All 3 entries tagged Football

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July 01, 2009

Watching black and white paint dry…

Writing about web page

No. This is not fair.

The BBC have a grand total of ten Championship matches last season. That’s ten between a league of 24 teams, so already four teams won’t be making an appearance. So in the interests of fairness… they give Newcastle the first two games.

How can this be fair to the myriad of quality sides in the division that some team, who at the back-end of last season played some pathetically soulless football, can be guaranteed two appearances on terrestrial television when unfashionable sides like Doncaster who play a decent hard-working probably won’t be shown at all? Would it really have been that difficult for the BBC to, if unable to at least pick up a couple more games, structure things so only four clubs miss out rather than immediately focus on a club which claims to be big yet continues to achieve nothing?

Oh wait, I forgot – Newcastle are going to be the Man Utd/Chelsea/Liverpool/Arsenal of the Championship, getting far more TV exposure than the rest of their division. Difference is, in Newcastle’s case I think it’s going to be 1 from 24 rather than 4 from 20.

March 25, 2007

Team Israel vs Collection of Individuals England

Now as nobody else has talked about it here, possibly because they have been either ramming their heads into a wall instead or they fell asleep during the second half and haven’t woken up yet, I’ll do a brief entry on the “game”, if you could call it that.

I was admittedly working, so I missed pretty much all of the first 25 minutes, and apparently missed nothing of note. My boss was complaining that all Carragher and Lennon were doing in possession is turning round and passing it back and inside five yards, and proceeded to let me stand there for a few minutes and see this was in fact the case. He reckons Carragher made at most three passes in a forward direction in the whole of the first half. Second half was similarly crap, and again consisted of England passing the ball around with no real intent before Lampard hit a long ball that Peter Crouch wouldn’t get to if he was on stilts, never mind Johnson or Rooney. With no creativity in midfield, McLaren responded by changing first his right back, then his centre forward, and we started to get very bored and checked if England were winning their other sporting contest of the evening. So yeah, a dreadful game that both teams deserved to lose.

Whilst watching England spray the ball aimless around the pitch and then seeing pointless non-game-changing substitutions, we were wondering if McLaren was watching the same game as us. Listening to his press conference, we knew he wasn’t. England might have had the better of the possession, but created next to nothing. The keeper was barely tested, Carragher’s header on the bar can hardly be constituted as a “near miss” as any lower and the keeper would have snapped it up, and quite frankly everything that came out of his mouth was rubbish.

So let’s see if I can do better…

  1. Carragher is not a full-back, nor is Gerrard a winger. Let’s not play them there.
  2. Phil Neville is not an international quality player – jack of all trades, master of none. But at this exact moment in time, are the alternatives good enough to replace him?
  3. Time and time again it’s been shown that you can’t play Lampard and Gerrard in the same team unless you play with two proper attacking central midfielders, and this means changing the team shape to either a 4-4-2 with no width or 3-5-2/4-5-1. Frankly, Lampard probably doesn’t deserve his place at the moment – certainly not ahead of Gerrard.
  4. If you’re playing Lennon, you want him running at people, not stopping, doing a few fancy turns and then passing the ball back to Carragher, who passes the ball back inside to whoever.
  5. England need a far better strategy than the long ball. It hasn’t been working with Crouch and it sure as hell won’t work with Johnson. If we were meant to play the long ball, God would have put grass up there.
  6. I learnt nothing about Johnson as an international striker from tonight, nor how well he links with Rooney. This I blame entirely on the midfield.
  7. McLaren is clueless.

September 07, 2006

UEFA: egalitarian is wrong?

This entry was inspired by the following:

a) eins zwei drei vier funf sechs sieben acht neun zehn elf zwolf dreizehn (Germany sticking 13 past San Marino)
b) The Rock wanting to play football (or to be more precice, Gibraltar’s request to be allowed to play international football)
c) Seeing Kenny Miller getting booked against Lithuania

Now I think that every nation no matter how small should have the right to play international fixtures. However, what good did it do San Marino to turn up tonight? Will they have learned much from the 90 minutes against Germany? To be honest, no. What it left Germany with – and likewise England and Scotland on Saturday – is a pointless exercise in increasing their goal difference. These teams risk their players picking up yellow cards or even worse injuries which can lead back to problems between the domestic clubs and the national associations.

Ah, I hear you cry, what about Northern Ireland? Allegedly they’re hopeless, because they let in three against Iceland, but then they go back and beat Spain 3-2 tonight. Well, you see, perhaps it’s time to look at how other bodies do their qualifying.

If you look at CAF, for example, they pair off the worst nations in a single two-legged qualification round, and those winners find their way into the main round-robin. AFC have three stages of groups, CONCACAF likewise, and they both also have some very useful countries and a load of hopeless part-timers. So why can’t Europe do the same?

Euro2008 needs 14 qualifiers, so UEFA came up with this brilliant idea of having seven qualifying groups and sending the top two through from each. Which is all well and good, except Group B has three out of the eight World Cup quater-finalists plus three banana-skin sides and Group A, Portugal aside, has a bunch of mediocre teams at best. Although this will make for lots of tough qualifiers (France v Italy? Germany v Czech Republic?) it will also make for a hell of a lot of mismatches. Moreover, it just drags out the calendar.

So I could have suggested something like this: you start out with 50 nations (plus 2 hosts), so take the top 20 and force the remaining 30 into 15 two-legged play-offs. Then take these 35 into 7 groups of five, and the top two qualify. The top sides would only have to play 8 qualifying games, and can play friendlies against other sides, the lesser nations will get games against their rivals to get there and if they don’t qualify can use the international weeks to play others who didn’t make it, and the quality of the qualifying rounds will increase. Of course there are other variants of how you could weed out the small nations, but that’s the only one I’m thinking of at 2am.

Sure it’s nice for the minnows to have a day out against the giants, but San Marino are not going to beat Germany in a year of Sundays.

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