Thursday, June 23, 2016

Euro 2016 Part 4 - Croatia Make Changes and Beat Spain, England Make Changes and are Shite

Heeeeeeere's Shane !!!

Sunday 19th June

Group A got us underway with the third round of matches which are of course take place simultaneously so no one can fix anything. Well, that's what you would think anyway but with France playing Switzerland and a draw being the perfect result for both countries, it was no surprise to me anyway that this game was completely boring with Pogba and Payet nearly scoring by accident when they rattled the woodwork. Payet's effort in particular was ridiculous after Sissoko had powered down the right wing and crossed for the West Ham man to meet first time with a side foot volley and crash it against the bar. French manager Deschamps seems to change five or six players for every game and they seem no closer to knowing what their best side is. They really don't look like the kind of team that can win the tournament. Switzerland were as boring as you'd expect with most of the attention being on their shirts which rip with any contact with an opposition player.

Romania against Albania was much more interesting with both teams wasting chances in the first half particularly the Albanian left back who managed to miss an open goal from about 5 yards. Albania have never scored in a major tournament and that just about sums up why. However, five minutes later and a cross from the right wing by their outstanding player Memushaj, a horrible misjudgement by the keeper and a header by Sidiku and the Albanians were one up at half time. The second half followed a pattern of Romania possession and Albania breaks but apart from one effort which hit the bar, Romania never really looked like scoring and in fact the Albanians looked more likely to add to their lead. I was glad Albania held it out to win because you could see in the faces of the players and fans that it was the best moment that they had ever had in their lives. With football being the cynical money ridden game that it is these days, such moments should be appreciated. The game and the honour of representing their country and doing well means more to these players than money ever could. Fair play to them and I hope they win the third place lottery and to get through to the last 16 though it has to be said that with three points and a -2 goal difference, the chances are against them. They are infinitely more likeable than fucking Switzerland and France.

Monday 20th June

In the build up to the England game against Slovakia, two things that were entirely predictable happened. Firstly, news that we were to make six changes leaked out in the press. Secondly, Chairman of the FA, Greg Dyke couldn't keep his fucking mouth shut regarding whether or not Hodgson would get a new contract. Having opened his mouth, he talked bollocks about England's target in this tournament. Apparently, losing in a gallant unlucky manner in the quarter-final is okay. Roy is apparently going to be judged on where we finish in the tournament. This is bullshit as a manager should be judged on the decisions he makes and whether he is developing the team in the way that everybody wants it to go and if he gets the best out of the resources at his disposal. Granted, if we win it it's going to be very hard to get rid of him but he fails in almost every respect.

The six changes included Clyne and Bertrand coming in for Rose and Walker. Sturridge and Vardy were always going to start a head of Sterling and Kane but the midfield changes were the worrying ones for me with Rooney and Alli stepping down in favour of Wilshire and fucking Henderson.  Neither are 100% fit and Henderson was never good enough in the first place.

To the game and England started on the front foot and it was pretty clear pretty quickly that Slovakia had come for a draw.  It’s a fault of the 24 team competition that they only need a point and they were going to attempt to bore the arse off everyone to get it.  OK – what have England got to break them down?  Lallana got himself into decent areas a couple of times but smashed one straight down the keepers throat and then screwed one wide in pathetic predictable fashion.  Henderson and Wilshere were both giving the ball away for fun but out of nowhere, Wilshere pinged a great ball over the top for Vardy who was away from Skrtel and running at full pelt before seeing his shot bounce off the keeper who had narrowed the angle.  A succession of Henderson free kicks and corners failed to beat the first man whilst a nation screamed ‘useless fucker’ at their television screens.  Wilshere was looking like he was trying too hard and just kept giving the ball away and the harder he tried, the worse he got.  He looks like he hasn’t played for a while – I wonder why we brought him here?

Meanwhile, Wales were doing to Russia what we should have done to them and burying them.  Ramsey had given them an early lead when Allen slotted him though to score easily and any chance Russia had of giving their nutters something to riot over was extinguished as Bale somewhat fortuitously got tackled and the Russian tackler poked the ball through to Neil Taylor who managed to score on the rebound despite looking absolutely petrified at the prospect of having a shot.

Back in St.Etienne, Clyne was doing well down the right and nearly scored early in the second half but he took it too close as well and the ball ricochet’s off the keeper and away.  There was a heart attack moment when Slovakia broke and got a cross in from the left and Smalling tried to be a clever bollocks and chest it back to Hart and nearly succeeded in giving it straight to Mak who only needed to get a toe to it and we’d have been behind.  Rooney came on for Wheelchair on 55 and all the good work he’d done in the last two games was forgotten (by him) as he tried to run headlong into the Slovak defence who were having none of it.  Dier played a superbly weighted straight ball over the defence which Sturridge latched on to but he played an airshot when any contact would have meant a goal.  Alli came on for Lallana and nearly scored with his first touch as he met a cross on the stretch and it was going past the keeper but Skrtel got a toe to it to keep it out.  That was it as far as testing the keeper was concerned – lots of huff and puff, Kane came on for the ineffective Sturridge and again looked sluggish and we were never going to score.  Wales were 3-0 up against Russia with Bale having poked another past the keeper who was once again left totally exposed by a lack of defenders.

A Meeting of Useless Twats

95 minutes and it’s all over and all you can say is that we’ve qualified from a really easy group and we’ve come second behind Wales.  Yep, Wales.  Fair play to them for beating the two teams that England failed to beat but we showed how average they are when we beat them and we’ve somehow managed to sink to a lower level.  Pathetic.  Don’t get me wrong, the team that finishes top of any group deserves to be there and Wales have done exceptionally well – don’t forget they were only a minute or so away from getting a point out of the England game as well and we were only the same couple of minutes away from finishing 3rd.  In truth, at this point of time it probably doesn’t matter too much that we’re in the other half of the draw we were expecting to be in now.  We are likely now to play Hungary or Iceland and then France whereas Wales will get maybe Croatia or Czech Republic, then Belgium. Who knows though, much to be decided later.

