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Six things we learned from Ireland
What I noticed most following Irelands Heroic Playoff Win
- Jon Walters is officially an National Treasure…but needs to work on his Irish accent.
- Somebody needs to tell Brady and Hendricks to stop this ‘Fake Corner’ routine. I have never in my life seen someone dummy a corner…not once did Hendricks actually take it to surprise them.
- I have to order my bunting for next summer.
- We may have to stop talking about that Henry handball after we got that penalty last night.
- Richard Keogh has crazy shark eye.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina fans are much more attractive then Irish ones.
A Happy Happy Irish Man
Bren (Euro 2016 Holy Sh!tballs Batman) Dublin
1. Sport 2. Craic 3. Bandwagon
I have never seen a more fervent atmosphere in the Aviva stadium than the one last night in the qualifier against Bosnia (well from the sanctuary of my sitting room anyway). It may sound cliched, but the twelvth man genuinely seemed to get the players over the line. Unfortunately, one of the great anomalies of modern Irish sporting fandom is the lack of affection towards the Irish soccer team, both through the mainstream media and the Joe Soap sports fan.
This is a country where Robbie Keane’s frankly astonishing International goal tally of 67 doesn’t get the recognition it deserves as apparently he “only does it against the minnows” . Where the national rugby team are immune to criticism, despite failing utterly to go beyond the quarter finals of the recent World Cup (they have failed to ever reach the semi-finals. Not great considering they are always among the top seeds in the groups thus virtually guaranteed to get out of the group). Where the rugby team winning the Six Nations is built up as some sort of phenomenal achievement by the national media to such an extent that they are lauded as walking giants (let’s face it, if you are playing the same five teams competitively every year, you are bound to enjoy a period where you are stronger than the others). Where the general population appear more interested in the “hilarious” madcap instagram accounts of said rugby players when things are going well , but don’t bother descending on mass in pubs to watch the games as soon as they are eliminated, (or if Leinster aren’t going as well in Europe now that they can’t compete with the money in France). Where the on-field achievements of Roy Keane as a player aren’t applauded when considering our greatest ever sportsman, when in reality he achieved far more in his career than national sweethearts like Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell.
Historically, the Irish football team have provided more joy at an international team level to the country that no other sporting achievement has managed. Heck Big Jack’s team of heroes got us through the recession of the late 80’s and 90’s and spawned songs still embedded on the national fabric. I suppose what I am trying to say is that that euphoria appeared to be back in the Aviva last night and the team as a whole deserve it considering the general lack of enthusiasm directed their way since rugbymania has run wild. There’s nothing quite like football to lift a nation. We just have to look at our Northern neighbours and Welsh cousins as proof. And conversely at Scotland at the heartbreak of a near-miss that we so are accustomed to.
If there’s anything the Irish like more than sport and having the craic, it’s jumping on a bandwagon. Well that bandwagon will be full to capacity when France 2016 comes calling next Summer. Well done boys. Ye done the nation proud.
Brian (proud Irish football supporter), Wexford.
It’s Roy’s fault
Unfortunately, I reject John Nicholson’s fatalistic argument about England managers not making a difference.
As the great John himself remarked – it was clear right from the start that David Moyes was out of his depth when he joined ManU. And he proved this by taking a championship winning squad, adding 80 mill worth of talent, and turning them into Everton.
Again and again we’ve seen managers in the EPL make a huge difference, either positive or negative – Tim Sherwood (bad), Mourinho (good until recently), Pochettino, Koeman, etc, etc.
To say this is not plausible at the International level, because basically we’re Crystal Palace is fatuous crap – Palace were two different team with Warnock in charge vs Chunky Pardew (and even before that Tony Pullis with his magic cap).
Roy Hodgson is a truly average manager (who was out of his depth at Liverpool) – very limited tactical sophistication with a basic rigid 4-4-2 philosophy; poor motivational skills; an inability to influence games, but seemingly a nice man.
The previous incumbents – foreign and domestic – frankly, with the exception of Capello, weren’t exactly out of the top drawer (Exhibit A – their subsequent careers). Capello was clearly a man from a different age when he took England on. The only managers who had subsequent careers were Terry Venables and Sir Bobby (who both got us to the semi-finals).
The English raw material may not match either the production lines of Spain or Germany right now – although it’s certainly top 8 (Spain, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina plus a couple ?). Most of them play regularly for one of the top 5-6 teams in England…which by default means they probably have decent managers…and they play decent football under a lot of pressure for a lot of money week in, week out.
So, sorry John…yes it is the manager. We should make the quarter finals of every major tournament, and with a bit of luck (and decent management and tactics) there’s no reason why we can’t over-achieve from there…
Matthew (ITFC – provided England’s two most successful managers)
Sven was alright
First off all not a big fan of Sven or In ger lund I do however want to challenge the stance of those who claim Sven underacheived
In his three tournaments he lost at the quarterfinals once to The eventual winners Brazil 2002 and a solid Portugese side twice which is a credible performance the to quote Adam Corbett “team not as good on paper ” from 2004 included players who had just won the champions league along with such portugese legends as Fernado Couto Rui costa and Luis Figo and maybe you should look up that Christiano Ronaldo Chap .
At that point England had one of the best (not the very best) and they performed credibly compare if you take your rose tinted glasses off you ll realise that someone else would have stopped your team from winning the trophy each year. Compare this performance to what happened before and since (Mclaren ,keegan Capello Hodgson at the Last world Cup.
In my opinion he did as well as can be expected and is up their with Vennables just behind Sir(s) Ramsey and Robson as your best ever manager.
