Drawing a Line

 

After yesterday’s (entirely justified) bloodletting and (self-inflicted) systematic, forensic exposure, the time has come to at least attempt to draw a line under the hostilities…until there is the merest hint that the other side has decided to take up cudgels again.

There are so many other interesting topics of discussion during a, so far at least, fairly quiet transfer window.

Has Vincent Janssen’s amputated toe healed sufficiently for him to be loaned out again? Will Handsome Fernando catch the eye of a Spanish or Italian mistress? Who will play back up to the back up that is Sonny when he heads off to the Asian games? Or will HK come back fresh as a daisy after the ‘pre-season’ that he has declared the World Cup to be? Will Winks be like a new signing? Will Sissoko be the new Sissoko? (I have great hopes for this, his breakthrough season).

In the meantime, the Tottenham twittersphere is going into meltdown, tempered only by a few voices of sanity. Each invented article linking a player, any player, to another club kickstarts a round of bedwetting that would drive even the most patient of mothers to commit infanticide.

Gladstone, DL’s long-serving/suffering butler, has let me know that we can expect some announcements next Tuesday to coincide with the launch of the new kit. So, see you next Tuesday on that one.

The simple fact is that, as FoF pointed out at length on a previous bloeug, this transfer window is quite the delicate balancing act unless we want to spunk millions of pounds by buying all our targets at inflated rates before selling our deadwood at reduced rates because competitors know we need to sell. Add to this balancing homegrown vs non-homegrown players and it makes it a touch more challenging than ordering a delivery from Just Eat/Deliveroo/Uber Eats (advertising coming soon!) whilst you scratch your arse on the sofa.

This is not to advocate inertia and last minute panic buying. I’m sure we’d all like to see that player or two come in (soon!) who is going to make the difference this season in our new home. I’m not going to s**t the bed if it doesn’t happen but it’s the difference between heading in with real confidence of some silverware as opposed some ‘hope’ we might win sumffink.

You know which pance you need.

Toby aims an ickle diglet

 

Toby has had more of a say on his future at Spurs, proclaiming that he wanted to prove something at the World Cup….presumably that he had regained full fitness and some form to go with it.

Anyone who watched closely could see that, despite declaring himself fit back in February for the FA Cup game vs Newport County, he was very short of form when he actually played in that game.  He then tweaked a hamstring again and was unavailable until March 9th.

Unsurprisingly after a long lay-off, particularly a hamstring injury, and subsequent set-back, the coaching staff were keen to take a very measured approach to bringing Toby back into the team…a position that was further reinforced by the fact that Davinson and Jan had been doing very nicely together in his absence.

Clearly, Toby was then raring to go towards the end of the season but was held back for whatever reason (contract shenanigans, reportedly).

Prior to the World Cup, Toby comported himself impeccably on social media, with several supportive messages aimed at his Spurs teammates as they battled for a Champions League spot and a route through the FA Cup.

Now the shackles are off, it looks like he’s making himself heard in a slightly different way:

‘I really do not know anything yet. In my head I just go to Tottenham. We will see.’

‘I was very focused on this tournament,’ he continued. ‘I wanted to prove something again. Show that the period before the tournament in which I did not play – for whatever reason – was unjustified. ‘I wanted to show that I am still the same Toby as in November.’

 

I’ve loved Toby at Spurs but it looks like his time with us has reached its natural end.  Time to get the deal done and reinvest, pronto.

 

source article:

https://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20180714_03614036

Squeeze Another Squad Out, Poch

Image result for big crowd

 

At last, back to important matters.

Let’s buy Bale, Kovacic, Modric, Martial, De Ligt, Maguire, Grealish, Rabiot, Barrios, Ndombele, Zaha!

Let’s sell Sissoko, N’Koudou, Janssen, Llorente!

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Apart from the well publicised and obvious issues concerning transfer fees, wages, and the ability to convince top players to come to us rather than other big clubs, combined with finding clubs silly enough to buy our rejects for reasonable money, there are other issues that Poch, Dan and the Net Spend Band need to consider carefully.

