Day: September 10, 2008

Match Of The (Mid)Week – Croatia 1-4 England

Goodness. Well, I don’t think that any of us were expecting that. The build up had been about as horrific as could be. A terrible performance against the Czech Republic that was not masked by a flukey, last minute equaliser in front of a booing crowd. Then, a disjointed performance against an Andorran team that is about as limited as international teams come. There were rumours of discontent within the England squad, and the sense of unease was further strengthened by Croatia’s workmanlike win against Kazakhstan at the weekend. The omens were bad. This had all the required ingredients of being a potential humiliation for an England team that has been stuttering for over two years, now. For once, however, England managed to not live down to expectations, and managed their best performance since they beat Germany in Munich seven years ago almost to the week. For those of us that had confidently predicted a completely abject England capitulation, the first half wasn’t as bad as it might we expected. True enough, Rooney and Lampard were both initially as anonymous as the invisible man on a reconnaissance mission for the CIA, but Heskey looked surprisingly unlumbering up front and the Croatian defence occasionally looked panicked when England moved forward. When they broke, they broke fluidly, and gave Croatia a couple of scares before they scored after twenty-six minutes. The...

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Worcester Sauce

On the day that the England team are due to get a pasting in a World Cup qualifier, it feels apt that we should be dropping in on another team in crisis with a link to St George. St George’s Lane, Worcester, was the venue of one of the FA Cup’s greatest upsets. Liverpool weren’t quite the giants that one might expect when they visited Worcester City for an FA Cup Third Round match in January 1959. The match was postponed initially because of a frozen pitch, but over 15,000 people packed into the tiny ground on a Thursday afternoon for the rescheduled fixture. Worcester raced into a 2-0 lead before Liverpool pulled a goal back, but the goal was no more than a consolation. Worcester City held on to win 2-1, and went on to lose 2-0 against Sheffield United in the next round. Liverpool sacked their manager and replaced him with a certain Bill Shankly. Just over five years later, they were crowned as champions of the Football League. Fifty years on, and nothing much has changed for Worcester City. They still play at St George’s Lane, in the Conference South, into which they were transferred from the Conference North at the end of last season. The club, however, has become the centre of a widespread protest by supporters over how it is being run, with a...

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Share & Share Alike

Liverpool supporters must be looking at The City Of Manchester Stadium and wondering where it all went wrong. So keen were they to jump into bed with the first “billionaires” to come along with a sackful of promises, that they found themselves landed with Gillett & Hicks. All they had to do was wait a year and a half and they might have ended up with Abu Dhabi United in charge, throwing money around like confetti and promising to build them a new stadium in space, or something. As it stands, though, Gillette and Hicks are struggling. They borrowed heavily to acquire the club in the first place, and the plans for their new stadium have now been postponed by another year as they seek to secure the funding that they need to build it. With Everton also running into problems over their proposed new stadium in Kirkby, some have started to talk again of what had become the great unmentionable of football on Merseyside: ground-sharing. On the surface, it seems like a solution which, whilst not ideal, could provide a handy get-out clause for the problems that both clubs currently face. By pooling their resources, Liverpool and Everton could potentially build a stadium to rival Old Trafford in size and stature. Supporters of such a plan look to the continent, where, for example, Milan and Inter have shared...

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