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Analysing Kane’s World Cup
Malcolm Gladwell does a great podcast where he takes things that are generally accepted as true and then spends an hour dissecting the subject and trying to take a different slant on it. These are occasionally themed sport (hence the tenuous link to what I want to say!).
In about 20 years time, I can see him doing an episode on Harry Kane’s World Cup 2018. He’s going to win the Golden Boot and he’s going to get plaudits for being a great striker for the rest of time; except I really don’t think he’s had a good tournament. The hype around Sir Harold of Kane (genuinely heard this in the pub) has been worse than the hype around the rest of the team.
You can break his tournament up in to two phases:
Phase 1: the group stages. 2 games 5 goals. Can’t argue with that can you….well yes, I can. Two penalties, two headers from 1 yard out where he can’t miss and one deflection that he barely even knows anything about. I don’t think he did much else and the opponents weren’t exactly top of the class.
Phase 2: the knockouts. 3 games, 1 goal (so far). Not so good stats wise, particularly as it’s another pen for the goal. This is because he’s mostly played in this odd, floating, almost centre-mid position for most of those 3 games. If only there was a recent example of a “World Class” attacker who kept trying to play centre mid, largely unsuccessfully, to take as an example. ROOmind* you of anyone? Maybe the reason Raheem Sterling hasn’t been very decisive is because he’s receiving a cross-field ball from a man who should be standing on the penalty spot.
So, Harry Kane’s World Cup summarised as three fortunate goals and three penalties, mostly against cannon fodder, interspersed with some lovely passing from deep that resulted in balls getting put in to an empty box. Arise Sir Harry indeed.
Alex, (*apologies for this, I really couldn’t help myself), Ayr
This has been a sensational World Cup
For me, even a bad World Cup is brilliant, but of course the 2018 version will go down as a vintage year. Many moments of high drama, incredible skills and enthralling tactical battles put football in its very best light, and seared the emotions of billions of people around the world.
And so we turn to the last two teams left, and the incredible prize they’re competing for. Others may disagree, but most would say the World Cup is the most difficult of all sporting championships to win. For the players of France and Croatia, nothing less than sporting immortality in their home nations awaits the winners.
The trophy itself is a beautiful work of art, which has mesmerised me since it was unveiled at the 1974 World Cup. Although one winner said he would happily lift a teacup if that was the prize, the trophy surpasses the symbolism of its presentation.
This is the first tournament since its designer, Silvio Gazzaniga, died at the age of 95 in 2016. Apart from being a brilliant sculptor, he was also a bit of a poet when describing his work, and I’m happy to leave you with his words:
“The trophy depicts two footballers with the world between them. At the moment of victory, the winners are transformed into giants by the enormity of their success, without the ego of the superman.”
Ian (still in Moscow) Parkinson, LUFC
Why I’m backing France to win
My first world cup experience was France 98. I lived in a boarding house. The house master had a big Tv set built like a cupboard with three knobs attached at the upper right for tuning. The Tv was reserved for special occasions. To watch the screen one had to open the board. Memories from the tournament are blurry but some events still resonate with me.
Oliseh’s screamer. The sting of our exit from the second round. Sand’s fastest goal of the world cup against us(I think it held a Guinness world record then ). Chilavert, the keeper who loved to take spot kicks. I fancied Fabian Barthez and his prominent oblong head. I remember Laurent Blanc’s golden goal against Paraguay after a keenly contested match. Zidane’s header. That song. Oh that World cup song by Youssou N’Dour and Axelle Red is my favourite of all the songs.
Loyalties were divided between Brazil and France in the final. And as my seniors were trading bets on the team they were rooting for, being the youngest, my opinion was buried in my attraction to France. After Nigeria’s exit in 98 I became drawn to France. I can’t explain how it came about but I know I was happy when they beat Paraguay and ecstatic when they lifted the trophy.
Fast forward 20 years after and my allegiance to France is revived. Twenty years is a long time on the timescale of sober reflection. We can’t relive the past but sometimes we crave the familiar so we cling to that sense of Déjà vu. After their victory against Argentina I pitched my tent with them. There is a joke around the media space that France is the 6th African team at the World cup. A part of me revels in the idea of it.
England faced their first real test of the world cup against a team that had grinded out victories in the knockout stages through sleek passes from a formidable midfield and sheer grit. England were outclassed. And it’s a good thing they never aimed higher. It makes their defeat rational. Finally, the pretenders are out.
So, maybe my support for France is hinged on that 98 experience. Maybe, it’s because whenever Pogba holds the ball I’m reminded of my club. Maybe, anytime I see the black players in the team I remember we’re kin in a way that placates me for the exit of the African teams. Maybe these current crop of French players are a team of great talents coached by a man who lifted the trophy as a player, which evokes a mutual sense of nostalgia. Or just maybe, it is the charisma of Umtiti. The composure and drive of Pogba. The quick feet of Mbappe. Or the subtle dribbling of Griezmann.
I’m in love with this team and I hope they win the World Cup.
