A win, a win, a four place drop and the striker England forgot.

Engerland just got demoted by those statistical boffins at FIFA to the 8th best team in the world. The shock. The horror. Presumably our national pride will never recover from this insult.
Engerland were, up until recently, ranked the number four footballing country in the solar system. However, I think that even the most optimistic supporter would recognise that this new ranking is a more accurate reflection of our footballing talents. We’re not the best, but we’re a long, long way off of being the worst (much further away than say…. Wales, who themselves, in 90th place, are nestled comfortably between the footballing powerhouses of New Zealand and the Cape Verde Islands).
That’s a four place drop despite winning both of our games since the last rank update. Confused.com.
Much has been written recently about the national team; the manager, the players, the commitment, the pitch at Wembley. It is my goal to consider all of this, ignore it completely, and blither on about something completely different for two hundred or so more words.
I want to talk about Michael Owen. His brace against Dirty Leeds last night reminded me that he’s still alive.
I miss his youthful face in the white of England. Am I the only one? I remember him scoring goals for fun for the Three Lions. Where did it all go wrong for him? Is it Capello, harboring a grudge from the time that Mickey ‘the joker’ Owen stuck a whoopee cushion under his seat on the coach? Is it to do with old Mike ‘the crocked’ Owen’s regular injury problems? Or could it be the lack of game time that Michael ‘the benchwarmer’ Owen gets at Man Utd?
I find it hard to believe that a man who has played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, (ahem Newahemcastle ahem) and Manchester United can’t get into the Engerland team when fit. Now I’m not leading the Owen to Start campaign, I’m not a frickin‘ idiot, but surely there is a place for him with the squad. The man could be an excellent impact sub – if given the chance.
I realise that I’ve already listed some really good reasons not to pick Owen, but I honestly think that he should be in the mix because his international goal scoring record speaks for itself. The man knows there the back of the net is. When he’s fit and he gets games for United, he nearly always scores.
Walcott has the potential to be a starter for Engerland, but he needs to start upfront for Arsenal first. As for the rest; Carroll is ok, Defoe is ok, Crouch is ok-ish, Heskey used to be ok, Agbonlahor has moments of quality and moments of looking like Bambi on ice. In my opinion there is no clear choice on who should partner everyones favourite hair-grafting striker – El Rooneyo.
It is this cheeky hack’s opinion that Michael ‘insert nickname here’ Owen should be, at the very least, in the England squad. He scores goals, he’s dealt with the pressure before and not been found wanting and he scored that goal against Argentina.
Sadly, I can’t ever see him pulling on the famous white jersey again. For Owen to get picked he’d have to play more regularly for the Red Mancs and Capello would have to have a serious change of heart. I can’t see that happening, can you?!

What the hell happened to football?

Football is broken. It’s turning into a joke. I for one am starting to get disillusioned with the sport because it has become so detached from its roots. It used to be a rough and tumble game, played by real men in front of working class crowds who loved the banter, the excitement and the escapism. Now its a millionaires hobby, filled the brim with corrupt money-grabbing whores with nothing but self-interest at heart. I’m not calling for a return to the old days, when players would roll around in mud and kick the shit out of each other, but we need to bring some integrity back to the game – before it disappears up its own arse in a wave of self-congratulatory money-hording back-slapping corruption.
Firstly, if it were up to me, I’d give every member country of FIFA an equal say in decisions. No more of this elitist ‘big country’ crap. If you’re eligible to play in the tournaments and qualifiers and prepared to take your lickings on the field (San Marino, Liechtenstein etc etc), then you should get a vote. No more of this disgusting FIFA ‘decision’ making, where a couple of fat cats, stuffed to bursting point on the money of honest supporters, make decisions that only further line their pockets. It needs to stop. With a redistribution of power we’d see an end to the bribery that is so common in football’s governing bodies – it’d mean no more oil-rich countries buying themselves prestigious international tournaments.
Next I’d turn the headquarters of FIFA into a copy of the Galactic Senate in Starwars. I’d give each of the delegates one of those hovering platforms and they’d all sit around and talk about football every day. No particular reason, I just think it’d look cool.
My next step would be to introduce video refs in all of the top domestic divisions and in all internationals. The haphazard approach to refereeing that we currently have is just not good enough. Lampard’s ‘goal’ against Germany, Henry’s basketball moves against Ireland; I could go on and on and on with this one, this list is comprehensive. The captain of each team would have three chances to call on the ref, and the ref could go to the video as often as he (or she) liked.
Next I’d ban all communication with the ref from players who aren’t captaining their team. You speak to the ref without being talked to first; you’re off. I guarantee that it would take two or three weeks and a couple of 8 v 8 games and then all the problems that we currently have with hassling the ref, gamesmanship, intimidation and harassment; all gone. It does my nut watching grown men, alleged role-models, spitting their dummies every five minutes and acting like spoilt brats (which they are – but that’s a different matter).
Scrap the new offside rule. It’s a confusing pile of wank.
Wage caps need to be introduced. I’m not suggesting that players shouldn’t be handsomely paid, but it’s not fair on supporters of teams like Tottenham or Stoke that other similarly sized teams (like Manchester City and Chelsea) can just blow them out of the water when it comes to offering wages. I’m not suggesting some communistic approach where everybody gets the same, there should be bands that players fall within – Ronaldo and Fabregas need to be paid more than Rory Delap, for example. But it’s not fair when an average sized club like City can offer players/mercenaries like Nasri triple the wages of a bigger club like Arsenal. It creates a false economy and the people who end up paying the difference are the supporters. Besides, the best players will get more money from their sponsorship deals anyway.
There needs to be a more even distribution of television money. Barcelona and Real Madrid currently hold a monopoly over broadcast rights in Spain. It is not conducive to fairness. The Premier League is pretty good at its financial distribution, but this needs to replicated across Europe. All teams should benefit from the sports popularity, not just the elite.
All football agents need to be taken out back and beaten to within an inch of their lives, just for being money grabbing scum. There is no way that so much of supporters money should be lining the pockets of middlemen.
Clubs shouldn’t be allowed to live above their means. Ever. It just ain’t fair. Is it right the supporters of Bolton or Norwich will never get to enjoy the thrill of their club being in the Champions League, just because some diminutive Russian/American/Arab billionaire/swindler/prince has decided he wants a vanity project? How has it come to pass that we’ve let these super-rich individuals trample over our clubs and our dreams? You spend what you make, the end.
It seems to me that football is, without a doubt, the best game on the planet. You put 22 men on a field (who know what they’re doing) and you’re going to be entertained. When played at the highest level it can, at times, be a joy to behold. The honest competition, the banter, the song-singing, the spending all week waiting for Saturday to come – these are the trimmings that, along with the game itself, make football the most exciting and entertaining spectacle in world sport. Surely we owe it to ourselves to make sure that it’s run with integrity, honesty and in the spirit of fairness.
I’m getting disillusioned with football. I know the rules, I recognise the players, but there is something not-quite-right going on at the moment. We’ve let a few entrepreneurs and a handful of flash-monkeys transform it into something grotesque, something unrecognisable. What happened to my football? I want it back please.