The myth of Scholes on the left
There seems to have been a growing myth over the last few years that placing Scholes on the left at Euro 2004 is some kind of travesty, akin to putting Zidane in defence or Henry in goal. Scholes had been playing in an advanced midfield role for England for a number of years prior to the tournament with little end product, and had been outperformed both domestically and internationally by Gerrard and Lampard since the 2002 World Cup. There was no great conspiracy, no waste of talent. Instead one player was consistently outperformed by others over a considerable period of time. A bunch of nice quotes by Barcelona players upon his retirement doesn’t change that fact.
Kevin (please no responses with the quotes again, we’ve all seen them), Nottingham
England v France preview
Tonight’s game is likely to be very emotionally charged, and the football itself carries minimal significance compared to the show of solidarity with our entente cordiale partners. In fact, most of the interesting facets of the actual match come from the French team, such as:
*Yohan Cabaye. He moved from PSG’s bench to Crystal Palace’s highest pedestal, to get playing time in a pivotal role and play his way into contention for a place in the Euro 2016 squad. He’s had an excellent start for the Glaziers, and if he can replicate that form for France, he’ll give the selectors a very difficult decision to make.
*Olivier Giroud. According to Guardian Football Weekly, L’Equipe on Friday morning ran a front page of an empty maillot, at once stating the significance of Karim Benzema’s absence and the dearth of options to replace him. Next in line appears to be Giroud, a man who struggles to disprove those who doubt his ability to perform against the very best teams. Fortunately, he isn’t playing one of them, he’s playing England.
That’s all I’ve got.
By all accounts the words to the French national anthem will be displayed on the big screen tonight, with England fans encouraged to join in with the singing. I’m imagining a situation similar to my Year 8 class, when a group of us who couldn’t sing in English, never mind any other language, ended up flatly mumbling along to traditional French songs in the least French way we could imagine, as a mix of ineptitude and childish rebellion. I have a degree in French now, despite having never read a book in French I hadn’t read in English first, and I only know the words to two French songs – “O Canada”, and Great Big Sea’s “Trois Navires de Blé” – neither of which are properly French. I didn’t say it was a good degree.
L’Ed «dit-le-Corbeau» littéraire
With people talking about what we should expect of an England side next summer, I thought I’d have a look at our performances since winning the World Cup in 1966.
In the 49 years since, England have only beaten (excluding pens) Paraguay (‘86), Belgium (’90), Cameroon (’90), Denmark (’02) and Ecuador (‘06) in tournament knockout football and not a single one in the Euros. The only time we’ve ever got past anyone in a European Championships was on pens Vs Spain at Euro ’96.
So, if the past is anything to go by, don’t expect a lot.
Gary Orford, LFC
Gegenpressing in West Yorkshire
Great to see some positivity in the Mailbox lately, makes a really nice change from the usual whinging. Oh, and a massive congratulations to Ireland.
Anyway, I’d like to try to add to the positivity. However in order to get there, I need to start with some negativity – but bear with me.
A couple of weeks ago, there was a bit of a malaise around my club – Huddersfield, that is. Results weren’t great, crowds were down, the football was poor, our strikeforce misfiring and we had a support clamouring for an injection of youth and verve. For a combination of those reasons – in particular, it’s said, for the reluctance to play the youth that the club’s business model simply has to rely on – Chris Powell was let go. In many ways it was a sad day – there are few nicer people in football. But, overall, it was probably the right decision.
But then from a personal point-of-view, at least, it got worse. I know you can’t take what the the bookies say as gospel – as was proven, but we’ll come to that – but the list of possible candidates? Demoralising is the only word for it. If there’s a select group of “same-old, same-old”, mediocre managers who keep getting PL jobs, there’s the same thing amongst Championship clubs – only worse. When Paul Lambert and Tim Sherwood are amongst the most exciting names, you know the pickings are slim.
But then came the most left-field appointment for years. A name not on the aforementioned bookies’ shortlist. Perhaps surprisingly, our first ever from outside the UK or Ireland, as well as a switch to the more continental-style model of a head coach rather than a “traditional English-style” manager. These things might be old-hat now at the top level, but we’re talking about a whole different World here.
Enter David Wagner. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of him – though to be fair, I’m not one of these people who assumes anyone I’ve never heard of is rubbish. For those who don’t know, he was a right-hand-man-of-sorts to some chap called Klopp at Dortmund. Suddenly “gegenpressing” is the talk not just of Merseyside, but a specific part of West Yorkshire, too. Whether it sounds more ridiculous in a Yorkshire accent or a Scouse one, I’ve yet to work out.
If there’s a question mark over whether multi-million pound players like Benteke can adapt to the approach, there must surely be an even bigger question mark over whether our lot can. I mean, our record signing cost the equivalent of Benteke’s left thumb.
It genuinely feels like it can only go one way or the other, with nothing in between. Either we end up like a pound-shop Dortmund and gegenpress our way to the Prem, or it’s back to League One we go. But you know what? It’s exciting as f**k. This weekend feels like the start of the season, and I for one can’t wait.
Top 10 players on loan
I’ve just read this piece on your website and would like to mention Tom Lawrence on loan at Blackburn from Leicester.
A couple of man of the match performances and a full Welsh call up since he’s been out on loan, given a lot of praise by Chris Coleman.
The return of eggcorns
I really enjoyed George (do I need more brackets) Colchester, using the phrase “full blown conclusion” as opposed to the more commonly accepted “foregone conclusion.”
For all intensive purposes, anyway.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland