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Friday, February 17, 2006

Good Work If You Can Get It

It now looks likely that current Juventus boss Fabio Capello is going to be England manager. Respected Italian sports paper - Corriere dello Sport - are suggesting that Capello has been offered a London apartment plus £4.7 million-a-year until the 2010 World Cup. That's around £13 million in total. Good work if you can get it.

The F.A are denying it all, of course.

posted by mark_s at 2:35 PM 0 comments

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Brazil Friendlies Point The Way

Brazil have lined up a few friendlies ahead of the World Cup. And it's good to see they are taking the same approach as England and a few other nations when choosing opponents. They will be playing New Zealand directly before the tournament starts on the grounds that "It's a team with similar characteristics to Australia, our adversary in the second match of Group F."

Well, they have similar accents and are next door geographically. Beyond that, there's virtually no similarity between Australia and New Zealand's soccer teams. Australia's is quite good and has some well regarded players. New Zealand''t't.

More interesting though is the game vs Russia on March 1st. One of the things that has been puzzling football pundits and punters alike is how Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is going to fit Adriano, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Robinho into the same side.

Given that
Parreira has said "It’s not time for experiments. We’ll field the team we’ve been using..'' this match may just give the answer to that question. My guess : Adriano starts upfront, Ronaldo is used as a sub.

posted by mark_s at 10:55 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

'The Flops' - An Almost Objective Assessment

Titled 'The Flops', this piece on the AllAfrica portal assesses the poor performance of Africa's 2006 World Cup representatives in the recently finished African Cup of Nations. While the piece is a generally fair and well-written critique, the author curiously fails to praise the Ivory Coast and Tunisia and concentrates instead on the other African world cup teams.

I particularly liked this part about Angola : "[they]proved that team does not deserve the Germany 2006 ticket... after snatching the World Cup ticket from Nigeria"

Could there be some sour grapes here, as the author of the article is Nigerian ? Surely not ! Who could suggest such a thing ?

posted by mark_s at 11:21 AM 0 comments

Check Your Passports

FA Vice-Chairman Dave Richards' wants a British manager to manage England, saying "I do believe it's time for a British manager..Somebody who understands our passion, belief and commitment to the game. "

He continues, "For me, there's no distinction between English and British."

Presumably, he is talking about (Northern) Irishman, Martin O'Neill - one of the favourites for the job. There's just one problem with that - O'Neill isn't British either. Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain. It is part of the United Kingdom - but that's a different thing altogether. Don't believe me ? Well, if you are a UK citizen, check your passport.

Does this matter ? Probably not, but let's at least be accurate. It's not too much to ask.

posted by mark_s at 10:33 AM 0 comments

Monday, February 13, 2006

How To Pick An England Manager

Like many people, I've been enjoying the FA's amazing ability to complicate a very straightfoward task : that is - picking the next England manager. Maybe they would like to print out this simple three step guide, which I have cleverly entitled 'How To Pick An England Manager' :

i) Identify the right man for the job.

ii) Speak to the right man for the job and offer him millions of pounds. [Finding out if he is available is not an issue - once you have offered him millions of pounds, he automatically becomes available. It's magic, you know.]

iii) Get the right man for the job to sign the contract.

There you bright and shiny new England manager.

"Ah ha ", I can almost hear the faceless ones at the FA saying, "how do we know who is the right man for the job ? ".

To this I can only answer - whoever you pick is by definition the right man for the job. This must be true because I have never seen the FA put out a press statement saying "we couldn't get the right man for the job so we hired someone else instead".

See how simple it is. No, no, it's OK, no need to thank me.

posted by mark_s at 12:48 PM 0 comments

'The Guy Has Some Touch Issues'

Last night, I caught the replay of the Japan v USA game on (UK) Channel 5. The difference between this and their usual mediocre football coverage was that this was just a rebroadcast of the American ESPN2 coverage, complete with odd ad-breaks midway through the first half and, of course, American commentators who were - as you might expect - quite a culture shock.

All American commentators for all sports talk too much and distract from the match and they all do that irritating 'double act' thing, so that wasn't much of a surprise. Annoying, but not surprising.

But the terminology used was odd to say the least. When Japan went to 4-4-2, they described it as a '4-4-2 alignment' rather than formation and several times when a player crossed the ball, they referred to 'Wolff [or whoever] has surfed the ball into a dangerous area'. Surfed ? Oh, please.

The pick of the bunch : "This guy has some touch issues" used to describe a Japanese player with a poor first touch. "Touch issues" ?!?!? That really is priceless.

posted by mark_s at 12:38 PM 2 comments