Victor Abu. E. Nigeria
Support strikers: the hardest role to play
The “support striker”. The most maligned role in a team. Formerly Heskey. These days it’s Sterling or Giroud. Of course, it’s not a real job. It’s a title bestowed on a guy who can’t hit a cow’s ar$e with a banjo, repackage the bloke with a vaguely positive spin.
Like many things, it all gets forgotten when the team wins. Guivarc’h and Dugarry were utter rubbish in 1998 but they won the WC because of goals from a man named Lilian – France 98 really had everything.
Heskey and Sterling will forever be tainted…Giroud can put it behind him with a winners’ medal on Sunday.
Pavard > Trippier
They say if you tell a big lie often enough people will believe it is true. Daniel Storey must have heard that one before based on his repeated statements that Trippier has been the best right back in the tournament. Allow me to play devil’s advocate.
Trippier has kept quiet: Sliti (me neither), J. Rodriguez (the crap player from Panama, not the world class Colombian) and Forsberg.
Pavard has stopped: Kruse, Flores, Di Maria and Hazard. Fair enough the first two isn’t much to boast about, but shackling the other duo and scoring the goal of the tournament sure is.
(MC – Even Pavard’s close family wouldn’t say that he shackled Hazard.)
From an England fan at the game
I went to the game on Wednesday. It was a great day in Moscow, lining up for the fan ID cards, meeting up with mates and other England fans, random singing on the Moscow underground. We got to the Luzhniki early…as did everybody else. There were camera crews everywhere, faces being painted and of course the usual corporate bombardment from sponsors. The atmosphere in the bowels of the ground was a mixture of hope, nerves and Budweiser (those bloody sponsors again!).
There were a group of fans singing ‘please don’t send me home, I just don’t wanna go to work’. Passing fans were joining in and a plethora of bemused and amused foreigners were pointing their camera phones and recording the moment for posterity….or at most 10 seconds on Snapchat !
The national anthem was belted out, all the fans nervously stood to begin with. When the free kick was awarded we knew it was a good chance, and when Trips let it fly and the net bulged we believed it really was ‘Coming Home’.
The 2nd half told a different story. Croatia did come back into it and I have to say that Modric was absolutely world class. He glided around the pitch like a swan on an autumnal pond. We were up against it. In the crowd some fans started berating the team however as these pockets increased the rest of us told those in the vicinity ‘no negativity, get behind the team, they need us’. This was what impressed me the most.
Reading the mailbox negativity has taken hold again. The constant arguments about Sterling seem unnecessary. He does his best and is a threat. Does he need to improve his finishing, of course he does, but we know that. If he was fast and deadly in front of goal we would call him Ronaldo.
Is Walker a centre back? No he isn’t but we understand why he is there to get the best out of Trippier and to use his pace to cover for Stones and Maguire. Was Dele Alli fully fit ? No he wasn’t but he scored against Sweden and so deserved to keep his place.
The list goes on and on but please remember THAT IS THE POINT. This was a limited team with few big names. Southgate was a new manager with little experience. This team has gone beyond all before them in almost a generation. The shoots of improvement are there. Let’s please remember it was never really coming home but this group of players who can’t pass, can’t control a ball, can’t shoot properly made the country believe, made us happy and made us finally connect with a team we thought we had lost.
Thank you Gareth and the boys, yesterday I was strangely both happy and sad and for the first time in over 20 years I am looking at purchasing an England shirt…..
Ian, LFC & England
Don’t be Nikola Kalinic
I’d love to know Nikola Kalinic’s thought right now. Couldn’t put his ego aside, got deservedly sent home and has missed the opportunity of a lifetime.
If Croatia win, does he get a medal? If he does, what will he tell the grandkids?
Blame David Hartrick
I can’t believe that no-one pointed this out in today’s mailboxes, so I’m going to do it:
in the Group D edition of F365’s group-by-group preview articles for the World Cup, written by David Hartrick, the concluding paragraph on Croatia read:
“Please, please, please be good Croatia. We’ll know more after matchday one.”
I wonder if Mr. Hartrick would now wish to retract that request? Will he be allowed to ever darken the doors of F365 Towers again? I think we should be told.
1990 vs 2018
Disappointing to read emails saying England have not improved nor had a good world cup because we did not beat any difficult teams. We passed the ball out from the back unlike any England team I have ever seen, and as to my second point, Germany won against USA, Ghana and Algeria (after extra time) in 2014 before beating a not particularly good French side in the Quarter Final. Some people just don’t like to be happy I think.
Finally, the feeling after losing on Wednesday is totally different to 1990. I wasn’t expecting us to beat France this year, unlike 1990, where I really thought we would have beaten Argentina in the final. Makes the result easier to take.
Or Danny Ward?
Any thoughts Jurgen Klopp had about giving Karius another chance have hopefully now evaporated after seeing another gift from him this time to Tranmere in a friendly.
Liverpool should forget about splashing money on Fekir and their priority should be on a new keeper with Alsisson topping the wish list.
Neil, LFC, Malta