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World Cup excitement? It’s HERE!
Lack of excitement at an upcoming World Cup?!?! How could anyone suggest such a thing.
I am in my mid 30s with 2 kids and a mortgage. By rights I should be making cursory glances at the tournament build up as I get on with more important things in life but, instead, I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED IF I TRIED!!!
I have done at least three predictor thingies!!
I have read four different previews of all the teams and I still couldn’t name you Peru’s left back!!
I have two fantasy football teams all set up with every player selected given the kiss of death by my choosing them!!
I have organised the work sweepstake with spreadsheets and everything, for which no-one else I work with cares about!!
I await the weekend’s papers with baited breath so I can pin a wallchart at home much to the chagrin of my wife!!
The kids have little England kits ready to go (bless em)!!
I’ve put all the fixtures in my work calendar so I can avoid arranging meetings and other essential work stuff during the games!!
I’ve put about 10 World Cup bets on when I only ever normally bet on the Grand National!!
Every morning I devour any opinion piece or gossip I can find on the World Cup when normally I couldn’t give two hoots about latest transfer gossip or fixture build up for the next PL matches!!
Leicester City have 10 players at this tournament!! TEN!! I don’t think we have ever had that many before in our history let alone at one edition. TEN!!
England could win it!! (the late night caffeine might be kicking in now)
How could anyone suggest that there has been a muted build up. There will be vital, important international matches on 3 or 4 times a day for damn near three weeks followed by nerve-shredding knockout matches nearly every day after that. What a time to be alive!!!
Rob (normally mild-mannered and measured), Leicester
Yesterday I dusted off my copy of Three Lions 1998. Still one of my favourite ever songs, even without the football connection. Honestly every time I hear it, the version with the commentaries and voice overs from Hansen, Hill and Pearce etc, I get goose bumps (or chicken skin as they say over here in Holland).
Listening to the lyrics I wondered what people would update the lyrics with based on 21st century England performances?
‘But I still see that tackle by Moore And when Lineker scored, Bobby belting the ball, and Nobby Dancing’ and then ‘And now I see Ince ready for war, Gazza good as before, Shearer certain to score, and Psycho screaming.’
The original words are just so perfect and I can clearly remember them all, even Nobby dancing which just shows how old I am!
Tim Royall GFC
Arsenal’s transfer budget
First of all, I wanted to say Winterburn has got it spot on – Sokratis is exactly the signing Arsenal fans should (and are) excited about. I am absolutely flabbergasted that there are people out there (season journalists, no less) who do not consider Arsenal prioritizing of defensive reinforcement as “exciting.”
Arsenal’s defensive issues have been well documented so therefore, I am very surprised that anyone who has seen Arsenal over last few years will begrudge the powers to be for signing defenders capable of actual defending and some glorious sh*thousery. I, of course, do not speak for the entire Arsenal fan base but rest assured, there are quite a few of us who will be over the moon if we can sign a proper defender and have this group of players playing like an actual defensive unit.
Another thought I have is about the reports claiming Arsenal have a 70m transfer budget. Is it just me who thinks that is a load of bullsh*t? I mean, it is hard to believe that a club that broke its transfer record twice in last two transfer windows (for a combined fee of somewhere around 110m) will only spare 70m for a manager who is supposed to overhaul the squad.
I think this was shrewd business from Arsenal PR machine — leaking this news to lift some pressure of Emery in case he ends having a forgettable first transfer window (a la David Moyes style) as well as ensuring that clubs don’t ask for astronomical prices for players that are not named Messi and Ronaldo.
It’s early days and all signs point to the fact that Arsenal are making steady strides in the transfer window and conducting sound business. So don’t be surprised if we do end up signing players that will cost more than a combined total of 70m.
Would love to hear thoughts of fellow mailboxers.
Ahmed, Pakistani Gooner
A podcast recommendation
Listening to Set Piece Menu last night I heard Steven Chicken has become a Buffalo (equivalent to being a regular mailboxer on F365 but with the added prestige of being a friend of the show) due to his frequent tweets/emails to the show.