The changes made are a convenient stick for the media to hit Hodgson with.  In my opinion – the point is not that he made the changes but that he still gives the impression of just making it up as he goes along.  All the qualifying games, warm-up games and the three games so far in the tournament have been really random from him.  There doesn’t seem to be ‘a plan’, there seems to be ‘many plans’ and he picks random bits of all of them and throws them together and hopes for the best.  The squad selection came back to haunt him as well – where were the wide players to stretch the game out and maybe create something – no option of a Townsend or a Walcott.  Just Sterling who has had a terrible season and is obviously shot to bits.  What was the point of bringing Kane on for Sturridge at the end there when we were crying out for creativity – take Henderson off and put Barkley on?

From a Saints perspective, Ryan Bertrand was average at best – clattered Pekarik in the face and then got booked for a rugby tackle.  It’s a shame because Rose hasn’t been fantastic and Bertrand could have made a strong case for a start in the 2nd Round match.  The England left is a problem though because further up the pitch, Sterling was dreadful in the game and a half he played and Lallana keeps drifting infield.  In all three games so far, it’s our right back who’s been the main outlet and a lot of that is to do with the fact that we always seem to go that way and the nominal left sided midfielder seems to be unable to hold a wide position and just drifts inside.

Eric Dier was really good again and Vardy tried hard but there were a number out there who were just painful - Henderson, Wilshere, Sturridge to name but three.  Lallana looked good in patches but the glaring, horrible achilles heel is his finishing which is just shocking and he may find himself under pressure from Ross Barkley for a place simple because he never seriously works the keeper.  Well he would find himself under pressure if Hodgson trusted Barkley, which he doesn’t.

Who knows what Hodgson is going to come up with for the next game?  I’m guessing that Rose and Walker will be back and two of the midfield three will be Rooney and Dier.  It’ll probably be Alli and Lallana in front of them and two from Kane, Vardy and Sturridge up front.  Having seen Sturridge play from the start today and Kane’s general struggle, I’d be tempted to start Vardy and Rashford.

Tuesday 21st June

Northern Ireland against Germany it was basically a defence versus attack training game. Germany took the lead on about 20 minutes when Gomez scored. Irish keeper Michael McGovern had no chance of saving it because one of his own defenders was lying on top of him. When defenders weren't lying on top of him McGovern was absolutely fantastic and made save after save after safe to keep the score at 1-0. Northern Ireland for their part created absolutely nothing but the 1-0 defeat kept them in third place and so with a brilliant chance of making the last 16. You can discuss all you like the format of the tournament (I think it’s bollocks by the way) and how a team with one win and two defeats can get through but the bottom line is, everyone knew the rules at the start and also, Northern Ireland have had a much harder group than England have had for example. For what it's worth, the Germans still don't look right. Even with a proper centre forward playing today they still hardly ripped up any trees. A normal German side would've won this about 4-0. No doubt they will still win the tournament because they are annoying bastards like that.

Superman, Coming Through

In the other game Poland beat Ukraine 1-0 with a decent goal by Blaszczykowski.  It was another game where the highly rated Lewandowski totally failed to perform again including this time missing an absolute sitter from about 6 yards which he side footed over the bar. Ukraine have been pretty bloody useless and one rule I will moan about is the head-to-head rule which meant that Ukraine had absolutely nothing to play for in this game. Even if they won seven nil, they still wouldn't have finished above Northern Ireland because they lost to them so they had absolutely nothing to play for whatsoever.

In the evening Spain played a much changed Croatia and took an early lead when they come after the defence open and Morata tapped in. Croatia refused to lie down now and were encouraged by some sloppy play at the back by the Spanish. De Gea played one of his defenders in the shit and they lost the ball on the edge of their own box and the following shot hit the bar and bounce down so they got lucky. They weren't as lucky as half time approached as Perisic got down the left and fired over across which Kalinic flicked in at the near post to make it 1-1. Spain were awarded a penalty in the second half when Morata was pulled to the ground and up stepped Sergio Ramos. It's ridiculous that with all their technical ability, they have the centre back taking the penalty but anyway, it was ridiculous for a different reason as he hit the shot and the keeper saved it or should I say he charged it down because he was about 5 yards away from Ramos when he hit the penalty. What the fuck the referees assistants behind the goal are doing I have absolutely no idea. They don't give fouls for shirt pulling at corners etc, they don't give handballs, they are not needed for goal-line incidents because we have goal-line technology and now we can have add keeping goalkeepers on the line at penalties to the list of things that these assistants do not do. They are a waste of fucking time.

How Many Reasons to Retake This?

Anyway, back came Croatia and created a chance for Perisic which he absolutely buried to make it 2-1. You get the impression that del Bosque and the Spanish didn't really care. However this defeat meant that Croatia won the group and went into the easier top half of the draw whereas Spain dropped into the half of the draw with France, England, Germany and Italy, who thanks to the head-to-head rule have already won the group and have absolutely nothing to play for in their last game. It's amusing because the drawer was obviously rigged to give France a relatively hassle free journey to the semi-final but the organisers and Platini wouldn't have banked on two of the teams who could potentially beat France, in Spain and England, fucking it up and finishing second in their group.

The Czech Republic were expected to beat Turkey in the other match in the group but the opposite happened with Turkey running out convincing 2-0 winners. This put them on three points and with a decent shout of making the last 16 but they were going to have to wait until the last round of great matches on Wednesday to find out if they've made it or not. Personally, having seen them be absolutely shite in the game against Spain, I kind of hope they don't make it.

