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All Things Footie | Monday, June 2 | Jordan

Just 11 weeks to go

UPDATE I’ve just seen the team for the England vs. Serbia and Montenegro game; James (GK), Mills, Southgate, Upson, Cole, Neville, Lampard, Gerrard, Scholes, Heskey, Owen. I’d rather have my eyes poked out than watch this game. Word is that Hargreaves may well start next week instead of Phil Neville - in which case why the hell isn’t he settling in now. Three central midfielders and a second rate defender in midfield; a thug, a journeyman and a debutant in defence. Two forwards who haven’t got a first touch between them and quite probably 8 substitutions at half time. I don’t even care if it’s a great game with a hat-full of goals (which lets be honest, is unlikely). Enjoy.

Damn I forgot how difficult it is to write about football when it’s just dull internationals and groundless transfer speculation.

Maybe this is a bad thing for a football writer to say, but I couldn’t be bothered less about England vs. Serbia and Montenegro. We’re a dull team - though we contain some of the most high profile and highly paid footballers in the World. We struggle to get results against poor sides whilst occasionally defeating big teams - thus giving us a periodic illusion that we’re actually quite good.

It is likely (as far as I can tell) that Matthew Upson will be starting the England match with Gareth Southgate. Nice to see that after his disappointing time with Arsenal that his career has continued to grow, but where the hell is John Terry? After Sol Campbell, Terry has been far and away the best English centre half this season (and arguably last season too). He’s played consistency for a club who qualified for the Champions League, he’s outshone Marcel Desailly and England’s two biggest clubs would love to get their hands on him.

Maybe I’m being hasty, maybe Terry will start - or maybe he’s just not fit. Maybe our prejudice against English players that don’t play in the Premier league will not be enforced, and double winning Owen Hargreaves may play instead of Phil ‘backup’ Neville. Maybe the outlandishly talented Wayne Rooney will play instead of that useless oaf whom I will no longer name here.

Enough International rubbish. I feel I should write something about the Champions League final; I actually enjoyed it, but they really should have called for penalties around 65 minutes rather than making us wait until 120 were up. Congrats to AC Milan, but I really don’t think Arsenal or Manchester United should start getting any inferiority complexes, both could have beaten either - defensive frailty or no. I didn’t see it as proof that being top of the game is all about how well you can defend; Juventus have lost comprehensively to United this season and AC Milan have lost to Dortmund and Real Madrid in the later stages this year.

Contrary to it being about how well you defend, the Champions League was this year won by a team with more defeats on record in the finals than ever before (4). It has been more about mental strength and winning the games you need to win for Milan and Juventus, and they both deserve credit for their determination and willingness to sacrifice beauty for hard work. I though Milan deserved it on the night - just.

I am very happy that next season the pointless and tiring second group phase is being scrapped. Knockout games are so much more fun.

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