Oct. 8th, 2016 12:33 pm
keresaspa: (Gus Goose)
Such is the regularity with which I go to Edinburgh these days that it hardly seems worth mentioning.

But let's anyway )
keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
Normally by now tournament fever would have me in a grip stronger than the thighs of Elizabeth Seitz but so far I've struggled to really immerse myself in Euro 2016. Perhaps it's the relative lack of excitement in many of the matches, a general ennui with the whole build-up, the nagging fears of the fascist nightmare that will be visited upon us when the turkeys of England vote for Christmas for all of us on the 23rd, the undeniable fact that a 24 team tournament is far too big and at least a third of the qualifiers just scream "making up the numbers", who knows? Still, Euro 2016 is here with its high-kicking and low-scoring on the pitch and its war by proxy being waged by boneheads off it.

Being a man who long since disavowed patriotism I have no particular team to root for and that hasn't helped. Before the whole thing started I declared, in a fit of contrariness so typical of me, for Iceland but my heart was never in it and, whilst it would be a delight to see the smallest country ruffle a few feathers, life will go on if they lose all three matches. I did derive a surprising amount of pleasure from Italy's victory over Belgium last night but I suspect it was an isolated incident rather than my rebirth as a great Italian.

As to what we've seen so far, little has really grabbed my interest. I even turned over halfway through the England-Russia match the other night and buggered off shopping rather than stick with the Republic of Ireland's dreary outing against Sweden. Still, I've never been an Ireland fan and the fact that they're now led by an axis of evil every bit as contemptible as Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane seals the deal. Meanwhile the occupied territory represented the real recrement of the tournament, serving up some of the dullest, stalest, olid Pulisball since that awful Romanian team that annoyed me so much that time. Boy was I glad to see them lose and I will be even more glad when they exit the tournament. And yet this happened. Well, it would have been rude to say "no".

I remain hopeful that the malaise will lift. Maybe my eye will be caught by some heavenly Hungarians, maybe the goals will flow as a rampant France put a dowdy Albania to the sword, maybe when the wheat is finally separated from the chaff in the second round things will hit top gear, maybe Michael Gove and Boris Johnson will spontaneously combust as Asmodeus rises from Gehenna to reclaim the debased souls long since promised to him. Either way - must do better, Euro 2016.
keresaspa: (Homer rage)

Yup that just about sums it up, Yebin. Bloody English imperialist buggers and your stupid bastard governments. Get off my bloody island and take your plastic-faced, public schoolboy, monetarist tosspots with you.
keresaspa: (Salvador Allende)
Given how the mass media has lined up against it, the very desire for self-determination has been consistently likened to the genocide of six million people and the fact that they're a queer bunch who never vote Tory but nevertheless like to suffer under them every few years I doubt very much that Scotland will be taking her place amongst the states of the world next month. But just in case something earth-shattering does happen on the day before my birthday and Scotland does take on partial dominion status (which, as I previously expounded upon, is all Sandy Salmond is offering) it does rather raise the question of what impact it will have on Northern Ireland.

Just as Sinn Fein's rhetoric in recent years has become a lot more identitaire in nature, so too that of unionism and loyalism has for some time sought to underline their own small-n nationalist credentials by pretending that they constitute an ethnie. Be it through the means of the Ulster-Scots "language" (a combination of dialect, construct and fantasy that lies somewhere between Scouse, Volapük and Klingon in the credibility stakes) or Ian Adamson's "Cruthin" fantasies the idea has been to state that the Protestants in Northern Ireland are an ethnic group and that said ethnic group is virtually identical with the Scots. Leaving aside how ludicrous this notion is (the Protestants in Northern Ireland are about as pure blooded as the Catholics and we're all a big ethnic muddle of each other and several other groups of interlopers, like it or not) it does mean that a big part of the identity is tied to Scotland. Go into any loyalist area, or mixed area where the Catholics are too chicken shit to resist as pictured, and you'll see the saltire everywhere but nowhere will you see the Cross of St. George. Beyond the very top levels of the Unionist establishment England and the English aren't very popular here on any side and, whilst it might be very easy to construct a pro-UK agenda based on keeping tight with our brothers in Scotland, it will be a lot harder to do so based on keeping tight with our distant cousins in England. Happen there will be attempts to play up the English dimension in the plantations but surely even the loyalists wouldn't be gullible enough to swallow that over night.

The Cruthin and Ulster Scots has very occasionally been utilised by those who espoused the minority pro-independence view and I know both Doctor Doctor Kenny McClinton and the Reverend Clifford Peeples (both very occasional readers round these parts - hai guise) used those arguments to support it. It could well prove that were Scotland to go its own way loyalism might be forced to re-evaluate its position and instead call for some of the same, resurrecting the ideas that elements within the UDA dabbled with in the 70s and 80s. Certainly I've yet to hear Salmond suggest that he wants to take this place with him (although I would put nothing past him) so a rethought of position by some might well have to follow. Inevitably there will be those die-hards who never relent but an independent Scotland could potentially divide the unionist-loyalist side to such an extent that this place ends up having three sides, with the republican side the largest by default.

