Category: Latest

Broadcast News

Less than a week to go, and the second most important debate of the World Cup has already started. Which side are you watching it on? In the early stages of the tournament, there’s no debate over this. We switch channels back and forth between the BBC and ITV depending on where the match is, but as the tournament goes on you’ll find them going in competition – particularly on the day of the final. And if England were to make it that far, we’d have all-out civil war on their hands. It’s an important decision. For most of us, it’ll decide what our experience of the 2006 World Cup is. Don’t believe me? Okay – try listening to “Nessun Dorma” and tell me that you’re not transported back to those balmy summer evenings when England almost chanced their way into the final. So, let’s have a quick look at what they’re offering up this summer: Commentators: The BBC, obviously have Motty. Good old Motty. The elder statesman of British sports broadcasting. For a while, John Motson sounded as if he was losing it. During the 2002 World Cup, he befuddled the entire nation with increasingly tenuous “breakfast” jokes, culminating with a moment that will mar all future TV World Cup Goals compilations – shouting “YOU CAN SMASH THEM NOW! HE’S SCORED!” as David Beckham cracked home the winning...

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Looking Into My Crystal Ball…

I had kind of promised myself that I wouldn’t do this, but everybody else is and I think that my opinion may be as valid as the rest of the world’s. So, with no further ado, here’s a quick preview of the group stages for this year’s World Cup. It’s worth pointing out that the draw for the finals this year was a weird one. there’s no automatic candidate as a “Group Of Death”, and the vast majority of the top seeds should sail through the group stages. That said, there’s always one team that fails to live up to expectations. Group A: Germany, Poland, Costa Rica & Ecuador – The hosts couldn’t have asked for a better group than this (although they’ll be obviously concerned about hooliganism prior to their match against Poland). Ecuador & Costa Rica are both fairly weak teams (the Ecuadorians are the weakest of the South American qualifiers), and the Germans should ease their way past both of them. It could turn out to be a straightforward shoot-out on goal difference for first place between Germany & Poland, as nerves could get the better of the Germans when they play their neighbours. That said, though, Costa Rica have made fools of European teams in previous tournaments and it could all be turned on it’s head if they (as I think they’re capable) get a...

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England 6 Jamaica 0

What did I say? Hmm? Peter Crouch. I don’t think there’s too much doubt now that he’ll be starting next week against Paraguay – not, of course, that he’ll necessarily finish the match. All in all, this was another satisfactory day at the office for England. The point has been made several times that England should, perhaps, have set themselves a stiffer test for their final friendly, but there is, of course, a reason for the selection of Jamaica. England had never played against a Caribbean team before, and they clearly felt the need to play against a team of a similar tempo. We’re not the only ones to do it. Sweden recently played Ireland (and, it should be noted, got a sound 3-0 thrashing), whilst Paraguay played Wales. To the extent that friendlies can be useful, this was not merely a pointless training exercise. For the first ten minutes, it didn’t look much like England were going to run up a thrashing against a decent enough team (Jamaica were rated 46 in the latest FIFA rankings – where they’ll be next time around is anybody’s guess). There was certainly no being “chilled to the core” as they clattered into England time after time. Once England settled, though, it was much more comfortable. Lampard’s finish was definite, from yet another perfect Beckham free-kick. For the second goal, John Terry...

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I’m unsure of what to make over this Peter Crouch business. Obviously, this sort of thing is all very amusing, but I can’t help but be concerned that he’s just giving people another stick to hit him over the head with if it all goes wrong for him this summer. At least he has almost certainly done something that will land himself a very lucrative advertising contract once the finals are over. Without wishing to come over all Mystic Meg or anything, I’m already having visions of a Pizza Hut advert with him dancing like a robot in it. Possibly while Rio Ferdinand wees into a specimen bottle in the background. At the moment, it’s all going very well for him. When he was thrown on against Argentina in December, you could almost visibly see their defenders looking at each other as if to say, “what… the… FUCK… is that?”, but he had the required effect, providing sufficient confusion to give Michael Owen the space to score the two late goals to win the match. He has visibly grown in confidence since then, and has seen off many of his detractors with solid displays for both Liverpool and England since then. I’m still not completely sold on him – £7m is a lot of money for a striker that only managed ten goals last season, but several things strike...

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Kitted Out

I intend to, at varying points throughout the couple of weeks before the tournament begins, to touch upon the varying paraphernalia surrounding the World Cup. The shirts, the balls, the goals, the nuts and bolts that hold the whole shebang together. The more you think about it, the more important the kits are. One of my primary recollections of watching England in the early 1980s is this shirt. I was ten years old. I didn’t know any better. I thought England dressed like that all the time. I didn’t realise that this shirt (made by Admiral) was something of an aberration in a long line of plain white shirts. What you’ll probably find at some point, in the run-up to this year’s finals, will be an eight page article about the team kits, possibly with a running commentary from somebody like Wayne Hemingway saying things like, “well, this year’s Togo shirt is very colourful, but it could really do with leather elbow pads”. You can see all this year’s kits here, and I think that, for once, most of the manufacturers have made rather a good job of it. The curse of the modern football kit is what I would describe as the “identikit”. Big manufacturers, most notably Nike, would design one shirt, and simply alter the colours to suit the appropriate countries. This reached a nadir in Japan/South...

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