Posts Tagged ‘England’

Hodgson to call up BNP supporters

In Satire on June 23, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Roy Hodgson has bowed to pressure from the public for England football players with more “passion” by announcing he will now select BNP supporters for the national team.

Following the team’s return to England after their dead rubber against Costa Rica tomorrow, the England manager will, in the absence of any remaining official meeting place for the troubled political movement, look for new players by scouring pubs, fish and chip shops, Jobcentres, the outside of mosques and the types of websites where more is written in upper case than lower case.

Hodgson said: “I will explain the situation to prospective players and draw them in with the promise of being able to promote their political views to a global audience in exotic corners of the world.

“I’m guessing they will be too stupid to realise the irony of that.”

He went on to explain that if someone was interested they must pass a basic test of explaining the offside rule then completing ten kick-ups – to demonstrate basic football knowledge and ability – and then belting out the national anthem and expressing convincing abuse of a minority – to test the more important attribute of “passion”.

“After that, training will consist of some orthodox training sessions but much time drinking copious amounts of alcohol in a pub while watching top-level football and thinking up ways to insult the foreign players,” Hodgson added.

“It will be good for team spirit. None of these spats which have plagued the national team recently. Hate can be a very unifying force, you know.”

BNP Chairman Nick Griffin said: “This is fantastic news, because it means the national team will be restored into the hands of good, honest, native, tax-paying Englishmen.

“The players selected will probably turn up pissed, but that is because we, the BNP, reflect good, honest, native, tax-paying Englishmen.

“And they will still play better pissed than Phil Jagielka sober.”


Why Hodgson Was Right About Ferdinand

In Sport on June 15, 2012 at 4:30 PM

With Martin Kelly’s promotion to the England squad,  prompted by a recent Gary Cahill injury brought on by a c***ish push by Mertens, the press have been putting the sword into Hodgson for his declaration that it was for “football reasons” he chose the Liverpool full-back above Ferdinand, who many think should be a first-choice anyway. For those of you, football fan or not, living under a rock for the past year, the surrounding controversy originates from John Terry allegedly racially assaulting Rio’s brother, Anton, in a Premiership match in October,  for which Terry is due in court shortly after the European Championships following a suspension of the trial.

It is fairly clear that this decision was not made for what most would hold to be ”football reasons”. For, while he is a little past his best in ability and physical condition, Ferdinand still had a good season for United. With 30 league appearances, he was central in both respects to a United defence that was second only to City in its parsimony (and they’ve got Joe bloody Hart between the sticks) – their mere 33 goals conceded a good seven better than the next best defences, Liverpool and Everton. This in addition to an impressive England career, comprising 81 caps. Martin Kelly on the other hand has a mere five minutes of international experience (in the Norway friendly), and just a dozen solid if unspectacular Premiership appearances for a mediocre Liverpool team this season.

So it’s understandable why the “football reasons” excuse is being so lambasted by the press and public. But football is not played in isolation by automatons, and it is a team game. So there is no concrete difference between “football reasons” and supposedly non-football reasons.

Seems obvious but some could do well to remember that football is a team game; not one won by individuals. That’s why Messi, and all the other stars, haven’t taken Argentina to much greater triumphs recently; why Holland and Spain, until recently at least, have had relatively average records in major championships; and why Real’s Galacticos failed to really gel for much of the time until the ‘Special One’ came in to instil a team ethic and winning mentality. And, on the other hand, team spirit is a large reason why Greece won Euro 2004 despite deep mediocrity; why Germany have such a strong record; and, more recently, why Chelsea won the Champions League despite (or because of) setting up trench lines approximately 30 metres from goal from the Quarter-final onwards.

The typical counter-argument to the idea Terry and Ferdinand should be separated for team benefit runs that everybody has to work with people they don’t like, so the pair – and all others – should just get on with it. While the analogy is somewhat fair, people rarely have to work with people they suspect to be racist to them. A fairly toxic relationship, I think you’ll agree. If so, it follows that Hodgson was correct in not bringing both players. Also, normal office workers (such as myself) do not have to live with their colleagues for several weeks with the prying, expectant eyes of a nation scrutinising their every move, and obviously putting strain on the camp. The two centre-halves, in particular, need to be on at least ok terms, as this is a partnership that requires constant communication, often frenzied to the point of ‘bossing about’ and lambasting for that missed challenge which led to the goal.

Another argument is that John Terry should stand down at least temporarily on principle, as would, so the argument runs, any ‘normal’ worker be suspended pending allegations of unprofessionalism. But if Terry doesn’t think he’s done wrong (as he presumably doesn’t), then why should he volunteer himself out of one of the biggest tournaments of his career? There’s certainly some weight to the idea the trial should not have been suspended until after the Euros (and I’d be inclined to agree), but regardless, this is not Hodgson’s fault nor his responsibility. He’s just been parachuted into this difficult situation and wisely decided Terry and Ferdinand couldn’t both go. Surely, Terry’s entitled to the same rights as any other British citizen – that of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ – so why shouldn’t he be in contention for the spot? Whatever you think of Hodgson, at the end of the day (to use an appropriate cliché), he is the manager, and one of many years experience; not any of us mere mortals. And nor is he a moral/legal arbitrator. Remember, he’s dealing with people who kick some glorified pigs bladder around for living, hoping to shepherd it into an outside cupboard, for Pete’s sake…

At first, the decision to not take Ferdinand was even just about passable as one of individual footballing merit. Having won the league, Lescott was a starter for most people; Cahill another fairly strong choice; Terry over the hill but still potentially world class; and Jones inexperienced but talented and versatile. (I would have slightly preferred Ferdinand to Terry, but only slightly, and Terry’s performance on Monday went some way to justifying his inclusion.) It was only when Cahill got injured and Kelly was brought in that the issue really blew up. And who could really foresee a player in a friendly being a twat and cynically pushing a defender into a keeper, breaking his jaw (and Barry’s injury that meant Jagielka’s inclusion)? And could Hodgson reasonably predict Micah Richards being a sanctimonious fool and refusing to go on the reserve list? I don’t think so.

Of course, you could press the point that Hodgson should have been plainly honest in the first place. But, remember, it wasn’t initially such an issue (hindsight is a wonderful thing). And the voracious reaction of the press to the current situation, and past tradition, doesn’t exactly suggest they (/we) would have been considered in wading through the easy, superficial lines of attack to the perfectly reasonable justification beneath. Put bluntly, it was a white lie, just one that unfortunately got found out. But unless you’ve never told a little, ostensibly harmless untruth such as ‘no, you don’t look fat in that, love’ or ‘no, I am not at the pub’, I don’t think you can take the moral high-ground here.

So, blame everyone, no-one, Mertens, but don’t blame Hodgson for anything more than picking a slightly worse player. Nor blame Terry…or not yet, anyway…

Joel Durston

My England Squad for the Euros

In Sport on May 21, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Goalkeepers: Hart (capt.), Green, Foster (Robinson)

Defenders: Cole, Baines, Richards Cahill, Walker, Ferdinand, Lescott

Midfielders: Young, Lennon, Gerrard, Parker, Barry Lampard, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Strikers: Rooney, Welbeck, Defoe, Bent (Crouch), Sturridge


Starting from the back, Hart is a no-brainer, having cemented himself in a world class with the lowest goals against tally this season (and any sensible person’s fantasy team). He’s also got a great temperament; committed, commanding, ambitious (see his anger at himself at not saving even screamers), and just a down-to-earth bloke off-the-pitch. Couple this with fact that being a keeper gives you a great vantage point from which to view the game, and he’s a strong candidate for the captaincy. Of the other two, Green would be my number two because he has, save (…ahem) one horrendous error, always been a solid player when called upon (and with one liners such as this, he’ll be great around the camp: (on the gaffe against USA: “Had a random drug tests after the game…needless to say they didn’t find any performance-enhancing drugs in my system”). I’ve always considered Foster quite error prone, but he’s had a solid spell at West Brom so merits a place in the squad, if as much because of the lack of other suitable candidates. If Robinson was not in retirement – as I hear he may come out of – he would be my number two, as he has been quietly putting in impressive performances for Blackburn and was unfairly ousted following one unfortunate incident (the Croatia bobble). Remember when we were all debating whether he was/could be world class?
Anyway all no. 2 considerations are pretty academic, given Hart’s age, form and unlikeliness to sustain serious injury.

Cole, if perhaps not as world class as he once was, is still a very steady pair of feet. A measure of his quality is that he is almost universally praised for his ability – despite being, or at least having been, a fairly odious human being. Baines provides a solid cover if he gets injured. Lescott and Richards have both had good seasons at City – with the reserves their disposal, even being a consistent starter is impressive. If Terry were still performing as he were two years ago, he should go on ability – but given poor recent form (Liverpool ran him ragged), the possibility of him creating tension in the camp is too much – even if innocent until proven guilty.

Very tough in midfield. Lampard was underused by Chelsea, as attested by the resurgence largely brought about when he got more game time. Similarly, Gerrard is a little past his peak, but still capable of inspirational moments so warrants inclusion. Parker, if fit, is a solid, talismanic presence. The wingers all represent real pace and danger (if not always delivery), and have had at least moments of genius this season. Oxlade-Chamberlain is undoubtedly a risk, but has the youthful audacity to run at, try things – and usually succeed – against the best of the Premiership so there’s no logical reason why he should be able to against international teams. Barry’s not a world-beater, but you know what you’re getting with him and has been quietly influential for probable Champions, City, so is a good squad player.

Rooney is a given, despite his two-match ban – one of probably only three world-class players in the squad, with Hart and Cole. Welbeck has impressed this season, is a versatile striker and has the benefit of an understanding with Rooney already. Defoe is a consistent poacher, as is Bent, who seems will be fit. And has an added aerial presence to his game, so gets the nod over Crouch for me. Sturridge brings a bit of flair, and the possibility to be used in the now-popular 4-2-3-1 if we choose to play that way, as is possible with two natural holding men in Barry and Parker and attacking threat on the wings.

Joel Durston