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Sunday, June 24, 2012 - 23:12 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

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Hams In Black

Getting home (after watching a bloody monkey skip across the road merrily on my way to university - I would have taken photographic evidence, but it disappeared into the void deck as I fumbled for my phone), I was greeted by this:

Me: What the holy beep are you two doing?!

Mr. Ham: I got fed up after realising that I was not even the most famous hamster in this little island - some two-bit charlatan has gotten over seven million Youtube views for playing dead, a trick I have been diligently slaving away at for months. Well, I'm not one to mope, so I figured if the general public likes hams n' guns, that's what I'm very well going to give them!

Mr. Robo: Well, the getup does look kind of cool.

Me: *reviewing the video* He does play dead with nous - your version discomfitingly resembles an exceedingly loud albatross crossed with a melodramatic dying swan suffering a seizure while having its feathers plucked.

Mr. Ham: But that's how they do it in football!

Me: ...

Mr. Ham: And behold my eye for detail - I even got a replica neuralyzer! *flashes tubular object*

Mr. Robo: Ahhh! I'm blinded!

Mr. Ham: Hmm? That wasn't what my supplier told me would happen... *flicks it on again* Gah! Everything's white!

And The Challengers Are

*Some anxious hours later*

Mr. Robo: Whew, I can see again!

Me: That'll teach you two not to play around with repurposed lasers. Eh, isn't that Monsieur Jambon?

Monsieur Jambon: Oui. I have heard from my colleague Herr Ahm that you are unwilling to pay for the both of us, for presentation of the due political analysis as well as the ongoing Euro 2012, for which creatures with far more questionable track records have been making a killing.

Ordinarily, professionals of our status would have our receptionists hang up on you with dignity affronted, but in view of our longstanding commercial relationship, as well as out of the goodness of our little hearts, we will deign to proffer both in a single compact package, for the delight of your not-very-sophisticated readers. Merci:

The Team In White

(Source: football-wallpapers.com)

  • Favourites as usual
  • Not actually being a national team is a small detail, it's good enough that they aspire to be one
  • Think they're the best in the world, with some justification. Some.
  • Certainly think they aren't paid enough, never mind performances on the pitch and the fact that their comparatively more successful golden generations of yore received far less
  • Cannot understand why they cannot get 100% of the goals with 60% possession
  • Likes to ignore problems until they become disturbingly glaring even to die-hard supporters, whereupon the leadership panics and flings obscene sums of cash at ill-defined targets
  • Loves the foreign talent, but keeps a couple of local golden boys at the helm
  • Can always rely on state funding in difficult times - Eighty million for Ronaldo? No sweat
  • Stubborn refusal to admit any other team as being in their class, thanks to a glittering history bolstered in part by a strongman utilizing dubious tactics
  • Manager-of-the-day tends to take setbacks with bad grace, challenging reporters to do his job for him at post-match press conferences

Jambon's Advice: It's okay to want to be liked, there's no need to shun being popular all of the time, especially since some of The Right Things are so easy to do. You can backtrack and defend, there's no loss of face in that.

Jambon's Prediction: Who's kidding who? They'll continue burning cash on dubious purchases and offer one-goal victories against plucky teams that are worth approximately their left-back's toenail as proof of their potency, while struggling to give any credit when fairly beaten.

Monsieur Jambon: And that's not all, have I an introductionary bonus deal for you! I take it you are aware of the practice of supreme strategists like, say, Zhuge Liang preparing secret letters with instructions for use in time of crisis?

Me: Uh huh. One step above plain sealed orders.

Monsieur Jambon: As a certified Master Political Analyst, I have created a half-metre high stack of such letters of wisdom, as might be employed by The Team In White, covering every eventuality that might befall your company... I mean, country.

Me: Looks intimidating. Mind if I try a few?

Monsieur Jambon: Be my guest.

Me: *selects envelope at random* Ok, I've got "Growth rate slowing". Let's see what the strategy is... "Import more people". Well, that sounds plausible.

