Archive for the ‘FIFA World Cup’ Category
Captain Rooney, Goldenballs on bench and Rio at the back spells a winning formula for Wenger’s United England
Let’s be honest. It is hard to tackle Gary Lineker’s defeatist attitude when he declares: “England do not have an earthly of winning the World Cup.”
So how about thinking outside the box and doing something radical. Cue the professor of football, Frenchman Arsene Wenger, who champions the idea of building the national team around the country’s most successful team. Add the influence of England’s most loyal servant David Beckham, the leadership and vision of Wayne Rooney, the panache and style of the world’s best footballing defender Rio Ferdinand and the new crop of kids from Old Trafford.
In other words let’s build the next England team around Manchester United – past and present – and put Wenger in charge to see if he can turn his vision into reality with the help of players who still know how to win trophies. No.2 Gary Neville will make sure the Frenchman does not neglect his defence – and Roy Hodgson can be the player liaison officer. During matches he can sit with the suits. Just don’t ask him to make any team talks because his Plan B is the same as his Plan A
Much that I admire Steven Gerrard, his leadership in Montenegro was undermined by a performance littered with sloppy mistakes. Like Frank Lampard his best days are behind him. But these golden oldies have an important supporting role to play on the bench along with Mr Golden Balls himself David Beckham.
Becks is back in the frontline with Champions League quarter-finalists Paris St-Germain. He’s the only English player still in the competition. And Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear he still thinks Beckham can deliver at the highest level by offering him another season’s contract that will take him up to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Let’s remind Stuart Pearce what an idiot he was by leaving the former Manchester United star out of his Team GB squad for London 2012 and make him Wenger’s assistant player-manager. We all know that Wenger loves Becks and he struck up a friendship with the Essex boy when he invited him to train with Arsenal.
Becks is an admirer of England’s great Arsenal protege Jack Wilshere having watched him at close quarters in training. He knows the boy will be magical supporting frontmen Rooney and Danny Welbeck, in a midfield surrounded by Ashley Young, Tom Cleverly and Michael Carrick, the most consistent performer at Old Trafford this season.
Everyone can see that Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are the future rocks at the back for England and even Roy Hodgson admits he got it wrong backing John Terry instead of Ferdinand. So how about Ferdinand and Smalling as centre backs with Jones pushing forward from the rightback berth. That leaves a space for Ashley Cole on the left. I am sure he can kiss and make up with his old pal Rio. Even the Chelsea man must have seen the tongue-in-cheek humour of that choc ice twitter jibe.
The goalkeeper has to be Joe Hart- an advocate of a United Manchester and good friends with Ferdinand and other players at Old Trafford – so there is no reason he will not fit into a United England. Former Reds keeper Ben Foster, meanwhile, is an outstanding deputy for the No.1 shirt.
So who will the captain be? I thought that was obvious. Rooney will revel in the role. Judging by the way he is starting to find his form again for England and the confidence boost he will receive from such a vote of confidence will bring out the best of a player yet to fulfil his true potential on the world stage.
It may be April Fool’s Day, but am I really joking here? Think about this formation and you tell me . . .
ENGLAND (4:1:3:1:1) – Hart; Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, A.Cole; Carrick; Cleverly, Wilshere, Young; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs: Foster, Baines, Cahill, Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard, Defoe. Manager: Wenger. Assistant: Neville
Sack Fabio Capello – and appoint English-born manager to ditch John Terry and re-call Paul Scholes: FA’s chance to unite nation
The men in suits forever ridiculed by critics as the ‘jokers’ who run the game but ‘don’t know what they’re doing’ have a unique opportunity to make all the doubters eat their words.
There is a lot of absolute rubbish being written and said by so-called experts who have defended Fabio Capello’s ill-advised decision to take on the Football Association over their decision to strip John Terry of the captains armband.
The reality is the FA’s only mistake was not taking this action months ago when the crown prosecution charged Terry with racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.
