All Things Footie

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All Things Footie | Wednesday, May 24 | Jordan

The World Cup

Title says it all really. After a woeful domestic season, and some major ups and downs for English clubs in Europe, the World Cup is nearly upon us, and I for one am really looking forward to it. At last, some football that I don’t really care about, that I can just sit back and enjoy. No stress, no desperation, no worries. I realise that not all English fans will feel the same, that some of you will get rushes of blood and patriotic stirrings that move you to tears, to violence, to insecure rantings at ‘dirty’ foreigners; well, enjoy them. I’ll be kicking back with a cold beer and hoping to see a team who deserves to triumph take the glory. Who that will be? I don’t know, it may even be England (before you tiresome patriots whinge at me for being anti-Motherland).

I’d like to see a lesser known nation triumph this year. Not in the manner of Greece in the 2004 European Championships—there was no grace in that—I’d like to see a team who work hard but play exciting football, and for each other take the funny gold twisty thing back to their country. I’d like to see a team for whom winning the World Cup genuinely moves them and their supporters, a team who don’t think it’s their ‘destiny’ or ‘their time’ to win it, but one who appreciates that they’re going to have to slog their bollocks off and play the right way to triumph. (I just realised that this paragraph looks like a dig at Greece, it’s not meant to be, I was actually quite chuffed for them, I just wished they’d played some less … utilitatian … football.)

I’m not necessarily talking about underdogs here; even with five World Cup victories I still get the sense that Brazil feel there is soemthing for them to prove, and that the fans know it’s not a matter of being favourites but that they must all pull together and work hard to even stand a chance of winning. The players and fans of Italy, England, Spain and France—to name the worst offenders—have an altogether more arrogant attitude to their teams chances. All of these countries talk constantly about ‘golden’ generations, or boast about having the best domestic league, or the best players and have legions of fans who boast incessantly.

Traditionally, Argentina have been a side guilty of overconfidence and boastfulness, but there’s no doubting that over the last decade they’ve had the stuffing knocked out of them by consistently poor showings in International tournaments. They (or at least, the World’s football press) have perhaps been more guilty than any other side of over-hyping players: from Veron to Aimar, to Riquelme and Crespo—remember ‘the new Maradona’: Ariel Ortega? I think that Argentina more than any of the other top sides have learnt from their mistakes and understood their weaknesses, with constant disappointment in the performance of supposedly top players, they’ve gone back to basics and built a strong, deep team. I fancy them highly.

The great Pele once said that an African nation would win the World Cup by the year 2000, and while he got it wrong (making the classic mistake of being specific in his prediction, when we all know that at the heart of any good prediction is intentional vagueness and untestability) I think his point is strong. With African players taking a stronghold in the Premiership and other European leagues like never before, and given that—without wanting to generalise or sterotype too much—I believe that when playing for their country, African players feel that they have more to prove than most other International sides; I think that there’s a strong chance we could see an African side do very well this summer.

I’m a particular fan of the Ivory Coast, and not just because my favourite Arsenal player and the most outstanding defender in England this season is a member of their squad; I feel they have a togetherness and a strength in anonymity that other sides don’t, and I’m clearly not alone. Despite being in a group with Argentina and the Netherlands, the best odds I can find on them reaching the final eight of the competition are a staggeringly short 6-1.

Talking of Holland, they’re another side I’ve always enjoyed watching and supporting. It’s such a cliché to talk about ‘total football’, and a preference for beautiful defeat over an ugly success, but I’ve seen nothing to change my view that it’s less a hackneyed phrase and more a genetically enforced fact of Dutch life. And I love it. I’ve never been a win-at-all costs person, trophies alone do not make a great team or player in my eyes (they help of course), and although Ruud van Nistelrooij has given the Netherlands a rather less beautiful front-line than the position’s previous encumbants (Bergkamp, van Basten, Gullit, Cruyff to name a few), I still trust in the Oranjes to put on a show. And their away kit is fantastic.

Maybe it’s not the football I’m looking forward to at all, but the fact that we’ve just had two enormous plasma screens installed at work, for … presentation purposes. There’s a playstation too. PES5? Oh yes.

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All Things Footie | Sunday, May 14 | Jordan

Thought for the day

I'm busier than a good looking rabbit in mating season, so I'm going to be brief (better than nothing at all? Maybe).

