Sport eh

Well it’s been a big week for sport hasn’t it? And another decent week for Brits; Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix and overtook his team-mate Rosberg in the race for the F1 Drivers’ title. Johanna Konta won her first big WTA title and the biggest by any British woman in 30 years after defeating Venus Williams in a nerve-shredding three-set final in the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, US. She has a ranking in the women’s top ten rankings in sight. After Murray’s successes it’s good to see a British tennis woman doing well at long last. The England cricket team trounced Pakistan in the 2nd test to square the series and Joe Root had a simply masterful match hitting 325 runs in all. Bloody brilliant. Finally Chris Froome won his 3rd Tour de France title after dominating the race with some scintiallating rides and tactics. Watching it was just great…

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Froome’s effort was superhuman, he is a phenomenom. But the thing that was equally impressive about his victory was the team ethic. The support from his Sky team mates to ensure he won the title was just amazing. They were self-less, committed, dominating, super strong and tactically superb. I’ve got to think that the Team Sky general manager Sir Dave Brailsford is possibly the best team manager in British sport at the moment. In a few short years he has taken the British cycling team and the Sky team to unprecedented success through astute strategic thinking, smart selection policy, brilliant appointments, a desire to embrace cutting edge technology and inspired leadership creating an unbelievable team spirit.

It got me wondering whether Brailsford wasn’t the man to take on the England football job. Especially since I in recent times the FA have tried the passionate local but inadequate one (Keegan), the exotic foreign but still inadequate one (Eriksson), the eye-wateringly expensive foreign but ultimately boring and inadequate one (Capello), back to the dour pragmatic Yerkshire one who tantalisingly won a League cup Final with Middlesbrough but unsurprisingly proved hopelessly inadequate, then an old bloke with a speech impediment whose biggest claim to fame was that he didn’t get sacked by Fulham FC. But when it came major international tournament performance his record was played 3, all abjectly. But he was paid over £15m by the FA for his mangificent achievements.

So with so much selection success you’d expect the FA would go for a guy like Brailsford wouldn’t you? You know… incredibly smart, articulate, well-connected, forward-thinking, persuasive, believable, inspiring with great man-management skills. Instead they plumped for Big Sam Allardyce. Sigh. Now some would say he fits the bill in many respects with his early adoption of pro-zone data and technology support and his tactical acumen, super confidence in his own abilities and his self-declared motivational skills. Plus of course he was recommended to the FA by Sir Alex Ferguson. It got me thinking…Sir Alex was very happy to put him forward for the plum England job but didn’t feel he would be up for the job at Man United. Umm funny that. Instead Sralex recommended David Moyes for the Man U role and we all know how that ended. About as badly as Roy’s performance.

So England get a guy who’s never taken a team down but who’s been sacked by such major teams as Blackburn, NUFC and West Ham  for producing dull, defensive, don’t lose football. He was even sacked by the disgraced Chairman of dear old Blackpool FC whilst Owen Oyston was still in his prison cell serving time for rape. Such class.

But I’m sure the FA feel confident they’ve got the right man. After all any guy who has managed Bolton can surely feel confident about coming up against shoddy teams like Germany, Italy, France, Argentina, Holland, Spain, Brazil, Portugal, and footballing giants like Iceland, Greenland and Rockall.

But if the decision by the FA was lacking in boldness, what can you say about the IOC’s decision not to make a strong statement and ban the entire Russian team from the Olympics and Paralympics in the light of the damning evidence of state-sponsored doping transgressions. Instead they passed on the decision to individual sports federations like a bunch of timid girls. It’s a frigging outrageous. Why are they so scared of Putin? It’s a disgraceful way to end a great week of sport.

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Suits you

I was interested to see the images this week of the England team heading off to Miami, en route to the World Cup sporting their new official suits. I’m sure the lads were expecting to don something snazzy from Armani or Hugo Boss or Paul Smith at the very least. They’ve actually been issued with matching jacket and strides from the official supplier M&S’s Autograph collection. Ah well lads. Continue reading

Dodgy food

Shocking news…I got chided by my lovely wife for posting the selfie with my two Bafta’s; not because it was just a little conceited (which might have been justified) but because it made me look like I’d had a mini stroke. Bit harsh. This was a bit of a surprise because I usually get told (and by some very close friends!) that my photos make me look like a child molester or that Victorian serial killer weirdo Bodkin Adams. Bloody cheek. I explained that I was winking rather than having a seizure because I was trying to imitate the famous bronze mask but I had another look and you know what…she may well be right. I do have a face for radio as we theatrical types put it. Continue reading

Why do we bother, Fawlty?

It’s one of the classic lines from Fawlty Towers uttered by the hotel’s oldest client and Basil’s dead-pan response, ‘I didn’t know you did Major’ was one of the all-time great put downs. It’s an exchange that puts me in mind of the situation involving the England team’s training regime in preparation for the World Cup. You see Roy and the boys are busy doing their squat thrusts at a training camp down in exclusive Vale do Lobo on the Algarve. I’m sure it’s great fun but why are they there rather than at the National Football Centre in Burton, a purpose-designed facility costing some £120m, which was built to be the base for England team get togethers? Ah you’ll reply, it’s to give the team some warm weather preparation before the lads hit the steamy heat of Manaus in Brazil. But it’s no big secret that the Algarve in late spring, delightful as it is, tends to be cool and blustery as yesterday’s high temperature of 15° indicates. So Roy’s had the lads playing in jumpers and extra layers to get them sweating up a bit. Of course he has. And I wonder how much the 50-man jaunt to Portugal has cost, whilst the FA’s own facilities (bathed in a mini heatwave a few days ago) stand empty and unloved?

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Is it just me or has top level football completely lost all sense of value and proportion? As the Major may have put it ‘Just what is the point of St George’s Park, Fawlty?’ Answers on a post card to the FA Chairman Greg Dyke.

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 Deep joy; more Chelsea success

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Well it’s all football headlines at the moment but this could be my last on the subject in this current spell. So Chelsea win the Europa League trophy. Ho hum. I’m delighted that it’s an English winning team of course but they should really have been whupped last night if Benfica had had a fox in the box. The thing is they are a joyless bunch and I find it very hard to take any delight in their success or like and admire anything about them. Continue reading

football crazy

Well, it’s been a turbulent couple of  days in the football circus. It seems that thanks to BT I  can no longer  receive Soccer Am, Sky Sports News and, most critically,  Soccer Saturday  on my  regular digital channels. Oh thanks BT  – I don’t suppose you could have secured access rights for your bloody pensioners amidst your glee at capturing sign-up rights for Sky’s Sports channels. Nah.

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defoe defeats ’em

Well, as matches go that was a nerve-jangling belter today. England beat mighty Slovenia 1-0 thanks to a goal from deadly Defoe but ooh it could have gone agonisingly wrong if the leader of the failed palazzo coup, ‘modest’ John Terry, hadn’t shown that he had the right stuff after all and defended as if his life depended on it. Look at that action shot above of JT pulling off the rarely seen sliding head tackle.   Continue reading