Thursday, 22 July 2010

Thierry Henry tackles New York TV

Watch Thierry Henry on New York's breakfast TV sofa! This is without doubt one of the most ill-informed, ill-prepared-for TV interviews I've ever seen - even by lowly American standards of soccer coverage.

Not only do the two shiny presenters fail to grasp who they have with them, but they also present a xenophobic view of Europe to confirm the irrational fears of even the most insular of Yanks watching.

They even keep rolling the handball goal over and over as an example of his greatness!

I hope it teaches Le Cheat a lesson. It might be a great city, but what a vainglorious, ordinary football hub for Henry to be stewing at in the autumn of his career. He could've still played for a major European team without the distraction of playing for France.

His anonymous time with Barcelona, the handball incident and the collapse of the French World Cup bring the curtain down on what should've been a glorious lap of honour.

Friday, 16 July 2010

It's Sepp Bellend Blatter, so says the South African President's website

Another glaring reason not to use Wikipedia as your only reference point. Someone did in the offices of South African President, Jacob Zuma, with hugely embarassing results.

See how the highest office in the Republic welcomed the President of FIFA:

... and let's just see that at closer quarters!

... well, you should've introduced Video Referees before the World Cup, Bellend!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

United Spain are worthy world champions

Worthy winner
Spain swept through the World Cup Final with skill, drill and at the death, thrill. Starting the tournament as favourites and European champions, they've now become the sport's eighth world champion.

But there's a new generation of Dutch bridesmaids too. Think of Cruyff, Neeskens and Krol. Of Gullit, Rijkaard and van Basten. Of Bergkamp, Overmars and Stam.

Now add Robben, Sneijder and van Bommel to that list. For all the pomp and brilliance of Holland's previous generations, the class of 2010 couldn't exorcise the ghosts of '74 and '78. Instead they helped bestow upon Spain the greatest of honour of all with tough, uncompromising, frequently ugly play.
Holland Kong Phooey
The nineteenth World Cup Final blazed goalless through nearly two hours to reach resolution. Then Andres Iniesta brought down a pass from Cesc Fabregas to fire past Maarten Stekelenberg in the Dutch goal. Holland argued that the game might've been held up with a foul on Eljero Elia. Their protests fell on deaf ears.

Eight Dutchmen were scribbled into referee Howard Webb's book; the Total Football of Ajax and Holland it certainly wasn't. Johnny Heitinga saw red and thirteen others were booked. The man in the middle's never been so busy in a World Cup Final.

But for Spain, it's Total Victory. They're only the third nation to be world and European champions at the same time.

At opposing ends, both Robben and David Villa will be haunted by failure to convert golden chances. Both were denied by last-gasp interventions by the keeper. Sergio Ramos will wake up in the middle of the night too. He blazed a free header over the bar twelve minutes from normal time. Luckily for him, they won.

The second half was open and end-to-end, it was a surprise we needed thirty extra minutes to decide the destination of the prize.

Total Football reputation destroyed in one night.
But perhaps the lack of resolution in 90 minutes is a fitting end to this World Cup. A tournament mostly dictated by well-drilled, evenly matched teams who gave little away, many of whom ground out their results through fear of losing.

Despite wielding cards like confetti, Howard Webb, the first Englishman to referee a World Cup Final since Jack Taylor in 1974 had a solid game and showed great leniency (and humanity) when deciding not to send off Robben as the winger deliberately kicked the ball into the net after the whistle had blown. It would've been his second bookable offence.
Paul McGrath's dad and someone else waving.

Iker Casillas, still only 29, is a world champion in his 111th appearance for his country. Even Nelson Mandela made an appearance at Soccer City. Apparently, FIFA put him under some pressure to show up. He dropped out of the Opening Ceremony last month after the tragic loss of a great grand daughter in a car crash.

But it's Spain who become champions for the first time making sense of their great heritage at last, and all is right in the footballing world.