Wednesday 22nd June

Portugal’s third game against Hungary was of course all about Ronaldo. That's just the way he would've wanted it. He made sure it was all about him by snatching a microphone off of a reporter and throwing it into a lake the day before the game. The build-up was all about him because of that and because he was going to be become the first player to score in four Euros Finals. So fucking what! Anyway, Portugal needed a win to be certain of progressing to the next round and it all looked fairly amusing when Hungary took the lead with Zoltan Gera drilling in from the edge of the box. They couldn't hold out til half time though and Ronaldo put Nani through to equalise. Hungary went back in front straight after half time as Dzsudzsák took advantage of some good fortune to score with a deflected drive that gave Patricio no chance at all. Unfortunately, bloody Ronaldo then decided to show up and got himself on the end of a cross from the right wing and produced a ridiculous black heeled flick to divert it past fatty Kiraly in the Hungarian goal. Having produced this finish, Ronaldo obviously expected Portugal to go on and win the game and the tantrum he threw when Dzsudzsák scored again via another deflection was quite hilarious in its petulance. Sadly, the shiny bastard scored again when he was left unmarked, free header, 3-3. Both teams were really trying to win for 80 minutes but they then settled for a draw and the last 10 minutes was played out with team with both teams just passing it amongst themselves. As the game ended, Iceland and Austria were drawing 1-1 so as it stood, Portugal were finishing second and playing England in the next round.

Iceland had taken the lead on 20 minutes through Bödvarsson and then defended whilst Austria desperately searched for the win they needed to stay in the competition. They equalised on the hour mark and that was it until the 94th minute when a breakaway goal which was finished off by Traustason will go down as one of the greatest commentary moments of all time as the man with the mic from Iceland completely lost his shit. By the end, the commentary resembled the famous scene in the Trainspotting movie involving Archie Gemmill scoring for Scotland against Holland in the 1978 World Cup. Aside from the hilarious commentary, this late goal was significant in that it changed the group positions around and England are now playing Iceland, whilst Portugal, in finishing third, have found themselves in the easier half of the draw but with Croatia to play next.

The biggest joke so far was Rio Ferdinand on ITV’s coverage, referring to Ronaldo as a great role model. This is absolute bollocks as he only gets away with his posturing because he is one of the best players in the world. If he wasn't there is no way he would get away with all the shit and complaining and generally making a team game all about him. He's a great player but he is a fucking bell end. Role model my arse.

The evening games were all about Republic of Ireland who for a game they had to win had been dealt a fairly favourable hand. Due to the head-to-head rule, Italy had already won the group and had absolutely nothing whatsoever to play for and they subsequently put out a completely changed team. Ireland rang the changes as well as Martin O'Neill realised that you are much more likely to win any game of football if Ciaran Clark is not in your starting 11. Italy looked disjointed throughout as you would expect but Ireland lacked the quality to take advantage even though they were the better side throughout. Hendrick smashed one narrowly wide and Duffy had a good header from a corner to tipped over the bar. The referee didn't seem to know what to do with this game at all as there were some quite ridiculous incidents of grappling in the penalty area's and because the referee didn't deal with it, it lead to flare-ups with Shane Long getting booked for basically screaming in the face of the Italian goalkeeper.

As the second-half progressed I could see no way Ireland were going to score but then they had the mother of all chances just after Insigne had hit the post for the Italians, as substitute Wes Hoolahan was presented with a ball about 15 yards out with a clear run on goal and he basically just passed it to the keeper in dreadfully shit fashion. Most of the time you wouldn't get a chance to make amends for that sort of crap but the next time at the Norwich man got the ball he curled a wonderful ball over the top of the Italian central defenders and Robbie Brady got there before the keeper to nod it into the empty net and they held out the last 10 minutes fairly comfortably.  It was an emotional end to the game with even Roy Keane having a tear in his eye and though I have reservations about the circumstances, Ireland beat who was in front of them which is all you can ever do and fair play to them.

Icelandic Commentator, England Next

The format of the competition meant that Ireland had all the cards in their favour with Italy not needing to give a shit about this game. I'm sure that Sweden would've liked to have played a second string Italian side as well and then they might have got through and Zlatan might have had another game to play at international level but he's gone now, retired after they limped to a 1-0 defeat to Belgium, courtesy of a fairly late goal by Nainggolan. So, Italy’s reward for winning the group is a game against Spain whereas Belgium go into the favourable top half of the draw for finishing second and a game against Hungary. Republic of Ireland get a day in the sun against France where they have the chance to really fuck things up for the hosts. Personally, I remember being in a Dublin pub watching when Thierry Henry pulled off an outrageous handball to knock Ireland out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. I'm sure that that will be even more motivation for the Irish to sort the French out.

The 24 team format is shite and so is the head-to-head rule for deciding who finishes where in the group.  They both decrease the motivation to attack and therefore lead to dull games with teams settling for a draw.  The last 10 minutes of the Portugal / Hungary game was horrible and the Italy situation in their last match do no good for anybody.  That said, it’s great to see teams who are not usually involved like Wales, Hungary, Iceland and Northern Ireland not only qualify for the tournament but progress through to the knockout rounds as well.  It’s been a good tournament so far.

As for the last 16, my predictions are for Poland to beat Switzerland with a goal from someone other than Lewandowski, Northern Ireland to beat Wales as Wales have to deal with being favourites and Steven Davis plays for Northern Ireland, Croatia to beat Portugal and Ronaldo to be a big shiny twat, France to beat Republic of Ireland with the help of a shitty refereeing decision, Germany to beat Slovakia because it’s Germany isn’t it, Hungary to beat Belgium as teamwork beats individualism, Italy to beat Spain with a defensive masterclass, and England to struggle like fuck to break down Iceland and manage it 1-0. If we don't manage to beat Iceland then the consolation will be that it is Roy Hodgson's last game in charge of the England national side, which regardless of how this tournament ends, should have happened to years ago.  Note to Greg Dyke – beating Iceland 1-0 does not keep the old goat in a job.

No time left for fucking around. It's the knockout stages. Bring it on

Round 3 Awards:

Best Team: Croatia
Best Player: Michael McGovern
Best Goal: Cristiano Ronaldo (flick)
Worst Team: Still Russia, Ukraine, Sweden
Worst Player: Jordan Henderson
Over Achievers: Iceland, Republic of Ireland
Most Overhyped: France
Worst Manager: Roy Hodgson, Greg Dyke
Biggest Prima Donna Twat: Cristiano Ronaldo

King: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Euro 2016 Part 3: Passionless England Beat Sheep Shaggers

No Words Gareth, No Words!

