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Saturday, April 29, 2006

World Cup Fitness Concerns

Just a quick round up of some of the players who are currently injured in the lead up to the World Cup Finals.

Michael Owen (England) - apparently fit and may appear as sub for Newcastle United today. A definite for the England squad. Let's face it, even if he had only nine toes, they'd claim "the 10th is growing back and Michael should be back to his best for the World Cup"

Ashley Cole (England) - Has played about 1 game this season. Expect him to play 1 more then be picked for the England squad. His understudy Wayne Bridge (who has proven himself not to be a particularly great player over the last season or so) is also returning from injury.

Jan Koller (Czech Republic) - Injured for most of the season, but it's now looking possible that he may make it back in time for the World Cup. 40 goals in 66 internationals make him an important player for the Czechs and a damn fine each way bet for top goalscorer.

Tim Cahill (Australia) - Currently avoiding flying champagne bottles thrown by those loveable, chirpy scousers, Cahill has a knee ligament injury. Everton want him to be fully recovered and despite the usual positive talk, it looks likely he won't make the World Cup. A big blow for Australia.

Mark Schwarzer (Australia) - Fractured cheekbones are not enough to keep Schwarzer out of the Australia team. Injured but will recover in time for Germany this summer.

Ledley King (England) - A recent metatarsal break has kept him out of the last couple of Tottenham matches. Spurs are claiming that he'll be OK for the World Cup. I doubt it. I hope he makes it as he's a versatile and classy player but no one with a metatarsal injury ever seems to recover as quickly as they thought they would.
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posted by mark_s at 9:51 AM 0 comments

And Scolari Pulls Out

OK, I'm bored with the 'next England manager' saga now. No more posts on this blog about it until someone actually gets the damn job. It seems that Scolari has pulled out and according to intellectual giants like Graham Taylor and Alan Ball, "English football is in total disarray...", the sky is falling and the world is coming to an end.

Ho hum. For the final time, I will suggest that the F.A reads my piece entitled 'how to pick an england manager' . It will surely solve all their problems, save English football and stop the world from coming to a premature end. And you can't ask for more than that.
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posted by mark_s at 9:46 AM 0 comments

Friday, April 28, 2006

Ambition Triumphs Over Reality

Loved this piece reporting on an interview with Japan's head coach, Zico.

He is aiming to get Japan as far as the Semi-Finals of this year's World Cup, saying: "The main goal right now is to move on to the second stage, but I hope we can make the best four."

Well, you have to admire the man's ambition. Even if it doesn't have any relation to reality. To even get to the second stage, Japan need to get out of their group. And that group features Australia, Croatia and, well, Brazil. Sorry, Zico, you haven't a chance.
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posted by mark_s at 9:25 AM 0 comments

World Cup Song Madness

Having flirted with mediocrities like Kasabian and The Kaiser Chiefs, The FA made the right decision to choose Embrace to write and record the official England 2006 World Cup song.

But now
along comes Justin Hawkins of The Darkness with a tune, rather imaginatively titled 'England' complete with such choice lyrics as

"Football will be our only weapon / skill and power will be our only shield / we've fought them on the beaches / now we'll play them on the field."

Personally, I thought this was kind of funny in a highly arch, post-modern, ironic kind of way. However, it seems to be causing a small amount of controversy. Make up you own mind and
listen to it here. It is rather spiffing, I think.

Oh, and incidentally, if - as they did last time I mentioned them - any Kasabian fans decide to post comments about how they're the 'most important' band of the last ten years, they'll get deleted again. Let me be clear - Kasabian aren't even the 'most important' band of the last ten minutes. Debate over.
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posted by mark_s at 9:13 AM 0 comments

Thursday, April 27, 2006

World Cup Referees In 'We've Been Training Properly' Shocker

Think back to the 2002 World Cup Finals. In particular, those matches involving South Korea. Far be it from me to suggest bias in the refereeing, but some of those decisions (especially in the Italy match) were a little dubious, to say the least.

This time around, FIFA are promising that this kind of thing won't happen again. They are actually training their referees properly for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. And - even better - they are training them in groups, each of which is, [drum roll please] the same nationality.