Squad size.

The Premier League rules concerning squad size and make-up are as follows:

Premier League clubs are allowed a maximum of 25 players in their first-team squad.

8 of these players must be “homegrown”.

The maximum squad size of 25 excludes under 21 players, of which there is no limit.

This means that Premier League clubs can have a maximum of 17 non-homegrown, over 21 players.

Premier League teams can register less than 8 homegrown players, but only on the basis that this would reduce the amount of non-homegrown, over 21 players by the same amount. So if we register 7 homegrown players, we can only register 16 non-homegrown, over 21 players.

 

Are you with me so far? Good.

Looking at our current squad, we have 18 non-homegrown, over 21 players:

Lloris, Vorm, Gazzaniga, Aurier, Tobes, Verts, Sanchez (just turned 22), Dembele, Son, Eriksen, Dier*, Moura, Lamela, Wanyama, Sissoko, N’Koudou, Janssen, Llorente.

*Though he was born in England and plays for England, Dier is not considered homegrown as he was brought through a foreign academy. Mental, innit.

We only just scrape through on our 8 homegrown players, the list of 9 below includes 2 players that were out on loan last season:

Trippier, KWP, Davies*, Rose, CCV, Dele, Winks, Kane, Onomah.

*Although according to PL Davies is a homegrown player, according to UEFA he is not due to him being brought through the Swansea academy. This means that we have 19 non-homegrown, over 21 players for the CL, and the CL has the same ruling re the 17/8 split.

So what? We only need to sell/loan one non-homegrown player and we’re within the limits. Most Spurs fans would agree to sell Sissoko, N’Koudou, Janssen and Llorente in a heartbeat, and it looks like Tobes and Dembele are off anyway, so it’s not a problem.

Or is it?

Just because we are happy to cash out on Sissoko, N’Koudou, Janssen and Llorente, doesn’t mean that clubs are falling over each other trying to buy them. And even if there was some interest, do you expect any of the above players to be top of other clubs wishlists? I’d suggest, if at all, they are more likely to be sold or loaned towards the end of the transfer window when clubs get desperate. And would the likes of Sissoko and Llorente agree to a move at all, or stay on their bumper contracts at a CL club and try to fight for their places? This leaves us in a position where we could buy non-homegrown, over 21 players now and risk having players on the books that won’t be able to take part this season, or leaves us open to low-ball bids from clubs knowing we need to get rid.

And as far as Tobes and Dembele are concerned, are there many suggestions for replacements that are homegrown, or under 21 players?

De Ligt and Maguire could fit the bill for Tobes replacements, but I would be sceptical as to whether we could prize either player from their current club, or outbid other interested parties.

None of the speculated Dembele replacements fit the bill either, apart from Grealish, though I don’t see him as a direct replacement for Dembele at all, more a back up to Eriksen.

 

The conclusion I take from all of this is that, ideally, we need to sell to buy. But not for the reasons that some quarters of the Spurs-lovin blog world like to make out. It appears quite clear to me that it is as much about balancing the squad size and make-up as balancing the books.

I expect good signings this summer, but with consideration, I would suggest that a reasonable percentage of those signings would need to be homegrown or under 21, and any that are not could only be accommodated by selling existing non-homegrown, over 21 players.

I also think that this means it is highly unlikely that we will sell Rose.

Just get on with it, Levy!!

Or maybe this transfer lark isn’t quite as easy as some like to make out?

 

11.56am edit!!!

Some adjustments need to me made to the above info (Unk put me straight!)

We can have up to 17 non-homegrown, over 21 players in our squad no matter what, it does not depend on how many homegrown players we have.

U21 players do not count towards our homegrown allocation, meaning we currently only have 6 homegrown players.

This changes little in the main point made, we can’t go bringing in non-homegrown players without selling/loaning those we already have.

 

Gentle vivisection

First, of course I commend the lads and the managerial staff for getting as far as they did.  It was truly brilliant, thrilling and heart-warming.  We’re set up for a few tournaments to  come with goodwill, excitement and expectation.  Life has been breathed back into international football and that is no mean feat.  So Well Done everyone.

