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Hodgson must shoulder blame for England's abysmal showings at three tournaments

QUESTION MARKS: Roy Hodgson's (above) tactical decisions have been baffling, as the Three Lions are left licking their wounds after their exit.
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Neil Humphreys: Why English football is rubbish

Daniel Sturridge despairs after England were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland.
Daniel Sturridge despairs after England were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland.

The only surprise at another dismal England defeat is that brainwashed zealots continue to be surprised.

Dazzled by the shiny EPL product, which is a like a manufactured Marvel Universe of make-believe superheroes, Three Lions apologists still believed in a mediocre football nation. But what was there to believe in exactly?

Strip away the corporate sheen that covers every EPL campaign and fifty years of hurt pour out of a deep, infected wound.

English footballers fail. 

They are conditioned to fail because they exist in a culture that cannot find a sane middle ground, that happy place between the boom and bust cycle that calmer, rational nations find during major tournaments.

As the popular chant goes, England are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. And then, they lose to Iceland and they are by far the worst team the world has ever seen.

Neither argument is remotely valid, but each gives an archaic football culture a chance to indulge both its out-dated, imperialistic belief in its own supremacy and its extraordinary talent for weepy martyrdom.

Ludicrous outpouring

Watch in the coming days as the outpouring of collective grief, anger and blind panic reaches hilariously ludicrous proportions, obviously not as serious as the tragic death of Princess Diana, but on a par with Brexit.

Indeed, Britain's dramatic EU referendum result neatly captured an inherent conceit that has dogged football for decades.

We're bigger and better than Europe. Oh, wait, maybe we're not after all.

The horrifying realisation of a premature exit and its repercussions will dominate post-mortems for weeks to come, in both the political and football arenas.

But England's defeat by Iceland should not be construed as the Biggest Shock in the History of the World (according to the hysterical British media on Tuesday morning), when examined in the context of both nations' respective performances.

Iceland had maximised their resources, played to their limited strengths and harnessed their history-making momentum.

England were four games into a haphazard tournament, still in search of a vaguely recognisible line-up, formation or playing style.

At best, they were the right squad of players with the wrong manager at the helm, bumbling his way to an undignified retirement.

Expectation

But they were still expected to beat Iceland because they were England, the international powerhouse without a silver pot to its name since 1966.

It was that very dogmatic insistence that the Three Lions remained continent contenders, an inflated opinion artificially pumped up by a domestic league mostly ruled by foreign talent that expected victory.

It was that puerile insistence that English football is perennially one trophy away from coming "home". 

Ignoring the entrenched culture of fear and self-loathing at every tournament since 1990, England fans still dare to dream, despite all logical evidence to the contrary.

Even with Roy Hodgson in charge, an international manager who conducts press conferences like the Teletubbies performing a song and dance number, England's blinkered disciples still spoke of European glory with a straight face.

Why confront harsh reality when the national game can wallow in a ridiculous myth of its own making?

Gullibility

England's gullible supporters and administrators and their eagerness to believe the hype not only kept Hodgson in a job he was clearly ill-suited for, it also contributed to the alarming lack of systematic root and branch reform. Rather than nourish youth football's incubators, it was easier and more rewarding in the short-term to feed the EPL cash cow instead.

Germany, Spain and Belgium all embarked on internal revolutions, fixing their national games and leagues from the bottom up after the turn of the century.

England, meanwhile, still hark back to that "legendary" 5-1 victory in Germany from 2001. The Germans have won a World Cup since then and are in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 but, hey, they never beat the Three Lions 5-1, did they?

Hodgson will now be replaced and there'll be talk of internal reviews and radical reforms, but as long as the English Premier League continues to take precedence and a jingoistic nation feeds off past glories, little will change.

England are rubbish because they are rubbish, handicapped with misplaced arrogance and overshadowed by a superior domestic league.

Acknowledging that inconvenient truth would be a good place to start.

But a sparkly EPL season will kick off soon enough and all we be forgotten.

English and Spanish fans unite in defeat

England and Spain fans unite to sing on a Paris Metro train after their teams were eliminated from Euro 2016.
England and Spain fans unite to sing on a Paris Metro train after their teams were eliminated from Euro 2016.

On a crowded Parisian train, England and Spain fans, united in their disappointment, locked arms.

The English fans started singing, first jumping up and down and rocking the sides of the carriage.

Initially, the Spanish supporters seemed confused, struggling to understand the slurred words in a foreign tongue.

And then they understood and joined in…

Don't take me home,
Please don't take me home,
I just don't wanna go to work,
I wanna stay here,
And drink all your beer
Please don't, please don't, take me home.

The scene was genuinely funny, an uplifting end to a sombre night for both countries.

 

The red-eyed Spanish supporters were on their way back from the Stade de France, where Italy had knocked out Vicente Del Bosque's lacklustre artists just hours earlier.

Three Lions fans, a little unsteady on their feet and grinning inanely, had left the Stade de France fan zone, where a giant screen magnified England's horrific loss to Iceland.

Within minutes of exchanging commiserations, they were best friends forever, Spanish and English cousins, part of the same European family (at least in a football sense) and sharing the grief and bitter dejection.

The songs kept on coming. Some were obvious. Will Grigg's on Fire now gets sung whenever two rival countries meet for the first time, like a bizarre United Nations pledge.

 

 

French children, returning home after a night out with their families, even joined in. The infectious "na-na-na-na-nas" cross all language barriers.

The Spaniards then kicked off with the hilariously daft "Yaya … Yaya Toure, Kolo … Kolo Toure" etc, which was a welcome, surreal addition to the repertoire as neither player has a connection with either country or the Euros

Within seconds, English and Spanish fans were waving arms in the air for Yaya and then bending down low for Kolo, obviously, much to the amusement of Parisians, quickly whipping out mobile phones to record the merry madness.

 

 

Without a doubt, this is the best of Euro 2016, a tiny capsule of joy released away from the stadiums and the TV cameras and enjoyed by visitors and locals alike.

England's abysmal performance against Iceland generated the usual splenetic reaction from furious punters and apoplectic writers alike (including this one) and with good reason.

But the rage against Roy Hodgson's malfunctioning machines, coupled with those thuggish scenes in Marseilles, overshadows the obvious fact that most England fans just want to have fun.

Frankly, Euro 2016 promises to be an improved spectacle without Hodgson's guileless, witless plodders staggering around like emaciated zombies.

But France will certainly miss most England fans.

Unfortunately, as the song goes, they've got to go home and return to work, eventually.

New BTO residents suffer stench, maggots from blocked chute

Instead of the joy of a new home, new residents of Block 817A, Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1 are facing the agony of foul smells and flies.

This is a result of a rubbish chute that is choked all the way to the eighth floor.

"On the lower floors, the stench is unbearable. And when I open the chute, insects fly out," said Mr Nazmi Othman, 31, who lives on the fourth floor with his wife and two children.

"This is a new estate, so I don't expect the rubbish chute to get choked so fast," said Mr Nazmi.

The build-to-order (BTO) estate was only completed in March. Currently, about 10 units in the block are occupied.

When The New Paper visited the block on Monday, there was an obvious stench on the affected floors - the lower floors of the block had the worst of the odour.

When this reporter checked the chute on the seventh floor, there were bags of food waste - polystyrene containers wrapped in plastic bags. A closer look revealed maggots that could be seen writhing under the red plastic.

Many of the other homeowners are still renovating their flats.

There is clutter and debris from renovations by the void deck.

"It is normal because we live in a new block, but necessary arrangements should still be made to clear the rubbish," said 35-year-old Mr Roy.

Despite constant reports to the relevant authorities, residents say not enough is being done to resolve the issues.


Get the full story in the print edition of The New Paper (Wednesday, June 29)

 

Jailed for impersonating policeman to get money from prostitutes

Hiring the prostitute, he wasn’t interested in having sex with her but her money.

Lying that he was a police officer who was cash-strapped, he demanded $6,000 from her.

She turned him down then later turned him in to the real cops.

It wasn’t his first time trying to cheat a hooker by posing as a cop — having already targeted two others a few days earlier.

Yesterday, Sherman Lim Chiang Khai, 28, an Uber driver, was jailed three weeks and fined $1,500 for his crimes.

On Oct 23 last year, Lim contacted Ms Liang Yan, 29, a Chinese national, in response to her online advertisements for massage services.

Court papers said she also provided sexual services to her clients.

They met at her apartment in Balestier at about 1pm that day.

Once inside, Lim claimed he was a police officer and showed Ms Liang two white and blue cards attached to a lanyard.

Ms Liang, who does not understand English, was unable to read the words on the cards and pleaded with Lim not to arrest her.

He told her he could let her off if she helped him, adding that he was facing financial problems.

He asked for $6,000, but Ms Liang said she did not have that much and continued pleading with him.

Lim then asked her to delete his contact number as well as their text messages on her phone, before leaving.

Ms Liang made a police report about an alleged officer who asked her for money and was told to alert the police should Lim contact her again.

