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Some more lovely USA 94 memories
Great article, bringing memories of USA 94 flooding back. Thank you, sir.
Few awesome things missed that just helped it become iconic in my eyes… And I’m sure there were more….
Firstly, at the time there was a massive question mark (from the UK anyway) about why the USA should have the world cup, after all they knew nothing about soccer. And then Diana Ross happened. Which just added to the insanity of the idea. Turns out they put on one hell of a show, which is what the whole thing should be.
Fantasy Football was also still fledgling. With jokes about Mike Walker’s contact lenses being the weird sound capture devices among many things which stuck in my mind. Then Jackie Charlton and Aldo losing it in the heat. But Ireland doing well, and providing that “local” interest story without it being thrust in our faces.
But the thing, and weirdly so, which stood out was the colour. I just remember it being so vivid and colourful. The pitches seemed lusher, the matches were glamorous with a hint of “this is how we think football should be done” from the yanks. There was unrelenting sun brightening everything up. The goals were bizarre, and by goals I mean big fecking things with huge flowing nets. Everything just felt “bigger”.
Italia 90 was great, but not amazing. Euro 96 was amazing, but lacked the sparkle… and football has never been the same since.
Oh, and while it probably was, Fifa didn’t come across as a multibillion dollar and corrupt organisation. Or maybe that’s because I couldn’t give a s**t about the politics behind international football.
Twenty-two years ago. Damn I’m getting old.
…Really enjoyed Bradley Kirrage’s article on the 1994 World Cup – I’d guess I’m a few years younger than him (I was 9, nearly 10 when it was on), but it still had a lasting impression on me.
I’ve written to the mailbox about it before but in my mind’s eye the main thing I remember about it is that it was very brightly coloured. The kits were very bold, regardless of the actual colours, and all appeared to be in a tasteful style – you can make your own mind up about Jorge Campos. Having read up on the 1970 World Cup, Brazil’s switch to yellow shirts was in part inspired by that tournament being the first to be beamed around the world in colour, and the yellow stood out. I’m not sure if 1994 coincided with a similar technological advance but there seemed to be an effort made by all teams to play in vivid kits.
Looking back, it seems like 1994 was a key moment in football’s tribalism. The Premier League’s second season had just finished, with Manchester United winning the double and making it to the top of the charts, arguably the greatest indicator they had captured the imagination of the wider public, and not just people in the Salford/Trafford area from whence their traditional fanbase came. It was the perfect storm for attracting “fans” who had no interest in the wider world of football, or of the history of Manchester United, they just liked the fact they could jump on the bandwagon of a winning team.
Linking nicely with this tribalism is the way that people who don’t care about football (the weirdos) all of a sudden show an interest whenever England are in a tournament. For that sort of casual “fan”, there was little to get excited about in 1994, so those of us who just loved football and didn’t get much chance to watch it on TV could get on with enjoying the 1994 World Cup. That seemed to be the attitude of the broadcasters as well, taking the stance that people were tuning in to see a decent game of football regardless of who was actually playing.
The other amusing memory is of Republic of Ireland’s players and team officials kicking off on the sideline, Jack Charlton shouting himself red in the face whilst wearing a baseball cap. I also want to throw out the name Maurice Setters.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
And another recommendation
Great piece by Bradley. It almost brought a tear to my eye when seconds after being reminded about Andres Escobar, he showed up preparing to defend the corner in the first video in the piece.
To follow up on this from Bradley, there’s a great documentary on Netflix (the American Netflix definitely, not sure if it’s on the UK version) called The 2 Escobars. Definitely worth a watch.
Why Guardiola will regret his choice
Seeing Manchester City play this season and especially last night It really has me thinking Guardiola has made a very bad decision that may very much define his reputation and career. I’ve always been suspect that even though he is a great manager his first job at Barcelona was more right place right time with a team any good manager would have been world beaters with:
1) When he took over Barcelona there wasn’t really another team who could play at their level, Bayern were very good but still a step down, they faced Man Utd in two Champions League finals but the gulf in class was clearly evident. Yes Mourinho’s Inter beat them and lifted the trophy in 2010 but as we saw from this week Guardiola’s Achilles heal is still sides who are set up to play like Mourinho/Simeone’s teams.
2) The year he was outfoxed in La Liga by Mourinho he got his feelings hurt, quit and ran away to hide in New York until his wounds healed. An actually great manager for example Fergie would have come back next season to regain his crown as we saw him do many times over his career.
3) On his return to football he took over the current best team in the world in Bayern Munich. Even though he arguably has a better squad now the team has regressed under his leadership. Bayern are still a great side but again got knocked out of the CL by an organized, physical team with a lot more heart. Despite domestic titles with no CL his time at Bayern can only be seen as a failure. Obviously since things haven’t gone as Pep planned he’s leaving again.