Monsieur Jambon: Do go on.

Me: "Low birth rates", here goes... "Import more people"

"Losing popular support" - "Import more people"

"Falling competitiveness" - "Import more people"

"Indistinct national identity"... hey, this one's blank! Is there some profound hidden meaning behind the lack of words?

Monsieur Jambon: Let me see. *grabs blank piece of paper* Nope, I think the photocopier just ran out of toner.

Me: ...

The Team In Blue

(Source: eurowallpapers.com)

  • Long, storied history, huge threat in earliest days
  • Coming off an extended period of indifferent showings at the highest levels
  • Conservative, stolid, hard to break down
  • Can be frustratingly idle when they have the ball
  • Likes to build up a strong, disciplined, base from the back before slowly and cautiously advancing
  • Younger members tend to get into trouble for fooling around with the ladies

Jambon's Advice: Unlike the others, they cannot be said to be a one-man team any longer, having collected a few true stars. Should do what they do best - defend their strongholds - while aiming for counterattacks down the flanks, especially when they get home ground advantage. Try not to alienate other underdogs unnecessarily.

Jambon's Prediction: Steady expansion. Won't be particularly fast or pretty, but it should work.

The Team In Red

(Source: blogspot.com)

  • Their English is usually the best among the teams, though that's not saying much
  • (New) media darling each time a major tournament rolls along - massive online hype
  • Individually, all supposedly top-class players, who in addition can really talk a game. Unfortunately it tends to come apart when the match actually starts and the players are supposed to start moving
  • Some rather ugly leadership tussles in the past
  • Harps on purity of the honest good ol' blood-and-thunder long ball tactic. Oblivious to fact that it hasn't been working since the Sixties, and that they could go so much further if they mixed it up a bit
  • In this vein, likes to send a lone striker or two wandering about aimlessly, mouthing off what had better be slogans. Unsurprisingly they tend to be surrounded, overpowered and removed from the game. But it's the principle of the thing...
  • Additionally, star player often red-carded for start of tournaments
  • Due to all these factors, often starved of service. May insist that it was all voluntary
  • Perhaps more fans overseas than at home
  • Some reputation for gentlemanliness; can be horrible at diving and other forms of guile

Jambon's Advice: Start from the grassroots - the young tend to like the team for the passion, until they get disillusioned by one pointless stray pass too many.

Jambon's Prediction: Some improvement, but since they are starting from a kinda low base level, it may take them a long time to win anything.

The Team In Red And White

(Source: charlesayoub.com)

  • Underdogs that most find hard to say much against
  • Led by that one legend, otherwise composed of grafters whose names can barely be pronounced by most commentators, let alone remembered
  • Fortunes sink like a stone after explosive introduction to the scene, as legend ages but bravely hangs on and tries to carry the team

Jambon's Advice: Not much long-term hope unless a worthy successor can be found.

Jambon's Prediction: Not much hope of that.

The Team In Orange

(Source: mattwynne.net)

  • Bright, cheery, full of (unfulfilled) promise
  • Once, it was hailed as total football - now, there are whispers that they are simply disorganized
  • Hard to determine exactly what they stand for; at least for the Team In Red, fans know that they will do their doomed long ball routine
  • Behind-the-scenes sulking as upstart stars are born? More likely than you think

Jambon's Advice: They have the raw numbers and probably even the talent. Now to find a tagline that sticks.

Jambon's Prediction: None. I doubt their manager himself knows the plan.

The Team In Yellow

  • He's the guy in yellow in the above photo

Jambon's Advice: Another team, really? There may be sentiment behind it, but there's a real risk of becoming a Matthew Le Tissier and retiring without a medal. If he's to join a contending team, it had better be soon.

Jambon's Prediction: Retires without a medal, name turns up in trivia quizzes about loyalty.

Me: I still think England can nick it against Italy later.

Monsieur Jambon: And you call me unrealistic?!

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