However, if we want to get this far, or further, in the future lessons need to be learned.  That is also the harsh reality of competing at the highest level.

Much of this will have been said already or re-hashed out there, so I’ll make it mercifully brief.

Where this game was lost:

  1.  Not taking our clear-cut chances in the First Half.  Not creating other clear-cut chances when we had the chance.  Not hitting the target with half-chances.  None of the Front 4 were at their highest level, and that’s where they needed to be to beat this lot (and even more so if we were going to have a chance against France).  Dele looked at 70% or so.  Harry looked tired too, trying to do too much.  Lingard and Sterling needed to be clinical with the good work they did.  Henderson’s distribution was way off.  He can spread the ball wide, but as soon as he was looking for a longer-straighter ball he was off by several yards.  He’d had a good tournament but he was off yesterday and his deficiencies exposed.
  2. Not reading the change in the game in the Second Half.  It was clear something was up within 5 mins of it starting. Dropping back to counter their Wing-Backs’ ascendancy was not the answer.  We needed to cut them off at source: Modric.  Rakatic wasn’t having a great game, so if we’d stopped Luka, we would have been ok.  It’s not like it was a surprise he started to run the game.  He’s a genuine star and had proved it previously.  This one is on Southgate.  I know it’s not easy, but you have to be flexible to what is happening.  Have Plans B & C.  Putting Delph on, Modric, and changing the shape if necessary, would have done the job.  He’s at the top of his game in terms of fitness levels (recently changed diet) and for 40 mins, he could have contained him.
  3. New defence finally blew up.  Walker was mostly fantastic last night but got found out, as did Stones and Maguire.  No shame in that, but that’s what happened.  Mandzucic was not adequately contained, just at the critical moment and BOOM! Game over.

We were in the lead in a World Cup Semi Final and we blew it.

As I said, this doesn’t take anything away from what has been a fantastic campaign but we won’t get here again if we make these kinds of errors in big games.

We’re Livewires!

We’re at our best when we’re up in their faces. No time on the ball, get it back off them quick. Then, transition quickly but with precision. These days, we can hold on to it better too, run the legs off them a bit. Gareth’s watchword is “calm”. Sounds like another top coach. We’ve got this.

England XI: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Young, Henderson, Alli, Lingard, Sterling, Kane

Bruxie’s Glory, Glory Bloeug

(Dedicated to Alan Gilzean, The King of White Hart Lane.)

“Aged seven years old and sitting on my Grandad’s knee watching the 1961 FA Cup Final, I thought I was watching England.

On a black and white television, Spurs appeared just like the team I had watched previously on TV. Club football was not televised in those days and England always played in white shirts.

I was told that the team in white shirts were “dirty Spurs” by my Geordie Grandad. The fact that Spurs were not playing Newcastle United probably meant that I had free rein to support whomever I pleased on this occasion. They were playing Leicester City – and that didn’t sound as good as “Spurs” or indeed, the more noble sounding “Tottenham Hotspur”. Moreover, I used to buy the Hotspur comic every week!

If that had been Newcastle playing against either Leicester or Spurs that day I would have led an altogether different football life.

My family were all avid Newcastle fans. And I am from Darlington. The Quakers were in the 4thDivision. Everyone’s team was either Newcastle or Sunderland. Manchester United were everyone’s “second” team following the tragedy in 1958, so I had my work cut out to maintain my choice.

I cannot remember however, anyone ever trying to “persuade” me to change my new found allegiance. Perhaps that’s because the Magpies were relegated in 1961 and didn’t get promoted again until the 1964- 65 season.

In any case, can you imagine trying to convince me that Spurs were not worth following and that Newcastle were the correct team to support? Spurs win the double and Newcastle are relegated. No brainer –  even at seven! I suppose I chose the successful team of the day and rejected the failures.

I have a theory that you are given a team when you are in primary school and it stays with you all of your days. That’s how it happened for me. And so I had to wait a long time to get to see Spurs live for the first time. Four and a half years! They appeared lots of times on TV playing in the European Cup – Dukla Prague and Benfica spring to mind. And of course the European Cup Winners Cup.

