Many Reasons Why France 98 Was Gorgeous

It's an afternoon Mailbox absolutely brimming with World Cup anticipation, reminiscing on 1998 and 2006 and making the case for Spain. Plus, a novel punishment for managers...

Last Updated: 12/06/14 at 14:57

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South Africa Wasn't All That
In response to Hans (Irish Gooner in Cape Town), can I just ask, are you having a laugh?? The South African World Cup had the potential to be a classic. With it being the first time the tournament would be held in Africa, we were continually told was how great it was going to be with the colour and culture that had not being seen at any other previous competition.

Then the first match kicked off and for the next month, all we were subjected to was the constant drone of those bloody vuvuzelas. Having my ears bleed on a daily basis is not an ingredient for a memoral tournament and when I think back to South Africa 2010, I still shudder at the thoughts of those horrid devices.

It's a shame because it could have been great but, as far as I'm concerned, will always be remembered for that horribly sound. For what it's worth my favourite is still, despite the questionable referring decisions, Korea/Japan 2002. The way the locals really took to the tournament was truly a joy to behold!
John Whelan, Dublin

Spain Will Win It
I don't know if it's me (and chances are it may well be) but i don't see a lot of people mentioning Spain for the world cup this year, they're most peoples joint 3rd with Germany to win it but I haven't read much about Spain's chances.

I know it's difficult to see past Brazil at the moment, what with them being hosts and such high favorites, and I know Germany are always there or thereabouts along with Italy, Argentina, dark horses Belgium and so on but it seems Spain is being ignored (or i'm not reading the right websites).

This is a very dangerous team and should not be forgotten. They boast players like Cazorla, Silva, Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta, Torres, Costa, Ramos, Casillas, Pique, Alba, Alonso, Koke, Mata and Pedro.

We know what these players do week in week out and the strength is unbelievable and able to tear apart a team that plays a high line or attacking formation.

Yes they lost to Brazil in the confederations last year - but who's to say they didn't learn their lessons?

I think the fact that they are not favorites for the WC takes the pressure off them and i see them getting to the Final.
Obviously i'd like to see England win the thing, that goes without saying but i'm a realist and think it will be Brazil vs Spain.

If it is, I think Spain can take it again. Just my thoughts.
T, CFC, London

Why I Loved 2006
So Lewis reckons there hasn't been a truly great world cup since 1986. I strongly disagree... 2006 was absolutely immense. Things I loved about the 2006 world cup in no particular order:

- So many good goals. I just watched them all again recently and it seems like virtually every game had at least one thunderb*stard, mazy run or silky team move. Joe Cole, Phillip Lahm, Pirlo, Frings, Maxi Rodriguez. Awesome.

- And of course one of the best was that Argentina team goal against Serbia & Montenegro, finished by Cambiasso... watching back it's weird to think people were so impressed by, what, 18 passes leading up to the goal? Since then we've had Barca/Spain/Pep and the actual number of passes doesn't seem so amazing anymore. But it's still a really stylish goal, the backheel at the end in particular.

- Germany vs Italy semi final was brilliant. One of the best world cup knockout games I can remember seeing.

- Brazil vs France semi final... Zidane is a god. Another one worth seeking out on youtube, he just dominated with so much style and arrogance.

- And then (of course) he nutted Materazzi in the final. Amazing.

- Portugal vs Holland... 4 red cards and what... a million yellow cards? A classic example of "something no-one wants to see" that actually everyone wants to see.

- Germany becoming likeable. I remember the confusion in the UK when people realised Germany had a young, exciting, entertaining team... and people actually wanted them to do well. Strange times indeed.

- Australia's first world cup in 30 odd years. They scraped out of the group stage after getting 3 goals in the last 10 minutes against Japan and then a frantic 2-2 draw against Croatia. They might have even beaten Italy in the first knockout game but for a dubious penalty.

- Great atmosphere at the games (at least it appeared that way on TV). Admittedly, this may be partly due to my post-vuvuzela rose tinted glasses.

- Amazing weather all across Europe. Nothing beats being sat outside watching the worldcup on a big screen.

So like I say, a stonking tournament. But I do agree that we're probably due another one...

Why I Loved 1998
I simply cannot allow Lewis, Liverpool's derision of France '98 to go unaddressed. Here is a list of dramatic moments that made a 12 year old remember it as the best:

1. Let's get this out the way first: I was 12, therefore it is a formative memory of an international football tournament for me (I was too busy playing rugby in '94 to really pay much attention)

2. The BBC's opening theme

3. Gazza's non-selection after that performance in the Euros

4. The opening game saw Scotland almost take an unexpected result against Brazil but for this ridiculous own goal breaking Scottish hearts

5. Later on in Group A, Morocco take a 3-0 lead which should take them out of the group, however Norway score two in the last 7 minutes to beat Brazil and nick a spot in the second round

6. Group G saw Iran beat 'The Great Satan' - cue scenes

7. In the second round, Paraguay almost took eventual winners France to penalties but for Laurent Blanc's cool finish 7 minutes from the end.

8. In the quarters, Croatia, a team who didn't exist 8 years previously, put Germany, 3 times winners, to the sword in arguably the greatest upset of the tournament. Sit back and enjoy a performance silkier than Kelly Brookes undies (and a goalkeeping master class from Dra¿en Ladić).