All pointless speculation of course, given that the Scots seem poised to turn down this opportunity (and let me hear one Scot moan about poor treatment from Westminster in the future as it will be your own faults) but were the miracle to happen the knock-on effects for this place could be wide-ranging. The thought of an independent "Ulster" under the dictatorship of former Ulster nationalist Willie Frazer is just too dire to contemplate!
keresaspa: (Brigitte Bardot)
Despite appearances to the contrary I remain very much alive, just rather too involved to update much on here due to a combination of the continuing World Cup (which has unfortunately tailed off a bit after a blistering opening round), a return to live matches and a recent visit from [ profile] queenmartina who came bearing cake made by [ profile] burkesworks, renovation projects and arse whippings at Trivial Pursuit. Jolly fun all round, barring the continuing success of the Dutch at the World Cup as they have quite possibly edged ahead of England to become my most hated of all the national teams.

In the interim I have allowed the formalisation of a new unification between mainstream unionism and illegal loyalist paramilitarism, the possible collapse of the Assembly, more genocide against the Palestinians, the end of Rolf Harris and the possible beginning of the end of a cadre of perverts at the heart of the establishment to pass without comment. So to correct those oversights I'll just say hardly a surprise with the legacy of Edward Carson, Ian Paisley and Ulster Resistance but the two-facedness of the whole "Sinn Fein/IRA" shite is exposed for the hypocrisy it is, it'll never happen as Robbo and Martie love the money too much but by God am I glad I'm getting out of this shitehole over the Twelfth, as ever the world will fiddle whilst Palestine burns, slap it into you ya nonce and Knox Cunningham holds the key.

That's me bang up to date then. Nothing to this blogging lark.
keresaspa: (Evil Timbo)
And thus ends another World Cup group stage for another four years. And it is no word of a lie to say that spills and thrills were provided throughout, with fun for the whole family (the WHOLE family, mind) freely and readily available.

In Group A Brazil spluttered along for much of the time, showing mere flashes of their much-promised brilliance. In Neymar they have the top scorer so far but the Croats proved stout opposition before being downed and Mexico were their match. Indeed the Mexicans might well have been worthy group winners had their lack of attacking vigour against a woeful Cameroon side not proved their undoing. Despite all that I still reckon it's Brazil's to lose.

I had half expected Spain to recover from their awful start in Group B but in the end, of course, they didn't and the illustrious era ended in ignominy and the gall of bitterness will run for some time there. The Dutch are bound to go far unfortunately and Chile will be no pushovers for Brazil. Australia were a gritty bunch of battlers but, Tim Cahill apart, were outmatched throughout. Still, they gave a decent account of themselves in two matches and can go home feeling smart enough.

Colombia owned Group C from start to finish and Japan weren't at the races in what proved a disastrous World Cup for the Asian contingent. The main battle was between the Greeks and the Ivorians for second place and I got right behind the African side in the deciding clash. As such they inevitably lost. A shame really but Yaya Toure had a poor tournament by his standards and Drogba, despite his might, just can't do it for a whole match any more. Greece are something of a grim watch at times but the never say die spirit runs through them like the word "Morecambe" throughout a piece of hard, sugar-filled confectionery sold on the Lancashire coast and they could yet pull off one or two more shocks before konx ompax.

The story of Group D was the brilliant performances by England, whose fans rightly cheered their gallant efforts in finishing bottom of the group. Imagine if Svennis or Capello had done that - they would've been hanged from the yardarm but Woy's status as bona fide English means he is forgiven. I suppose they didn't play that terribly but they just weren't at the races, a niddering lot afraid to go near the ball, and Hodgson's obsession with the future has worn a bit thin. Tomorrow never comes and if you ignore the present then what price the future? That and basing your hopes on Phil Jones and Chris Smalling is sure to end in tears, whilst the celebrated Adam Lallana, who single-handedly (with several others) brought Southampton to the giddy heights of upper mid-table, looked very ordinary during his appearances. Pretty much the standard of Graham Taylor's 1994 side really (who would also have qualified if the World Cup was 32 teams in those days) and to an outside observer the obsession with Steven Gerrard, who has accomplished pretty much nothing in his 114 appearances, is mystifying. At least his Italian equivalent, Andrea Pirlo, is a skilled god of football who won the World Cup, although he was marked out of this series and Balotelli was in "can't be arsed" mode so their elimination was inevitable. The less said about Suarez the better - he is a vile pig who doesn't belong in the game and should be facing a year's ban for his latest outrage. I wouldn't be surprised if Uruguay made the semi finals again to be honest, even without him as the Devil looks after his own. Oh and Costa Rica, good on them, well done, pat on the head, patronise etc.

France took Group E by storm, showing an attacking prowess that few felt them capable of showing. The odd defensive lapse and a weak squad may well catch up with them but it will be fun while it lasts nonetheless. Fair play to Switzerland too, who finally look like they can attack a bit too rather than their old trick of having ten in defence. About time M. Colin-Tampon did something half decent at the World Cup. Despite my earlier claims Ecuador weren't too bad in the end. There was a lack of skill but they played their socks off and were rather unfortunate to go out. Honduras had the odd moment here and there but were making up the numbers really.

You can't really fault Argentina in Group F. Bosnia had a right good go at them and Iran ran themselves ragged but in the end Messi finally started to show what he is capable of in a World Cup. Bully for him. Despite the presence of the odious Odemwingie I got behind Nigeria in this group and was glad to see them qualify. In Victor Enyeama they have a fine keeper who has enjoyed his second consecutive solid World Cup whilst Ahmed Musa is surely set for a glittering future after his harassment of Argentina.