True enough, Lim contacted Ms Liang again five days later on Oct 28 and arranged for another appointment.

At about 6.30pm, he drove to her unit accompanied by another man, Chan Ching San, 34, who stayed in the car and kept a lookout.

By then, Ms Liang had alerted the police after she recognised Lim’s phone number.

Lim and Chan were later arrested near Ms Liang’s unit.

Police also found on Lim a Xiaomi mobile phone he had fraudulently taken from another prostitute.

Lim had also tried to deceive two other women into giving him money by posing as a cop on Oct 21.

Court documents, however, do not reveal the amounts involved.

Lim had earlier admitted to one count of attempting to deceive Ms Liang and another count of failing to account how he obtained the mobile phone.

The case against his accomplice, Chan, is pending.

Yesterday, defence lawyer Derek Kang said in mitigation that Lim was remorseful and did not take any money from Ms Liang.

He said Lim approached Ms Liang a second time because he forgot he had already contacted her before.

Mr Kang added that Lim confessed to attempting to trick the other two women on his own and would not have been charged had he not volunteered the information to the police.

District Judge Salina Ishak said a jail term was warranted as posing as a police officer had grave implications on the integrity of the Force.

The judge added Lim targeted victims who were unable to read English and susceptible to deception.

Mr Kang indicated to the court his client would be appealing.

 

Breaking fast with Madam Jurina

Madam Jurina Johari (right) breaking fast with her second son, Mr Muhammad Shahirul Junadi.

Four hours before it was time to break fast, Madam Jurina Johari was already hard at work in her kitchen preparing nasi lemak.

It's a simple fare - no fried chicken or fish, just rice cooked in coconut milk, sambal tumis with ikan bilis, cucumber slices and egg.

"We're not well to-do. We live and cook simply, make do with the bare minimum and have to be thrifty," Madam Jurina, 42, told The New Paper at her one-room rental flat in Sembawang.

She lives with her two sons - a 22-year-old who is doing his national service and a 21-year-old who has autism - and her 60-year-old mother.

 

 

Gesturing towards her younger son Muhammad Shahirul Junadi, Madam Jurina said: "My son asked me once, 'Mama, can we have chicken, please?' I had no choice but to tell him we can buy it when, God-willing, we have extra money in the future. We can't always give in to our whims and fancies and eat whatever we want.

"We have to budget. For us, parting with $100 is like forking out $500. "

She last allowed her son that 'indulgence' a week ago when she bought some chicken. But she tried to ration the packet of frozen chicken for as long as possible.

Madam Jurina's family have long accepted their plight and are content with eating simple meals like rice and butter with soy sauce and egg.

TNP first spoke to Madam Jurina, a two-time divorcee, when she was robbed of $50 back in April.

It was the last of the money she had for that week. Money she needed to feed her sons.

The amount can tide the family over for about three days.

Madam Jurina depends on the alimony she receives from both her ex-husbands, donations from well-wishers and social aid.

The alimony amounts come up to about $600 but are not regular and the amount, fixed, she said. 

Ms Chin Tong Mui, general manager of Social Service Office at Sembawang told TNP that officers from the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) Social Service Office (SSO) at Sembawang visited Madam Jurina after TNP's story last month.

She said that they are providing Madam Jurina’s family with  financial assistance for rental, utilities, as well as service and conservancy charges from June to November 2016. 

Ms Chin added: "We are working closely with social workers from Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore to explore alternative care arrangements for Mdm Jurina’s younger son. We have also referred her to Sembawang Family Service Centre to help her better cope with her personal, social and emotional challenges.”

Madam Jurina, who has been a kidney patient for the past 25 years, was forced to quit her job as a part-time assistant pharmacist just before Ramadan when her mother, Madam Rabiah Salim, could not cope on her own caring for Mr Muhammad Shahirul. She was earning $7 per hour. 

Madam Jurina is used to a life filled with ups and downs.

She worries for her own health, although she would rarely seek treatment for health issues. 

Madam Jurina has been struggling with chronic kidney disease since she was 17 — she had her right kidney removed eight years later.

She said that have told her she requires treatment but she cannot afford the medical expenses. Medicine for herself and monthly check-ups for her mother, who is diabetic and has heart problems, would amount to $1,000 each month. She has stopped taking her medication as it is money she cannot afford, Madam Jurina said. 

At times, she would find blood in her urine but not see a doctor as she fears that being hospitalised would mean she cannot take care of her mother and autistic son.