Set piece menu is a brilliant podcast and glad to see that writers like writing in to other media platforms that they enjoy. Whilst there have been articles on some of the many good podcasts that are out there, could F365 add a recommended listening section to mediawatch whenever a good radio/podcast is discovered?
Excited about the TV coverage
Amidst all the preview of the nation’s competing for the World Cup this summer, one thing I do enjoy reading is the line-ups for the Television Coverage throughout the tournament. I really enjoyed John Nicholson’s recent pieces about ITV and BBC, and here in Ireland we are lucky to have a third option in RTE.
Their coverage of major tournaments is usually quite good. They have the rights to all of the games, so no switching, but that does lead to a lot of repetition. This year, their pundits include usual suspects Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady as experienced old hands, while Damien Duff (surprisingly opinionated), Richie Sadlier (surprisingly earnest), and Shay Given (surprisingly predictable) add some more modern views to the panel.
This will be fleshed out for some of the other games by Keith Andrews (hair), Richard Dunne (warrior), and Michael O’Neill (of Norn Iron fame) rounding out an all in all well informed and, as Ireland won’t be there, unbiased panel.
Co-comms will be handled by ex-Liverpool triumvirate of Ronnie Whelan, Ray Houghton and Jim Beglin, who despite being 3 of the most negative men on God’s Green Earth, remind all of Ireland that we once had players capable of playing at the elite level of English and European Football.
Brian Kerr will also be on the mic, and it is a constant joy to hear both his encyclopedic knowledge of the game, while simultaneously butcher the names of footballers from foreign lands with his wonderful Dublin accent. Brian is a national treasure in Ireland and we love him here.
But, RTE have pulled a rabbit out of the hat this tournament, by announcing an Olympic and World Cup winning goalkeeper, with over 200 caps for the national team to the panel. Step forward, Hope Solo.
This is a really intriguing appointment and should be fascinating viewing. It’s a step in the right direction to have a female analyst on the panel, although it must be said that RTE are hardly behind the times when it comes to female anchors of major sporting events, Solo’s appointment should prove and excellent addition.
With all of this added to what the BBC and ITV have on offer, we are spoilt for choice on this side of the Irish Sea. One week to go, and I cannot wait.
Remembering Robbie Keane 2002
Long time reader but first time mailer.
Tuesday marked the 16th anniversary of Robbie Keane’s late equaliser against Germany at the 2002 World Cup. As an Irish fan this moment lives long in the memory with David O’Leary’s penalty at Italia 90, Ray Haughton’s goal at Giants Stadium and Robbie Brady’s goal at Euro 2016. These moments don’t come around very often making them all the sweeter – 2002 was in fact only our third and last time at a World Cup. These our the moments we as sports fans live for. Moments that have an impact on my own life.
There I was seven years old in school as the telly was wheeled into the classroom. Little did I know the impact the next 90 minutes would have on my life.
The 2002 World Cup was my first foray into the world of football and THAT moment would be the main catalyst for me becoming an obsessive football fan, as I still am today. When I re-watch the clip now it seems to happen so fast but at the time it seemed as if it was freeze frame. Niall Quinn’s knock down. The touch. The finish. Cartwheel. Tumble. The shooting guns. Me in my head going – “Woah, who is this guy? He’s cool.”
That goal was the single reason I began to follow football. From that day I became not just a football fan but a Robbie Keane fan. I was there when he broke Niall Quinn’s goal scoring record, when he first captained Ireland against Sweden, for his 100th cap and his final cap. I regularly get asked why I became a Spurs fan and the answer is simple – Robbie Keane.
These were defining moments not just for Irish football history but cultural moments for Irish society that nobody forgets. While I, like any Irish fan, would love us to qualify for every tournament those moments become all the sweeter for how rare they are. They are moments in time. So please, if your country is at the World Cup give them all your support and savour the good moments because for some of us they don’t happen very often.
