Wednesday, July 13, 2016

From the Lying Dutchman to the Portuguese Men of War

A New Shirt and Hodge-Bur-Jurg

Meanwhile, back in Southampton, whilst the Euros were going on…

First off, The Lying Dutchman Ronald Koeman completed his widely predicted desertion to Everton. As was befitting of a man whose stock had fallen massively, his first day as Everton manager was spent blaming Southampton for why he'd moved. Apparently, we wouldn't allow him to work the last year of his contract without signing another one so we forced him out effectively.  Why is he not suing us for constructive dismissal then.  Ah yes... I have a feeling that this is complete bullshit and that the £7 million big ones per year might have had something to do with it but to be honest, what else was he going to say? Still, it's done now, thanks for the two years but now you can go and fuck yourself and I hope you fail massively at Everton, trying to revive their 1980s glory days

It was entirely predictable that Victor Wanyama would leave and so he did for £11 million to bloody Tottenham. It hasn't annoyed me as much as it would have done last year but it's still disappointing that he's gone to them. In the same way as they did with Morgan Schneiderlin, Saints obviously told him to get his head down and he would be allowed to leave after another season. To be fair, in the main, Big Vic did this and had a good season aside from a couple of completely brainless red cards. He will be missed and is a lot better than many Saints fans give him credit for. I do wonder how he's going to get on at Tottenham because he's not going to be as automatic a first choice as he was here. I guess though, that Pochettino knows what he's buying.

With just the one year left on his contract, it was no surprise that Big Vic was leaving. However, Sadio Mané had two years left, so on the one hand it was a bit of a pisser when he left for bloody Liverpool, treading that well worn path from Southampton to career obscurity but on the other hand, we've completely pulled their pants down to the tune of £36 million. This is an obscene amount of money for a player who will be disappearing off to the African Nations cup every two years and even if he doesn't, he tends to have November to March off every year anyway.  Again, a very good player who will be missed and who definitely added an extra bit of unpredictability to our attacking play, when he could be bothered.  I know there's a new manager there now but it is quite ridiculous how they have now bought five players off of us, only to finish lower in the league than us. I see that Klopp has signed an extension to his contract so we are going to have a few more years of over the top antics on the touchline. Liverpool fans will lap it up of course but I guarantee most fans of other clubs will be thinking that he's a complete twat by the end of this coming season, if they don't think so already.  We’d do well to finish above them again this season but whilst they’ve still got shit like Moreno, Milner, Henderson, Lucas and Lovren – there’s always a chance.

The Big beautiful Italian Graziano Pellè is leaving and going to fucking China of all places to play for a team I’ve never heard of called Shandong Luneng.  They are not alone in being a Chinese club I haven’t heard of because I haven;t heard of any of them.  Apparently he will be the 6th highest paid player in the world on about £250,000 a week.  I mean – he’s good but he ain’t that good and a quick check reveals that Shandong are currently 14th in a 16 team league, with 13 games left to make up a 26 point difference on top of the league, Guangzhou Evergrande.  I wonder if they’ve signed him because the average Chinese defender isn’t that tall and at 6 foot 4 he’s going to have a lot of joy in the air.  It is not a football decision though of course but that much wedge though must make it an easy decision as he was never going to earn that much money in Europe.

Graziano leaves with my full blessing, not that he’d give a shit about that, as I think that his attitude and performances have been on the whole superb, since the day he signed.  The club have managed to get back more than we paid for him which is an amazing effort, considering he only has one year left on his contract, his knee is a bit suspect and he is now 31.  I don't know what Chinese is for “don't let him take a fucking penalty” but I'm sure it's written in the small print of his contract somewhere underneath all the money.  If he'd left to go to an Italian club then I would have been delighted for him as that was always his stated ambition is to play regularly in Serie A. I am pleased that he's not gone to another English club but I am slightly disappointed that he's put money before football career. I'm sure he could've earned a decent amount at an Italian club and still had an international career, which I assume is going to end as soon as he lands in China.  He could have gone to Juventus or Lazio for two years and then moved to China at 33.  His move does however mean that his last act as a Saints player was to produce one of the most wanky attempts at taking a penalty ever, in the history of football.

