World Cup 2006: First Round Review

A little late, perhaps, as I’ve already seen German gamesmanship sneak them past Sweden in their second-round tie, and I’ve already watched (yet another) epic Argentine victory, this time over an excellent Mexico. That match, at any rate, lived up to the extraordinary standards that the tournament’s set so far, and my worries that things…

World Cup 2006: Watching As Though It’s England

Reading the almost universally stupid write-ups of England v Paraguay on Sunday morning, I wondered whether I’d been at the same game as these journalists. Most depressing was the sheer determination on the part of these men that every single prejudice they’d been peddling about England in the run-up to the tournament would be illustrated…

Statistics Telling a Sad Story

Because England have only the one World Cup to their name, there’s a tendency to exaggerate how far behind the best we’ve been since the end of the Second World War. It’s exaggerated because England’s greatest sides have always peaked in between tournaments – the 46-49 side being the principal victims. But sometimes far worse…

One Lost World Cup or Two?

It’s my somewhat unfashionable opinion that England had the makings of a truly wonderful side in the ’70s – if they’d wanted to have one enough. (And that’s not necessarily a pejorative statement, by the way). Consider the following, all of whom would have been 30 or under in 1978 (Osgood would have been 31):…

The Nearly Men: England’s 1982 World Cup

Most people think that the closest England has come to winning the World Cup since 1966 was 1990. It’s obvious, surely – we lost only in the semi-final, and then on penalties. Think back to Chris Waddle’s vicious screamer just going the wrong side of the bar, and he looking at once so tall and…

World Cup 2006: Significant Injuries

The news that Brazil’s excellent holding midfielder, Edmilson, is out through injury, constitutes the second major blow to the tournament. Wayne Rooney – not entirely out yet, but definitely hampered in making any sort of impact in Germany, was the first. There are two ways of looking at these things. You can either celebrate the…

World Cup 2006: The Press Have Got It Wrong

Judging by some of the press reports – well summarised by Football365 as “Panic Mode” – on England’s 3-1 victory over Hungary last night, we can more or less forget about our winning in Germany this year. It’s for all the usual “reasons”, most of which I think are bunk: “Eriksson is an over-cautious manager…

Scolari Pulls Out

As of 2030hrs this evening, it looks very much as though the winner of the England management race has taken a look at his prize and handed it back. In his statement, Scolari gave prominence to the presence of 20 journalists outside his home. The intrusion and press interest that go with the job took…

Scolari For England?

If these stories are true, then the decision is made and we’re only waiting for the candidate to sign on the dotted line: The development represents a remarkable shift in the FA’s thinking over the past few weeks, with the Portugal manager’s candidacy only gaining genuine credibility among the selection panel with the belated co-option…

Sven, England, And The English Game

For the thirty-one years that divided England’s narrow loss to Brazil in the 1970 World Cup Finals and the 5-1 victory over Germany in Munich, there were three kinds of England international. The first kind were against minnows, nations with little football history or few players to call upon. England almost always won these matches…