Portugal's bundling out of Group G was hardly a shock given their opening drubbing by Germany and their failure to get the better of Germany Junior. Despite the blip against Ghana the Germans looked comfortable enough although their defence is decidedly un-Teutonic and will prevent them from going all the way. GerJu are lacking in any real skill but for commitment and gritty determination there are few who come close and if they grind their way into the quarter finals I won't be astounded. Seeing the poseur Portuguese go after the first round is always good but I was disappointed at how far Ghana had slid since four years ago and as usual Muntari had to make it all about him. Oh, and whatever became of Freddy Adu?

As we've established, Group H was the poorest crop of all. Belgium were effective and got the job done although the notion of them being outsiders for the title seems fanciful after they made fairly heavy weather of a very weak group. I found myself rooting for Algeria in this one on the strength of their crazy performance against South Korea, a team who haven't looked so poor since the early '90s. Next time the AFC try to agitate for extra places in the World Cup then they should be reminded of this World Cup. It's been abject for the continent from start to finish. But anyway, glad Algeria made it ahead of a shockingly dull Russia side.

Looking ahead to the second round I'll don my fatidical hat and predict wins for Brazil, Uruguay, France, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Argentina and USA. When I did this four years ago I got all eight correct so if you want to put your house on it do so. You might well lose the house, of course, but if you want to then go right ahead.
keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
And so it came to pass that the World Cup has reached that most auspicious of stages, where every team has been played and we can now gave a half-arsed opinion of all of them. So permit me to do just that:

Cut for you football-hating numpties out there )


Jun. 16th, 2014 01:25 am
keresaspa: (Cynthia of Witching Hour fame)
Well that was unexpected. My distaste at the waste of money in an impoverished country remains (not quite as bad as neo-liberals blowing billions on pointless crap like the Olympics or, worst of all, the Commonwealth bloody games, but I digress) but an absolutely blistering start has made this World Cup difficult not to like. There have been gripes obviously - Brazil being nursed to victory, a thumping win for my second least favourite team in the Netherlands, a lacklustre performance from Argentina, boring old Switzerland looking nailed on to advance, Adrian Chiles. But despite all that there has been more to enjoy, be it the triumph of France over brutal Stoke City clones Honduras, the delightful battle between the ever so orderly Japanese and the gung-ho crazy Ivory Coast during which the very existence of Didier Drogba seemed to both inspire his team and scare the hell out of the opposition despite his doing nothing of note and, of course, champions elect England getting slapped down by a spectacularly virile Italian side. Fun for the whole family with plenty of delights left in store. A really good World Cup is long overdue and if this one can continue in the vein in which it has started then it can finally be delivered.

My solidarity with the protesters remains as ever but my threatened lack of interest has evaporated as I'm now being carried along with the visual glamour on the pitch. Well what can I say, I face a season of gloom and misery under the single most underwhelming appointment in Albion history Alan Irvine, I have to take my fun where I can get it.
keresaspa: (Miki Sugimoto)
A World Cup descends on us tomorrow and I suppose I really should be excited. And yet I'm not. I mean, I'll watch and all but I just don't have that sense of anticipation that I normally get round this time. I'm blaming this on a sort of fatigue with high-level football as a whole as well as the increasingly unappealing nature of the World Cup as an event.

Just how much the Brazilian people have had to suffer to make it happen when they didn't even ask for it and their furious opposition throughout makes the thought of it all rather uncomfortable. The Brazilian protesters have certainly goth-served the forelock-tugging Londoners when it comes to showing disdain for a cuts-hungry government wasting billions on silly little sports tournaments (and the ConDem junta make Dilma Rousseff seem like Maurice Bishop) but I'll leave that thought incomplete as criticising the precious Olympics to an Englishman is a waste of time. Nevertheless when something as simple as a football tournament is built on death and destruction as this World Cup has been it does rather leave a bad taste in the mouth.

There's also the issue that the World Cup has become just such an exercise in marketing and PR that the actual tournament in almost incidental. Brand-positioning and all that sort of crap is the order of the day to the extent that what goes on on the pitch is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Given that it has bloated out to 32 teams, many of whom have no business being there, just to increase visibility it almost makes the first round miss-able now, something no part of a World Cup should ever be. That and it's Sepp Blatter's baby and his combination of naked corruption and his stranglehold on the world game is really starting to overshadow things.

My devotion to the local game has slowly started to erode my devotion to the wider game, as the cynical aspects of the top levels are so obvious compared to the little guys whilst just watching a match on TV has lost some of its appeal now that I'm more used to the live arena. Certainly there are few more sanitised versions of the game than that presented at the World Cup, putting the whole thing in an increasingly divorced reality when compared to the grass-roots game.

As I said, I'm sure I'll end up watching it but I can't imagine I'll be going too far out of my way this time compared to some of the previous tournaments. As a slightly silly, four-yearly entertainment extravaganza I suppose it still has some value (provided you can avoid all the hype surrounding England - congratulations in advance on winning the World Cup by the way) but as the pinnacle of world football, its crown is looking decidedly tarnished.