Incoming… Nathan Redmond, who has joined from Norwich. He's a winger who has always done it in flashes without bringing consistency to his game and he seems to have been around for ages because he made his debut for Birmingham when he was 16.  He is a regular in the England Under 21s side along with JWP and Matt Targett and on the face of it there is no downside to signing a promising English Under 21 international. From what I recall, the bastard always scored against us for Norwich so at least that’s stopped.  The question is whether he’s a replacement for Sadio Mané or for Juanmi.  If it’s for Mané then we are going to struggle to get the same amount of goals out of him over the season.  If it’s for Juanmi then he couldn’t really contribute less.

We have also completed the signing of a new midfielder, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich. The first thing that strikes me about this deal is that there is absolutely no way that my Dad is going to be able to pronounce his name so "Hoy-berg" will become "Hodj-bu-Jurg"or something like that. In all seriousness, I don't know too much about the guy but he was the youngest ever player to make a first-team appearance for Bayern, has 17 caps for Denmark and is highly regarded. I don't think anyone even knows which type of midfielder he is but at least he has some physical stature, standing as he does at 6 foot 1.  Again, at 20 years old, this can only be a good thing to get a highly regarded international footballer on a five year contract. The internet jokes about him signing for Liverpool are already really fucking boring, even if they are understandable.

It looks like another player coveted by Liverpool will not be joining them as Ryan Bertrand has signed a new five year contract tying him (in theory) to the club until 2021. It was nice to hear him saying in his interview how much he has benefited from a regular football. It's good to know there are still a few players who think that way. It is great news that he has signed a new contract as he was one of the ones I could see other clubs coming in for and along with the recent new contracts for Virgil, Fraser, Davo and JWP, reinforces that the players are happy with the ambition at the club even if the Lying Dutchman wasn’t.

What else do we need…. In my opinion we need another striker unless the medical staff have managed to find a way to get J-Rod and Charlie Austin through the season without getting badly injured. Whilst I think that the signings of Hojbjerg and Redmond are decent and it’s obvious that we are spending money on new contracts for key players, it would be nice to have one signing that has a real wow factor to it. However, the last couple of times we've tried to do this, it's ended up with Gaston or Osvaldo sized fuck ups. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would be nice however and a bit more reliable than those two.

Away from the pipe dreams of signing name players, it is good to see that the philosophy of the club regards to buying potential and selling a couple of years later for top dollar, is alive and well. Sometimes as a fan however, it would be nice to have a summer where we could look forward to the new season without a level of uncertainty. For example, if everyone had stayed including the manager, we would certainly have been confident of finishing in the top 10. Now, we could finish anywhere between 5th and 17th. Personally, I think the signs are good but I'm just worried about the amount of goals that have been sold with Mane and Pellè leaving. I wonder if Antoine Griezmann fancies coming to England but staying in red and white stripes next season?

Oh yes, the manager. The new main man is Claude Puel who has a very good record from managing teams in France. He is therefore ideally placed to sign Griezmann for us for next season (ha!). Little is known of Claude over here so it's an interesting one. One thing that has been emphasised is his preference to promote youth players from within the club's Academy which is of course part of the club philosophy that went to shit under the Lying Dutchman. Claude seems to speak at a decent level of English which is comforting and seems to be quite a steely, determined kind of individual. His playing career was spent totally at one club, AS Monaco so just maybe we now have a manager with at least some appreciation of the idea of sticking around. In his playing career, he had a reputation for being a Roy Keane type of player but hopefully without the psychotic episodes. Hopefully, he will be a massive success… and then not sod off after a couple of years. 

Pre-season training has started for anyone who was not involved in Euro 2016 and now that tournament is over, we can all focus on August 13 when we start at home against Watford. Claude will need to get the boys hitting the ground running as of the first three home games are all very winnable, being as they are against Watford Sunderland and Swansea where as the away games are a fucking nightmare with Manchester United and Arsenal up first. The TV companies have stepped up to the plate straight away and fucked us around giving us Manchester United away on a Friday night, purely so they can cover Mourinho’s first home game and the fact that our fans have a fucking ridiculous journey on a Friday night now won't have even entered into their thinking.

