Archive for June, 2010

Would you call yourself English or British?

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New sport, new tournament. Since England’s world cup hopes are non-existent, I am going to turn my attention to Wimbledon; a tournament deep within the English culture and currently being played in the sunniest of conditions (for once). Whilst all the other British players are out Andy Murray is the last Brit standing, our number 1 by quite some distance.

However this leaves me with a little bit of a problem as I am normally quite nationalistic with my sports. Although England is only a part of the country of Great Britain, I feel that when it comes to international sport England becomes a country by itself. We follow England football, England cricket and England rugby union, so understandably I feel strongly towards the English teams. When it comes to Andy Murray, a proud Scot, someone who even rejects England, I still want to support him in the tennis, but I can never do this 100%. He is still British and the closest we have to an English player that can win the tournament (and I do believe this year is his year) and the most succesful British male tennis player ever to play, but he has been born on the other side of Hadrian’s wall.

The subject gets even more complicated when I say that I support the British Olympic team, and have no frictional feelings when supporting the British hockey team or even the Rugby league side. But I believe that this is because there are no alternatives, I am not just supporting one man and one personality.

Formula 1 is a similar sport in the sense of everyone on the track is racing for themselves and are individual sportsmen. I obviously support Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton for Maclaren as they are the heart of he English pride. Unfortunately I was too young for Formula 1 when David Coultard was racing but I’m sure I would have had the same sort of problem, do I become a British supporter, or stay an England one? Maybe I should just support who I can as it does make a tournament more exciting, but then again the feeling of disloyalty resurfaces.

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Welcome to the Big, Wide World!

The time in someone’s life when they first step out into the big wide world can be an intimidating one. For some they know exactly what career path they are going to follow and for others it is a time to find any job to pay the bills while they look for something more suitable.

I have been fortunate enough to take a year out after school and before I go to university, and I believe this has taught me some valuable lessons. Before I started my gap year I thought the most important and influential period would be when I travelled abroad. While this did teach me a lot about living by myself and taking care of all the bills it did not teach me the value honest hard work, which is an important characteristic when it comes to university and a career. Instead I learnt this over the course of earning money to go abroad when I worked in a dog food factory for a little more than minimum wage. It is when you work at the bottom, that you can see the true importance of putting in the hours for a good degree. It is a true motivation to avoid this style of living, but it is also necessary to show you what others have to work for.

Your career is a huge proportion of your life, it is what your education is aimed at and it is there for your enjoyment, I feel with this learning curve in my gap year I have gained a foresight, one that I would not be able to have if ‘mummy and daddy’ just gave the money or handed me down a comfy job. As it is worth knowing that the things in life that you want are the effort in getting.

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Time to Step Down Fabio

With Capello, I am in two minds. On the one hand he has done England well and produced a flawless qualifying campaign, on the other, he left us to flop out of the world cup with our worst performance ever.

It leaves me wondering whether the qualifying was a fluke on his behalf, his reputation as an international manager shown by players that were still in premiership form, not yet tired from the season, and not roused by the Italian’s old-fashioned tactics. As, let’s be honest, if you can’t get the world-class players that England possess to perform then you are not up to your job as manager. He was left playing the same 4-4-2 formation throughout, as though he knew nothing else and didn’t want to know that Rooney could play on his own up front. Although in his current form Rooney did not deserve this amount of trust put in him to deliver the winner.

Which brings me on to the fact that it could have been the players fault, and instead of keeping on the man who deserved all the credit for actually scraping us through to the knockout stages we are prepared to scapegoat him and exile him from English football. Capello’s job with the FA looks like it might be over, and as his opportunity ends there will be a space for someone else to take the reins and try to end 48 years of hurt (by 2014 world cup in Brazil). Personally I like to think Harry Redknapp might step up to the plate, after doing wonders for every team that he has managed. But, as we all have come to know, managing international football is a world apart. I feel that the limits of Capello’s grasp of the English language hindered the complete comprehension from our players, something that would not be a challenge for Redknapp.

We can’t know what Capello will do in the future, we can only look back on the past. Before the world cup I believed he had done enough to keep the job for four more years. Now, I believe he has done enough to lose it and take responsibility for the team.

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Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all..

As I write, I write in mourning. In mourning of what could have been, of what might have been and heavily reminded of the fact that we aim too high. Cast aside by a young German side that, it pains me to say this but, deserved their victory. Matthew Upson and John Terry failing to resemble anything that starts to look like a defence. Throwing ball after ball away for German goal kicks. Before the game it was said that due to the lack of experience Germany would be the more wasteful team with possession and it’s just not the case.

Just like a lover looking back on a failed relationship I can just about struggle to see the positives, and with them heavily being outweighed by the damning negatives like the defence and the score line.

Like a lover I see where things could have changed, the point where we lost our way (Frank Lampard’s beautiful strike crossing the line and being disallowed by the South American linesman), and as I sit with my tub of ice cream I can see where we can learn from these mistakes; finally bring in goal line technology, change to a modern, more adaptable manager one who isn’t afraid to try something other than 4-4-2.

Change is the most important thing England, as it’s not me it’s you, it really is and you have the potential to win these tournaments and make other teams cower at your presence. Now, like a recently single man I will have to set my sights on something lower as we have been divorced from the World Cup, maybe the Euro, although Germany will still be there.

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Warning giant killer alert!

Another slim chance for a big favourite to fall out of the world cup. As group H stands Spain need a win to stay in, although their match is against Chile (a massive underdog, but they have been performing well). It is more than likely that the Swiss will produce a win against Honduras so a lot of pressure is put on the Spaniards as they will need to win at least 2-0 and by one more goal than the Swiss will, it’s an outside chance and hopeful thinking, but even if Spain comes in second in their group they face Brazil in the last 16, knocking one of the favourites out before the quarter finals.

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Drama is Mounting as the Knockout Stage is Reached

As it stands England’s start to the world cup campaign has been a stuttered one, with two bad performances leading to draws with USA and Algeria, teams we really should be beating. The last match was a relief against Slovenia, especially seeing how France and Italy; the two finalists of last world cup, have flopped out of the tournament.

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However, the resulting route for England to the semi finals has both Germany, and if we progress, Argentina (also if they do as well), England’s biggest international rivals. The rivalry between England and Germany has its roots deep in both our histories, ranging further back than the beautiful game, although this is where it is present in modern-day.

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It is a time when we are once again underdogs, fighting to beat our sworn football enemy. Beating Germany has led to many of the England highlights as it led to our victory in 1966, and I’m the memory of Michael Owen slotting goal after goal past the Germans. And this is a time when we should stay true to our obsession with 44 years ago.

Argentina is also a thriving football nation, and with the owner of the Hand of God as manager tensions between fans and players on opposing teams will be running higher than ever. Of course, as Maradona’s maverick reputation has grown, it also means England have a lot more to prove when it comes down to it as the solid tactics of Capello come together with the confused and somehow succesful theories of Maradona.

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Hopefully when England come to play Germany England can show that experience has more value than youthful enthusiasm, and show their full potential as they did during the qualifying matches, and showed more than enough to get excited about against Slovenia. Also when Argentina come into play I am sure the fact that Maradona did not bring enough defenders will be his downfall, but lets just take it one step at a time.

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Bloody vuvuzelas lead to bloody injuries!

It has been reported in South Africa that there have been a number of vuvuzela related injuries, as one man managed to rupture his throat. Looks like the South African’s pleasure in blowing their horns is actually hurting them, maybe if we’re lucky we might find South Africa has lost their voices by the final..

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