4) As we’ve seen with Luis Enrique at Barcelona, if you are given the best squad in the world it’s harder not to win everything. The tactics and style of play are already imprinted on the players already only a steady ship is required. Not saying Enrique isn’t a good manger but he’s not near the quality of Simeone, Mourinho, Ancelotti etc. That’s why’s just like Pep he couldn’t outfox Simeone’s Athletico in Champions league with a far more talented group of players and may well meet the same fate in La Liga this season too.
4) Manchester City is a building project that could take more than one season or even three. Pep can attract great players but he has no experience building a team or managing one that aren’t the top dog in their domestic league and Europe.
5) Pep has a clear history of walking away when things don’t go his way. It’s highly likely he might not win a trophy next season. He’ll be up against a few teams in the EPL who play the style he hates coming up against. His nemesis Mourinho might be back too with full intentions of ruining his party. Unless Manchester City become would beaters or at least EPL winners next season would he see out his contract?
6) If things go terribly where does Pep go? PSG will probably still be playing in a one team league but with their sights clearly set on Europe would they want a manager with such a tarnished reputation when there are others around that can win the CL whether they have the best players or not?
Next season is going to be an interesting one at Man City, I’m not a betting man but if I was I’d put money on Pep only lasting a season or at least not seeing out his contract. What do you think Degsy?
Don’t be too harsh on City
I think some people are being overly harsh on City after last night’s performance; yes, it was a disappointment but they only conceded a single goal over two legs against a team packed full of superstars in a much better run of form, and which included a striker who has scored 17 goals in the Champions League alone this season. That’s not that bad.
I actually thought City’s performance was reminiscent of some of United’s early efforts in this competition. They were in largely uncharted territory and played more to counteract Real’s game plan, rather than concentrating on their own strengths; it seemed they were more concerned with getting drubbed rather than really taking the game to them, which is fairly understandable.
But when I look at that squad, there are quite a few players who I can’t imagine will still be at City in 2/3 years time. I could see Pep replacing almost all of that defence soon, with only really Hart, Otamendi and Mangala (purely because of how much they spent and his age) sticking around. Yaya will probably leave, and you can see one or two others (Navas, Fernando, Nasri maybe) following him eventually, while Silva probably will need replacing before too long if he has more trouble staying fit. Aguero and Iheanacho should be kept at all costs but they definitely need reinforcements up top because Bony clearly doesn’t fit the bit at the moment – unless Pep can turn things around.
So, all in all, it was probably the right result in the end but just imagine what they could do with a few of those key positions being strengthened. It took United a good few years to start to play as well in Europe as we did in the league, so now City have got their first semi final out of the way, I would say they have a much better chance of taking the next step, and maybe even winning it in the next five years. Every English Champions League mainstay from the last Premier League era has gone on to win it eventually after a few missed opportunities (except Arsenal, obviously, and even they were unlucky in their final), so City have no reason to be too down about it I’d say.
Can everyone please stop with the “Aguero was a disgrace” nonsense. Was he mistaken in coming back deeper to get the ball? Probably. Will he be disappointed to have not had a shot on target? Almost certainly.
But let’s see it for what it was. A genuine attempt by a senior player to try to influence the game. I think he was wrong but give me Aguero trying over a Ronaldo with his hands on his hips when it doesn’t go for him every time.
We were beaten by the better side and gutted as I am to lose to what I consider a fairly average Real Madrid side, they were better than us. I wish we had gone at it all guns blazing but we just aren’t that kind of team with those kind of players.
And also I’m not jumping on the let’s get shut of Kompany bandwagon either. I think he’s a victim of trying to come back to make a difference too soon. I read someone said he should take 3-4 months to come back strongly and I agree. We will chuck him away and regret it for the next five years as he dominates another league.
I hate the way football fans consign players to the dustbin on the basis of one result. I will be there on Sunday cheering those players who have delivered for us in the moments that matter over the years. They’ve done it for us before and I trust them to do it again.
Steve (Except for Bony obviously) MCFC
…And some love for Fernandinho
Fernandinho is immense. Watching him last night was like a 90 minute cameo of everything he does so well, quick around the pitch, pressing, blocking, winning tackles decisively and early, filling in gaps left by full-backs and KDB who, understandably, was never in position, always trying to move forward with possession and even some lovely first time touches and flicks to keep moves flowing. Only real criticism was semi-choking his chance and pulling the shot wide, but the first touch to come back inside was excellent.
Where he really struggles though is in not having a partner on his level beside him. He’s often asked to do the work of 2 men because Yaya just simply isn’t bothered anymore, the man looks done with football at present, and Fernando whilst physically gifted has the match intelligence of a 9 year old whose father has come to watch him play for the first time.