Wednesday 15th June

Today started with Russia against Slovakia in England's group. Everyone is hoping Russia get knocked out so there fans can all fuck off home and it was looking good as Slovakia were the better side and took the lead when Hamsik played a great ball over the top to Weiss and he made two Russian defenders look like twats before scoring with ease.just before half time they doubled their lead as a short corner was played to Hamsik who simply cut inside and lastly sure enough the far post. A brilliant goal but quite shocking defending again. The second-half continued in the same brain with Slovakia the better side and Russia doing absolutely nothing until out of nowhere they pulled one back with 10 minutes to go. The last 10 minutes was of course all played in the Slovakia penalty area but they hung on to win and the big fat Russian coach looked like he was about to have a heart attack. I'm sure they have a Siberian equivalent of BUPA because that's where you're going Fat boy.

Switzerland against Romania was basically the game to see who finishes second behind France and we are none the wiser are as it ended in a 1-1 draw. Romania took the lead through their second penalty of the tournament when Lichsteiner was penalised for shirt pulling and it couldn't happen to a nicer bloke. Stancu stuck it away once more. Both teams had and missed decent opportunities but it was eventually Switzerland who equalised after a corner was half cleared and Mehmedi smashed the shit out of it and it flew into the far corner of the net. Both of these teams are pretty dull and devoid of any personality. If they get through they will get knocked out in the last 16 and everyone will forget that they were even in the competition at all.

France against Albania was surprisingly even with both sides having chances to score in the first half. If anything, Albania had the better of it and hit the post from a massive bundle at the start of the second half. Giroud hit the post from a header and it looked like it was going to be 0-0 until a cross got tossed into the box and Griezmann put a header just inside the post. Then, on 96 minutes the scoreline was given a more flattering sheen for France as Payet again did well to beat two defenders inside the box and make room for himself before smashing it past the keeper. Albania are probably going out after two defeats but they've done pretty well and I don't think France are as good as everyone is making out even though they are two wins out of two and in the next round comfortably. Hopefully somewhere, Michel Platini is enjoying this on his TV in prison whilst his cell mate tries to search him to find where he hid all the money.

Thursday 16th June

It's time to put us through the pain of watching England again, this time against the Welsh. Roy Hodgson has predictably bottled making any tough decisions so we have to watch Sterling trying to have a good match for the first time since 2014. If Sterling managed to keep his place you could therefore guarantee that everyone else would as well.

There has been a lot of noise out of the Welsh camp this week mainly from the two stars Bale and Ramsey. If an Englishman spoke like that then we would be accused of arrogance of course but it's obviously fine if the Welsh say it, saying none of our players with getting their team (Bale) and outright saying that Wales are better than England (Ramsey). Reading between the lines I think they were trying to stop the lesser players in their team from having an inferiority complex. If not that then I have no idea what they were going to achieve by basically making comments that would do the England team talk for them.

From the start England looked up for it and Kane charged down a Williams clearance in the first minute. We had a glorious chance on five minutes as Kane won the ball and put Lallana away on the right and his cross was perfect for Sterling but the useless little fucker manage to put it over the bar from about 5 yards in a display of complete fucking uselessness, deciding to throw himself at the ball instead of just running into it and sidefooting it home.

Walker and Smalling are looking a bit suspect when put under any pressure at the back but luckily we're not having much defending to do. One definite improvement is that Kane is not taking corners. That job has gone to Captain Rooney and to be fair he is at least putting it into areas where some players can attack it including Kane of course. It really wasn't rocket science was it Roy?
Unfortunately, Kane is still on free kicks and one from a decent position about 25 yards out is smashed into orbit. That changed when Rose has a dive on the edge of the box and wins a free kick off of Ledley. Rooney pinged it in and Cahill heads it straight at Hennessy.

It all goes to shit as we approach half time when Rooney gets caught in possession 35 yards out and trashes Robson-Kanu in retaliation. Bale smashes the freekick straight and Hart makes a total bollocks of it and can only push it into the net by the post. The original free kick was about 3 yards from the post so this is a goalkeeping fuck up of the highest order to make it 1-0 to Wales from the first time they got in our penalty area. It's a good free kick by Bale and I guess that's what big players do, a moment of brilliance after doing fuck all for the entire match so far .

Roy, or more likely Gary Neville, rolled the dice at half time because we fucking had to and Kane and Sterling were hooked in favour of Sturridge and Vardy. Immediately England had more purpose with Sturridge dropping deep in almost playing a number 10 role and we equalised after 10 minutes when Sturridge's cross was accidentally headed into Vardy's pass by Ashley Williams and the Leicester man put it into the net whilst anyone who was blind appealed for offside. It was all England in the second half but play kept breaking down, either due to good Welsh defending or to Dele Alli having an absolute shocker. Surprisingly it wasn't Alli who came off but Lallana and on came Marcus Rashford. I bet there's never been a game in his entire career where Hodgson has made three attacking substitutions. Rashford did well without being spectacular but we arrived at the 90th minute still at 1-1 with Wales barely getting out of their half before Sturridge fed the ball into Vardy in the box and via Alli and a deflection it came back to Sturridge who hit it early at the near post and Hennessy couldn't keep it out and we all went fucking mental and I'll even forgive Sturridge his wanker dance. The celebrations of the goal certainly stuffed Bale's words about a lack of passion down his throat's and it was nice to see the expression on Aaron Ramsey's face as well as he'd been shit again and spent most of his time being a niggly little tosser. Get in there.

So, all is rosy in the garden. England are top of the group and virtually qualified for the next round. We need to put Slovakia away to win the group and we surely will as long as Hodgson learns the lessons from today and starts with Sturridge and Vardy. I would also give Ross Barkley again instead of Alli who was pretty poor all match. Not Henderson or Milner. I repeat not Henderson or Milner.

