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.

pp

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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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Och shocking Jocks

Oh blimey I’ve been watching the opening ceremony to the Commonwealth Games tonight. It’s well into its programme  (Rod the mod’s been on twice now) and it has certainly livened up. But am I alone in thinking it was a very clunky start? Jeez. I said in my review of the WC opening event that I thought  Danny Boyle had killed it for every artistic director of major events for the next 20 years. And Glasgow’s opening hour sure proved me right.  John Barrowman singing a medley of barmy Scottish ditties and kissing some bloke (as you do) and a few hundred dancers (not enough) portraying Scottish life  stereotypically, as if it was a London 2102 Lite pastiche.  I asked my wife how long before the first bagpipes were heard; she said 5 minutes, I said 1 minute, I think it took 15 seconds. Then there was the whisky song, tartan galore, a big haggis, the Loch Ness monster, Scottish terriers and a film clip of Andy Stewart singing something like ‘Donald where’s yer troosers?’ Look it could well have been ironic and tongue-in-cheek but you never knew where the ‘just joking’ line was. And then they introduced the acts… Rod (OK), Susan Boyle (grim) whilst they emptied the playing arena so it looked like nobody had turned up to listen. Bizarre. I was actually aching for the Proclaimers to walk on and do ‘500 miles’ just to get the action flowing when they did an acapella version to two people dancing ballet to it. It was quite lovely I thought but the event needed a burst of real energy and it never really came.

As I said above it got going a bit once the athletes piled in, but what were the Scottish team wearing? OMG it looked like something designed by that Scottish picnic basket of a designer on ’60 second make-over’. Shocking. I shalln’t mention the head honcho chappie having trouble taking the top off the Queen’s official message torch; it was one of those nights.

But hey all the athletes were having a great time and the crowd warmed up enormously once the Scottish team were unveiled. This is the ‘friendly games’ after all – even the English team got a decent cheer – so I’ll be gracious and say it started crappily but ended joyously and I’m looking forward to a great Games. But sack the Director.

pp

Come on Blatter, do the decent thing for once

I’ve a solution to the problem Sepp Blatter has been facing for some years – how to end his tenure as President of FIFA on a high note, respected around the world for his courageous convictions. It’s to look at what happened yesterday with the shocking shooting down of the Malaysian airline over Ukraine and to make some important decisions:

–  to accept all the evidence that the civilian airline was taken out of the skies by an SA11 Buk missile supplied by the Russian regime to a trigger-happy bunch of pro-Russian separatists, thinking they were targetting a Ukrainian airforce transport aircraft (similar to the one they shot down last week), and who were in open telephone contact with their Russian military advisors at the time.

–  further accept that Russia is fighting a proxy war against another sovereign state and annexing territory just as Hitler did in the Sudetenland in the prelude to WW2.

–  recognise that the families and loved ones of the 298 innocent people who were killed in the atrocity included some 80 children and a number of mad keen football fans, following their teams’ pre-season progress, deserve to know that their deaths weren’t simply tragic but also resulted in some significant change.

–  question for the first time whether awarding major footballing tournaments to developing countries and the financial burden it imposes on countries like Ukraine (co-holder of the 2102 Euro Championships), South Africa (2010 WC) and Brazil (2014 WC) actually benefits the country or weakens and de-stabilises it, as seems to be the case for sure in the Ukraine.

–  make the obvious conclusion, on behalf of the world-wide football family, that as Russia is acting aggressively and against international law, FIFA should withdraw its grant to host the 2018 WC. Instead FIFA should invite the other bidding countries; England, Belgium-Neths and Portugal-Spain 3 months to submit a new tender document to host the tournament at minimal additional expenditure and based on plans utilising, optimally, existing stadia and current and already planned infrastructure. Winner to be determined within a further 3 month period by a new panel of 6 FIFA delegates and 6 respected external candidates.

–  ignore any threats from Russia on boycotts of future tournaments and hope that FIFA’s actions help, in some small way, to bring an end to Putin’s vile regime.

–  make a just decision that the bidding process for the 2022 WC was almost certainly flawed and compromised by corrupt practices, and that the final bidders should be re-invited to make a fresh submission for the tournament within a 6 month period with a pledge to make a final decision on the best bid within a further 3 months by the same panel.

–  plan future events around a rotating series of well-established centres eg EU states, N America, and the Far East with S America, Africa, Middle East being the prefered venues for under 21/Masters tournaments.

Then Mr Blatter you will go down as a fine, just and decent administrator. Are you up for it Sepp?

pp

They’re going home…

England 2014 World Cup Home Kit (3)

Well here’s the official England football shirt showing the single star for our sole World Cup win way back when I was just a young lad. And the FA aren’t going to be adding any more stars following our exit from the excellent 2014 World Cup. Still we did last 8 days at the tournament before getting eliminated. Sigh. Only two things make me happy thinking about this; the thought of Colleen having to re-pack those 15 cases and knowing that the extended holiday for the 70 people – that’s right seventy! – who made up the FA’s official tour party will shortly be over. At least we didn’t lose on penalties I suppose.

Now who’s your favourite for the World Cup? It would be nice to see a new name on the trophy I reckon – Chile perhaps? Then they too can enjoy decades of hurt waiting for the second one to arrive.  It’s nice to share.

pp