England training

Interesting news coming out from the Engand training camp today. England captain Harry Kane admitted that the team do not really miss any of the training routines organised by previous England manager, Sam Allardyce. ‘Let’s face it he was a bit of a dinosaur’ said Kane and ‘the heading practice in particular wasn’t much liked, especially by the squad’s shorter players….’

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World Cup afterthoughts

Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter leaves a hotel in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, June 21, 2018. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he met Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin and talked about the Russia team’s good start to the World Cup and to pick up another big brown envelope for his ‘helpski in securing the tournament over those decadent running dogs from capitalist England’ said President Putin, as he handed it over. (AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)

Just a short update on my last posting. I see that whilst the FiFA members (or at least the Eurpoean contingent) recently vetoed the idea to expand the 2022 World Cup tournament to 48 teams, it has already been agreed to an expansion to 48 teams for the 2026 event, to be hosted across 3 countries – the USA, Canada and Mexico. That will mean an extra week will be required to cater for the increase in the number of matches from 64 to 80.  It will also mean huge amounts of travelling for fans and teams alike. And how can you compare playing matches in the heat and atmosphere of Mexico City with the more temperate conditions in Edmonton, Canada? It’s ridiculous. And speaking of things ridiculous, that nitwit Blatter has been given a platform to pontificate in Russia and this morning he’s being quoted as saying that England should be awarded the 2030 World Cup (or at least he thinks it should be spread over the 4 countries of the UK and Ireland, if not the whole of the Commonwealth).  A few thoughts:

a) the last thing we need is this twat backing our cause

b) what is this fascination with spreading tournaments far and wide? We have plenty of great stadia within England to host the events and guesss what – they aren’t venues that would normally host baseball, American football or rugby games and would need no adaptation (I’m sure they’ll have sorted out the London Stadium by then!). Travel links are good (I’m sure they’ll have sorted out the rail timetable fiasco by then!), we are highly effective at policing and stewarding and there’s tons of hotel accommodation and places to eat, drink and visit. Jeez we hosted the Olympic Games in and around London and they were outstanding.

c) the 2026 hosting arrangements would mean that since England (generally acknowledged as the nation which set the rules of Association Football and its spiritual home) hosted the WC event in 1966, Mexico will have hosted it no less than 3 times and Amercia twice.  Before we get the sniff of hosting it again. I don’t care what you say, both those countries have no greater right to host it than England.

d) I’d like to think that my grandson will be at his footballing peak at around 2030 and should we get awarded it, then I can visualise him receiving that World Cup trophy from King William as the winning captain, following in the footsteps of my hero Sir Bobby Moore. That would be a wonderful book-end to my life-long love affair with the game.  If only I could be around to see it eh…

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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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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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Rio Trailers

It sounds like the name of a great salsa band or a new Man United defender. But Rio trailers is actually more prosaic; it’s a posting about two new film trailers for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games produced by the BBC and C4 respectively. I’ve only seen one twice and the other once and I’m spell-bound. No doubt I’ll be sick of them before the events but from this perspective they look fantastic.

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Germany win penalty shoot out, shock

Well this is a companion piece to the recent posting about England’s ignominious exit from the European Championships. Following that predictable debacle we’d become honorary supporters of the Italian team (it should be Wales but alone in my family I’m finding it hard to be generous to a nation who just dislike the English so much). We were baby-sitting our beautiful elder two grandsons last night and had everything in place (wine) as the Italians faced up to the mighty Germany. It was a tense match with both sides cancelling each other out in the first half. The second half was more exciting with goals from either side. Would extra time allow Italy to show themselves as Germany’s bogey team yet again?

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England lose, shock

 

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So just when you thought your country was having a bad day, we went and topped it with a bloody display against Iceland in the Euro Championships which was abject. No that’s not strong enough. Over the years, watching England at major Championships since 1966 (with the exception of 1970 and 1996) has been utterly disappointing and depressing. But Monday’s performance was just the worst ever. It was shameful. And the Welsh football team were filmed laughing at us in celebration. Yes mocking from Wales, who last graced a major tournament when Perry Como had a hit with Magic Moments ie back in the Middle Ages.

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