Communication Breakdown

by on October 9, 2012
in He Did WHAT?

I’m trying to think of how far back the record of PR disasters surrounding England players, managers and the FA actually goes: it’s a long way and might even start as far back as the Alf Ramsay era. Ramsey was famous for his curt manner with the press and although we’re separated by five decades and an almost unimaginable leap in technology, I’m almost certain that to some extent the anti-England agenda that occasionally manifests itself in the mainstream press dates from that time.

In the last week, we’ve seen what can happen when both managers and players attempt to communicate information and opinions in an informal atmosphere. Although Roy Hodgson was giving an honest answer to a reasonable question about Rio Ferdinand’s international future when he took a tube train to the Emirates to watch Arsenal play Olympiakos in the Champions League, it’s fair to say that either a political answer or keeping schtum altogether would’ve been better options. I happen to agree with him: I think this might be the last time Ferdinand gets mentioned  in this blog as a player. Rio Ferdinand is too old and unfit to play for England but could make a decent coach somewhere along the line.

On the other hand, exactly what Ashley Cole was hoping to achieve when he tweeted about the FA in the wake of the John Terry case is beyond me. At first I thought his ‘foul mouth rant’ was a joke: but then I saw the ‘verified’ symbol next to his handle. In a way, referring to the FA as ‘a bunch of twats’ is a simple case of it takes one to know several. Having been ‘encouraged’  to be a bit more media friendly in the summer and being only two caps short of a century of international appearances, you’d have thought that Cole would’ve been smart enough to realise that keeping quiet would’ve been the best option under the circumstances, especially as there are still questions about the captaincy going forward.

However, apart from possibly in the context of wearing expensive clothes, the words ‘Ashley Cole’ and ‘smart’ seem never to be destined to be used in the same sentence again. I wrote what I thought of John Terry here and I’ve got no problem with including Ashley Cole in the description of some contemporary football players in the fourth paragraph.

I’m pleased that the FA seem to have indicated that Cole won’t play against San Marino at the weekend, but that’s not really a punishment. He’s just lucky he wasn’t around in when Ramsay was boss.

He wouldn’t have played for England again.

I’ll be back later in the week when I’ll attempt to concentrate on the two forthcoming games. But it’s only Tuesday afternoon: plenty of time for tweeting.

The Gnomes Of Zurich Are At It Again

by on November 9, 2011
in FIFA

I can actually understand why FIFA might be a bit touchy about emblems on shirts.

They’ve got it wrong before.

For example, in the 1934 FIFA World Cup tournament the Italian team (who won both that competition and went on to win in France in 1938) wore the Fascist symbol on their shirts: it’s clearly visible on the official tournament poster and TOFFS are still making and selling that particular shirt. Quite what FIFA thought about the Italian side giving the Fascist salute throughout the tournament isn’t clear, although this newsreel clip shows that players that featured in the infamous ‘Battle Of Highbury’ six months later weren’t shy about giving the glad hand during a wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph.

Here’s a picture of future manager of West Germany Helmut Schoen playing for the famous ‘Breslau Elf’ before the war. Have a close look at the badge. Presumably FIFA didn’t think that was ‘political’ either.

After World War II, I don’t recall FIFA being too bothered about the communist countries who wore the red star on their shirts even though that’s an overtly political symbol. Similarly, political considerations seem to have been absent from the 1978 FIFA World Cup: a tournament that was cynically exploited for propaganda purposes by the brutal military junta in Argentina.

In the past couple of decades the political geography of Europe has changed a lot: for example, despite not being a monarchy since the Romanov dynasty was overthrown in the November revolution almost a century ago, the double headed eagle that was a symbol of that regime has now reappeared on the Russian football shirt.

Additionally, if national team shirts are not supposed to have any political, religious or commercial messages, then surely that also applies to the kit manufacturer logos.

But ultimately, FIFA couldn’t give a **** about anything other than FIFA.

That’s also worth remembering this weekend. We’ll be back before the end of the week with a look at the Euro 2012 playoffs and England’s friendly with Spain.

Wales Preview

I’ve got to be honest, I’m completely underwhelmed by today’s game. If England don’t win by more than two goals I think Capello should resign immediately. This game looks like a mythical third round FA Cup tie – something like Histon v Liverpool.

