...It could so easily be Jose Mourinho's catchphrase. Without Nemanja Matic, Chelsea set up to frustrate, and they did it perfectly. "That's how you win finals," Jose will say...
A hammer blow to Manuel Pellegrini's chances of keeping his job beyond this season, but a wonderful performance from Liverpool. Top four probability over possibility?
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If Not Roy, Then Who?
It all well and good everyone calling for Hodgson's head, but who are we going to replace him with?
If there was an outstanding candidate who was likely to accept the job if offered, then okay, but there is no-one at the moment that would be available.
It's too soon for Brendan Rogers and I would think he is quite enjoying the challenge of ending Liverpool's title drought.
Then who are we left with? Tony Pulis? Alan Pardew? Big Sam? I would like to think there is still a lot left in the tank with this England team yet and hopefully Roy can take them a few more stages forward before the new man comes in - whoever he might be.
Reading Nick Miller's excellent piece on the Glazer family and Man United set me to thinking about modern football, and the invariably fickle nature of modern football fans when it comes to ownership problems.
My hometown club Wrexham have been through an absolute host of nightmarish ownership wrangles through the past 10-15 years or so, coming within 24 hours of going out of existence, within a hairs breadth of losing our ground, having to raise money to pay players wages, etc etc. We're now owned by a fans group, Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST), and despite having our ground owned by the local university, we're steadying the ship and moving towards being a legitimately well run club.
Now when things were bad off the pitch, the supporters in the know agitated and used all manner of protest tactics to take back their football clubs from greedy, unscrupulous and inept businessmen without the clubs interests at heart. This was fine when we were struggling, but when we were doing well on the pitch, the same level of intensity just wasn't there. The fans were distracted by success. When the success isn't there to distract them, the dissent rises. The same is true for fans of almost every team in the country. There's two possible avenues to take as regards this:
1) the owners are ruining the club, force them out
2) the owners are trying their best to make the club a going concern, where's the f*cking money?
Which brings me on to my next point, the other team I hold a soft spot for, Everton. Kenwright is a massive Evertonian with the club in his heart, but in the past bouts of mediocrity have been met with almost frenzied calls for investment. Last season, when Everton were doing well, the dissenting voices were down to a whisper. A sluggish start to the season, and despite a massive outlay on Lukaku, the cries of 'Why didn't we sign a centre back? Sort it out Bill' are to be found all over social media.
It's similar for United. Lack of investment and not winning the league saw a massive rise in green and gold posturing, people claiming they would rather go and watch FC United, and 'Glazer out' sentiment. They win the league, everyone shuts up. They slump again, and to quieten any dissent United fans are placated with a shopping spree that Dale Winton himself would be proud of. The average modern football fan doesn't do worrying about off the field activities, not when there's either a shiny league position or shiny bundles of cash to distract them. But take a note from an part owner of a football club (I'm a member of WST)- we don't spend masses of cash on players, we're not top of our league, and I couldn't be happier.
Joe (when did they cancel Supermarket Sweep anyway?), Wrexham
A Trip To Dulwich
Amid the gloom of another England post mortem and the prospect of a Premier League-free weekend, let me proffer a beacon of light.
Having spent 20 plus years clunking through the turnstiles around Premier League and Championship grounds, I've had no truck with the lower league evangelists. You know the sort. However, earlier this week I popped my non-league cherry at Champion Hill in South East London, where Dulwich Hamlet entertained Ryman Premier League leaders, Margate.
As a self-confessed miser, the £10 admission fee to watch a "bunch of clogging amateurs" did little to quell my misgivings. Those misgivings, however, were washed away - admittedly with the help of three pints of London Pride - over the next two hours.
First off, the football. Maybe I struck lucky to find two teams committed to playing an attacking, passing game; fiercely competitive but in the "spirit of the game" (remember that?). I don't recall the players giving the ref any trouble all night. It was all completely at odds with my antiquated pre-match perceptions of non-league football. The standard was first class. Not literally, but you catch my drift.
Secondly, the fans. 800 of them. The home support, self-proclaimed Dultras (see what they did there?), created a hell of a racket all game. With an impressive display of blue and pink (yes pink!) flags and banners, swapping banter (in its true definition, before it was hijacked as a byword for boorish offence) with a hardy band of 50-odd travelling Margate fans.
An injury time winner for the home team (sending the Dultras into delirium) was the icing on the cake, but by that time I was already a convert, acknowledging I had been missing a trick all these years. I was intending to write in any way to share my experience, and have since noted that this weekend is National Non League Day. I would urge all 365ers to get involved, and check out your nearest game, it could be the start of something beautiful.
Richard, NCFC, Suburbia
What Is Technique?
I've seen this phrase peddled out twice in the Thursday afternoon mailbox and have to ask the question; when you all say "technique", what are you talking about?
Technique in golf is mostly to do with the swing, does it line up and move in a certain way consistently. On that basis, are we talking about a footballer's ability to strike the ball cleanly? Or is technique in football to do with vision and execution? No good to pass it easily, you've got to see the incisive through ball at ground level to have this mystical technique...but if you can't beat a man with the ball at your feet you don't have it either?
When I was younger, although this is simple, technique was about the ability to strike the ball well and also receive it well. If you can control the ball properly and hit it cleanly then your technique is down. England's malaise might be due to a combination of Hodgson, players being forced into single positions too early, competitive football too early, too little time training as a national team, too much media pressure or all sorts of other stuff but when people say that English players don't have technique it really means nothing to me. Yes we don't have a player with the vision of Ozil, or a player with the ball control of Messi, or a player with the gamesmanship of Robben, but to blanket this all in the world of technique seems lazy and unsubstantiated.
I was going to do a Chelsea hindsight team but thinking about it I think Mourinho has probably got it spot on. The right players have left and their replacements have been younger and look better (apart from Drogba but it's fun to have him back).
Marcus (yes I am gloating) London
Tongue In Cheek On Hindsight XI
Ok, here goes, in response to Wales, Nigeria's Hindsight XI, here goes my Spennymoor Town FC Hindsight XI, if only they had the foresight to put the right Lottery numbers on every week for the last year...
GK: Neuer / Kyle Hayes
CB: Hummels / Stephen Capper
CB: Thiago Silva / Chris Mason
CB: Sergio Ramos / Paul Johnson
RW: Di Maria / Lewis Dodds
LW: Bale / Anthony Peacock
CM: Pirlo / John McReady
CM: Fabregas / Lee McAndrew
CM: James Rodriguez / Andrew Stephenson
FW: Messi / Danny Taylor
FW: Ronaldo / Tom Mcconnell
We'd have to loan out either Keith Graydon or Shane Henry though, otherwise there'd be too much competition in CM / could disrupt the squad. Still, would provide two players in each position, allowing us to compete on all fronts.
SSE (apologies for the facetiousness), Blackheath
- Kurt Zouma's middle name is Happy.
- Theo Walcott was accidentally registered as Theo James Yes Walcott.
- Suso's full actual surname means 'son of Fernando, saint of the tower'.
- Liverpool have two players presumably named after NBA superstars: Michael Jordan Williams and Raheem Shaquille Sterling.
- Joe Hart's first name is Charles.
- There's a player on Newcastle's books called Steve Broccoli.
- Southampton have an Armani Little and a Willy Wood.Next time you see Gylfi Sigurdsson smash one in from 30 yards, bear in mind his middle name is Thor.
Shame On You
I thought "Snoreway" was quite good.
Ian (let's see them make a joke out of this) Brackets