.
Okay, it's not brilliant, but at least there's a searingly bad pun — a vaguely nationalist one at that — and a picture of Lampard looking like a sad butterfly. Fly, Frank Lampard, it seems to whisper. Oh, no, you can't fly, because the referee completely hates you. Easily a 6 on the MURDER FRENZY SAVAGED VIRTUE scale (MFSV).
Minutes after the match, and the Sun has already fired up a poll widget designed to let fans "have their say." That's class, kind of. And the bummed England fan is worth another .5 MSFV points, at least. Dude doesn't even need his sunglasses. The world looks dark enough already.
This is where the Sun really distances itself from the competition. The WAGs insta-reaction, combined with gratuitous Mick Jagger coverage, combined with merciless assonance, is just pulverizing to the senses and therefore pure tabloid brilliance. "Sad Wags and Jaggs" may be the most brain-destroying phrase I've read in a week. +10 MSFV points.
The Daily Star, normally the trashiest and most reliably lurid of the tabloids, doesn't fare nearly so well:
Seriously, what is this? The "Mullered" pun is so obvious Martin Tyler actually thought of it during the game, and the side articles make it look like the Star is more interested in sad actors from Twilight than in the fact that they just lost World War II, II. Also, do they really want to say that the England loss was "hot"? Are we sure they didn't mean that for Georgie? Score: 2 MFSV. Tops.
The Daily Mail is a little more on the ball, but not by much
Mad tabloid credit for working in the linesman's nationality (you mean England don't get English match officials?) and for making Frank Lampard look like he's 70 feet tall for absolutely no reason. But what's with the attempt at consolation? The sun's still shining? Are you saying Buckingham Palace isn't going to slide into the sea? Plus, shouldn't a 70-foot Lampard have been able to crush the antlike Mannschaft? -5 for confusing the basic purpose of a tabloid, -2 for a self-defeating use of Photoshop. 1 MFSV.
Here, however, the Mail redeems itself. That is one scary-looking England WAG. If Frank Lampard's dessicated corpse is found in a South African dumpster tomorrow, the Mail gets +30 MFSV points retroactively.
The News of the World isn't even trying with this one. Same lame "Mullered" pun as the Star, and it's ramrodded in next to a Simon Cowell sex teaser that might be the only thing an Englishman would fear more than the Germany loss. A bruised, pulpy 0 on the MSFV scale for a tabloid from which we usually expect so much less.
Of course, the alternative to frenzy is denial, and in a sense, the People's approach is the fairest of them all. From two hours after the Germany match:
Defoe. Legend. Never surrender.