I particularly remember the 1961-62 FA Cup Final against Burnley when I watched for the first time, the greatest goal scorer of all time, Jimmy Greaves. I only had a few minutes to wait. Jimmy held up a pass, ran, jinked and then seemingly tapped a goal from the edge of the box with four or five around him!

Newcastle were eventually promoted and Spurs came to Toon on 23rdOctober 1965. My Uncle Tom (a regular at St James’ Park) and my non-football supporter Dad agreed to take me and we ended up in the Leazes End with me as a small eleven year old towards the front. I was near the corner flag on the left of goal looking towards the passionate and intimidating Gallowgate End.

I was to keep my mouth shut!

I remember a sunny day, huge excitement and the smell of tobacco and beer.

Jimmy Greaves was playing! And Alan Gilzean – we’d sadly lost John White the previous year and Gilzean was one of those brought in. I was disappointed not to have seen John White play, he was another hero. Kids are selfish sometimes!

Greavesie came across to take a corner. A corner for God’s sake. The fox in the box taking corners?

He looked every bit the hero. My hero! I couldn’t take my eyes off him!

“Ya stink, Greaves!” a little voice from a kid no bigger than me shouted.

“No he doesn’t – he’s great!”

I surprised even myself with the outburst and felt the immediate disdain of those around me, including my Uncle Tom.

And then, Jimmy Greaves said to me…

“Thanks, son.”

Gawp.

I am sure he did! We were only three or four yards apart. I am positive that he did! My Dad and Uncle didn’t hear it. I tried telling them afterwards that he had spoken to me. Laughter.

For the life of me, I cannot remember anything else about that game of football. It finished nil-nil and I was slightly disappointed with the result but elated with the experience.

Nobody believed me at school and I gave up trying to convince people. It is only lately, when I recount the story, that I get nods of approval.

That was the defining moment for me. No other team could or would ever supplant my obsession with Tottenham. I was a fan before that game – as much as you can be, living in the North-East – but Spurs were now the focus of my footballing future.

Years later, I met Jimmy at one of these signing events in Milton Keynes. It was the day the press announced the sale of Thierry Henry from Arsenal. We had a conversation about what good news that was for Tottenham. I didn’t mention the “Thanks, son” to him and wondered why afterwards.

You know what it’s like with heroes. Even at 50+ you go quiet!

There were 46,430 present in 1965. Strangely, when we played Newcastle United in 2011 at St. James’ Park there were only 10 people fewer in the crowd – 46,420.

Now that is an amazing statistic, considering the amount of money that has been spent on that stadium; they haven’t squeezed any more folk into the ground for a game that determined a top four place.

We should have won that game, too. Caught out in the last few minutes and Newcastle squeezed a draw.

At the time of writing, we are third. We are playing the best football in the Premier League and I am excited that we could be on the cusp of something great. The new year, 2012, beckons and we have some winnable matches early on. Could this be our best season in 50 years?

Let’s hope so!”

NB The original article was written a few years back, but the questions still stands – Ed

Time for a Breather!

In about 1972 or so I must have finally decided that my twin brother, Paul, needed some competition, so I declared that I was a spurs fan. He was a Gooner, but a great one and he lived and died as the biggest Arsenal fanatic I’ve ever known. Despite my new found allegiance the first game I went to was with Paul and it was at Highbury to see a feisty match against Everton which culminated in an on-pitch bust-up 9as I recall. As a weeny teeny I winced at the big players laying into each other less than 20 feet away and didn’t fancy this any more. I never went to another Arsenal game that didn’t involve Spurs. The first time I remember going to a Spurs match was a couple of years later with my dad on 28th August 1976. I was 15 years young. Middlesbrough were as dull then as they always have been since and we were treated to a two steps forward, three steps back masterclass in anti-football, ending nil-nil. boro-76

That was the first and last game that my dad went to. As a grown-up neutral non-footy fan he must have thought he didn’t fancy this any more. Me, I was hooked. I went to a few more games during that fateful season with my older brother, Andy, who was a SpursNut too. Getting relegated was unpleasant but we had some good games on the way, particularly at the end of the season when we beat Villa and Leicester.