Lawks, if I'm still alive in eight years I dread to think how I'll react to the Qatar version!
keresaspa: (Maurice Bishop)
I suppose it would be opportune to give my thoughts on Euro 2012, even though I'm not sure what precisely they are. As winners Spain were fitful and at times not as pleasing on the eye as they should have been but when it mattered they suddenly became rampant and as such you can't really begrudge them yet another triumph. I did eventually get into Italy but unfortunately the final proved a game too much for them as their semi-final demolition of a much fancied German side was very much their zenith, with the final an enormous drop off. A win would have been a fine sign-off for Andrea Pirlo (assuming he doesn't appear again in two years time in another of those veteran-heavy first round casualty Italy sides) but, whilst it wasn't to be, his performances will live long in the memory.

Overall it was an OK tournament, but not as good as it should have been. There was some excellent stuff on the pitch (alongside a lot of rubbish) but for whatever reason I didn't really get into like I should have. I got into Italy near the end but for the majority of the tournament I had no team, which didn't help, whilst the racism that kept rearing its head cast a long shadow over proceedings and the reactions of UEFA in general and Michel Platini in particular really didn't help either (racist chanting less of an offence than having Paddy Power on your knickers?!). There was a time I hoped Platini might be a new broom at UEFA who could finally challenge the dominance of the old boys at FIFA but he has proven a massive disappointment and his non-reaction to vile racist abuse means he is now tainted with the same stench as Sepp Blatter, Lennart Johansson and the rest of the old colonials that have always dominated football administration. Meanwhile looking at the performances of the likes of Poland and the Republic of Ireland it wasn't hard to get the impression that, like the last World Cup, the whole thing is a little too big for its own good. I dread to think what the 2016 version, which is to be expanded to 24 teams, will be like when real rubbish start to qualify, as who outside of Portugal will actually get any enjoyment out of watching the Portuguese trounce Finland 7-0?

As to the actual participants, for once the best two teams made the final. Germany looked an excellent attacking unit at times but, as they always do now, choked on the big stage. Amazing to think that a team once known for winning with dully efficient football is fast garnering a reputation for playing great football but blowing it, but that looks to be the pattern and as long as they continue with Joachim Löw it probably will be for some time. Portugal had their moments but Cristiano Ronaldo is no Diego Maradona and there was no way he could carry a whole team to victory like the Cosmic Kite did in '86. Other than that it just seemed to be bunch of let downs as, to varying degrees, England, France, Russia, Croatia and above all the Netherlands, let themselves down with ropey performances and shoddy play.

Other than that, it was just another tournament really, and as such was preferable to the black-outs of odd-numbered summers. Still never fear as, after all, Linfield play some Faeroese outfit tomorrow night and that promises to be a barn-burner. Close season, what close season?
keresaspa: (Arthur Atkinson)
Hard luck to England on their elimination but they deserved to go out after being completely dominated by an Italian team that would be bloody excellent if they had a decent forward (and I don't count Balotelli). A penalty shootout was bound to fail for them especially when Buffon is in nets. You can keep your Joe Harts and Manuel Neuers, for my tuppence worth the old boy is still the king of the keepers. Besides this is about the usual stage for England teams anyway so there's no need for any disappointment. Expectations were low and England exceeded them in the group stages which, inevitably, saw the press foam at the mouth and revert to "we can/will win this" type before the inevitable exit. No doubt the inquisition on whether things would have been better under 'Arry will now open but personally I don't think they would have. His side would have been much more attacking but on that basis France would have beaten them, they would have finished second in the group, went through to a quarter final with Spain, continued to play attacking against them and got hammered as the Spanish are clearly better so Woy or 'Arry the outcome is the same. I haven't got into hating this England side as much as usual, probably due to a combination of residual affection for Woy and a bit of a liking for Scott Parker (whose marriage of a sensible haircut, continual hard-running and a private life that, to the best of my awareness, doesn't make the tabloids marks him out as a throwback to a bygone age) and Theo Walcott (the lad's elan and joie de vivre on the pitch are admirable, even if his shots are sometimes wild), but I did enjoy the gloom descending on the smug quartet of stout Englishmen doing the punditry in the shape of Lineker, Dixon, Shearer and former Scotsman Hansen. Get a dictionary and look up impartiality, chaps (and whilst we're at it, look up traitor too Hansen).

Meanwhile England will qualify for the next World Cup with ease, the inevitable hysteria will break out again, the inevitable quarter final exit will follow and everybody will go away from it very cross. A cull of the self described golden generation might now be sensible although I reckon Stevie G, JT and the rest have a bit too much clout to be sent packing en masse so expect the same old same old to carry on for a while yet.