Fionn (THFC), Dublin
A World Cup sabbatical
I read with interest and a knowing smile Jacks mail on Tuesday afternoon about taking a break from work, collecting his P45 to watch the World Cup and it compelled my to write about my World Cup sabbatical.
After 25 odd years from the age of sixteen with a lot of hard graft away from home for sometimes weeks at a time, saving and then being lucky enough to pay off the mortgage I had an epiphany after a truly shitty week at work that I would do this too back in 2014.
And, after the disappointment of Euro 2016 I find myself readying for my second unemployed (through choice not laziness) World Cup 2018.
Wall chart readied, numerous usual weekly discussions undertaken with my dad who should or shouldn’t be in the England 23 with the best starting formations/line ups, Panini album part completed, group and eventual competition winner bets placed and the sweepstake in my local entered (Drawn Uruguay) but you all get the idea.
This time though I’ve changed it up a gear and decided to watch the England group games for the first time ever on a holiday in Grenada, mainly to keep the wife in the good books whilst hoping sunny climes take my mind off any impending Hodgson like tactical nightmares which I’m praying do not occur this time around.
Here to hoping and I cannot bloody wait either.
Glen, Reading FC in Mevagissey, Cornwall
Who is India supporting?
Even though I have been a regular reader of the site, this is the first time I am writing in, as I feel compelled to dispute an image of my country – India, painted by a fellow mailboxer, Vatsyayan MUFC.
I am not going into the discussion regarding the promotion, or the lack of it, for the upcoming World Cup. What I found surprising was his claim than ‘many of us (and I’m assuming he’s referring to Indians in general) supported England for starters’. I’m not sure where Vatsyayan is coming from, but throughout my lifetime spent in this country, if anything there’s a strong anti-English sentiment that is shared among the majority whenever it comes to any national sporting event (cricket, football, etc). I’m sure this is something the people from Ireland can relate, the underlying reason behind this anti-English bias being exactly the same.
Talking about countries that Indians do generally support, I would encourage Vatsyayan to visit Kolkata during the month of the World Cup. You’ll find more flags of Brazil & Argentina in the streets of the city during this time, than you probably can find in those entire countries themselves. And the wall murals too of Pele, Maradona, Ronaldo, Messi, Kaka et al. If you don’t believe me just google ‘kolkata streets football world cup flags’. The passion and vigour with which the people of the city supports these two countries is simply incredulous.
Arjun (a Calcuttan yet neutral WC follower) Some
Do tea towels instead?
Re: recent plugging of merch t-shirts. Your t-shirts assume a flat belly to best frame the classic footballer. Not all of us are still hench.
For example my friend who is, let us say, approaching rotund or global (not chubby!) is worried about distending and distorting his heros Socrates or Valderama. This is not for me, but a friend.
And I, I mean he, was wondering if you did tea-towels instead? As someone who enjoys the exquisite feeling of drying off crockery through a celebrity or perhaps has a collection of other special tea-towels he would like to add to (Bowie, Nick Cave, Skegness etc) I was wondering for my friend if I could buy the same image in tea-towel form?
He would really like one. Not me. Is that clear?
The World Cup plan
Will you guys be doing 16 Conclusions for the World Cup? The thought just occurred to me last night that you might and it made my excitement for the World Cup grow exponentially.
(MC – Plenty of F365 Says pieces on matches, 16 Conclusions AND player ratings (without ratings) on England games, probably some Winners and Losers columns too. We (Storey) cannot wait)
More Mailbox heroes
Two more names for the Mailbox Hall of Fame. Firstly, our resident expert on the Anfield Rap and Salomon Rondon’s biggest fan, Jeremy Aves.
Then, James T, our man in Japan. Always get good mails from him and I’m looking forward to see how their World Cup performance is perceived over there, as a team who aren’t among the favourites but who are established enough as World Cup competitors to not simply be there to make up the numbers.
There are no interests to declare in this nomination.
Ed Quoththeraven (it’s not my surname, it’s my middle name)