To begin, let’s start with some facts. We’ve only lost three times in Wales since World War II, the last time was a 0-1 defeat at The Racecourse Ground in Wrexham in May 1982, a game in the last Home International Tournament.

We’ve won eight of the last ten meetings in Wales, there’s not been a draw since April 1970 and we’ve only failed to score twice in the last 20 games over the bridge.

Wales have won 9 of their last 20 internationals at home but only four of their last ten – and those were against those well known powerhouses Liechtenstein, Estonia, Scotland (stiffles giggle) and Luxembourg. They haven’t won a Euro qualifier at home since beating San Marino four years ago.

Fifteen of the 24 players in the Welsh squad for the game – that’s 62% of them – play outside the Premier League. If Wales could play like Swansea then this game would be a lot closer, but there are only three Swansea players in the squad. 

(BTW if Swansea get promoted from the Championship, they’re worth watching: a budget Barcelona until they get to the opposition penalty box where they turn into a poor man’s Arsenal and try to pass the ball into the net)

As for all the nonsense about giving John Terry back the captaincy, all I’m going to say is that I really hope that Spurs either beat Real Madrid in the quarter finals of the Champions League or put up such a fantastic performance that appointing Harry Redknapp as next England manager is obvious even to the dunderheads at the FA.

Capello’s ‘decision’ to reappoint John Terry as captain just shows what a busted flush he is as a manager and even though I expect us to qualify for next year’s tournament, I think it’ll be the same old story when we get to Poland/Ukraine I’m afraid.

Verdict: Wales will be fired up for about ten minutes after the crowd at the Millennium Stadium have finished singing ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, Craig Bellamy will attempt to decapitate Wayne Rooney if he can get anywhere near him…and then England will score and the game will be over.

Postscript: I think we might have a tougher game against Ghana next week.

‘Panorama’ Did Us All A Favour

by on November 30, 2010
in Muckraking, World Cup 2018

‘Logic has to be suspended, normal standards of honesty and integrity have to be suspended. We have to go on our knees to accept FIFA diktats, crawl on our bellies to beg them to give us the World Cup.’

If you’ve not watched last night’s ‘Panorama’ then I strongly suggest that you do before reading this post. Here’s the link.

So…it’s not often that I agree with David Mellor, but it’s his quote at the top of the post and he’s absolutely right. As much as I would love the World Cup to be held in England, when it’s clear that there’s an endemic problem with corruption within FIFA then to be perfectly honest we’re better off staying as far away from them as possible.

In fact, I’d go further than that. We’ve always had issues with FIFA – the FA withdrew for political reasons after the First World War and didn’t return to the fold until after the Second – but it was only when Joao Havelange took over from Sir Stanley Rous in 1974 that the almost medieval culture of simony, patronage and nepotism began to prevail in Zurich.

Almost 40 years later, Sepp Blatter and his henchmen are running FIFA like a third world dictatorship and being  allowed to get away with it by both the football world and the Swiss authorities. There’s absolutely no point in the FA submitting any further bids to stage any tournament until the likes of Blatter, Ricardo Teixeira (Havelange’s ex-son in law) and Jack Warner have been removed from FIFA.

In summing up, as far as I’m concerned last night’s ‘Panorama’ destroyed any remaining credibility that FIFA had rather than any faint hopes that England might host the 2018 World Cup. In any case, there’s bound to be some decent teams that don’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup…so why don’t we organise an alternative one?

Feel free to disagree.  After all, 11 Lions is only a blog, not the international sporting equivalent of Zimbabwe.

Daily Mail Boycott Campaign Starts Now

The plan this morning was to congratulate Chelsea on winning the double (while expressing some concern about Frank Lampard’s missed penalty), possibly mentioning that England’s game against the USA could be one of the best games of the first round and having a quick round up of any friendy results.

Usual Sunday morning routine: kitchen, put the kettle on, switch the radio on…and the lead story on Five Live is this.

Let’s make this clear immediately: after having spent so much time and effort on the 2018 bid, to have the chairman of the FA apparently scupper it less than a month before the 2010 tournament starts is a disaster that the bid may not recover from.