And I stand by my earlier statement - Italy will now go on to the final as they either go out in the first round or go all the way these days. Pirlo = god of football.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
So in the biggest shock since Barney Bear grabbed a roll of Andrex and said "I'm just off to the woods for a bit" it seems that Martin McGuinne$$ has agreed to shake the hand of his paymaster, no doubt doing his usual grinning like a ninny act the whole time. About as inevitable as it is possible to be that the former leader of the Provisional IRA, a man who made his name in seeking by force of arms to drive the British out of Ireland (through blowing up bus station patrons and other dangerous hard cases), is now happy to shake hands with the titular head of the war machine he once opposed. We're told that it's great, that we have this marvellous shared future to look forward to of swingeing cuts, rampant unemployment and what little money there is being blown on vanity projects but pardon me if I am unimpressed by it all. The implication of McGuinness and his Sinn Fein cohorts is that everything that went before in republicanism is now null and void and that, in the ultimate expression of a Whig interpretation of history, the revolutionary actions of his antecedents were all leading to the glorious present where we can bask in the glory of a coalition of idiots ballsing the place up and so-called republicans endorsing the rule of loyalist supporters like Peter Robinson and Nelson McCausland and idiots like Edwin Poots. It's as if McGuinness and his ilk are saying that the action undertaken from Wolfe Tone to the ceasefire was simply immaturity and that all they need to do is sit around in a permanent, money-spinning rightist coalition with the DUP waiting on one side breeding enough to make it 50%+1 and then we can slip quietly into a unification with the Irish Republic and swap The Tories for Fine Gael. Whoop-de-doo! Surely the point of republicanism was a radical new Ireland in the grand traditions of James Connolly, not endorsing monarchy for years until there are enough Fenians that we can switch over to being part of a failed capitalist state that is effectively owned by the European Union. The time has come for Sinn Fein to take their seats in Westminster because they way they are acting now they might as well declare themselves as the same monarchist party that they were when Arthur Griffith established them in 1905. Were people to turn against them as a result I would say it is worth it but unfortunately Sinn Fein have done such a number on the republican lumpen that if anything it will probably boost their support. Hell, Martin McGuinness could slip on Geri Halliwell's dress, Big Daddy's waistcoat and some prat's knickers and start singing "rebellious Scots to crush" and the Fenians would still vote for the bastard en bloc. Sickening.

But enough about that. I suppose I really should say something about that little football tournament that is going on. I did declare my support for Greece and they were eliminated but I must confess I didn't particularly care that they were as I still can't get into this tournament the way I usually do. Germany looked excellent and the 4-2 score flattered the Greeks enormously but I still feel that the Germans will blow it. If Joachim Löw was going to win a tournament he would have done it by now and let's face it the Greeks, who were surely the hairiest faced team to reach a finals tournament since Hungary and Canada's woolly cheeked squads of 1986, were really no challenge anyway. I've been saying it for a while in person so I will declare on here - whoever wins the game between England and Italy will at very least be finalists and might well be winners. You heard it here first.
keresaspa: (Bungle)
Isobel Campbell, a lady so twee that she makes Acorn Green seem like Murder Casebook, once asked "is it wicked not to care?" and to an extent I've been reminded of her words these last few days. It's not so much that I don't care about Euro 2012 as I've missed very little of it (bar chunks of the England-France match as the biased ITV commentary got a bit too much to take after a while), but so far it hasn't really grabbed me. It doesn't help that I have warmed to none of the teams so far I suppose, but by now I would normally be in the grip of finals tournament fever regardless and I have yet to so much as run a mild temperature. Still we've seen all the teams now and, in theory at least, we should have an idea about who we can expect to do what. Let's look at the evidence.

GROUP A: It hardly requires a soothsayer to know that Russia will win that group handily. Their demolition of the Czech Republic and the festival of sloppiness served up by Poland and Greece and suggest that they will cruise through, quite possibly scoring into double figures as they go. As for the rest God only knows. It's hard to judge the Czechs fully as they were so badly outclassed and both Poland and Greece looked awful at times so any one of them could finish second. I have a slight hankering for Greece but whoever finishes second will definitely go no further as they're likely to face Germany in the second round.

GROUP B: I believe it has been established on here several times in the past that I have no love for the Dutch national team (despite my slight Dutch ancestry) and this tournament is no exception, so I enjoyed the Danes smash and grab win over them. To be honest this group contains four sides that I'm not fussed about so I have little interest in how it turns. Germany will probably win (even though they looked nothing like the team they were built up to be in their laboured win over the pampering prima donnas of Portugal) and given the fixtures I wouldn't be surprised to see Portugal going through. If only to wipe the smirk/sulk of Cristiano Ronaldo's face and to finally banish Mark van Bommel to east of Eden where he belongs I would rather see the Danes make it but I think they've already used up all their luck.

GROUP C: Forget Ireland, they're obviously out of it. That's what they get for being so bloody boring. Italy put on a good show against a pedestrian Spain whose decision to play no forwards was bizarre to say the least (when you have Messi you can get away with that, when you don't you can't). Still, Spain started the World Cup very slowly and they are bound to go through. Italy on the other hand I'm less sure about. I wouldn't be surprised to see them going out but equally I wouldn't be surprised to see them making the final. Anything else would surprise me though as it seems to be the Italian way now to either go out in the first round or go all the way. If Croatia's performance in their opening game is anything to go by they will give the Mediterranean duo a lot of headaches and could conceivably top the group but again it is hard to tell as Ireland were just woeful and the Croatians might crumble against proper teams.

GROUP D: Shrug. Seriously, no idea. Woy's England are an extremely defensive team with very few ideas going forward. As Greece proved eight years ago (seems like eight weeks, but never mind) such gruesome anti-football tactics could carry a team to victory but equally it looks the sort of team that could draw three times and go out in the first round. But let's be honest, this is England and a quarter final elimination is almost inevitable. France were clearly a better side but they are crying out for a penalty box goal poacher as they looked short on ideas when it came down to the bit. Ukraine seemed to get by on passion alone but who knows how far that could take them? I expect Sweden to go out but if they take a point or even two from England and France it won't be amazing, nor would it be that much of a shock for them to get a win. With four middling teams that do some things well but are clearly deficient in some areas this looks the most evenly matched group and nothing would surprise me about it.