Forget innocent until proven guilty. That is irrelevant. Terry will get the chance to clear his name in July. But it is inconceivable that England can go into a major tournament led by a skipper charged with being a racist.
Not only to protect England, but – whether he likes it or not -this is in the best interests of Terry. Can you imagine the controversy that would have engulfed England at Euro 2012 with Terry facing the world’s media and constantly being reminded about his racism charge.
The FA have been world leaders in their campaign to kick racism out of football. But the possibility that their skipper could become a convicted racist within days of the tournament ending would have made England a laughing stock.
In any other walk of life anyone in Terry’s position would be suspended and removed from the firing line until after their court case.
For Capello to gamble his career by taking on his employers and so publicly supporting Terry is a shockingly poor decision for so many reasons. It is such a bad call one suspects the Italian secretly wants to be fired so he can walk away from an England job he has never mastered.
The reality is that Capello has made his position as manager untenable. Not just by challenging the FA’s authority but by inexcusably creating problems in the England dressing room
By making it public knowledge that his captain will no longer be his first choice undermines what already appears to be a fragile relationship with his players – who already know he is walking away when his contract expires in the summer.
By quickly ruling himself out of being re-instated as captain, Rio Ferdinand confirmed his lack of respect for Capello. And I am absolutely certain he is not the only one doubting the Italian’s ability to learn from his mistakes during and since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Imagine how the atmosphere would change if the FA have the balls to sack Capello and give the fans what they really want . . . an English-born manager.
Imagine if that man was Harry Redknapp after he successfully defends his Court case and kicks into touch those charges of alleged tax evasion.
And imagine if the new English manager leaves Terry out of his Euro 2012 squad altogether and successfully persuades this nation’s best midfielder Paul Scholes to make a sensational comeback.
There is no doubt in my mind Scholes will accept the challenge if he his given the respect he deserves and gets the call from a manager who wants his team to play a passing game.
The ginger haired genius has already publicly stated he wishes he had played at the last World Cup and Scholes is universally recognised as the best England player of his generation.
There is also no doubt that Redknapp will come to England’s rescue if he gets the call. But even if that is not possible there are several other Englishmen who could do better than Capello.
My message to FA chairman David Bernstein is simple. Step up and become the leader the English game needs by giving Capello the boot, ditch Terry altogether and appoint an English manager who will build his Euro 2012 team around Scholes.
Forget the politics – it is time for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to join forces and get behind Team GB’s bid for glory at London 2012
Stuart Pearce – the Englishman appointed manager – is absolutely right when he says Britain’s top young stars will all want to take their shot at Olympic Gold.
The Olympics is a unique platform for the world’s finest under 23 players to shine. Remember it was the stage that launched Lionel Messi on the way to becoming the best player on the planet. And Messi was so determined to take part he was happy for Argentinia to take Barcelona to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the argument over whether or not he could play at the Games.
That’s why the likes of Welshman Gareth Bale are expected to ignore pleas by the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FAs not to take part for fear of losing their national status with FIFA.
Let’s face it does anyone really believe that England, Scotland, Wakes and Northern Ireland will be forced to compete as Great Britain at the FIFA World Cup.
For former Scotland manager Craig Brown to say players who take part will be “selfish” is just pathetic.
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INDIA SKIPPER DHONI’S GREAT SPORTSMANSHIP WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY . . . WERE YOU WATCHING THIERRY HENRY?
FOOTNOTE: 01 August 2011: England storm to a 2-0 series lead and now look odds on to win the four Test series by the minimum 2-match margin that will take India’s crown as the world’s No.1 cricket team.
It is rare in the modern world that great sportsmanship prevails at the highest level – and one can only admire India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his gracious reprieve for England’s batting hero Ian Bell at such a pivotal moment in the Second Test.
Bell had played one of his finest innings for England, scoring 137 when he was given “run out” after the last delivery before the tea interval – and then reinstated in the most bizarre circumstances.