Lord Triesman needs to go now. But some of the things that he allegedly said have the ring of truth to them (although having had a quick look at a list of recipients of the Legion d’Honneur no-one fits that particular profile) and there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that there will be attempts to bribe referees this summer. However, seeming to imply both the Spanish and the Russians will be complicit in this to a woman who was obviously employed by the Daily Mail as some kind of honey trap is a serious lapse of judgement on his part and will probably cost England the 2018 World Cup.

However…a serious lapse of judgement has also been committed by the Daily Mail (the only mainstream newspaper to support Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts before World War II). The online article is peppered with snidey little comments about Lord Triesman’s politics (he’s an ex-Labour minister and at one point was a member of the Communist party): the comments at the bottom of the article are worth reading and contributing to.

Lord Triesman may have cost us the World Cup in 2010…but the contribution of the Daily Mail will have helped a lot.

Update: Lord Triesman stepped down from both his FA and Euro 2018 posts on Sunday.

Squad For Egypt Friendly Announced

by on February 28, 2010
in Chile Earthquake, Friendlies

First the squad, then the opinion:

Goalkeepers:
David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Birmingham City, on loan from Manchester City)

Defenders:
Wes Brown (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Matt Upson (West Ham), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Ryan Shawcross (Stoke), Leighton Baines (Everton), Steven Warnock (Aston Villa)

Midfield
James Milner (Aston Villa), David Beckham (AC Milan), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (probable captain, Liverpool), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa)

Strikers
Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Jermain Defoe (Spurs), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Peter Crouch (Spurs), Carlton Cole (West Ham)

We’re almost 100 days until the World Cup kicks off and Wayne Bridge’s decision to rule himself out of further contention for the England team plus injuries to Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand are casuing a major defensive headache. Injuries are one thing – and to be honest, it would have been a miracle if we’d gone into the tournament without any – but for an established international like Bridge to have withdrawn as a consequence of John Terry’s off-field behaviour vindicates the decision by Sr. Capello to look for on-field leadership elsewhere.

To his credit, at the end of last week Sr. Capello made it clear that if Bridge was to reconsider his decision, the Manchester City defender would be welcomed back to the squad. I really hope we haven’t heard the end of this because I think we may need Wayne Bridge this summer, especially as all sorts of rumours are flying around about Ashley Cole’s mental state following Cheryl Cole’s decision to end their marriage. If Cole (A)  is neither mentally nor physically fit this summer then he shouldn’t go to South Africa at all.

To cap it all, one of the defensive replacements has a lot of back page coverage this morning. I didn’t see Ryan Shawcross’ tackle on Aaron Ramsey (I was in the kitchen listening to the game while I cooked dinner) but as soon as I heard the commentary I was instantly reminded on a similar injury that occurred about a decade ago at my local club. Shawcross got an instant red card and left the field in tears. A few hours later he got his England call up.

Apart from the casualties listed above, Glen Johnson and Aaron Lennon are also injury concerns at the moment, thankfully Gary Cahill is on the mend after suffering a health scare with a blood clot, but Joe Cole is missing again, simply because he’s not playing regularly for Chelsea. Intriguingly, Theo Walcott returns to the squad and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make an appearance at some point on Wednesday; his last chance to impress Capello perhaps.

To put all of this into some kind of perspective, if you think England’s preparations have been hampered by scandal and injuries, Chile have cancelled both of their friendlies that were scheduled for Wednesday after the country was hit by a massive earthquake on Saturday morning – the strongest one to affect the country for 50 years, which was the biggest ever recorded. We also haven’t sacked our manager – Vahid Halilhodzic was dumped by the Ivory Coast on Saturday, fuelling speculation that Guus Hiddink would take over for their World Cup campaign, although I don’t think Bora Milutinovic is busy at the moment.

Finally, a couple of follow up stories: there have been charges in the Salvador Cabanas shooting and it looks as if wounded Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale may be on his way back to France at last.

We’ll have a look at the Egypt squad on Tuesday evening – the game will be live on ITV in the UK everywhere other than Scotland (kick off at 8pm GMT) and although we haven’t decided to run one of our infamous live blogs for this game yet, we’ll let you know on Tuesday.