So tomorrow it's back to Group A and I may have to force myself to pretend to care about Greece in order to finally get my interest in this event going properly. So come on the Galanolefki, by the dreadful sword you hold, tonight we dine in hell and all that. At least until I get bored of them and try to force an interest in Italy, France or Spain that is.
keresaspa: (Percy Sugden)
Oh buggery bollocks, sweetie! All of a sudden it seems inevitable that the best manager at the Hawthorns since Ron Atkinson did one in 1981 (ignore his forgettable second spell) is about to hit the road himself to take over bloody England. Bloody great! Just as I was looking gleefully at the collapse of Villa and the stuttering form of Stoke, with one eye on a top Midlands club finish, when out of nowhere the rug is pulled out from under us royally by the FA and their sudden decision that a cockney villain might not be the best choice to lead the Three Lions. Pish!

For Hodgson's part I'm not sure what he is going to get from it (apart from silly money, of course). Although he has a proven track record of achieving remarkable results with limited teams (you know, like the England squad) he seems to be loathed by many before he has even started, based on the notion that unlike Redknapp he has never won the FA Cup and he has no reputation for spending big in the transfer market (you know, the thing that doesn't exist in international football). Already it looks like he is on a bigger hiding to nothing than he was at Liverheil and he can prepare for streams of bile to flow forth from the measured doyens of the gutter press, all of whom worship the ground Redknapp walks on for some reason.

As for Albion if previous appointments are anything to go by then a manger who plays suicidal attacking football at a lower level and who will inevitably get the club relegated, albeit whilst looking pretty, is sure to follow. Ian Holloway it is then. Not only can we look forward to relegation next season but also some self-important, whining redneck taking every opportunity he gets to present himself as a "character". Grim times ahead. For God's sake Woy say no!
keresaspa: (Fletch)
So goodbye to Don Fabio then. The time he should have took John Terry's part was the time he whipped him (so he dirtied some mare that had previously gone round with his team mate, big fizz) whilst the time he should have distanced himself from Terry he backed him (innocent until proven guilty sure but the sudden resurgence in racism in football needs to be nipped in the bud and Matthew Kelly was off Stars in Their Eyes when he was under allegations of noncery). He flip-flopped over goalkeepers at the World Cup to the extent that he effectively killed off Robert Green as an international and saw his team humbled by a mighty Germany side in the same tournament. On the other hand he blitzed the European Championship qualifiers and had turned England in a hideously dull and ugly side that nonetheless was so infuriatingly frustrating to watch that they recalled memories of the reprehensibly attritional Greece team that bored its way to victory in the same tournament in 2004. Given that Harry Redknapp was cleared of being a geezer (there's no justice like rich man's justice) on the very day that Capello pissed off, given that he has spent the last two years virtually offering sexual favours to the FA in return for the England job, given that he is adored by the press and given that his managerial record of a single FA Cup win and two clubs bankrupted (possibly a third if Tottenham ever actually look at the king's ransom he has blown there) is second to none in the game it is inevitable that old putty puss will be in charge before long. Of course that raises the spectre of the aforementioned Tottenham Coldpricks waving their man off into the sunset just as they are in the middle of their doomed attempt to win the league. Some chance, meaning that either a wholly unsatisfactory for both Tottenham and England arrangement in which Redknapp finishes the season with Spurs whilst also managing England part time might follow, or else a rush job where some stooge like Stuart Pearce holds the fort just long enough for the team to collapse into mush only for a liberated H to pitch up in June to start as new boss a week or two before the start of the tournament in the manner so beloved by Nigeria before each first round exit at the World Cup. Obviously England remain favourites for the European championships despite this (they're England after all and as such must be favourites for every tournament they enter despite only having won one out of twenty in which they have participated) but the odds just might have gone from 50 to 1 on to only 10 to 1 on. Personally I reckon when Fabio signs his contract at Anzhi Makhachkala, Terek Grozny or some similar mysteriously minted Russian side he will be glad to get away from the whole circus and to leave all the entire crock of shit to Redknapp. And believe you me, having spent today in the rarefied climes of Portadown (a landlocked town in County Armagh, obviously) I know a crock of shit when I see one. To gaze upon the vacant lots of the Meadows on a wet February afternoon is to truly wonder why people don't worship beauty. And you think you have it bad, Fab?!

Still if Ken Snyder had ever stopped his God-bothering for five minutes he might just have become Brute Force. Really makes you think doesn't it? No, me neither.
keresaspa: (Türkan Şoray)
Just a word of congratulation to England on their success in winning Euro 2012. Well that seemed to be the consensus reached by Gary Lineker and England's Mark Lawrenson after the draw for the group stages. Unquestionably it is an easy draw, so much more so than that of 2010 when powerhouses like Algeria and Slovenia blocked the triumphant march of the Three Lions. Ukraine rely on Shevchenko and he didn't succeed at the boys in blue from the King's Road so they will be pushovers. As for Sweden, well no less an expert than Jeff Powell has already showing that they don't know nuffink about football and the brave boys in white will lick them quicker than you can say smorgasbord. As for the cheese-eating surrender monkeys, what have they over won except a World Cup and two European Championship? Clearly no match for the heroes of 66 and the Rous Cup. Once those three have been with the spirit of Nelson obviously England will then march on to glory as there are no other teams on the continent even close to their level.