I went to most games in division two the following season, home and away. My trusty silver Sanyo transistor radio was my loyal companion and was clamped to my ear regularly, waiting to hear the results and cup draws. The last game at the Dell was the best match experience I had until 25th May 1984. This despite not being able to see sod all, stuck at the back as a teeny 17 year old in streams of piss. The atmosphere was unbelievable and the relief at the final whistle was indescribable. This was a nil-nil to die for. The great Burkinshaw squeezed us through by the skin of our teeth and we were back in the promised land.

Then the Argentines came and we were now the focus of attention. Trophies followed and I even went to Wembley with my sister, Angela, to see us retain the FA Cup. Thirty six years later and I’m still here, more hard-core Spurs than ever. Sadly, Paul, Andy, Angela and my dad aren’t. I love them all and I love you all here and many of those still on the other blog. I just can’t help myself!

COYFS!

Son Heung-min Bloeug That I Can’t Think Of A Witty Title For

As I’m sure we’re all aware, Son Heung-min currently has the spectre of national service hanging over him. As instructed by law, all South Korean men must enlist for 21 months in the armed forces before they turn 28. Son turns 28 in July 2020 which means that a military call-up would rule him out of the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons. His current contract with the club expires in June 2020. Make of that what you will.

However, as I’m sure we’re all also aware, exemptions can be granted by the South Korean government to sportspeople who excel at certain tournaments. The 2002 South Korean World Cup team, for example, were all excused their national service obligations when they reached the semi-final that year.

South Korea will obviously not be reaching the semi-final of this year’s World Cup so Son has two further ‘escape routes’ if he wishes to avoid national service.

The first of these is the 2018 Asian Games, due to take place in Indonesia in August and September later this year. Technically these games are restricted to players under the age of 23, but three over-age players are permitted and Son, as the current poster boy of South Korea, would be expected to fill one of these slots. The unfortunate thing here is that Son should already be exempt from national service as South Korea won the gold medal in the 2014 competition but, frustratingly, he did not take part in those games so exemption was not granted to him. Why did he not take part I hear you ask? Because his club at the time, Bayer Leverkusen, refused to allow him to participate. Furthermore, as FIFA do not acknowledge the Asian Games, Leverkusen escaped reprimand for their actions.

The second ‘escape route’ is the 2019 Asian Cup, due to take place in the United Arab Emirates in January and February next year. Unlike the 2014 Asian Games, Son did participate in the 2015 competition where South Korea made it to the final only to suffer the heartbreak of defeat to Australia. Son scored a 90th minute equaliser to send the tie into extra time, but Australia went on to win 2-1 and be crowned champions. So near and yet so far.

It is rumoured that there are legal loopholes that Son could exploit, due to the length of time he has spent living in Europe, but when Park Chu-young pulled such a trick in 2012 it did not go down well with the South Korean public and his popularity suffered heavily as a result. Sonny does not strike me as the sort of person who’d go down this route anyway, so if he wants to see his contract with the club extended it looks like he’s going to have to win gold at one of the two forthcoming tournaments. As it is clearly in Tottenham’s best interests not to see him called up for national service I’d be very surprised indeed if the club did a Leverkusen and refused to allow him to participate.

I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing Son the very best in both competitions as, not only is he a great character to have around the place, he’s also pretty useful when it comes to playing soccerball.