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Friday, 9 July 2010

English football pride restored

It's not all doom and gloom in English football, you know. There's still much to be proud of. Yes, English football leads the way in more than just overpaying foreign stars in our Premier League and continuing to tolerate the feral behaviour of our yob England stars.

Not Funny
Despite England's disaster show, we've an array of English representatives at the World Cup's business end. The biggest beneficiary of our failure to reach the Final is Howard Webb, the most famous son of Rotherham since The Chuckle Brothers.

Not Clever
He's been given the world's most prestigious job in upholding football's rules when Spain face Holland on Sunday. Webb joins Jack Taylor as an Englishman who refereed the World Cup Final. In Taylor's case, he was the man in the middle in 1974 as West Germany beat Holland.
And commercially, reports of England's demise are somewhat overstated as the FA announce three new sponsorship deals. Manager Fabio Capello presents England's new partners (pictured).

There's no truth in the rumour that Capello's command of English led to the deliberate misspelling of FUCK.

No fears Fab. There's always EURO 2012 to fail at too!

Surprisingly human looking eye
Meanwhile, it's been revealed that Paul The Octopus, the creature who can't stop correctly predicting the outcome of World Cup matches, is English too.

The eight-legged superstar hails from Weymouth in Dorset.

Rule Britannia!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Puyol's giantesque shows up thug Terry

The longer this World Cup goes on the smaller England look as a world football power.

And in Spain's Carles Puyol, we simply do not have a peer.

The European champions recovered from the setback of losing their opening game to Switzerland, by halting the seemingly unstoppable progress of a bright young Germany.

Puyol defended like a lion all game and powered his bullet header into the German net with characteristic aplomb.

A European champion for both club and country, the Barcelona star rose uber alles to thump it past helpless keeper Neuer and steer Spain to their first-ever World Cup Final on Sunday.

He and his teammates will face Holland, who could join Brazil as the only nation to record a 100% record in qualifying and in the Finals.

But for England's squad already on their summer holidays, they look pathetic in comparison. No wonder we went home so soon.

2006 will be recorded as the last World Cup England could've won. Football's globalization is now complete and frankly, we could've been as likely eliminated by Japan or Ghana as much as by Germany or Argentina.

In a nutshell, Spain have Puyol... we have John Terry.

That divisive, bullying, yob-cum-oaf arrived in South Africa deposed as captain because of bad off-field conduct, then produced performances akin to those on Hackney Marshes.

Spain, after years in the doldrums stand on the edge of greatness aiming to become only the third nation to be World and European Champions at the same time.

And Puyol's not even Spain's captain! That's a measure of the depth of their talent and experience. To be honest, half a dozen of Spain's squad could wear the armband with distinction.

One of our immediate challenges as England fans is to put pressure on Fabio Capello never to pick Terry for England again. We will go a long way to rebuilding morale and togetherness in the squad if we never have to put up with that over-rated, disobedient, disrespectful guttersnipe in our midst.

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Saturday, 3 July 2010

Germany strike vier into the heart of Argentina

It's hard to say this as an England fan, but you can't argue with Germany's appearance in the World Cup semi-finals.

For the third time in South Africa, Germany have struck four in a game.

If anyone wants to know how to beat Germany, they'd be advised to watch the Serbs' one-nil win over them during the group stages.

In beating big guns England and Argentina, they've shown how a well executed gameplan and strong organisation will mostly win the day at this level.

Though the Argentines have all the flair in the world, the Germans stopped them playing. Messi, Higuain and Tevez were utterly neutralised. Germany's defence was so organised as a unit, both in open play and at setpieces.

In stark contrast, Germany's opening goal came as a consequence of undrilled Argentine defending.

As for the performance against England, Germany were so superior in organisation, we all know we were made to look like a pub team.

This World Cup has been a triumph of substance over style. It mightn't be as pretty on the eye as other World Cups, but it's a fascinating tool with which to learn about the game.

After a slightly below par tournament, the semi-final match-ups are intriguing.

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