Or not as the case may be. On a sensible level England got a half decent draw from which they will have a good chance of qualifying but it is (perhaps inevitably given the smaller size of the European Championships and their comparative lack of make-weight teams) a stronger looking group than the one they faced last year and made such hard work of qualifying from. Sweden are probably the least likely to make it but France will fancy their chances and Ukraine have home advantage so it is not a given. Unlike the Republic of Ireland whose fate is already sealed after the group they got. I'll eat my hat if they don't go out in the first round. Group B will obviously be the one to watch and I for one hope that Portugal are one of those to be eliminated as their current crop of preening prima donnas are impossible to like. Mind you the Netherlands team were absolutely hateful too with that scumbag van Bommel wreaking havoc so come on Denmark and Germany. Group D meanwhile looks weak as water and as such I will state here and now that I expect Russia to go very far indeed after easing through that bunch of jabronis, possibly even winning the whole thing. The final issue will be who to support and as yet I have no idea. Normally in these circumstances I declare for somebody in advance but there is no country that is catching my eye, in part because no real underdogs made it and in part because my usual European side of choice hasn't qualified (that being Turkey, of course). Happen I'll just stay neutral for once.

There aren't you glad I was able to duck under the gunfire of this latest DDoS attack in order to get this posted. Well I know how much you all love it when I talk about football.


Nov. 9th, 2011 06:01 pm
keresaspa: (Ivy the Terrible)
Isn't it interesting that as soon as the wondrous David Cameron decided to get involved in this whole England football team poppy débâcle that suddenly the militaristic hordes that make up the English electorate suddenly forgot all about his hottie-in-chief Teresa May making such a balls-up over the super-tight no welcome borders that the Tories promised? Yup, knocked that off the front pages good and proper with a little bit of jingoism, despite the fact that England made no bones about playing without poppies for the last nine years, given that the rule was brought in ten years ago. Still, I suppose the FA hadn't been told to get stuffed in England's bid to corner the market in hosting the world's sports events and so didn't have to look for any excuse to grind an axe with FIFA. After all if a bunch of multi-millionaires running about a field, including one under investigation for racial abuse, hadn't worn poppies it would have been a greater slur to our brave heroes than taking a crop on the Cenotaph. And now that baby has his bottle I expect Dave will welcome the Argentinian national team to Wembley and encourage then to display symbols commemorating those killed in the Falklands. Meanwhile I see the police have been stoving heads in at yet another protest. Still our exalted leader won our boys the right to wear a bit of plastic and we all know you can't have a football match without having the army and wars rammed down your throat these days. Smokescreen of the worst kind.
keresaspa: (Bhishma (Mukesh Khanna))
The recent draw for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Europe threw up some interesting stuff, he said euphemistically. Interesting not least because once again it demonstrated what a farce the FIFA ranking system actually is. Normally I would raise an eyebrow at the notion that England are apparently the fourth best team in the continent but compared to some of the other placements that FIFA decreed that looks positively sensible. Norway last qualified for a finals tournament in 2000 yet somehow they are ranked amongst the best in Europe, along with other no-marks like Greece and Croatia. Montenegro have enjoyed a decent start to life as an independent football entity but so far they have accomplished precisely nowt and as such their position in the second tier looks dodgy to say the least, especially given that perennial qualifiers Switzerland are ranked with the third lot. A pity too for poor old Wales being dumped amongst the pocket handkerchief mob as they may be sinking into the mire under the hapless Gary Speed but they would still have the likes of Azerbaijan and Moldova any day of the week and really should have been in Pot 5.

Still the FIFA rankings being screwed up is about as much news as a politician being a liar so what of the groups themselves? Has there ever been a group weaker than Group A? As they stand at the minute none of this rabble should be at a World Cup. Still the boneheads that make up large sections of the support of both Croatia and Serbia should have two field days re-enacting the Yugoslavian civil war when these two meet. Did nobody think to fix the draw to avoid this sort of occurrence? B,C and D look straight forward with the top seeds winning easily and the second and third seeds the only ones really in contention for runners-up spots. Group E is another one packed with nobodies and for the previously aggrieved Swiss redemption of sorts can be had by the fact none of their opponents look much of a threat to their top spot. Mind you for the purists a pair of matches featuring Switzerland and Norway will be grim to say the least. Group F looks slightly more interesting as, although Portugal and Russia will most likely take the top two spots, either of them could win and they both have a history of making qualification as difficult as possible meaning I wouldn't be surprised if Israel took a shock second place. No chance for the Province as usual, unless they have 11 good players who have yet to make their debuts of course. Group G is another of those rubbish efforts packed with mediocre teams who all look like first round fodder and it will be a shame if we lose a grand old team like France just so as Greece can play out a couple of 0-0 draws before going home. England have effectively been given a walk-over in Group H and whoever is in charge then should find no problem winning the group. Unless, of course, they put some eejit like Ian Holloway in charge in which case who knows?! Finally Group I demonstrates what is wrong with the system as Spain and France should both be going to the World Cup finals. They still might of course but there is a good chance that only one of them will and that is firmly the fault of the morons at FIFA and their daft rankings.