Eoin Morgan had played the ball down to long leg and Praveen Kumar made a diving attempt to stop the ball, which bounced off his leg as he fell over the boundary. Kumar, clearly under the impression that the ball had gone for four, returned it to MS Dhoni. And when the skipper gave it to his short-leg fielder Abhinav Mukund, who broke the wicket, Bell was run out. By this time Bell and Morgan, who appeared to think the umpire had called “over”, were on their way back to the pavilion for their cup of tea.
Following Indian appeals for the run out, Bell was given out after replays had shown that the ball had not gone for four and the umpires were booed as they took the field after the interval. But the boos turned to cheers when Bell resumed his innings, Dhoni withdrawing the appeal over tea.
Bell went on to reach 159 as England re-asserted their supremacy with an extraordinary 417 runs on the third day, reaching 441-6 to lead by 374. There is every chance Dhoni’s sporting gesture will cost India not only defeat to England, but ultimately their status as the world’s No.1 cricket team.
The whole episode was summed up succinctly by Bell – who was guilty of not playing to the whistle, when he said: “I was a bit naive to walk off for tea not attempting a run. But in the spirit of the game the right decision was made.”
Whatever the outcome of this Test, Dhoni’s sportsmanship will go down in history as the day India upheld the spirit of the game. There are not many sportsmen who would have done the same.
The day Thierry Henry grotesquely handled the ‘goal’ that sent France to the 2008 FIFA World Cup at the expense of Ireland stands out like a beacon as the occasion when one of football’s most gifted players was branded a cheat because his side refused to invoke the purist principles of good sportsmanship.
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HOW THE SECOND TEST ENDED: The previous day’s drama was eclipsed when Tim Bresnan scored 90 runs and took five wickets as England tore India apart to surge to one of their most impressive Test victories in recent times. After racking up 544 in a blistering batting display, England’s seamers skittled the tourists for 158 to complete a 319-run victory on the fourth day at Trent Bridge. Geoffrey Boycott summed up England’s superiority when he declared: “England are after a 4-0 series victory and will go number one in the world easily. They are all over India. They are not just beating them but demoralising them. There are moments where it’s touch and go, but like a boxer they wear them down before they knock them absolutely flat out.”
Matt Le Tissier was a footballing genius and in my opinion it is criminal that his loyalty to Southampton probably cost him a place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.
In a B international prior to the final squad selection, Le Tissier scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory for England against Russia at Loftus Road. But he was controversially overlooked by manager Glenn Hoddle. It was ironic that given his reputation as a superb penalty taker, England exited the tournament after losing to Argentina in a penalty shoot out.
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EXCUSE THE QUALITY BUT HERE IS A TREAT FROM YOUTUBE FOR ANYONE WHO WONDERS WHY WE CALL IT ‘THE BEAUTIFUL GAME’
As a professional film maker it never ceases to amaze me how content is king even when the video quality is shocking. This montage was clearly produced by an amateur YouTuber and is poor quality technically and 100% unofficial. But you will still enjoy the beauty of the action. That’s why it has had over 13 million views.
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BIG MONEY TRANSFERS WILL NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF WHY ENGLAND ARE FALLING BEHIND REST OF THE FOOTBALL WORLD
The English Premier League may be the most exciting domestic football competition in the world. TV viewing figures certainly suggest that it is. And the global reach of the world’s biggest and most popular club Manchester United is second to none. But do not let this confuse you. English football needs a root and branch revolution because it is just not good enough.
Not only is England’s national team a poor relation on the world stage, with a zero chance of winning the next World Cup in Brazil in three years time. But we will always be no hopers unless drastic changes are made to the way we coach the game. Ironically, the upcoming regulations that are forcing our top clubs to develop home grown talent could be the best thing that has happened to the game in this country since 1966 so long as the elite do not fall into the trap of thinking money alone is the answer.
For Manchester United and Liverpool to lead the way recruiting England’s most promising youngsters is the inevitable reaction to UEFA’s upcoming requirement for nine homegrown players in a squad of 18. But forking out huge wads of cash – Phil Jones £20M, Ashley Young £20M, Jordan Henderson £20M, Andy Carrol £35M – does not tackle the underlying flaw in our national game.
