Crystall footballing

Well it’s been a great WC for a change hasn’t it? Alright England ran out of steam and composure in the end but their performance generally was as good as I’d wished for and predicted several weeks ago and my forecast of Harry Kane winning the Golden Boot looks likely to happen (unless Mbappe has a field day in the final, which he might). So as I’m clearly clairvoyant I thought I’d try a few more cheeky predictions:

– Messi to retire from international football properly this time
– Phil Jones never to play for England (and hopefully Man U) ever again
– Diego Maradona to shake the hand of God before the next WC qualifiers begin
– Gareth Southgate to be tempted by a serious offer of a job by Crystal Palace within the next 6 months but declines
– his assistant Steve Holland tempted by serious job offers from one of Southampton, Derby, Cardiff and Huddersfield within next 6 months and accepts only to leave a year later
– ManU to buy one player from each of today’s WC finalists France and Croatia but Jose Mourinho fails to get the best from them
– Paul Pogba to leave ManU

– Real Madrid to make a big name signing (ok not a stretch) but it’s not Neymar nor Mbappe then tempt THFC with a Bale/Modric double swap deal for Harry Kane/Delle Ali. Daniel Levy tempted but demands £60m too. RM Pres Perez chokes on his frittata
– Giroud to move on from Chelsea to …..who cares?
– Roberto Martinez to be sacked as Belgium manager and be replaced by Sam Allardyce (that last bit is just for fun)
– Alan Shearer to be named (and I’d never thought I’d find myself saying this) best pundit at the WC
– Russia to be judged as best WC hosts (and I’d never think I’d be saying that either)

There you go. Feel free to suggest your own

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Unity

Well these were some of the gloriously happy scenes that greeted England’s victory over Sweden on Saturday, repeated up and down the country. We watched the match at my brother’s place and what a super day. And  it happened the day after my lovely sis H got married to J which was also a great day. So a fantastic few days eh, especially for us. But the great thing is the effect England’s progress is having generally. Everyone seems to be up for it and excited at the prospect of tonight semi-final against Croatia. Shop assistants, waiters, check out girls. Everyone wants to know where are you watching it. I guess it’s that history in the making thing. Well at least potentially because a loss tonight will be gutting. Well except for maybe a few people in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia etc etc.

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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….’

https://giphy.com/embed/5vUzdoN5plC0d8SgB0

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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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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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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?

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