The answer to the question of how many Wales players would get in a combined team is one. Ramsay would get in the squad ahead of maybe someone like Milner and Henderson and Bale would get in the team somewhere but we'd expect him to do a little bit more then take a couple of free kicks. I'm sure that Chris Coleman is expecting him to do a little bit more as well.

Finally, a word for Wayne Rooney. He was absolutely fucking brilliant again today aside from giving away the freekick which Wales scored from. I didn't see him waste a pass and the best bit of the entire game for me was him screaming down the camera when England scored at the end. I've been a big critic in the past but he's been absolutely fantastic in the first two games.

Everyone thought that Northern Ireland were terrible in their first game and Michael O'Neill obviously agreed as he made five changes to the starting lineup. They certainly seem to be more up for it from the start against the Ukraine side who really don't look that good. A goalless first half that the Irish shaded was followed by Gareth McAuley getting his head on a Norwood free kick to put them one up. It wouldn't have felt like it to a Northern Ireland supporter but the rest of the game was Ukraine trying to break down a resolute defence and they just didn't have the capability to do it. Hughes and Evans at full-backs totally nullified the best two Ukraine players (Konoplyanka and Iarmalenko) and having a defied everything, including a bad weather break when hailstones were crashing down from the sky, Northern Ireland broke away up the right, a cross came in, a shot was blocked and there was Niall McGinn to make it 2-0 in the 95th minute. An absolutely brilliant result for Northern Ireland and even if they lose to Germany, they will still be finishing third in the group in all likelihood so will have a really decent chance of getting through.

The first half of Germany against Poland was complete soporific shit. Nothing happened aside from Germany monopolising position and having no clue how to break Poland down. Poland have got Fabianski in goal who is absolutely shit so the Germans have to do is get a shot on target.

At the start of the second-half Milik missed from about 3 yards when he tried to head a ball he should've kicked and the Germans got away with it. He'll probably prove me wrong at some point but what the hell is the fuss about Lewandowski. He never seems to get a shot away. When he had a chance he took too long and got binned by Boateng. Milik missed another chance when he fell on his arse instead of shooting but the rest of the game was so shit that it didn't actually deserve a goal. The Germans are definitely missing something up front their Plan B was to bring on Mario Gomez who was decent in the last Euros but is absolutely gash usually. Maybe the lack of anything in this game was down to both teams winning their first match so therefore only needing a draw to go through. Not that the Germans would ever do anything like that of course... cough... Austria… cough 1982. ..cough Algeria.

Friday 17th June

Italy versus Sweden was incredibly dull with neither side really going for it. Italy just seemed quite cagey where as Sweden didn't look capable. If Zlatan doesn't score then no one will. Italy at the bar in the second half which was the closest we had to a goal until the 88th minute when Eder picked up the ball on the left and the defenders hopelessly shepherded him towards the goal until he had a clear shot past is Isaksson which he took to put Italy through to the last 16 and Sweden in the last chance saloon, needing to beat Belgium to go through. They won't be missed if they don't manage it. Again though, it has to be highlighted that the Italian defence was superb and didn't allow Sweden a shot on target. Zlatan said before the game that the legend can still deliver, referring to himself of course. Needless to say, the legend did nothing of the sort.

Czech Republic versus Croatia was a crazy affair. Croatia totally dominated the game and Perisic cut in from the left to put them in the lead. After half-time Rakitic put them two up following a defender with no ability attempting to play his way out of defence and losing the ball. The game was petering out towards a comfortable Croatia win when Modrić got injured and had to go off and the tide completely turned. Tomas Rosicky put in a superb cross with the outside of his right foot that was headed in by Skoda and then the game was interrupted by Croatian fans throwing flares on the pitch and fighting amongst themselves. What the fuck was going on there is anyone's guess but just maybe it was because Twattenburg was refereeing.  In the five minutes that were added a ball was launched forward into the Croatia penalty area and Vida decided to jump for the header and punch the ball off the head of a Czech striker. The only trouble with this is that Vida is not the goalkeeper. Penalty, bang, 2-2.

Twattenburg Ponders Booking Mandzukic for Flare Interference

Spain turned up for the usual position fest, this time against Turkey. This again was entirely predictable with Spain monopolizing the ball and failing in the final third to get any shots away. Fabregas had a free header at goal at one point and decided to head it backwards to a non-existent forward. Anyhow, they took the lead on the half hour mark as Nolito bent in a cross and Moratta rose unmarked to head past the keeper. Turkey's game plan was now fucked and so their centre half decided to take things up a level by getting him self in a right mess and perfectly heading a pass into the path of Nolito Who scored easily to make it 2-0. The third came just after half time as Jordi Alba broke the half side tracked and instead of shooting, unselfishly squared it for Moratta to score his second. Turkey completely gave up and Spain almost couldn't be arsed to score any more. Even the Turkish friends gave up and I don't know what Arda Turan has done but he was getting slaughtered by his own fans when ever he touched the ball. Turkey, like a couple of others will not be missed when they go home.

Saturday 18th June 

I always start every one of these tournaments hoping that the Republic of Ireland do well. That goodwill lasts about as long as it takes them to play their first match because they are pretty shite. Actually, they weren't complete shite in their first game but in today's match against Belgium they were absolutely dire from the first minute to the last. The first half rivalled the Germany v Poland game for outright tediousness with the only interesting bit being Belgium's defenders deciding that the best way to stop Shane Long was to kick the living shit out of him. It has to be said that Belgium were bloody awful as well in much the same way that they were against Italy. Ireland are no Italy though and were never going to hold out for the 0-0 draw they had come for. Belgium took the lead through Lukaku’s very good finish and within 10 minutes Witsel had doubled the lead from the header when Ireland decided not to mark him. The third goal came from more shambolic defending, this time by Ciaran Clark again, and Hazard easily beat him down the right hand side before squaring for Lukaku to tap in. The commentators at the end of the game were getting all excited about Belgium scoring three goals but let's just remember who they were playing today lads. Belgium still looked very ordinary to me and they were definitely helped by a very lenient referee who allowed continual assaults on Irish forward players.