The Penny Has Dropped For Fabio Capello

Capello at last realised the painfully-bleeding-obvious, just before Engerlands excruciatingly predictable struggle to overcome the 117th best team in the world. He realised that our players are about as mentally sturdy as a rich tea biscuit dunked in cup of the nations favourite refreshing hot beverage.
How that not-so-elusive fact escaped his attention during the World Cup, only he knows, but it seems that the penny has only just dropped. You’ve got to wonder what Stuart Pearce has been telling him for the last couple years!
His grand plan is to throw out the old deadwood and bring in some sleek and shiny new players. Quite who he means is anyones guess. With regards to the old guard, he might be talking about Lampard, Terry, Cole or Gerrard. They’re the senior players (as you well know).
But who is he likely to bring in? Ashley Young looks the part, Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson etc. I could keep on listing good young English players but that would be boring. The point is, the obvious players are already on the fringes of the first team anyway. It’s hardly a massive revolution is it?!
I think the main problems with the England team are beyond Capello’s considerable influence. I’ve bitched before about the media intrusion, the fragile mentalities of some players, the national allergy to penalties and the lack of a winter break. These are not things that Mr Hat can fix (short of going to see a faith healer – we all know that works).
Really, a team with Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard should beat just about every other team that is put in its path. I’m not sure how replacing the old guard is going to make that much difference, but then nobody pays me millions of pounds a year to make these decisions.
Whatever he does, I hope it works, but I fear that Capello will get qualification, make his changes, see that they’re not as good as the players they’re replacing during some friendlies, bottle it and bring back the old favourites for the Euro’s and then watch them capitulate in the quarter finals for precisely the reasons I mentioned in paragraph 5.
And you thought I was an optimist.

Come on Engerland!

The transfer deadline day fun is over, now it’s time for the internationals.
I love the premier league. It’s exciting. It’s fast. It’s full of controversy. In short – it’s shit hot. On the other hand, I hate internationals. They’re boring. They’re slow. They’re predictable. In short – they’re shit.
Now I don’t want you to mistake my discontent as a lack of patriotism. I’ll still watch the match, despite its inevitable crapness. Come World Cup time i’ll be in my local, wearing the three lions and screaming like dickhead as we crash out of the quarter-finals.
My dream is to one day watch Engerland win an international competition, I just can’t ever see it happening! Why? Because we’re a nation of sporting bottlers. Now I realise that’s a massive generalisation and not all English sportsmen and women choke at the do or die moments of their careers, but nobody can argue that our football team has got the composure and self belief to back up their obvious talent.
Over the years I think we’ve developed a nationwide allergy to penalties. When it comes down to it, our pessimism means we’ve missed the goal before we even kick the ball. This mental block, in my opinion, extends to more than just penalty kicks. Our players don’t believe they’re going to win, and so they don’t.
The media are definitely part of the problem. They are so intrusive and crank up the pressure whenever they get the chance. With their bullshit headlines they heap unwarranted and unnecessary expectation on the players.
I don’t think the lack of a winter break in this country helps things along either. Our players always look tired when it comes to the summer competitions.
We’ve maneuvered ourselves into this position over the last few years. We’ve got good enough players and so we expect them to perform as they do every week in the league and, by doing so, thrash every team that comes our way.
As well as our massively high expectations, if you add to the mix a bit of pressure from an intrusive media, the inevitable scandal involving at least one of our players who cant keep his dick in his pants, the change of climate and the fact that everyone wants to beat us because we’re a ‘scalp’, and you’ve got a whole host of reasons why we struggle on the biggest stage.
I’ll be watching the game tonight, despite the fact that its going to be dreary. I’ll be watching because I believe; I believe that one day, if we can put all our petty shit to one side, we might actually have a chance of winning something. Come on Engerland.