When England miraculously escaped with a draw against Spain in their European Under-21 Championship opener on Sunday, it only served to confuse the issue. Just as Barcelona played football from a different planet in their Champions League Final triumph over Manchester United last month, the Spanish youngsters demonstrated how their skill and technique is light years ahead of the game in England.
It is not that our players lack the ability to match the Spaniards. It is a fundamental flaw in the way the game is being taught from grass roots upwards. We are blinded by the rigidity of out-dated formations and the fear of losing or making a mistake. We must go back to basics and teach our young players the fundamental skills of pass and move, keeping possession, dribbling, shooting and passing with both feet.
In essence it is time to learn how to play total football. The enduring success of Barcelona – Champions League winners twice in three years – and the Spanish national team, champions of both Europe and the World is not something that money can buy. It takes a sound footballing philosophy and a commitment to mastering the skills of The Beautiful Game.
At Barca Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Zavi have grown up together learning their skills and understanding. OK Catalonia’s adopted son Messi was born in Argentina and we are talking about a club side not a nation. But the point is that the Catalans have developed a purist style of football that can be taught. Take any of the Barca players and they are at home playing in just about any position on the pitch because they are comfortable on the ball. Until English footballers can express themselves with the same confidence they will forever be making up the numbers.
BLATTER TURNS HUMILIATION INTO TRIUMPH AS FIFA GIVES THE ‘PIRATES’ FROM THE ENGLISH FA ANOTHER GOOD KICKING
Love him or hate him, you have to admire the way Sepp Blatter has expertly navigated the stormy waters of his FIFA re-election like a triumphant admiral who has neatly dodged the pirates trying to sink him.
Equally, credit where credit is due and the ice cool Swiss politican has wasted no time in setting about reforming FIFA. The 75-year-old started his fourth term as President after announcing a raft of measures designed to give the world’s governing body greater transparency and accountability.
A secret ballot saw Blatter re-elected with 186 votes and 17 abstentions as he stood unopposed as the only candidate, following Mohamed Bin Hammam’s withdrawal on Sunday – hours before he was provisionally banned over allegations that he was involved in Qatar paying bribes to secure the 2022 World Cup.
Earlier Blatter announced a new system of choosing World Cup hosts with all 208 Fifa nations voting instead of the 24-man executive committee. He told the Congress: ”I thank you for your trust and confidence from the bottom of my heart and together we will have four more years – provided the Lord gives me the life, the energy and the strength to continue on our path.”
His victory will taste even sweeter because the Football Association’s fruitless attempt to block the vote ended in heavy defeat and vengeful recriminations. It left England looking even more isolated than ever in the corridors of power of world football. FA chairman David Bernstein said his organisation’s move had been worthwhile and insisted they had not suffered for sticking their head above the parapet. But it is hard to agree. Even Wales and Northern Ireland voted against England and the fall-out saw several powerful figures in football line up to attack the FA.
The leaders of associations from Haiti, DR Congo, Benin, Fiji and Cyprus all spoke to criticise the FA’s move, and the most forceful attack came from FIFA’s senior vice-president Julio Grondona of Argentina who branded England a bunch of “pirates” fueled by ” journalism which is more busy lying than telling the truth.”
Meanwhile, centre stage the all-conquering Blatter said he would learn from the ”public anger” and would lead FIFA out of their current predicament: ”We have been hit and I personally have been slapped. We have made mistakes and we will learn from this. I can say to a certain extent that this is a good warning, not just to look into our problems and I am willing to face the public anger in order to serve football.”
While England’s football team can only dream of one day re-living the glories of 1966, off the pitch the English FA are even less effective. Embarrassed with total rejection in the vote to stage the 2018 World Cup, this was another day when our influence on the world game was once again exposed as being as low as it can get.
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FIFA FARCE! IS THIS THE END OF THE ODIOUS SEPP BLATTER WHO MUST DEFEND HIMSELF AGAINST CORRUPTION CHARGES?