We’re gonna win the tie, We’re gonna win the tie

Please close your eyes.
Picture Harry Kane, in our red away kit, blue Captain’s armband, standing opposite Vladimir in exactly 12 days’ time.
No, No, Close your eyes again. I know this is tough, really tough, but stick with it.
Putin says something magnanimous and congratulatory. “Well Done, you deserve it. Especially you.”
As they parade round the pitch, there’s a moment when all of our lads are together. Kaneinho, Eric, Dele, Danny, Tripps (not you, Bonzo) and they’ve got the precious in their hands.
OK, you’re back in the room. You’re now a non-smoker and you’re absolutely going to lose that weight.
But first things first. Colombia. They are totally going to mess with our heads, but these are young heads…maybe they can’t be messed with so much (I have a concern about Harry Maguire – looks like he might get a bit riled up). Maybe there won’t be any brain freezing as there was against Iceland. They looked like they’d downed a collective Slush Puppy all in one that night.
Tonight is the night. Biggest game of their lives so far.
Ron wrote this snippet a while back about his memories of early days supporting England:
“I went up to Scotland, I was about 13 or 14. It was the early sixties; it was a gift from my Dad. Hampden, like 100,000 fans, it seemed anyway. We had 6 players picked for that day. 3 on each Scotland and England but Mackay was injured (What Bremner could never do, of all things, boils did. I never understood that anyway) Bill Brown and John White made up our Scottish contingent and Greaves, Norman and Henry our English (its a faint memory anyway). I think it was a 1-1 draw.
The empty bottles of scotch rained down on us mind you.”
It’s this kind of dewy-eyed youthful exuberance we need. A time when people really were grateful for gruel, instead of sneering at it.
We need to B E L I E V E.

I’ve Lost That World Cup Feeling

Those of you whom have had the misfortune of reading any of the inane and largely pointless drivel I have inflicted upon the faithful readership of this and the ‘other place’ over the years may know two things about me:

① I’ve no interest in football, generally (outside of Spurs); and

② I’ve no interest in the World Cup (Internationals), particularly.

These statements are an accurate representation of my current position viz the beautiful game. But it wasn’t always like this. There was a time when the game of football held me in its thrall.

As we are in the middle of a World Cup finals right now, I will push club football to the side and share some of my memories of World Cups gone by.

I’m 48 years of age, which means that, including this WC, there have been twelve WC finals during my life-time (so far). Of these twelve only three have meant anything to me: ’82, ’86 and ’98.

Spain ’82 and Mexico ’86 occurred when I was at the height of my own playing powers; yes, that’s right, I peaked between the ages of 11 and 16. I completed missed Italia ’90 due to raves and bags of little white pills. By USA ’94 my life had changed beyond recognition and I was officially disconnected from the game. I rallied briefly for France ’98 but, alas, my love for the game was dead.

The truth is, I couldn’t tell you who the WC winners were, even in those years that I was engaged, but what I do remember, and this is the point of my post, are the myths and legends of the footballing demigods who graced the game with their outrageous skill and seemingly supernatural ability.

I was a little too young to appreciate the ’78 WC first hand, but I still remember the excitment I felt when I read about the Daniel Passarella and Mario Kempes WC final goal against the Dutch. Legends.

In ’82 I watched some of the games on our family’s first colour TV. Dad bought it from a neighbor ad it was already on the way out. The tube was shot so every game looked like it was played on Mars.

’82 was all about Brazil: Zico, Socrates, Eder, Falcao et al. Zico’s bicycle kick was something I practiced and practised and something I longed to do in a game. Watching that Brazil side play, and for me, Socrates’ slide rule passing filled me to bursting with excitement.

That side were beaten by Italy and Paolo Rossi, who had just returned from a ban for match fixing (?) and who went on to score six goals and win the Golden Boot.

’86 was all about Maradona, of course. And then there was Platini …

’98, for me, was Brazil’s Dunga, and France’s Zidane. I haven’t forgotten Ronaldo …

I’m tailing off as the weight of my Chinese meal begins to take effect and my interest wains…

No doubt there are other genuine WC legends that I’ve missed, some of whom may have played post ’98 and who may be able to excite the senses in the way my picks did for me.

Who are yours, and why?

Sat Nav says Turn Letf…

 

So here we are, we’ve played two, won two and now find ourselves at the summit of our World Cup group, how very quare.

Tonight we go into our last game of the group stage against the mighty waffleites, and it’s winner takes, er, well all apparently. Both Engerland and Belgium find themselves in a position that can only be described as bizarre, whichever team tops the group by the end of play this evening will find themselves having the tougher route to the final. This just simply isn’t cricket!