When money was especially tight, the family spent a day of Ramadan in darkness after their electricity supply was cut off temporarily last year.

But despite the hurdles in life, staying strong is the only way she knows how.

"I live for my family. If you think you have a hard life, there are others out there surviving without their limbs. I am already lucky," she said.

With only herself to rely on, the resourceful mother always finds means to provide for her family the best way she can.

"When the FairPrice supermarket nearby wants to throw away their older stock of chicken and vegetables to make way for new ones, the shop assistants will ask if I want them. I'm not fussy. As long as they are still in good condition, I will take them," said Madam Jurina.

At 6pm, Madam Jurina started preparing for iftar, setting two small, foldable bed trays on the floor.

Iftar is a simple meal of nasi lemak, placed on foldable trays. TNP PHOTO: NOOR ASHIKIN ABDUL RAHMAN

They serve as tables on which she places the food. Cups of drinks are placed on top of pots on the stove due to lack of space.

Iftar, or breaking fast, was a quiet affair with only Madam Jurina and her younger son. Her mother typically breaks fast at the nearby Assyafaah Mosque, where she will stay on to perform the nightly terawih prayers while her older son, Mr Muhammad Shafiee, was still in camp.

When the call to prayer was heard, Mr Muhammad Shahirul slid across the floor towards the tables and sat before his mother, palms outstretched to recite prayer with her before eating.

With Hari Raya fast approaching next week, Madam Jurina yearns to give her sons the best.

"I long to bring them shopping for new clothes so badly. My needs are secondary, what's important are my kids. I can make do with a $30 outfit from a pasar malam, but I want to give them something special. My sons are my everything," said Madam Jurina, tears welling in her eyes.

England humiliated by Iceland

A young England fan reacts during after England lost 1-2 to Iceland in the Euro 2016.
The dejected English lie on the turf after their shocked lost to Iceland.

ENGLAND 1

ICELAND 2

England are out of Euro 2016 after suffering a humiliating 2-1 defeat to Iceland on Tuesday morning (Singapore time).

Having arrived at Euro 2016 among the favourites, falling at the last-16 hurdle to a country the size of Leicester ranks alongside the 1950 World Cup exit to the United States in the embarrassment stakes - and led to Hodgson immediately stepping down as manager.

It was a result few could argue with after a cumbersome, uninspiring and ragged England display, where Iceland secured a deserved 2-1 win thanks to a ruthlessness the Three Lions could only dream of.

The greatest day in the tiny Nordic island's footballing history led to Roy Hodgson announcing his resignation.

The dearth of options to replace him is as demoralising as England's display on the French Riviera.

Wayne Rooney's penalty gave England a dream start after four minutes, but from that point they were largely outfought, outbattled and outplayed.

Ragnar Sigurdsson all too easily lost Kyle Walker from Aron Gunnarsson's mammoth throw to level within two minutes and things got worse when a Kolbeinn Sigthorsson effort trickled home after Joe Hart's pathetic attempt at a save.

Wayward finishing, stern defending and poor passing meant England were unable to find a response as Iceland deservedly set up a remarkable quarter-final with hosts France next Monday (July 4, Singapore time).

As for England, bowing out to Iceland will leave a hangover that will prove hard to shake, with fans chanting, "You're not fit to wear the shirt" at the final whistle.

Few could have foreseen such an ending given the way England flew out of the blocks, with Daniel Sturridge's strike after 92 seconds followed up by a goal inside four minutes.

The Liverpool frontman's fine ball over the top found the much-maligned Raheem Sterling, whose pace flummoxed Hannes Halldorsson and led to a penalty.


Wayne Rooney scoring from the penalty spot. Their joy was short lived though. PHOTO: REUTERS

Referee Damir Skomina had no hesitation pointing to the spot and Rooney struck home confidently, firing low to the Iceland goalkeeper's right - a dream start that lasted mere minutes.

The enormous throw of captain Gunnarsson may have been highlighted by Hodgson but caught his side out, with Kari Arnason's flicked header allowing the unmarked Ragnar Sigurdsson to direct home.

Walker, so impressive in the group stage, was horribly caught out by the centre-back, who turned home to send those in blue wild.

Dele Alli came close with an exceptional strike as England looked to strike back, with Harry Kane next to try his luck before being caught by another preventable blow.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson turned a Gylfi Sigurdsson pass into the path of Sigthorsson, whose touch gave him enough space to get away a right-footed shot that Hart somehow failed to turn around the post.


