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Friday, March 12, 2010

You Shall Go To The World Cup

In a display of mind boggling stupidity, the Argentine government is set to allow several hundred well known football hooligans (called the 'Barras Bravas') to travel to the 2010 World Cup Finals.

This, apparently, is their reward for openly supporting the incumbent Prime Minister, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner ahead of next year's elections.

The justification for this piece of idiocy? It will, apparently, "help integrate fans who were previously alienated".

Words cannot describe the foolishness of this idea, particularly when tensions between England and Argentina are at the highest level since the Falklands War.

Needless to say, Argentine police - 20 of whom will be attending the World Cup Finals in order to identify potential troublemakers - don't think this is a very clever move.

Still, if it helps win Mrs de Kirchner another election, who cares about a little bloodshed and violence. All is fair in love, war and politics, right?



posted by mark_s at 11:30 AM 0 comments

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who Next For The Ivory Coast

Not content with sacking a manager who lost only one match in 24, the Ivory Coast Football Federation seems to be making a bit of a meal of appointing a successor.

Yesterday, it appeared that leading candidate Guus Hiddink had been named as manager for the 2010 World Cup campaign, but today it appears that this isn't actually the case. And, in fact, there is quite a way to go in negotiations.

You would have thought that a nation that has gone through no less than no less than six coaches in under four years would be old hands at this kind of thing, wouldn't you?

That last stat is very telling, however. Well all know that Ivory Coast have some great players - Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba and others - but they always fall short. And they always will until the Ivorian FA give a coach a proper chance to build a team.

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posted by mark_s at 1:18 PM 1 comments

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How To Get Into Your World Cup Squad

Are you a professional footballer? On the fringes of the international squad? Or an old pro who feels he can still 'do a job' for the team?

Well, if you are, you might like to take a leaf out of South African defender Nasief Morris' book. Morris fell out with former South Africa coach Joel Santana and has tried to get back into the South Africa squad by begging current manager Carlos Parreira via text message.

No word on whether this strategy has been successful, but if it is, one Michael Owen should at least give it a try.

On the subject of Owen, England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has bizarrely suggested that the "door is still open" for Michael to make the World Cup Squad. Er, you do know that Owen is out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury, don't you Stuart?

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posted by mark_s at 2:14 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Worlds Largest England Shirt...More Sponsor Silliness

In a staggering display of pointless-ness, England team sponsor Nationwide have made up the world's largest England football shirt (huh?). And, for reasons that are clear only to their marketing department, they took it down to Portsmouth and displayed it on the flight deck of HMS Kent.

I'm sure you'll be thrilled to know that they will be showing the shirt (signed by England legends like Peter Shilton and Stuart Pearce) at Nationwide branches across the UK. Me, I couldn't think of anything less worthwhile if I tried.

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posted by mark_s at 3:22 PM 0 comments

Monday, March 08, 2010

Whither England

Fabio Capello's England breezed through qualification with a host of genuinely world class players - Rooney, Terry, Gerrard - but now, three months ahead of the finals, the wheels have well and truly come off the England train.

Firstly, even when David James is fully fit, England have no truly world class goalkeeper - Robert Green is a pretty solid 'keeper with, crucially, a good record at saving penalties, but he's no Dino Zoff.

Secondly, if Rio Ferdinand doesn't regain both fitness and form, it looks likely that Matt Upson will partner John Terry in central defence. Upson is not really up to the job, as his showing against Egypt indicated. There is a case for promoting Everton's Phil Jagielka, but unfortunately for him, it's too late to really bed the guy into the team.

Midfield: yup, that's a problem area too. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard haven't been at their best this season, for sure, but strangely, the problem area is the right side of midfield.

I say strangely because England have all these players vying for that position: David Beckham, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon, even James Milner.

The problem is that the #1 choice, Aaron Lennon, is sidelined with a long term injury and there's no indication when he'll return. David Beckham is not going to start, so that leaves Theo 'headless chicken' Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips in the role of speedy winger. Neither of these players offers anything in the way of consistency and that, to my mind, represents too much of a risk when playing the better sides at the World Cup 2010.

Attack: Well, England have got Wayne Rooney. So that's something and we do have a few other players who are capable of getting goals : Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch. It's just a shame that Capello favours 'lumbering' Emile Heskey over either of this duo, isn't it.

I make no apologies for this pessemistic post, but in a world where Owen Coyle can suggest Kevin Davies as a possible England striker and be taken seriously, it needs to be clear that England aren't the team to win a World Cup.

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posted by mark_s at 10:13 AM 2 comments