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Month: June 2010

The England Obituary, Part Two: What The Papers Said (And Didn’t Say)

As some of you may have noticed, England were knocked out of the weekend in just about the most emphatic way possible last weekend. Over the next couple of days, each of the five regular Twohundredpercent writers will be offering their own take on this failure. In the second of this brief series, Ian King looks at the media’s reaction to the defeat and the search for someone to blame, and reaches the conclusion that whilst the fourth estate may have reached a degree of consensus about who’s to blame, they seem unlikely to get anywhere near the truth. There is a line in the film “This Is Spinal Tap” in which the band visits the grave of Elvis Presley, and when they ponder that The King’s death puts everything into perspective, singer David St Hubbins concludes that it is “too much fucking perspective”. It didn’t take very long after England’s thrashing by Germany last weekend for the inquest to begin, and it took even less time for the inquest to begin to assume many of  the characteristics of a pogrom. Within about forty-eight hours, the voices of reason and moderation were being shouted down by those of extremism but, then again, what else could we expect from a press that has seemed to be virtually incapable of reasoned debate for as long as anyone can remember? In the...

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The England Obituary, Part 1: Do England Need An English Manager?

To fill the void caused by the World Cup rest days before the quarter-finals (I’ve never fully worked out if the rest is for us or them), over the next two days here on Twohundredpercent our writers have been looking at where they thought it all went wrong for England this summer. This will be immediately followed by shooting some fish in a barrel. First up is Dotmund, wondering whether or not things would or could have been better with an English coach.

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World Cup 2010: Spain 1-0 Portugal

I’m not sure what channel I’m watching but it’s not one of ours. The pundits sound refreshing. There’s a Scotsman who looks a bit like Hansen but uses verbs and sounds interested. In fact, it’s as if it is Hansen but he’s next to proper pundits, so he has to raise his game so as not to sound lazy and under-informed. Alongside him is a nicely understated Dutchman who is always to the point. He admires the Spanish not simply because “they’ve got Torres,” but because “there are always two options for the man with the ball… it’s not about the man with the ball if he has no options.” Simple logic. I’m not even pining for Lee Dixon, the best the Beeb has to offer. And on the end is an American fellow with a German sounding name but a broader Californian accent than even the state’s governor himself. Proper broadcast journalist, too. He has a take on Fernando Torres’s fitness because “I spoke to Torres.” Can’t imagine Alan Shearer would even try. Unfortunately, though, whatever channel this is has had to buy in the BBC’s match coverage – journalistic budgets aren’t what they were. And so we’re soon in the company of Jonathan Pearce and Mark Lawrenson, the comedy double act with two straight men; Lawrenson possibly one of the reasons music hall died. Pearce avoids the...

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At Last, The Penalty Shoot-Out Arrives

Although so many of the normal constituents of a World Cup finals – complaints about the ball, Sepp Blatter contradicting himself in public, Cristiano Ronaldo’s pained expression & enormous Adam’s apple combo, England getting dumped on their backsides – have been present and correct, it had begun to feel as if something was missing from the 2010 World Cup finals.  The penalty shoot-out. In fact, until this afternoon only one second round match had even gone to extra-time from the six already played. Over the last few days, it has at times felt as if this stage of the competition, a straight ninety minutes with no need to worry about permutations and what might be happening elsewhere seems to have suit the strongest teams, and the wins for Germany, Argentina and Brazil had the air of a stroll in the park about them. This afternoon, however, two well-matched teams played each other and we finally got a battle to the very end. Paraguay and Japan didn’t set the world alight with the one hundred and twenty minutes of normal football that they played, but they did at least manage to bring the world some tension with the penalty shoot-out that followed. There are good penalty shoot-outs and relatively dull shoot-outs, but there is no doubting that they are all moments of stomach-clenching apprehension. Even if you are watching the...

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World Cup 2010: Paraguay 0-0 Japan (Paraguay win 5-3 on penalties)

They say that consistency helps in football. Especially in terms of number of players you use. This seems to be one of Japan’s tactics, as they enter this game with the same XI that began each of the group games with. Paraguay give first starts to Edgar Benitez and Nestor Ortigioza, as they become the sixteenth and seventeenth players to start for the South Americans (with two others having played as substitutes). Ortigoza makes his World Cup debut, leaving Dario Veron and Rodolfo Gamarra as the only two outfield Paraguayans to see any action. This is an ideal game to see if consistency is a better plan than rotation, as history sees these two sides equally matched. The World Rankings see Paraguay fourteen places ahead of Japan, but the South American teams get a slight advantage in the World Rankings due to the number of World Cup Qualifying games that they play – Japan may play more friendlies, but these as less valuable than competitive games (especially World Cup games) as far as FIFA’s rankings. A more reliable barometer is the head to head games between the two. The two nations didn’t meet until 1995, when Paraguay won in Tokyo. However since, then it’s Played 5 Japan won 1, Paraguay won 1, Drawn 3. These teams are nicely matched. In fact, maybe they’re too matched, as they cancel each...

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