UEFA are urging Arsenal/Barca fans without a ticket not to travel to Paris; the article interestingly brings up th fact that of the 77,000 tickets released for the game, 16,000 have gone on sale to the public, and Arsenal and Barca have 15,000 each. Hold on a minute … 77,000 tickets + 30,000 to clubs + 16,000 to public leaves 30,000 tickets unaccounted for.

Here's a hint UEFA:

DON'T GIVE NEARLY HALF THE MATCH TICKETS TO CORPORATE SPONSORS WHO COULDN'T GIVE A TOSS ABOUT THE ACTUAL FOOTBALL, WHEN THERE ARE REAL FANS WHO CAN'T GET TICKETS FOR THE GAME. LOTS OF THEM. INCLUDING ME.

And for God's sake, don't compound the sad state of affairs you've slumped in to by urging said 'real' fans that will be travelling without tickets to soak up the atmosphere/spend a fortune buying from touts, not to do so.

P.S. I will be travelling to Paris, but I don't have a ticket, so anyone who wants to donate one will be my bestest friend forever.

On another note, I felt desperately sorry for West Ham yesterday, they didn't deserve to lose that game in the slightest. While all the headlines this morning are about Steven Gerrard (and there's no doubting he put in a colossal performance yesterday), I'd like to say a couple of words about Nigel Reo-Coker. I've been keeping my eye on him all season, after he caught my eye playing for Wimbledon when he was younger, and his immense performance yesterday coupled with being consistenly top class all season has convinced me that he's capable of playing at a very high level. With both Arsenal and Manchester United lacking in central midfield, don't be surprised if the lad is with one of them come the start of next season. I know what you're thinking though: West Ham? Developing a good player and then selling him? Never!

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All Things Footie | Thursday, May 4 | Jordan

Ready children? Then let's begin

Let’s start with Wayne Rooney—I’ll try and contain my mirth for long enough to finish this paragraph. Wayne Rooney is a nasty little player, he consistently tackles dangerously and gets away with it, he’s abusive to officials, he’s generally unpleasant. I felt nothing but the sweet smell of Karma kicking the horrible little shit right up the arse (or on the ankle, as it were), particularly in a game where he’d already reduced John Terry to a hobble. He’s a wonderful footballer, but a prize twat of a person, and this is perhaps the most hilarious headline ever written—the idea of Wayne Rooney being ‘philosophical’ about anything other than the big hole in his wallet left by his marginally more unpleasant other-half is almost as funny as his face when he was carted off the Stamford Bridge pitch last Saturday. I’m of the opinion that England didn’t really stand much of a chance anyway, but without Rooney, ‘not much’ has changed to ‘a cat in hell’

Talking of England’s chances, it seems their chances of silverware will remanin in the same ballpark, with or without Rooney, as the FA have once again shown their utter incompetence by naming Mr Medicore as the new England manager (from 1 August). Middlesbrough would have paid England to take McLaren less than six weeks ago, but now he’s supposed to be the best man for the job? Second choice to Scolari? He’s got second choice written through him like a stick of rock.

I couldn’t think of a worse choice for the position, apart from maybe Steve Bruce.

And staying with the subject of the FA: after a season littered with awful, dangerous, challenges from cynical and brutish individuals—and what I’m sure must be a record number of serious foot/leg injuries to Premiership players—what’s the betting that at the beginning of next season there’s a clampdown on backchat to officials? Or diving? Or celebrating in front of away fans? Or some other stupid initiative designed to make them and the officials feel important.

Never one to shirk the oppotunity to be logical, I liked Arsène Wenger’s suggestion:

“I felt, having watched the game, that there were bad intentions … The player should be banned as long as Abou Diaby does not play. When you see that he gets a yellow card it is just horrendous.”

Too right; it’s long been my opinion that football is perfectly happy to see cameras catch people and players for spitting, shirt pulling, diving, swearing, giving fans a two-fingered salute, being happy at scoring a goal—but we see the punishment and chastisement of ‘honest’ or ‘hardworking’ players half crippling others as just a calculated risk of playing the game. Well it’s bollocks; it’s not good enough, and someone needs to take action before it gets out of hand. By someone, I mean one of the brain-dead idiots at the FA.

(36) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

  1. Punishment should fit the crime
  2. Ouch
  3. Tevez and Mascherano madness
  4. Predictions
  5. Warming up
  6. The World Cup II
  7. The World Cup
  8. Thought for the day
  9. Ready children? Then let's begin
  10. Don't say I never give you anything