9. Denmark scored after 2 minutes only for Rivaldo to provide a lesson in attacking football and end matters, stroking home from 30 yards past a sprawling Schmeichel

10. The semis saw Holland go out in standard Dutch fashion (penalties) but the highlight was the duel between the duo of Stam and De Boer and Ronaldo who was in scintillating form

11. Lilian Thuram scoring two to take 10-man France to the final

12. The final saw drama as Ronaldo was named, withdrawn after suffering a fit, and named again just 72 minutes before kick-off. Edmundo was rumoured to have eaten a ball-boy purely out of rage as he was dropped to make way for 'The Phenomenon'.

I will leave you with a list of players who featured that will make you go all misty-eyed and nostalgic: Gheorghe Hagi, Claudio Taffarel, Colin Hendry, Angelo Di Livio, on-form Ronaldo, Dan Petrescu, Jay-Jay Okocha, Trifon Ivanov, Leonardo, Moustapha Hadji, Tore André Flo, Rigobert Song, Ariel Ortega, Gheorghe Popescu, Iván Zamorano, Michael Laudrup, Dejan Stanković , Marcelo Salas, Gabriel Batistuta, Bixente Lizerazu, Taribo West, Sini¿a Mihajlović , Hamilton Ricard, Celso Ayala, Miguel Nadal, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Goran Vlaović, Jens Jeremies, Ali Daei, Cobi Jones, Predrag Mijatović, Carlos Valderrama and Tim Flowers.

Wonderful stuff, wouldn't you agree?
Blue Tim

Probably Right
Imagine a scenario where England are in the World Cup final, the biggest game since 1966 for the nation. Unfortunately, a tabloid gets hold of the team and tactics. Do they:

a) Do nothing and support the team, or
b) Post it as an exclusive, revealing all details and crucifying the poor unfortunate who made the mistake of releasing the information.

We all know it will be B. Team England my a*se!
Paul O'Sullivan

Rooney Will Step Up
The Rooney conundrum enters its final countdown.

I hope he is fully galvanised - by Scholes' comments and the fact that he's rarely produced - to deliver this time. If he does, he really can be something special. We need just 7 games from him and in return he can be the legend his ability warrants. Watching replays of Pele in 1970, there is a definite similarity. He has at least some of the strength, the swagger, the raw untrainable ability. This really could be his time.

Doesn't matter the position but it's fully likely that with Baines overlapping to give width, with a predatory striker alongside and some properly ball-playing midfielders, the left is perfect for him. Starting deeper, running in, putting defence on the back foot. He's not the only creative, not the only goal scorer. And not the go to man for every bit of forward play.

I know this will get grieved but there's a good reason he commands the money and the respect (outside England) he gets. But this is his moment. The pressure IS on. He needs to deliver finally. And the team around him has the ability to bring the best from him.

Step up son. And maybe in return we can put our club allegiances aside for a few weeks and get behind him for once. Man for man, these guys could actually win the damn thing. Wouldn't that be better than abusing?

I'm actually excited.
Guy S (time to be a supporter, not an underminer; get in or get out)

Punish Managers By Making Them Help
I have been lurking around these mailboxes for years but never felt I could contribute until today. This thought has been playing on my mind for a while now and I really would like to vent it. With the World Cup hysteria building up over the last few weeks I have heard on many occasions that the style England should play in Brazil should consist of attacking like Liverpool and defending like Chelsea. Now although this does sound mouth-watering and can definitely lead them to success, I do not feel the current England coaching set up can instil this in to the team.

Now this is where it gets interesting, let's cast our minds back to December when Brendan Rodgers made comments about the referee and was given a pretty tame punishment? And when Jose Mourinho had a pop at the referee this season and was fined? The punishments received will not stop the aforementioned from doing it again the next time a decision goes against them.

So my proposal to the FA would be instead of dishing out fines and touchline bans, why not make them work a form of community service except not working with the community but working with the FA or national team for a set period of time. Not all punishments would result in this but the severity could be changed accordingly and could play to each individual's strength e.g they could have someone like 'Arry doing publicity events or Wenger working to improve grassroots football.

But in the case of Rodgers and Mourinho, their punishments could have been to work a week with England helping them improve their game and also providing additional tactical knowledge hence attacking like Liverpool and defending like Chelsea.

Although this idea may not be ideal for some and could be a logistical nightmare, it will definitely act as a deterrent. Can you imagine the amount of times SAF had run-ins with the FA, do you think if he was punished in this form then he would continue to behave in the way he did?

Would love to know your thoughts.
Salman, CFC, London

This MC Has Never Had A KFC
Mediawatch, KFC Bargain Buckets have lids. So yes, you can open them.

In fact, I'm rather gobsmacked that Mediawatch has no awareness of this particular cultural icon.
Stu, SRFC, Yorkshire

Now Now
From Mediawatch today "Send them to the Tower, and keep them there until at least July 13th."

Think ye meant June 24th. Boooooooooooooooooom!!!

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s that Subbuteo's Shaun Wright-Phillips? Crikey, I thought he'd retired. Although I guess 'Only' QPR is like a retirement home.

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xcellent! Not sure if he is any good as a manager (never thought about it) but the 'headbutt in the technical area' and what he said to Pelligrini were just brilliant, it was as if he was trying to recreate the end of the Alan Partridge Xmas special when Alan punched a man in a wheelchair and verbally abused Tony Heirs.

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Mail Box

A Detailed Defence Of Alex Song And...

...lots more in a mailbox that takes in Manuel Pellegrini's woes, Steven Gerrard's future, Carlo Ancelotti, Alan Pardew and Alan Pardew's daughter. A fine read...

Is Ancelotti A Better Boss Than Mourinho?

That's one shout in the mailbox, although not as controversial as the mail imploring Jose Mourinho to sign Steven Gerrard in January so he can win the title he deserves...

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