This means that the referees, linesmen and officials for each game will have worked together extensively before and will all speak the same language. While I have to give kudos to FIFA for implementing this, I have to ask. Why the hell hasn't this been common practice for previous World Cups ?

It hardly takes the brighest of minds to figure out that if all the officials view the game in the same way; speak the same language and have worked together before, you will get a higher standard of officiating. At the very least, there will be consistency.

Well, better late than never, I guess. And if it results in better refereeing in Germany this summer, then it's all good.
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posted by mark_s at 6:58 PM 0 comments

Pesaroso. Eu não falo o inglês.

Well, it looks like 'Big Phil' Scolari has been offered the England manager's job by the FA.

No doubting his ability to coach at the highest level. But, um, he can't speak English. This may just be a problem when coaching English footballers.

How is it that the FA are so short sighted that they can't see this would be a problem ? What other nation would even consider appointing a manager that couldn't speak the language ? Excuse me while I crawl off to a darkened room to cry for a little while.

Scolari as England manager...disaster waiting to happen. You heard it here first.
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posted by mark_s at 6:50 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

World Cup Rules For Wives and Partners

A friend of mine just forwarded me the all important World Cup rules that should be adhered to by the wives, partners and significant others of all football fans. I am posting these here so that you too can ensure that your pleasure of Germany 2006 is not spoiled. Feel free to print and place somewhere where these cannot be ignored :

Dear Wife, Partner, Girlfriend,

1. From 9 June to 9 July 2006, you should read the sports section of the newspaper so that you are aware of what is going on regarding the World Cup, and that way you will be able to join in the conversations. If you fail to do this, then you will be looked at in a bad way, or you will be totally ignored. DO NOT complain about not receiving any attention.


2. During the World Cup, the television is mine, at all times, without any exceptions. If you even take a glimpse of the remote control, you will lose it (your eye).


3. If you have to pass by in front of the TV during a game, I don't mind, as long as you do it crawling on the floor and without distracting me. If you decide to stand nude in front of the TV, make sure you put clothes on right after because if you catch a cold, I wont have time to take you to the doctor or look after you during the World Cup month.

4. During the games I will be blind, deaf and mute, unless I require a refill of my drink or something to eat. You are out of your mind if you expect me to listen to you, open the door, answer the telephone, or pick up the baby that just fell on the floor....It won’t happen.

5. It would be a good idea for you to keep at least 2 six packs in the fridge at all times, as well as plenty of things to nibble on, and please do not make any funny faces to my friends when they come over to watch the games. In return, you will be allowed to use the TV between 12am and 6am, unless they replay a good game that I missed during the day.

6. Please, please, please!! If you see me upset because one of my teams is losing, DO NOT say "get over it, its only a game", or "don't worry, they'll win next time". If you say these things, you will only make me angrier and I will love you less. Remember, you will never ever know more about football than me and your so called "words of encouragement" will only lead to a break up or divorce.

7. You are welcome to sit with me to watch one game and you can talk to me during halftime but only when the commercials are on, and only if the halftime score is pleasing me. In addition, please note I am saying "one" game; hence do not use the World Cup as a nice cheesy excuse to "spend time together".

8. The replays of the goals are very important. I don't care if I have seen them or I haven't seen them, I want to see them again. Many times.

9. Tell your friends NOT to have any babies, or any other child related parties or gatherings that requires my attendance because:
a) I will not go,
b) I will not go, and
c) I will not go.


10. But, if a friend of mine invites us to his house on a Sunday to watch a game, we will be there in a flash.

11. The daily World Cup highlights show on TV every night is just as important as the games themselves. Do not even think about saying "but you have already seen this...why don't you change the channel to something we can all watch?" because, the reply will be, "Refer to Rule #2 of this list".


12. And finally, please save your expressions such as "Thank God the World Cup is only every 4 years". I am immune to these words, because after this comes the Champions League, Italian League, Spanish League, Premier League, FA Cup, etc.

Thank you for your cooperation.
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posted by mark_s at 6:00 PM 2 comments