It's Up For Grabs Now
Sunday, April 30, 2006
There's a shock awaiting for Ghana, who are planning a World Cup warm-up in England against Jamaica. They can't get a London ground because none of them are prepared so soon after the end of the domestic season, so they've moved it to Leicester - according to AllAfrica.com, however, they can't get the Walkers Stadium, but "Filbert Street, the old football ground for Leicester Football Club was only secured because the rugby team also uses the ground and the rugby league has just begun." Which is interesting, given Filbert Street is now student flats, there isn't a rugby league club in the city and the nearby Welford Road rugby union ground is in the closing stages of its season.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Forgot this was still up, but can it really be ten years ago to the day?
Thursday, April 27, 2006
We've sold our birthright down the Amazon to a nation of 180 million favela dwellers and carnival dancers who spend half their lives in scorching heat!
Monday, April 24, 2006
Sandy Brown, Jamie Pollock, Wayne Hatswell... welcome to your classic own goal club Bury's Chris Brass
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
True, they don't have the all encompassing nature of yore thanks to assorted rights issues, but Panini's World Cup sticker book is on the way and, ladies and gentlemen - alright, gentlemen alone - we have a World Cup countdown on.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
There's still 22 days until the final squads for the World Cup have to be announced, let alone the 54 until it actually starts (and by the way, thanks to everyone who expressed an interest in our World Cup blog - we've now got as many people as we need and will get in touch again very soon), and already Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago have named their preliminary squads. An opportune time, then, to revisit the squad we picked for England last October and see how it needs changing...
Robinson, Kirkland, James, Neville G, Young, Cole A, Bridge, Terry, Ferdinand, Campbell, Carragher, King, Lampard, Gerrard, Parker, Beckham, Wright-Phillips, Cole J, Downing, Owen, Rooney, Defoe, Johnson
To get the easy replacements over with first, Chris Kirkland's long-term broken finger injury means he'll lose his place in the pre-match ball throwing to Robert Green, Andy Johnson is scoring again but surely won't impress at high enough a level to force his way past Crouch or Defoe, and our dark horse Scott Parker is out for the season. In defence there's an actual injury crisis brewing as Sol Campbell's return looked assured until he broke his nose but that shouldn't keep him out for the rest of the season - indeed, word is he might be back next weekend - unlike Ashley Cole, who's played about an hour's worth of first team football since October. Arsene Wenger says he'll be ready for the end of the season and Sven looks like giving his first team regulars leeway with regard to injuries, but he has a readymade replacement in Wayne Bridge now he's getting regular games. Both will probably go, which leaves open a potential two places. Jamie Carragher will surely get the nod for one as much for his adaptability as his scintillating form, but Luke Young has injured ankle ligaments, although Alan Curbishley is optimistic. Might Sven go with the trusted utility man Phil Neville (who, oddly for a 52 cap man, has never been in a World Cup finals squad)? Given injuries elsewhere, don't rule it out.
The trouble with naming what we've always had down as seven midfielders is the first four pick themselves and then it's perm any one from a whole host of options. Of the three we picked out one's more than likely out, Stewart Downing hasn't recovered his earlier form after injury yet and Shaun Wright-Phillips is likely to go despite not enough first team chances this season. Who else, then? Most probables - Dawson, Lennon, Nolan, Reo-Coker - won't go simply for lack of experience, which leaves the rapidly becoming highly unpopular Jermaine Jenas, Kieran Richardson who can deputise on the left but doesn't play a lot, Owen Hargreaves who must be of some worth as he's been highly rated for his regular performances in a title-winning side for a few years now but nobody in England trusts in the slightest (clearly Hugo Boss haven't been concentrating) and Michael Carrick, who's most likely to go of these few in case King needs to slip back into defence. As for the other position, if we assume Owen, Rooney, Crouch, Defoe is the first choice strikeforce, might Sven look at the injury situation and gamble on a fifth striker, almost certainly Darren Bent, instead of reinforcing a midfield that as it is can call on two anchors, three wingers and two playmakers? You have to say it's an angle worth pursuing and Eriksson has made noises in the direction of having plenty of attacking options, which would finally makes the squad...
Robinson, James, Green, Neville G, Neville P, Cole A, Bridge, Terry, King, Ferdinand, Campbell, Carragher, Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham, Cole J, Wright-Phillips, Carrick, Owen, Rooney, Crouch, Defoe, Bent
And may St George go with them. While we're about it, did this really ever look like a World Cup winning squad in 2002?
Seaman, Martyn, James, Mills, Cole A, Bridge, Ferdinand, Campbell, Brown, Keown, Southgate, Sinclair, Beckham, Scholes, Hargreaves, Cole J, Butt, Dyer, Fowler, Owen, Heskey, Sheringham, Vassell
They say the past is a foreign country, but it does seem like much longer since Keown, Southgate and Fowler were in an England squad - indeed the former won his last cap in a warm-up game and Fowler as a sub in the second round game against Denmark. Gerrard was injured during the warm-up games, Lampard plain not picked despite having already been capped. Still, though, let's recall how against Argentina Hargreaves was replaced through injury by Trevor Sinclair and give thanks for how much stronger the squad has got in the four years since.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Is the first Liverpool-Newcastle 4-3 really ten years ago? Can we safely tell our anecdote of deciding the first fifteen minutes were expendable and hence missing three goals now?
Sad to relate, however, that the elderly, flat capped Newcastle fan who turned up in close-up during every live game at St James' Park during those couple of years has long passed on.
We're now within ten weeks of the World Cup finals getting underway. No, they probably won't be all that, but it's the anticipation and magnitude that's important. As some of you will know, two summers ago we blogged Euro 2004 under the title Lisbonic Plague, where we analysed every last live TV game from a broadcasting perspective, pointed out the newsworthy absurdities and received displeased messages from one of the people behind that TalkSport-sponsored, Dexys-inspired Come On England record. It's still up, look!
This year we're doing something very similar, as in reviewing every last scrap of live coverage and commenting as we go rather than annoying the musicians on unofficial England anthems. This time we hope to take a more analytical, reactive bent as befits the situation while still knowing how to take the piss out of everything that moves and plenty that doesn't. What'll be different this time around is that we're planning a collaborative approach, hiring a number of intelligent, knowledgeable, even like-minded writers willing to put the effort in throughout the thirty days of the finals and who'll be invited to add comments and entries wherever they see fit. This is where you come in, as we'd like names to be put forward to fill
out the ranks, whether yourself or someone you could suggest within reason. Being able to watch the afternoon kickoffs is preferable but not necessary. Having a good standard of English and a keen sense of humour is.
So, how does it sound? Tell us: email@example.com Of the very few replies we're expecting we'll take a look, ask around our own leads just
in case and then come back to you well in advance of the blog launch date in late May with instructions and ideas.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Apart from getting direct post linking to work, which we've been aiming for for a while now and never quite worked out, we've made a pledge to ourselves to post here more often, which might well be good news even if it's just linking to video of Chris Waddle at Marseille. It's left out that run he made through the entire Milan team in a European Cup game before being tackled ten yards out after rounding the keeper, mind.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Sir Bobby Robson: "would a foreign coach do any better than Alan Curbishley at Charlton?"
At the start of the day, Charlton were in the bottom half of the table having failed to win away in ten league games or anywhere in five of the last seven. Mind if we come back to you on that?