2010: Annus Mediocris

After the World Cup we had, it’s not too difficult to feel at least a twinge of sympathy with our near neighbours, although on the other hand it’s also quite difficult to suppress any giggling.

In some respects the French campaign in South Africa was so wonderfully dysfunctional that it’s hard to imagine any other team self destructing with such panache; at least Italy nearly made it to the second round although at least they have some previous when it comes to underperfoming in Africa.

The sanctions the French FA imposed on their squad in the aftermath of both the performance on the pitch and the histrionics off it look like a classic case of shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted.

Tonight’s friendly can be seen from two contradictory angles. On the optimistic side, it’s an opportunity for both sides to field players with minimal international experience who wouldn’t normally make a contribution in the hope that a couple of them will make a breakthrough. From a negative point of view, the game will feature ‘experimental’  (ie under strength) sides and concludes a year that arguably could and should have been more successful for both sides. That’s certainly the way French manager Laurent Blanc seems to see it (some knowledge of French required).

The problem we’ve got – again – is goals. Montenegro’s clean sheet was the first time that we’ve failed to score at home since February 2007, when a goal from Andres Iniesta was enough for a Spanish win at Old Trafford. Fab’s hands have been tied with the usual crop of withdrawals and injuries, which is why the (ahem) ‘troubled but talented’ Andy Carroll of Newcastle will probably start up front; presumably he got the nod before Cardiff City’s Jay Bothroyd because Cardiff aren’t in the Premiership…yet.

The only other confirmed starters are Sunderland’s Jordan Henderson and Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs – when there’s some kind of news about what the team actually is, we’ll have it here.

With just under two weeks to go before the announcement of the host nation for the 2018 World Cup, it’s fair to say that – for whatever reason – our chances of winning the bid are slightly worse than they were at the beginning of the year.

The incident concerning Lord Triesman was regrettable even if there may have been something to it; the perception of the Sunday Times enquiry into vote buying may have damaged the bid even though it seems public perception refuses to blame the journalists, who were right to investigate what was happening.

So the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia will be made by a discredited body that won’t even have enough time to investigate itself before announcing where the next two competitions will be held.

Don’t hold your breath and be prepared for more disappointment. However, if by some miracle we actually win the bid, then mine’s several pints of Bombardier.

Update: starting line up against France:

Foster, Jagielka, Ferdinand, Lescott, Gibbs, Walcott, Henderson, Barry, Milner, Gerrard, Carroll.

Didn’t Ferdinand Lescott-Gibbs discover the Zambezi?

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 Brazil Game Announced, As Are More Injuries…

by on November 9, 2009
in Friendlies

Here’s the squad for the game on Saturday (ITV, 4:15pm):

Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Robert Green & Joe Hart

Defenders: Wayne Bridge, Wes Brown, Gary Cahill, Glen Johnson, Joeleon Lescott, John Terry, Matt Upson & Steven Warnock

Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Shaun-Wright Philips & Ashley Young

Forwards: Darren Bent, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe & Wayne Rooney

Missing: Ashley Cole (fractured leg, will apparently miss a few weeks),  Carlton Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard (who – despite being supposedly injured - started on the bench at Anfield before being used as a sub v Birmingham this evening), Emile Heskey, David James and Aaron Lennon. David Beckham will be missing due to LA Galaxy’s playoff game against the CIA’s team in Texas, Houston Dynamo.

A point worth making here: despite currently being placed second in the Premiership, there are no players from Arsenal.

Dunga announced the Brazil squad last week and contains no domestic players because Serie A (the Brazilian version) is coming to a climax; with four games left, there are only six points between the top six clubs.

The Brazilian squad:

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Milan), Doni (Roma)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Barcelona), Fabio Aurelio (Liverpool), Juan (Roma), Maicon (Inter), Michel Bastos (Lyon), Lucio (Inter), Luisao (Benfica) & Naldo (Werder Bremen)

Midfielders: Alex (CSKA Moscow), Julio Baptista (Roma), Elano (Galatasary), Josue (Wolfsburg), Lucas (Liverpool), Kaka (Real Madrid), Felipe Melo (Juventus), Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos) & Fabio Simplicio (Palermo)

Forwards: Carlos Eduardo (Hoffenheim), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Nilmar (Villareal), Robinho (Manchester City) and Clive Tyldesley’s favourite Givanildo Vieira de Souza (aka ‘Hulk’) of FC Porto.

More later in the week, but before anyone gets carried away, our record against Brazil is pretty ropey. Since we first met in 1956, we’ve won three times in 22 games, the last victory was almost 20 years ago when ‘Match Of The Day’ anchorman Gary Lineker scored the only goal of the game and Dunga was a player rather than the manager; we’ve lost three of the last five against them.

Lastly, on a sad note, it looks very much as if Dean Ashton of West Ham United and England will have to retire at the ridiculously young age of 25; he sustained an ankle injury at an England training camp in 2007 which he’s never fully recovered from.