All week we’ve heard from the players and managers of both camps claiming a win is imperative, whilst simultaneously justifying why neither will play their strongest teams. Speculation has been rife all week that both managers could make anything up to ten changes each for this eve’s veritable football extravaganza, this just confirms what I’ve always known, the plaudits of coming first are greatly exaggerated.

It’s at this point things start to take on a somewhat comical element, you first Sir, no please, you go first I insist, I couldn’t possibly, please be my guest, no no I insist, you first… If this scenario wasn’t strange enough in itself, we have the added ingredient of yellow cards accrued by each team, we’re currently winning this by one booking, or are we losing? Damned if I know.

So what type of game are we likely to witness this evening? Who knows. I can’t remember a scenario such as this before, where both teams are saying all the right things, yet appear to be doing their best to find a way to finish second in the group.

The build up to this game and the various permutations at play, could make this game an intriguing if not surreal affair, we’ll see this evening I guess.

COYS!! (the Belgium ones, no, er, wait, the English ones? Oh buggerit, I don’t know…

Can’t fookin’ wait!

While England were thrashing the mighty Panama two days ago, Nutty’s Nikon D700 with its Nikkor 35-200mm zoom lens was busy around the new White Hart Lane in…

DSC_3556

A good hour long walk on a blazing hot day garnered almost 100 beauty shots, a selection of which I present to you here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I can’t wait to meet you all here in this fabulous stadium next season.

Insert *Something Inspirational* here

“England expects that every man will do his duty.”

“Cry ‘Havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war! ”

“But if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive.”

The red tops will start to drag out all the cliches.   God forbid we should meet the Germans at any point further into the tournament.

But for now, it’s Panama, and the narrative is already being framed that this is abattle between the fledgling, skilful heroes of England and the dastardly, rough, Masters of the Dark Arts that are Panama.

To me, they looked like a typical South American side.  Very athletic, well-drilled defensively, with the ability to break and get up the field quickly.  Just the type of side that might cause England a few problems.

The saving grace for this England squad, which might also perversely be its downfall later in the tournie, is that they are so inexperienced.  They haven’t been imbued with the fear of failing for their country as so many have been before.  The average number of caps per player, for all the squads attending the finals, is 34 (33.7 rounded). England have attained, on average, just 20.

They played with real belief for 25 mins or so against Tunisia, before retreating into their shell a little – not helped by Dele Alli being at around 50% for 60 mins of the game.  Why Southgate didn’t sub him is beyond me.

Rashford looks great to me.  Give the bloke a start and help him to build into the tournament.  He’s a game-changer.  Lingaard is frustrating: plenty of good runs but not enough end product.  Sterling is the same.  Can rip a defence part but finishing or picking the right pass is patchy at best.  I don’t like Walker at RCB but I’m happy Tripps is getting game time.

Anyway, I’ll be on here later for the game and hope to see you here.

Tasty Danish Pastry

 

Our Number 23, the metronome of our side.  Here he is playing in Red, which is an affront to all decent humans, but we wish him well all the same.

 

Let’s hope he can answer all the naysayers and critics with a MOTM performance, topping the match-winning assist he managed last time out.

 

Follow that with a nice fat contract extension and we’ll be golden.

We’re Vile!

Well, at least according to the Snowflake-in-Chief.

Meanwhile, Gareth has decided to start the diving plastic gangsta Dele…clearly hoping that he’ll do something worthwhile during the 30 minutes that Opta’s DEFINING METRIC™️ clearly demonstrates he only ever shows up for. Another mug professional manager who’s had the wool pulled over his eyes by this lazy wastrel.

Having said that, if Southgate goes with Hendo over Eric, maybe he isn’t as smart as all that. Word is, he’s also playing Ashleeeey over Roseeeey. Make of that what you will. Maybe he wants a slightly more solid base so that his Front 4 can have truly have the freedoms to attack! attack! attack!

Finally, England expects…and OneOfOurOwn will deliver. Not that he’ll get much praise for saving our arses again.