Pop Star’s Hubby Injured: World Cup Over

It was always bound to be a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’; following David Beckham’s metatarsal in 2002 and Wayne Rooney’s broken foot in 2006,  Ashley Cole may miss all or part of the World Cup finals with a fractured ankle.

Multiple ironic angles here: the injury was sustained when Cole was tackling Landon Donovan of the USAin Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Everton during the week: but now the door is wide open for Wayne Bridge to make an international return…alongside Errol Flynn. Obviously it’s Sr. Capello’s shout from here on in, but this needs to be sorted out as soon as possible, arguably before John Terry gets back from Dubai (where he’s been ‘talking’ to his wife) and definitely before the friendly versus Egypt.

The main reason: I would hope that our forthcoming opponents have too much class to start making comments about the ‘situation’ between Terry and Bridge on the pitch – but all you need is a Marco Materazzi and Zinedine Zidane style incident and England could be on the next plane home.

Let’s just hope that no-one else gets crocked.

In other news…Sven-Goran Eriksson’s rather bizarre sojourn as Director of Football at Notts Countyis over after Notts were sold for £1. If some of the rumours flying around are to be believed, he may be moving from the sublime to the ridiculous; apparently he may be in line for the North Korea job. Sounds like a job for Photoshop if ever there was one; on that note, we’ll wish you a pleasant weekend and leave you with a song (which contains some choice language right at the start, so be warned!) that seems appropriate on a number of levels…

News Round Up

by on February 6, 2010
in Miscellaneous

The draw for the 2012 European Championship qualifiers takes place tomorrow morning in Warsaw: there will be reaction to the draw at some point tomorrow but it won’t be immediate due to a family birthday celebration – happy birthday Sally!

We’re also looking at another 11lionslive event: barring any internet ‘issues’ it’s possible that we’ll cover the forthcoming friendly against African Nations Cup winners Egypt. More details later, probably via our Facebook page.

The latest John Terry nonsense  is all over the British papers and seemingly on an endless loop on Sky News, so there’s no point in rehashing it here other than expressing the opinion that Fabio Capello made the right decision to relieve Terry of the captaincy.

For Whom The Bell Tolls…

It seems that you can’t watch TV or read a newspaper in the UK without being told about John Terry’s latest indiscretions so here’s a link to the Daily Mirror report.

The only real football interest in the story is what Fabio Capello will do. The new story – combined with other issues – has dented Terry’s credibility as captain (to put it mildly) but some of the names that have been suggested as replacements are hardly paragons of virtue. Unfortunately it seems that the press seem to think of the captain of the England team should be some kind of knight in shining armour; which is a lesson that any professional footballer with either aspiring to or currently occupying that position ought to remember the first thing in the morning when they wake up or last thing at night when they go to bed.

It was interesting watching ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ on BBC2 this morning as Sophie Raworth was the guest presenter, presumably meaning considerably less embarrassment for the BBC as Marr had one of these so-called ‘super injunctions’ overturned a few weeks ago. Arguably that should have set alarm bells ringing in certain quarters, but if you are arrogant enough to think you can get away with everything up to and including trying to gag the press…

In other newsTogo have been banned for the next two African Cup of Nations tournaments after they withdrew from the 2010 tournament (that ends today) because their bus was attacked by gunmen. Fortunately reserve keeper Kodjovi Obilale is making an excellent recovery from the gunshot wounds he received in the attack. Ghana face Egypt later in the final: the semi-final between Algeria and Egypt ended with the latter defeating the former 4-0 and the Algerians finishing the game with eight players. Not letting Algeria have any time on the ball and going for an early goal might be the way forward for our Group C game against them (Friday 18th June, 7:30pm GMT); expect a lot of impassioned gesturing, rolling around and sulking – and the Algerians may also try something like that.

More good news: Paraguay striker Salvador Cabanas – who was shot in a bar in Mexico City last week – is also making good progress although his participation this summer is highly doubtful. It appears he was shot following an argument with a known Mexican gangster who accused Cabanas of not scoring enough goals for Club America.

And finally…Arsenal v Manchester United this afternoon. In 3D if you’re lucky enough to live near one of the bars with the equipment.