World Cup thoughts

 

Well we’re well into the tournament now and it’s been curious hasn’t it? I mean for 35 minutes Engand almost looked like the best team there. Spain v Portugal was a cracker but cancelled each other out. But who else has impressed – Mexico? Certainly not Germany, France,  Brazil, Argentina nor Uruguay. Russia have got off to a flyer which is good news for the tournament though I read that Putin has invited Madhatter Blatter to the tournament as his crooked fixer sorry special guest. Ah that should raise the tone.

I’m quite enjoying it though the application of VAR is still infuriatingly inconsistent (especially in Engand matches). Also I do not like the number of teams in the event. It makes for too many stodgy first round watches like the Champions League. I see they’ve recently rejected the idea of going for a 48 team tournament. Quite right too. I”m sure they’re lovely places but we dont really want to see fixtures like Vanuatu v Burkina Faso.

I still believe the 16 team staging of earlier World Cups and the European Nations Cup (or whatever they call it) was the ultimate format but of course both footballing authorities FIFA and EUFA couldn’t resist expanding it to attract more revenue into their bloated coffers and a few back pockets. Will they never learn to keep it simple?

Anyway I’ve got a funny feeling about England and I fancy Harry Kane to come home with the golden boot. If Iran can frustrate Spain why should we be fearful? There’s a gold star and 3 lions on that shirt for a reason.

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Omens eh

So when it comes to sport are you superstitious? Do you believe in omens like all those f**wit presenters on Talksport? No me neither until yesterday when news emerged of England rugby’s loss to South Africa 42-39, with England having led 24-3 in the first half.  Eh? That’s 5 successive defeats for the red roses after being unbeatable about a year ago. Sigh. A Welshman then went and won cycling’s Criterium du Dauphine and Spaniard Nadal won the French Open. I then watched Scotland, who are not even a recognised test status team and for whom cricket is like their 17th most popular sport, beat England the official one day cricket champions in a ODI rather excitingly. Sigh again. Never mind Hamilton was in 4th place on the grid at the Canadian Grand Prix. Surely The Englishman in his all-powerful Brackley-based Team Mercedes supercar would catch that insufferable Vettel and stretch his lead in the F1 Championship. Nah. He ended a place further back in 5th as the unlikeable German assumed leadership in the F1 leadership race. Gott und dammer. So it looks like the omens are stacking up against English sporting success  just as we head off to Russia for the World Cup. Or so you might think….

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Nuts for Brazil

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Get in there son! This is the moment that I forgave Wayne Rooney for all his wingeing sins over the summer as he scored the first goal against Poland last night. What a great game it was too; I never thought I’d admit again to watching England and really enjoy the manner in which they played. Terrific stuff. Instead of trying to play slow possession football like Spain and failing miserably, we’ve actually re-discovered how to play like England again. Pace down the wings, lots of passion, strong and skilful forwards, balanced midfield, lots of tempo and yes mistakes too but only because we were pressing hard up the pitch. Credit to the manager too; I also thought Hodgson got his team selections just right in the last two matches. I never thought I’d say this either but well done Roy. All that pre-match nonsense about the insanity of selling 20,000 tickets to the Polish fans and handing them an advantage was just a load of baloney. Wembley for once sounded great with tremendous atmosphere which seemed to inspire the players. And now we can look forward to watching the playoffs without trepidation. I shall enjoy seeing Ronaldo and Benzema playing with fear in their eyes that they might miss out on the greatest venue for a World Cup finals. I hear the FA have already got the hotel booked in Rio. Wey hey. I”m not going to get all giddy about England’s chances but, if this team keeps fit, for once we can enjoy the challenge that lies ahead methinks. I’m not sure anyone will fancy having a resurgent England in their Group, well except Spain, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and….argh bugger it, bring them on! If all else fails we’ve always got Rickie Lambert. Remember when he used to lead the England line?

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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

yet another interview

This time I thought it would be interesting to listen in on an interview between Alan Green, the highly opinionated football commentator (‘disgusted’ of N Ireland) who comments on everything under the sun bar the actual game he’s watching and Steve MCClaren, prize tosspot, luckiest man alive and newly-appointed manager of FC Twente, following his sacking and £2.5m pay-off from the FA after his hopeless tenure as England’s worst ever manager and recent lucrative media career as ‘expert’ pundit for the BBC at the Euro 2008 tournament.

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managerial swap shop; a never-ending story

So Man City finally sack Sven GE as their manager yesterday. Sven, of course, once accepted the job of managing Blackburn Rovers before giving back word. Now Man City are chasing Mark Hughes the current Blackburn manager, who once played for Chelsea. Chelsea once interviewed Sven GE for their manager’s job before giving it to Jose Mourinho, who surfaced yesterday as the new manager of Inter Milan, having sacked Roberto Mancini the other day. Mancini is one of the candidates for the Chelsea job which became vacant following the departure of Avram Grant, who is one of the candidates for the Man City job. So too is Big Phil Scolari, the current manager of the Portuguese national side, but Phil is also being chased by Chelsea. If he cannot be prised away then Chelsea may well plump for the afore-mentioned Hughes. Sven GE is unlikley to return to Blackburn and will probably take up a role with the Mexican national side. Blackburn may therefore go for Sam Allardyce who used to manage rivals Bolton before he moved to a bigger job at Newcastle from whence he got sacked earlier this season. The Newcastle job was probably the one that ought to have been offered to Sven GE but they’ve now appointed Kevin Keegan, who’s done the job previously. That was before he went to Man City who finally sacked Sven GE as their manager yesterday…..

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blackpool v the stones

I heard a quirky little news item on the radio (online) tonight which made me a little nostalgic for the UK. The leader of Blackpool Town council, Christopher Thistlethwaite (actually that wasn’t his name, it was the name of a class friend at school but it sounds very Lancastrian), has just issued a civic decree renouncing the 44-year ban placed by the Town Fathers on the Rolling Stones preventing them from performing in the town. Eh?

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