BY JOHN GUBBAHow ironic that after years of covering up alleged corruption at FIFA, the dictatorial leader of the governing body of world football is facing the humiliation of having to defend himself against allegations of corruption. The farce engulfing FIFA scaled new heights with the news that president Sepp Blatter will face the body’s ethics committee on Sunday (May 29) to answer charges that he knew about alleged bribes made by other senior figures in the organisation, who were trying to topple him. He will join Mohamed Bin Hammam, his rival in the forthcoming presidential election, and controversial FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago at the hearing where they will all face claims of corruption and bribery.
Absurdly, it means that the three most powerful men in world football must appear before the ethics committee three days before the organisation must pick one of them as its president.
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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: WHY BARCA AGAINST MAN UNITED IS DESTINED TO BE ULTIMATE SHOWPIECE FOR BEAUTIFUL GAME
Forget the FIFA World Cup Final. This is the big one. The Champions League Final. The biggest game on the planet bar none. And never has a game been more eagerly anticipated. The 2011 Final at Wembley on Saturday (May 28) could be the ultimate showpiece for The Beautiful Game. It will certainly draw one of the biggest TV audiences of all time – and my prediction is that this time we will be treated to a contest to match the hype and delight the purists.
There is no doubt it is absolutely the dream final. Between the two most exciting teams in world football, whose history and fans demand entertainment as well as glory. Fortune favours the bold and with both sides committed to goals and glamour the recipe for a classic is surely guaranteed.
Two years ago Barca triumphed when Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi scored the goals in a 2-0 win against a Manchester United side weighed down by a shocking contribution by Cristiano Ronaldo – playing his final game in a red shirt before his £80 million move to Real Madrid.
But this time the Catalans know they face a much tougher challenge to their status as the World’s top ranked club. United have got better and better all season making the critics – who keep telling us this is not an outstanding team – look more and more ridiculous.
At times this season United have hit extraordinary heights to match any in the epic 25 year resign of the world’s greatest football manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The twin threat of a Wayne Rooney back to his glorious best and Mexican sensation Javier Hernandez is as good as it gets. Edwin Van Der Sar will be retiring as the world’s best goalkeeper and skipper Nemanja Vidic is an absolute rock alongside the elegance of Rio Ferdinand.
Ryan Giggs has never played better and his reinvention as a central midfield playmaker gives United an extra creative dimension that at times this season has mirrored the famous Barca carousel orchestrated by Andres Iniesta, Xavi and the incomparable Lionel Messi.
As David Beckham said earlier this week: “If anyone can beat Barcelona at their peak Man United can.” With the width offered by any combination of Antonio Valencia, Ji Sung Park, Nani, Patrice Evra and the Da Silva twins this United team has the ammunition to hit Barca where it hurts.
Barca are certainly not underestimating the Red Devils. “This Manchester United team is much more unpredictable without Cristiano Ronaldo,” says wing-back Davi Alves “They have formed a more balanced group and they are stronger than they were two years ago.” Striker David Villa added: “Ronaldo’s departure has liberated them. Many great players come and go and that has allowed them to remain at the top for so long.” Andres Iniesta belives United have “grown as a team”.
And coach Pep Guardiola – who watched in awe as United’s second string completed a staggering 6-1 aggregate win over Schalke in the semi-final – admits: “We have been looking at the 2009 game and they were better than us in the first half.
“The level is equal, they are strong, competitive and they can play with four or five different formations and they stay competitive. They are one of the best teams in the world, and not just this year. We are proud to be playing them.”
As Steve Bruce, a European Cup Winners’ Cup winner with the Red Devils against Barcelona 20 years ago, says, Sir Alex will “want to win the trophy the Manchester United way.” And Bruce predicts the Boss has a master plan that will confirm why he is the greatest: “If anyone can get it right on the night the great man can.”
Whoever lifts the trophy The Beautiful Game will be the winner if both sides come out without inhibition and a determination to show the world just how good they really are.
1999 – THE GREATEST FINISH EVER TO A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
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