In what is turning out to be a very interesting group, Hungary played at Iceland and were on top in the main until Iceland scored on 40 minutes through a Sigurdsson penalty. The second half was played almost exclusively in the Icelandic half and I honestly didn't think that Hungary would ever score but eventually they did as they got down the right, fired it across and the Icelandic right back had to try and do something and that something was sticking it into his own net. There was drama at the end as Iceland won a free kick right on the edge of the box but Sigurdsson tried to fire it under the wall and it was blocked back to Eidur Gudjonsson who is now about 47 and his effort was deflected about a foot wide. The draw virtually puts Hungary through and Iceland will go on to their last game against Austria with every chance of joining them.

Both teams has chances in the first half of the Portugal against Austria match with Nani and Ronaldo missing for Portugal when they really should have scored. Alaba nearly scored for Austria but for a very good clearance of the line by Vieirinha who I thought was shite in the first game. As the game goes on, the shiny one became more important, forcing a great save out of Almer in the Austrian goal with a low shot. Next up he got twice as high as everyone to power in a header from a corner but once again the keeper got down well to save. Unlucky, you big shiny twat. Another chance came his way though as a cross from the left flashed in front of him but he was wrestled to the ground by an Austrian defender and the ref gave a penalty and fair enough. There was only one big shiny twat who was going to take it and so up stepped Ronaldo and pinged it off the post as everyone who isn't Portuguese pissed themselves laughing and even more so when he did manage to get the ball in the net with a very good header, only to be flagged correctly offside. Even though nothing went for Ronaldo tonight and he still wasn't taking people on, he played very well in the second half and looked very dangerous and I'm sure he and everyone else knows that one team will suffer somewhere along the way.

 Oh Dear, How Sad!

Round 2 Awards:

Best Team: Spain
Best Player: Andres Iniesta, Wayne Rooney
Best Goal: Marek Hamsik (Solvakia), Daniel Sturridge
Worst Team: Republic of Ireland, Russia
Worst Player: Cairan Clark, Joe Hart
Over Achievers: Northern Ireland
Most Overhyped: Germany
Worst Manager: The Fat Russian Bloke
Biggest Wanker: Aaron Ramsey

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Euro 2016 Part 2 - Ronaldo is a Big Shiny Twat

He's not Bad, is he?

Friday 10th June

Host nation France opened up against Romania, in what for an opening game, was actually quite decent. Also decent was the referee who was in remarkably not bent towards France and in fact gave a penalty against them which made it 1-1, cancelling out Giroud's opening header and when the goalkeeper was flapping like a budgie. It looked like a disappointing draw for France until Payet lashed one in the top corner with one minute to go. He is an absolutely fantastic player who lit up the game every time he got the ball. Deschamps just let him go and play. There is a lesson in there somewhere that I'm sure Roy Hodgson will not learn. France looked pretty decent going forward but their defence is shit. Evra is 35 now, Koscielny isn't the greatest and Rame who plays next to him at centre half looks like he wouldn't even get in the England squad ahead of the dodgy centre halves that we've got. Romania look like one of those teams that England would really struggle to break down if we played them in the knockout stages.

The leaked team news that you always get before England games and is usually accurate, indicates that Sterling and Lallana will play on the wings with Kane upfront and Rooney wheezing around in midfield probably for 90 minutes when everyone will be able to see that he is absolutely knackered after about 55 minutes.

Saturday 11th June

The day started with Albania against Switzerland which ended in a 1-0 win for the Swiss. The game was memorable purely because two brothers played for opposite sides, which says more about the stupid residential qualifications for international football than anything else.

Next up was Wales against Slovakia and this is of course in England's group. I thought the game itself was pretty substandard. Slovakia should've scored early on but it was Wales that took the lead after 10 minutes when Bale scored a free kick from 20 yards when the keeper decided to wander over to the wrong side of the goal as he hit it. Wales look fairly comfortable to be honest but let in a goal from Slovakia’s first attack and from that point on it looked like they lose but Robson-Kanu came on and managed to scuff a misplaced Ramsey pass into the net to give Wales a 2-1 win. It was interesting watching Wales as you hear that they are a one man team but Bale did very very little to justify his reputation aside from scoring a free kick. Aaron Ramsey has dyed his hair blonde which just means that it stands out more when he fucks something up, which he does very often. A big plus point for Wales though is that they play as a team and they really want to run through brick walls for each other which is something that England could learn from. We really have nothing to fear from these two sides.

And so we moved on to England and our opener against Russia. As had been leaked the day before, Vardy was left out with Lallana and Sterling picked. Rooney was shoehorned in as a deep lying midfielder next to Eric Dier. England started very well with Lallana prominent but he smashed a clear chance straight at the keeper and then screwed another one wide. Rooney then drilled an effort straight at the keeper as well and we went in 0-0 at half time despite completely dominating the first half. Russia were the better side for the first 15 minutes of the second-half but then England took over again with Rooney forcing an unbelievable save out of Akinfeev in the Russian gong as he tipped Squirrel Head’s shot up onto the bar. The breakthrough eventually came on 80 minutes as Alli ran into a Russian defender and won a free kick (bollocks decision) which Dier smashed into the net. At this point Hodgson decided to take Rooney off which was bizarre as he was having a great game. Ok he looked a bit tired but it’s amusing considering all the shite games that he's had for England when he's been left on for 90 minutes. On came Wilshere and things continued to look quite decent and then on 88 minutes he finally put to Sterling out of his misery. Don't let anyone tell you differently, Sterling was complete wank but Hodgson ensured we kept the same levels of wank on the pitch by bringing Milner on. Russia managed a little bit of pressure with a couple of minutes to go with Milner fucking up and over committed allowing a cross to come into our box and Berezutski got himself up against Rose at the far post and looped a header over Hart to make it 1-1.

