Day: August 12, 2011

And Then There Were Eight: The Under-20 World Cup

Despite the fears that I, among others, expressed about England’s fate in their Under-20s World Cup last-16 encounter with Nigeria, it turned out that you could say: “England could have won”, out loud, in public, and not be immediately fitted up for a white, long-sleeved jacket. Blackpool’s Matt Phillips was the one England player of which most observers had heard. And he employed his direct running style to good effect against a Nigerian team hamstrung by nerves, a bobbly pitch and good English defending. It was a shame, therefore, that Phillips’ target, every time he got into a decent shooting position, appeared to be Venezuela. He had good chances at either end of the match. And while the suspicion lingers that an England equaliser would just have induced a second goal from the Flying Eagles, there was evidence among the other seven knock-out ties that it might have induced panic, not least from a remarkable second half in host nation Colombia’s 3-2 win over Costa Rica. Deservedly one-up after a highly watchable hour’s football, during which both sides hammered the crossbar from distance (“kissed the horizontal” – Eurosport’s Dan O’Hagan) Colombia were knocked out of their stride by John Ruiz’s well-taken equaliser. I scoffed at O’Hagan’s suggestion that, within a minute of Ruiz’s strike, Costa Rica looked “taller, stronger, brighter.” “Especially,” I noted down dismissively on my Woolworths (Worth...

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The Twohundredpercent pre-season previews: Premier League kits

No self-respecting football supporter would be seen without their team’s 2011/12 shirt on the terraces this season. What’s wrong with you? Don’t love your club enough to spend 114 quid on a polyester nightmare? Actually, kit design has improved immeasurably in recent years. Which is why it’s a real pity that this year’s offerings are beginning to show little signs that 1990s excess is starting to creep back in. God help a world where 1990s fashion starts to become desirably retro. In the unlikely event that anyone would want to wear any of these 20 recycled plastic abortions from...

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