Enjoy, wherever you are.

Happy Favver’s Day

Solo Mackay

Dads, eh?

We’ve all had at least one. I had several, none of them much cop if I’m truthful. Now a stepdad to 3 and dad to 1, and also to this young pup, it’s pretty much the toughest but most worth it job I’ve had.

Anyways, wherever you are and however you’re spending today (watching football with your favourite food and booze, I hope), let me wish you a good day with some happy memories from the past and good times in the present.

You’re all good eggs from my perspective.

SpurAndy’s Bubblicious bloeug

 

The Boy in The Bubble

The thought occurred to me whilst having a cup of afternoon tea and tiffin that we, the football fan, live in a bubble (herein called The Bubble). Yes I hear you say, an outstanding epiphany that only Tibetan monks who have trained under the Lama could ever hope to achieve.

Allow me to digress at this point if I may but there’s a little known fact that the Dalai Lama is vegetarian. Every other day. The alternate days he eats meat. This could be why the chant ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ was originally called Omnivore Pass me the Ham. Sorry bout that but the first bit is apparently true. Who’d have thunk it.

Anyway, back to The Bubble. This Bubble transcends all other bubbles in the known universe. Unlike other bubbles The Bubble has only one immutable law which is that the inhabitants of The Bubble (Bubblians) dictate that all members must have an overwhelming and insatiable desire for silverware in the arena of Association Football. Law (1a) goes further to state that any Bubblian not pledging complete and undying fealty to the Association Football and not sacrificing all their worldly goods is deemed to be of lower order and worthy only to have insults and oaths hurled at him/her for ever more. They are to be shunned and cursed within an inch of their miserable, pointless lives.

Bubblians have little or no understanding that total, undying, everlasting commitment to The Association Football is not a given for all who inhabit the Association Football sphere.  Of course, when I say sphere I really mean 2 dimensional surface.  The Bubblians expect that every last grote must be subsumed into the quest for shiny keepsakes to be admired and lasciviously leered at like Stringfellow used to with a new exotic dancer.

The reality is of course that the world and the vast majority of its denizens spins its way round the cosmos not caring a jot whether [insert name here] club has bought a new striker (who isn’t really a striker but more like a winger that inverts far too often). And even less that the fans of [insert name here] club are happy/miserable/undecided/confused as to said purchase of a striker (who isn’t really a striker but more like a winger that inverts far too often). They don’t understand or appreciate the nuances of the 3-3-1-3 formation played by Ajax in the 94/95 season. The tactical genius of the 3-6-1 formation employed by Australia under their erstwhile manager Gus Hidinck in 2006.  Indeed which Bubblian can forget where they were the first time they saw the 3-6-0 lineup, otherwise known as the ‘false nine’. Ahhh, it seems like only yesterday. In fact in cosmological terms it was only yesterday, at the 2010 World Cup that old Vicente Delboy for Espanya produced that rabbit out of the hat with Cesc Fibreglass playing the false nine role to devastating effect (the little barsteward).

So there we have it. The Bubble, colonised by the fair minded, the rational, the non self-entitled. Woe betide anybody, in whatever position of power in the Association of Football who takes advantage of these righteous people by not giving all their worldly goods in the pursuit of an electro-plated, inscribed receptacle that’s of absolutely no use to man nor beast that doesn’t reside in The Bubble.

World Cup 2018

Who’s in? Who’s out?

How much/little do you care this time round?

I find myself with a little frisson of excitement building, not specifically about England and our chances, but more that, in amongst a lot of the dross and the boring, safe, tactical games that often plague the thing, there are almost always a few plucky teams who come to enjoy their 15 minutes of World Cup fame. These lot tend to play with a freedom that actually generates some excitement.

Blessed as I am with some form of early onset dementia, or a necessity to remember other stuff, I can rarely recall any information or statistics of the payers and teams who are in the pursuit of the Jules Rimet. Of course, there are some images seared into the psyche, but generally it all ends up being a bit of a blur.

Anyways, how are you approaching this year’s edition of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’? With fear and loathing? Or with squeals of delight?