On the one hand it was cruel because we had been the better side by a long way and had played pretty well but on the other hand we paid for our lack of quality in the final third and Hodgson being incredibly negative. One of the best ways to protect a lead is to attack and we have the best counter attacking forwards on the bench in Jamie Vardy but the negative old goat decides to throw on fucking Milner. It should have been Vardy for Sterling on about 55 minutes and it certainly should have happened once we went in front. We also had the ridiculous shit of Harry Kane taking all of the corners. It's not as if he's even any good at them as he just completely overhit every one. Maybe if we had a 6 foot 3 centre forward in the middle rather than taking the fucking corners we might have got someone on the end of one.

I have to say that Lallana played really well in the first half but in the second half he predictably died and he was left on for the entire match despite being clearly knackered for the last half an hour. I know I've said it once but I'd like to say it again for emphasis and so no one gets the wrong idea but Sterling was wank. He stops when he should just go, he hardly ever gets the cross in because he got no left foot and if by some chance he does get the cross in, it's just smashed across the box with no quality whatsoever.

Despite being touted as our weak link, the back four was actually quite decent. I have never been a fan of Kyle Walker but he was excellent at right back. Cahill and Smalling were competent enough but Rose is still a liability defensively. Harry Kane was pretty poor upfront and really should've been replaced with any of the multitude of strikers that we have on the bench and Dele Alli didn't do as much as we hoped he would do.

Hodgson is a senile old goat though. He loads the squad with attackers and then only plays one of them upfront and doesn't use any of the three that he's got on the bench. It shouldn't be terminal as we should still get through the group of course but a defeat against Wales would make it very interesting. All I wanted was for Roy to not fuck it up and he's not made a good start.

Sunday 12th June

Croatia against Turkey was first up today and it turned out to be a close match but Croatia were by far the better side. All they had to show for it was a fantastic volley by Modrić from 30 yards after a hooked clearance by the Turkey centre back. They spent the rest of the game missing sitters but Turkey created the square root of not very much in reply and Croatia held out for a fairly comfortable win. They look like a good side with good players in addition to Modrić and Mandzukic. I liked the left winger Perisic, who was everything that Raheem Sterling wasn't last night for England. Pace, power, focus and direction with a good ball in as well. I can't imagine he'll ever get transferred for £50 million anywhere but I know who I'd rather have in my side.

Northern Ireland took on Poland who are my tip to do well out of the unfancied nations. The game played out in exactly the way I thought it would with Poland being by far the better side and Northern Ireland chasing shadows for the majority of it and having very little quality on the ball. Teams like Northern Ireland can only achieve good results at this level by being more than the sum of their parts and unfortunately today they just look like what they are, a collection of average footballers. The goal just after half time which had been long overdue was eventually scored by Milik and Northern Ireland had virtually nothing in response apart from set pieces, one of which was played to Steve Davis who made a very clever run but couldn't quite get on the end of it. He was out and away Northern Ireland's best player as you'd expect. I would say they have no chance of getting anything against Germany in their last game so the next one against Ukraine is one they really have to try and attack and trying get some more players up near Lafferty who was virtually playing in the Polish half on his own.

Germany played Ukraine in the third game of the day and Ukraine had obviously prepared by watching a video of Germany beating Brazil 7-1 and were clearly scared to fucking death. The Germans took the lead after 20 minutes through a decent header from Mustafi and continued to swagger about the pitch with their usual arrogance. The good news for everyone else is that their defence looks like it's got a mistake in it and Ukraine really should have equalised before half time. The second half was shit though as Germany controlled the play and Ukraine still kept seven or eight players behind the ball the whole time. In an echo of the England game, Germany sent on Schweinsteiger with a few minutes to go to try and see out a 1-0 win. In a slight difference to what Milner contributed, he got himself in the middle after a lightning break up the left following a Ukraine corner and was on the end of Ozil's cross to slam into the net for 2-0 and one game successfully shut down by counter attacking. Hmmm, Vardy's good at that.

Hodgson has got away with it in the media because it all kicked off in Marseille which is all anyone wanted to talk about. No doubt we have some dickheads who are only out for a ruck but how the fuck can the French police, in their current heightened state of security, allow some Russian nutter to get a flare gun into the ground, let alone fire a flare into the England fans. Why the fuck were England put in Marseille where it kicked off in 1998 and there is a large presence of French nutters? England and Russia have been threatened with expulsion from the tournament which was entirely predictable and no doubt we'll get more blame than anyone else despite it being identified that a hardcore Russian firm of 150 nutters were operating, seeing themselves as some sort of army.

Monday 13th June

The 2pm kick offs are a little bit of a nightmare to keep in touch with, being at work and all that.  Today it was Spain v Czech Republic.  Everyone knows that Spain are going to be decent but can they actually stick the ball in the net.  They haven’t bothered with Diego Costa or Fernando Torres this time around but have gone with Alvaro Moratta who missed a couple of decent chances in the first half.  After dominating possession for the whole match as usual, eventually Spain broke through when Iniesta curled in a superb cross from the left and Mr Shakira, Gerard Pique was there to nod past Petr Cech.

Next up was Republic of Ireland and Sweden who are probably playing for 3rd place in this group behind Italy and Belgium.  Ireland had the better of the first half and had some decent efforts through Hendrick and Brady and they took the lead when Coleman turned the left back inside out and stood up a great cross for Hoolahan to smash into the net on the half volley.  Great goal.  From that moment on, Ireland went into their shell and Zlatan decided to wake up and it was a matter of time before Sweden equalised as Zlatan got down the left and fired it across and Cairan Clark brought his Aston Villa form to the big stage and stooped to plant a header past his own goalkeeper.  Usually with own goals you can see it was unlucky but this was just shit.  Sweden looked the more likely to win it at the end but Ireland will be regretting not scoring in the first half.