All of this won't be starting for a year, of course, so it's far too early to make any firm predictions. But nonetheless FIFA are idiots and some of the just daft groups that they have produced prove it even further. Norway the best in Europe, my arse!
keresaspa: (Default)
In Theatre of Blood Vincent Price puts his critics to the sword, most memorably stuffing poodle pies down the cakehole of a camper than a row of tents Robert Morley. Unfortunately for Fabio Capello he does not have Diana Rigg in an unflattering moustache taking his part and so he must face the criticism coming his way without the prospect of drowning anyone in a butt of wine. There was a hand ball of course to diminish responsibility but in truth there can be few excuses for not beating a nation of under 700,000 people. A good start to qualifying papered over the cracks of the abject summer displays but the stark truth has returned - England are not actually very good. That a touch of hello folks and what about the workers could so spectacularly finish off Wayne Rooney seems amazing but that must be the case as he was ineffective as he has been recently. As for his strike partner and fellow Ugandan practitioner Peter Crouch, well he is Peter Crouch and was summed up best by Uncle Dave Macon when he stated that "a doggone mule is a mule until he die". When players of this calibre start games there will always need to be limitations on expectation, although what expectations you can have when said beanpole is removed and replaced by a 33 year old debutante in goal-shy Kevin Davies is anybody's guess. Meanwhile the much vaunted Gareth Barry looked all at sea again with talk of him as the bronzed and fit Adonis ready to carry the hopes of the three lions looking very wide of the mark. I have no doubt that England will qualify and once they do I have no doubt that the nationalistic press will install them as favourites due to the fact that they appear on Match of the Day every week and therefore are obviously gods on earth. However there is nothing about this team that suggests they will be anything other than also-rans come 2012.

Which in fairness is a damn sight more than the Queen's Own Occupied Territory will be. Nigel Worthington, who couldn't be more boring even if he spontaneously transmuted into a power drill, might have strutted like the proverbial peacock (although the first three letters of that word are admittedly redundant) after his charges took a point off Italy but to only manage a draw against the Faroe Islands is laughable. OK, to be fair Northern Ireland are a much smaller team than England and they were never very likely to qualify anyway but it is results like this which make me glad I have absolutely no feelings of nationalism regarding this little strip of chartered land retained at Her Majesty's Displeasure. I am also quite glad to see Scotland lose which rather surprises me a bit. Normally I wish them well but there is something about Avril Levein that really gets on my tit end. I'm not sure whether it is his horrendously negative Norwegian style tactics, his slavish devotion to anybody who plays at Ibrox, his tainting with the untrustworthiness inherent in all Jambos or even his rotten mouth but he really does annoy me and his failure gives me pleasure. I'm a spiteful little man, I know. And at the risk of offending my occasional Turkish readers it was also nice to see a bit of a shock with Azerbaijan recording a rare win. Less of a shock to see the farce in Genoa as it seems Serbia churns out boneheads at a rate comparable to that at which Eton College churns out self-satisfied bastards. But let's end on a high with a big well done to Armenia whose 4-0 win over the titans of Andorra set a new record for their highest ever winning score. Well they were due a bit of luck given that the last time we heard from them was after the earthquake and that terrible version of "Smoke on the Water".
keresaspa: (Fran Drescher)

Justice. The defining theme of this World Cup final will always be just that to my eyes. The Dutch might bleat about an imagined foul in the build-up to Spain's winning goal but the horrendous treatment that they meted out in the first half should have seen De Jong and that bully van Bommel sent off so it is a case of sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander. Our own Howard Webb certainly has a case to answer over why he let such thuggish behaviour go unchecked but that is for another day. There was clearly only one team that actually cared about winning that game and that was Spain. The Dutch on the other hand were happy to ruin it as a spectacle despite boasting some real talent in attack and as such they deserved defeat. Over the course of the tournament (with the exception of their first match) the Spanish were the best team on show, taking on top class opposition and dominating them and for there to be any winner other than them in this match would have been a travesty. It was fitting too that Iniesta, a man who has been challenged only by Villa and Xavi for the title of Spain's best player, should strike the goal that delivered the title. I would have expected that Nelson Mandela would have done the honours in presenting the World Cup given that it was largely his doing that South Africa hosted the event but in the end it was down to Jacob Zuma and his shadow Sepp Blatter to do the honours. I happened to mention at the start of this tournament that I reckoned Mandela would die as soon it was over and I now wonder if he has and they have decided to cover it up. Tomorrow a bunch of disgusting human beings bedecked in orange will parade around triumphantly in celebration of a victory in which they played no part but tonight another group in orange won't be able to. All in all the tournament itself was far from a classic as there were a few too many dull games, a few too many no-hoper teams and a few too many top players just not trying but with a deserved win for a great team some redemption has been salvaged. Justice indeed.

But rather than leave it there and disappoint the millions of you for whom my inordinately in-depth coverage has been essential reading I will take this final opportunity to indulge myself by examining the performance of each team in turn. So strap yourself in because here we go:

Team by team )

So that's the end of that chapter. What the bloody hell will I talk about now?!


keresaspa: (Default)

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