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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Everybody's Injured and Other World Cup Fun

After it was revealed that Arsenal's William Gallas will be out for the rest of the season, France coach Raymond Domenech revealed (no doubt with typical Gallic elan) that he was "livid and pissed off" with Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger.

Wenger had, for reasons best known to himself, chosen to play Gallas against Barcelona despite the player only having had two training sessions since returning from injury. The result was predictable.

Now, inevitably, Gallas' will have to fight to be fit for the World Cup Finals. And he joins a long list of Premier League players in the same position.

Cesc Fabregas is also out for the season with a broken leg, Ashley Cole has a fractured ankle, Aaron Lennon has been missing for months...the list goes on.

These kind of injuries are becoming increasingly common and the reason isn't just the large number of games Premier League players are expected to play during the season. The reason is this: the football season never actually finishes.

All the big teams - no, scratch that, all Premier League teams play pointless tournaments in what used to the off-season, they go on lucrative foreign tours. In short, modern footballers play football all year round and their bodies never get any recuperation time. Hence, the increased likelihood of serious injury.

Put simply, Premier League clubs' greed is responsible for the World Cup potentially missing some of it's star names.

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posted by mark_s at 11:31 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Welcome Back, Svennis

As you all probably know by now, ex-England and Mexico boss Sven Goran Eriksson will be the Ivory Coast manager at World Cup 2010.

I, for one, welcome him back with open arms. I always enjoyed his implacable calm, his over use of 'first half good...second half not so good' and his ability to seduce ladies of all nationalities.

And, seriously, I think he is a good manager. His reputation has been tarnished in England, where some consider him a bit of a joke and blame him for England's failure to get further than the quarter finals of major competitions.

I think this is more than a little unfair on the man.

The main charge against Eriksson is that, in 2002, when England played Brazil, he was too slow in changing tactics once Ronaldinho had been sent off.

And it is true that it took him until the 79th minute to bring on Teddy Sheringham and move to a far more attacking 3 upfront formation.

However, all the match reports clearly indicate that when Ronaldinho was sent off, England did go far more on the offensive. The thing was: most of these attacks broke down and England started to get nervous.

Bringing on Sheringham was, I think, a good attempt both to win the match and to introduce a cool head to bring calm to England. Remember the match lasted a mammoth 96 minutes and Sheringham did nearly pull England level with a drive that hit the crossbar.

To blame Eriksson for England failing to beat the eventual world Champions seems unduly harsh to me.

But, with the Ivory Coast, he really does have a job on his hands. The Ivorians Group contains both Brazil and Portugal as well as North Korea and Eriksson will do well to qualify from that lot.

He only has two friendlies before the World Cup proper and that's not nearly enough time to make a proper impression on the squad.

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posted by mark_s at 11:54 AM 1 comments