Last up was Italy against Belgium.  Now, I admit I’m biased as I’ve had a soft spot for Italy for a while.  The first World Cup I really remember well is 1982 with Tardelli and Rossi and all that and one of the best games I ever saw was Italy knocking Germany out of their own World Cup in 2006 with a team boasting Cannavaro, del Piero, Pirlo etc.  Now they have Graziano Pellè as well so what’s not to like?  Belgium on the other hand are everyone’s tip to do well and somehow are ranked number 2 in the World.  They have a lot of Premier League players who play for the big clubs which in my mind, probably makes them over hyped and not as good as everyone thinks they are.  Take Fellaini for example – yes he plays for Manchester United but is he really a top level international player?  Is he fuck. 

Anyway, the game was marvellous with Italy playing as a team with a plan and Belgium playing as a team of individuals.  The Italians took the lead just before half time when Bonucci pinged a ball 60 yards over Toby the Shithouse straight to Giacherrini who finished well.  Graziano missed a sitter with a header straight after that and looked like he might pay for it as Lukaku broke away but with just Buffon to beat, he floated an effort high and wide.  Hazard looked lively but all these players you hear so much about were shocking.  De Bruyne was embarrassingly bad and Lukaku, Witsel, Nainggolan and Fellaini weren’t far behind.  It took until the 93rd minute but Candreva broke down the right and picked out Pellè with a cross which he lashed in on the volley with a real 'pick the fucking bones out of that' finish, to make it 2-0.  Brilliant.

The Italians have a back three on Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini who all play for Juve and they are so organized it’s frightening when compared to other teams who can’t defend for shit.  Buffon is not a bad keeper either so expect them to go a long way in the tournament.  I liked Candreva on the wing as well and the twin stike force of Pellè and Eder gave Toby the Shithouse nightmares.  Belgium looked like England to be honest – they have some decent players who are not as good as the media would have us believe and also they appear to have a manager who hasn’t got a clue and picks on reputation rather than form.  As England proved with our ‘Golden Generation’, over hyped big club Premier League bollocks gets you nowhere on it’s own and can’t believe he left De Bruyne on who was shocking – worse than Raheem.  Someone needs to tell them that football is a team game and you need some grafters to achieve anything.

Tuesday 14th June

Just the two games today with the match fancied Austrians taking on Hungary. Austria, containing a couple of players who we are familiar with in Christian Fuchs and the knobhead Marco Arnautovic started the better of the two sides and forced a great save out of former Crystal Palace keeper Gabor Kiraly who is now 40 and still wearing the same pair of shitty grey tracksuit bottoms he wore 15 years ago. In the second half Hungary took the lead with a goal buy Szalai, a striker who hadn't scored for about two years. Austria pressed and had a double whammy of a goal disallowed and the reason it was disallowed was because one of their players had cleaned out a Hungary defender resulting in him being sent off.  Hungary became yet another team who has managed (unlike England) to keep the foot on the throat when on top and scored a second with a lovely chip over the keeper by Zoltan Steiber

A Shiny Twat, Yesterday

Ronaldo and the other 10 Portuguese players were playing Iceland who really should have no chance. Ronaldo however, played like Gareth Bale did in the Wales game in that he clearly doesn't look fit. Both these players are terrifying to defenders when they're running at full tilt but neither seemed to be able to run. Ronaldo was just hanging around upfront waiting for the ball and invariably the other Portuguese players weren’t good enough to give it to him. In addition, the Icelandic players were lining up and taking turns to kick him up the arse which was quite funny. I have to say though that Ronaldo does look a very shiny these days. Nani put Portugal ahead just before half time but they couldn't get a second despite the Icelandic goalkeeper looking terrified every time at the ball came near him. Iceland, playing exclusively on the break managed to score on the hour mark as a cross came in from the right and Bjarnason had the freedom of the penalty area to knock it past the keeper. The comedy defending by Pepe and the Vieirinha was very funny. The two Saints players in the Portugal squad were both left on the bench which is remarkable because Calvalho is preferred to José Fonte despite being 38 years old and Vieirinha is preferred to Cedric despite being complete shit. Ronaldo hit a couple of late free kicks into the wall and had a free header which he put straight at the keeper and that was it. He did however make a complete twat of himself in the interview afterwards when he criticised the way Iceland played and the fact that they were small time. Well they got a draw with you overhyped shower of shit didn't they and at the end justifies the means you shiny twat.

Round 1 Awards:

Best Team: Italy
Best Player: Dimitri Payet
Best Goal: Dimitri Payet, Luca Modric
Worst Team: Northern Ireland
Worst Player: Kevin De Bruyne, Cairan Clark
Over Achievers: Iceland
Most Overhyped: Belgium, Christiano Ronaldo
Worst Manager: Roy Hodgson, Marc Wilmots (Belgium)
Shiniest Player: Christiano Ronaldo

Saturday, June 11, 2016

38 in 38 Kickstarter Project

38 in 38 - Please Read

Since this blog started in 2009, I’ve kept an eye on the places where people read from and it’s always fascinated me as to who’s reading in these far flung places of the world.  A couple of years ago I was pondering closing the blog down and it was messages from Saints fans overseas that made me realise that I was actually providing a service and people actually enjoyed reading it.  This realisation was a bit of a shock because all I thought I was doing was brain dumping my pub style ramblings.

Trevor Foy is one such overseas (Melbourne, Australian) reader and he’s started a Kickstarter project called 38in38.  If you get the chance, please can you visit this page and do what you can.  I won’t explain too many of the details here because it’s all explained in the link below

Over to Trev…

“The aim of 38in38 is to create an inclusive and interactive publication covering Southampton Football Club's past, present & future.

Southampton FC have long been recognised as a family and community club in England. The motivation for #38in38 is to showcase this on a global scale. Throughout 38in38 I'll be joining Saints fans in 38 different countries and sharing their stories, one match at a time.

I feel that this would be a great thing to get off the ground and it will give you a real appreciation of who is out there in the wider world that exists outside of driving distance to St.Mary’s.  I feel lucky that I'm local and am able to attend games.  Despite not being able to do the same, you must be able to appreciate the passion and loyalty of the Saints fans overseas and right now, with the recent behaviour of our manager a glaring example of the opposite, we could all do with getting behind this project. 

Thanks in advance.