The problems within City’s squad and the task facing Pep has been very well discussed lately so I won’t bother to say anything more about it other than finding Fernandinho a partner is possibly the most important part of Pep’s project. You can’t continue to play a 4-2-3-1 against elite opposition with only 1 midfielder.
Also as an aside last night really should be a wake up call to Sterling. Pellegrini spent most of the first half playing his best #10 at LW with Fernandinho as the most advanced in midfield. Two of City’s best players played out of position rather than start Sterling.
Ben (Fernandinho-Gundogan ooooof) Gleeson.
Make the clock stop
I have to agree with Dan, Dublin with regards to time wasting ruining exciting finishes. I don’t mind keeping the ball in the corner or keeping possession to run the clock down. Doing these involves strength and skill. Feigning injury and taking ages to take throws/goal kicks/corners though requires no skill.
It is my biggest problem with football, and it has prevented me from every enjoying watching teams such as Barcelona, Spain and Arsenal, amongst others, who do it most games.
I think a possible way to prevent this is for the clock to stop for injuries. Just to completely stop, like in rugby and then restart when the game resumes. I’m sure we’d find much less “injuries” occurring in games. Then, a reasonable time limit to be given to take throws/goal kicks/corners. 10 seconds seems more than adequate. Booking for anything over that.
Toby (Champions) Mitchell
Why the Champions League final will be awful
So, the Champions League final will be an incredible game between two Spanish heavyweights battling it out, toe to toe, in attempt to be crowned the greatest, what a spectacle we have to feast on.
I cannot wait for the flair, the individual moments of brilliance that will briefly punctuate what will no doubt be a game in which 30% of the time is spent watching a player fall over in a replay after a brief verbal altercation, closely followed by 25% of Pepe, Ramos Godin et al all crowding the referee to have a chat about why the other person should be sacked from the final with immediate effect, despite having been 65 yards away from the initial incident, on the floor, still rolling around from the last brutal verbal altercation.
There will be 10% of time spent watching Diego Simeone essentially run the line with the linesman, up and down and up and down, briefly entering the technical area to rest, like the safe zone from a game of primary school tag, no you didn’t get me my feet were inside!
We are up to 65% already, oh how the time has flown! Next up it’s Ronaldo’s face, in its entire ‘why didn’t you pass to me’ glory… I’m going for a low 5% here, mostly because I think it will be hard for the camera to focus on his face after Godin has removed his own skin and wrapped it around Ronaldo in attempt to ‘keep him close’
Another 5% will be of Real Madrids super manager gesturing and pointing, look it’s Zidane in a suit…ooooh
We are ¾ of the way there, it’s the dying embers of a super-charged contest, what will the last quarter bring us, well based on the trend, both goalkeepers will fake an injury, as refs have slightly worked out that some players aren’t always injured when the fall over for no reason but managers have worked out that they have worked this out (stay with me) and have realised that if the keeper falls over he doesn’t have to go off and so there is no punishment as the refs seems to be incapable of actually adding on the correct time taken, let’s add on another 10%.
With 10 minutes to go it’s all out intensity… as a the centre forward is stood on the far corner flag when he is remarkably substituted, he proceeds to thank each individual player, support staff and fan as he trudges off the pitch incredibly tired and slightly injured, despite the recent 30 yard run with the ball, the ref runs over and asks him to run off the pitch, what scenes, the player is running yet the ref is walking and they are both going the same pace, you only see this sort of thing on a football pitch, what drama! Let’s add another 5%
90% of the match is done, its still 0-0 but there is a penalty, I can’t see the ref, all 22 players are crowding him, hang on I count 23, oh Diego, how have you got there unnoticed! Pushing and falling ensues, there is four yellow cards, eight players on the floor and one red, the penalty is taken, it goes in, despite the keeper being two yards of his line, the crowd goes wild, there is another fight, let’s add 8% on for this
The game is over, we are all exhausted, what a game, what drama, niggley annoying team A have beaten niggley time wasting team B.
What’s that, don’t watch it if you don’t like it…. No no it’s the champions league final, I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Joe (The missing 2% is for the moments of skill)
Spurs really are like Leeds
Interesting mail from Rano this morning about Spurs being similar to the Leeds of 15 years ago. I don’t disagree with some of the points, but maybe Rano was more right than first thought as I have to take issue with a couple of the points:
– ‘Leeds had a free kick specialist in Ian Harte while Spurs don’t seem to have one.’
Ian Harte 11 free-kick goals in 242 matches (one every 22 matches)
Eriksen 9 free-kick goals in 129 matches (one every 14 matches)
– ‘Leeds had Kewell and Viduka up front, both of whom were prolific but Spurs currently only have Kane.’
Harry Kewell 48 goals in 197 matches (one every 4 matches)
Eriksen 30 goals in 129 matches (one every 4 matches)