England's goalkeeper Joe Hart misses the second goal by Iceland's forward Kolbeinn Sigthorsson. PHOTO: AFP

Those in white watched on in stunned silence as the ball trickled over the line, with the limp-wristed attempt at a save leading to as much shock as anger.

It threw England off-kilter and it took several minutes to regain an iota of composure, with Halldorsson tipping over Kane's superb volley when they next attacked.

Rooney tried his luck from distance after Ari Skulason went close with an audacious left-footed strike at the other end as those on the pitch reflected the tension in the stand.

Chris Smalling's header went wide and a Sturridge cross-shot threatened before the half-time whistle, which England greeted with hearty and deserved boos.

Jack Wilshere, surprisingly, replaced Eric Dier when the teams re-emerged as Hodgson looked to find an equaliser, with a powerful Kane header easily stopped soon after the restart.

Another poorly defended set-piece nearly saw Iceland pull further ahead 10 minutes into the second half, though, with Hart fortunate that Ragnar Sigurdsson's close-range overhead was straight at him.

However, there were few signs of life from England as Alli and Wilshere failed from distance in-between the introduction of Jamie Vardy.

The Leicester striker was denied an early effort on goal by Ragnar Sigurdsson's wonderful tracking back, with Rooney jeered when over hitting a cross from the resulting corner.

Birkir Saevarsson's threatening drive and skipper Gunnarsson's near-post drive threatened to make things worse as England left themselves exposed at the back, with Arnason heading wide from a corner.

The inability of Hodgson's men to break through Iceland's well-drilled side led to the gamble of Marcus Rashford being brought on.

Arnason got back well to clear in stoppage time but it was too little, too late. England were out and deservedly so - the most crushing and embarrassing circumstances.

Lady Gaga meets Dalai Lama in US

The Dalai Lama and singer Lady Gaga appear together for a question and answer session on "the global significance of building compassionate cities" at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 84th Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana United States, June 26, 2016.

It's not every day you see these two public figures in one room.

US pop star Lady Gaga sat down with spiritual leader Dalai Lama for a 20-minute chat at the US Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis on Sunday.

He delivered a keynote speech to the gathered mayors about the importance of building compassionate cities.

During a private question-and-answer session backstage, the 30-year-old singer asked him questions chosen from social media.

 

"Hope is essential to keep the world going." - His Holiness the Dalai Lama #withcompassion #usmc2016 #kindyouth

A photo posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on

One of them was about "eating disorders, addiction, self-harm and suicide".

The 80-year-old Tibetan monk said "these problems are a lack of ability (to have) compassionate feelings" as today's culture is too "self-centered" and "materialistic".

Both Gaga and the Dalai Lama revealed that they meditate. He said keeping his mind clear is the key to his youthful face.


50 Cent charged for swearing

US rapper 50 Cent was arrested and charged for his use of profanity during an appearance at a concert on the Caribbean island of St Kitts last Saturday.His representative said the 40-year-old was only "booked to host the show" but the festival organisers told him to perform even though they did not have "the clean version to his tracks".

He was granted bail of US$1,800 (S$2,500) for swearing in public as it's illegal in the Caribbean.

English singer Adele spewed 33 expletives during her 90-minute set on Saturday at Glastonbury, but didn't have to face the authorities.


Independence Day sequel in second place

Aliens are no match for a forgetful blue tang at the US box office.

Pixar's animated hit Finding Dory has held on to its No. 1 spot, amassing US$73.2 million (S$99.6 million) in its second week.

Alien invasion sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, however, debuted in second place below expectations with US$41.6 million.

It is below the opening figure of US$50.2 million of the original 1996 Independence Day movie.

Long pegged as one of movie studio Twentieth Century Fox's tentpoles of the 2016 summer season, it is directed by Roland Emmerich, who also directed the first film.


Stars honour Prince at BET Awards

The Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards on Sunday night featured a string of tributes honouring US singer Prince (above), who died in April at 57.

Taking the stage at Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater, US comedian Dave Chappelle said: "One of our heroes had left us, and literally, our hearts were broken."

The Roots, Erykah Badu and Bilal were the first to perform a medley of Prince's classic hits.

Later on during the show, Tori Kelly and Stevie Wonder both covered Take Me With You.

This was followed by Jennifer Hudson's (above) emotional rendition of Purple Rain.

Others in the line-up included Maxwell, Janelle Monae and Sheila E.


You get temporary amnesia in order to further the human race, otherwise there would be no people left.

- US actress Megan Fox, who is pregnant with her third child, on mothers forgetting the pain of childbirth.

NEA introduces new bands for hourly PM2.5 readings

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