To be fair, it’s been a topsy-turvy season in the English Premier League so far. The football commentators have been going on endlessly about the problems of both Chelsea and Manchester United.
Oh dear. Within a space of nearly 18 months, England’s finest team sportsmen find themselves crashing out of the early stages of big tournaments.
On the back of past failings in football and cricket, the rugby union players suffered not only an early exit from the World Cup after the defeat by Australia, it was also the first time a hosting nation has fallen at this stage. It’s as if one has been told by your guests to leave your own party.
Oh, who gives a stuff? The World Cup will be better off without a team which literally stank the place out anyway….
This has been all over the news.
Watch as surfer Mick Fanning survives this attack by a shark during a competition.
Yep, it’s happened again. English football continues to choke in big tournaments.
Days after England’s male under-21 team crash out of the European championships, the senior womens’ team lose 2-1 to Japan at the World Cup in Canada.
It’s becoming a familiar pattern in sport in the UK. Our players and teams go into big competitions thinking they’re just as good as anybody, only to be routinely found out by smarter and stronger opponents.
I’ve regularly criticised that arrogant and overconfident attitude because they put unnecessary pressure on themselves to do well, but when things often go wrong, they start to look for excuses.
The situation will only change when we start to take these competitions seriously, and treat opponents with respect.
Struggling Championship side Rotherham United escaped relegation by beating Reading 2-1 in the penultimate match of the season, which sent both Millwall and Wigan down to join Blackpool in League One.
The victory was achieved despite been earlier given a three-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player in an earlier match, and the fact that a Millwall player claimed that Rotherham weren’t good enough to win their remaining games.
After the match Rotherham manager Steve Evans hit back:
“A Millwall player said we’ve not got bottle. I’ve got 12 bottles of finest Champagne and we’ll be drinking them for about a week….
“Look forward to League One son, and keep your trap shut!”
The perfect, but blunt reply. I liked that.
The World Cup in Brazil was great for me. Full of incident, shocks, open attacking football, and most of all…goals, goals and more goals.
Despite the pre-tournament doom and gloom about the way the event was organised, it’s gone better than expected. Here’s some of my highlights:
The good: Teams, except in some cases, have made every effort to play open and attacking football. There were also shocks galore as the likes of Costa Rica, Columbia and Algeria, all reached the knockout phase. Most of the matches throughout the tournament were very entertaining.
The bad: Holders Spain, for the last few years dominant in world football, were knocked out at the group stage, the first time that’s happened since France’s exit in 2002. Several other teams who were picked by the sports commentators to do well, like Italy for example, went out unexpectedly. ….and of course, there was England, who typically stank the place out. Many neutrals would have supported any of their opponents against them.
The ugly: mainly the Luis Suarez biting incident, and Neymar’s injury which ended his World Cup prematurely.
Germany were worthy winners when they beat Argentina in the final after extra time (I hadn’t thought of them as one of the favourites, but it was their thrashing of hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final that swayed me).
Thanks for the show, Brazil…. and looking forward to Russia in 2018.
There have been rumblings in the British press over the way that the way Qatar got the vote for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Allegations have repeatedly been made against corruption of some high-ranking officials at the body which governs world football, which had led for calls for the vote to be re-run. Criticisms have been made against the organisers over whether the event should be held either in the summer or in the winter.
Will the press ever let this go?
They have tried anything to discredit Qatar’s bid as a result of the failure of England’s shambolic 2018 bid. If there is any truth in the allegations, fine, but it would be far better to allow the Qatar team to host the first tournament to be held in the Middle East.
It will be a tough job for them both after replacing the unfortunate David Moyes, whichever way one looks at it, was given very little time to build his own team. How does anyone follow the great Sir Alex Ferguson? Their fans will now have to settle for a season without European club football after probably their worst season in living memory, and of course, looking enviously at local rivals Manchester City winning both the Premier League title and the League Cup.
The Dutch coach has been very successful, but it remains to be seen whether the current board will give him the time and the space to develop the squad in his own image, particularly when many favourites like Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are now leaving the club. Many of the older players Sir Alex signed should probably have been sold a few years ago. However, they often performed for him at the highest level when it was required. By contrast, many of the younger members of the squad had often not delivered what had been hoped.
Hopefully, Van Gaal can use the team’s European exile to inspire them to success on the domestic front next season.
Cartoon by Stephen Collins as seen in The Guardian Weekend, 21st July 2012