England lost, but it's the Sun wot won it
There are few better days to night edit a tabloid than the week of an England match against West Germany. The trick is to be in the chair all week to make sure you get the full range of headline opportunities.
It’s all very well for Thomas de Maiziere to call for restraint, but he needs to know that, behind the scenes in the aftermath of the only story anyone is talking about, it’s open season - and pure Spitting Image.
Why else would we go like lambs to the slaughter of credibility with such barking predictions as Germans terrified of 3 lions (Sun, Friday, complete with picture of ‘scaredy cat’ players in a fortified safari truck and an inset Wayne Rooney in boxing pose), We’ll make Roo sorry (Sunday Mirror) and All-out roar (NoW with an embarrassing picture of Rooney, Gerrard and Terry showing their fangs alongside a token lion, there presumably so we don’t mistake them for vampires). Even the Sunday Express waded in with Rooney holding a giant flag with the headline: Your country needs Roo.
That was before the match. Edition put to bed, its time to roll up your sleeves and you’re 90 minutes away from the likes of Fritz your lot (Daily Star) and Rout of Africa (Mirror); the sort written days ago, when the draw was made and stored for the inevitable.
The Mail gave the top of page one to the Littlejohn quote, If The few had defended as badly as England, we’d all be speaking German now. That just about said it.
But for once, only one tabloid back benche woke up the old adage that there’s no better way to tell a story than straight.
Thus the best front page of the day: The Sun, with it’s full-page shot of the backs of the players lined up for the national anthem as if facing a firing squad of fans with the headline: You let your country down.
Some things are best served raw.