When the Euro 2016 players come back I can imagine Davo being very happy with his summer, Shane pulling his Italian Goalkeeper face to anyone who asks, Fraser and Ryan with a resigned 'yeah, whatever' shrug and Jose and Cedric having stolen the trophy, filled it with alcohol and still being pissed, lurching up the corridors at Staplewood.  The Portuguese Men of War return.  It's comforting to know that our back 5 will consist of two European Champions, England's No 1-elect, England's no 3 elect and the only one not in the Euro's was Virgil Van Dijk.  Not a bad defence to base a team on for Claude.
Anyway, I hope that we have seen the last of outgoing first team players and we can look forward to another good season in the Premier League.  I feel like it may be a bit much to expect another season is of improving our league position but I think I've said that at the start of the last three seasons. Anyway, #WeFuckingMarchOn

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Euro 2016 Part 8 - Southampton Win Euro 2016

Not Bad Jose

Wednesday 6th July

Everything is all about Wales and how marvellous they are.  It’s surely a formality that the Welsh will get to the final.  After all it’s only Portugal who haven't won a game in normal time.  I know they’ve been getting better every game but come on… this is Wales and they’re great.   Apparenly we should all support Wales but the video they did celebrating England lose had kind of killed a lot of that.  I saw the prospect of supporting Wales, likened to being a Saints fan and supporting Bournemouth (with Scotland being Pompey in that analogy).  So anyway, fuck’em, I want Portugal to win because they have Saints captain at centre back and Cédric has kept his place despite his Poland howler.

The first half is in the main, pretty boring.  Bale has a couple of long rangers straight at the keeper and that’s just about it.  Portugal are the side in the ascendancy for most of it though with Wales seemingly struggling to get anything moving without Ramsey.  Straight after half time, Portugal take the lead when they work a short corner and the eventual delivery is bulleted into the net y the forehead of Ronaldo.  I know he’s a twat but this is brilliant.  The spring he gets from a standing jump is incredible.  Anyhow, 5 minutes later it’s all over as the ball breaks to Ronaldo on the edge of the box and he skews a shot across goal but Nani sticks a foot out and deflects is past Hennessey who has no chance.

Now That's a Header

Wales have to open up a bit now but the bench has no game changes on it.  Vokes comes on, as does Church and Johnny Williams but the latter two in particular are League 1 standard and so predictably don’t do anything against the defence being expertly martialled by José Fonte in pepe’s absence through injury.  Portugal should score more but Joao Mario misses a sitter and Hennessey nearly throws one in his own net but just about recovers.  Bale had a couple of pot shots but nothing that was going to trouble Patricio.

2-0, easy as you like.  Wales will be happy with their tournament and have done well to get this far but today the Dragon did not so much roar as whimper.  They just turned up, did nothing and lost.  The two missing players seemed to take away 50% of their effectiveness but they’ll still get an open top bus parade when they get home.  Apparently England did it in 1990 after losing in the World Cup Semi-Final.  I vaguely remember that and Gazza’s comedy breasts but it was naff then and it’s nafff now.  The bottom line is Wales …. you lost to England… and we were fucking shit.  If they’d lost every game but beaten England it would have been “at least we beat the English”.

Thursday 7th July

France were playing their first good team of the tournament when Germany were in town, albeit a Germany reduced by injuries to Gomez, Khedira, their main midfield enforcer and a suspension to Hemmels, their best defender.  None of this stopped the German’s dominating the first half but France were dangerous on the break with Griezmann forcing a good save from Neuer.  Emre Can forced a good save at the other end after a bobbled effort from the edge of the box and then Giroud showed how shit he is by getting put through and failing both to get a shot away or square it to the unmarked Griezmann.  As half time approached, a corner came in and for a reason only known to him, Schweinsteiger jumped for the header with his arm up and punched it off the head of a Frenchman.  After the protests subsided, up stepped Griezmann to send Neuer the wrong way and make it 1-0

The second half was better from France as they pushed Pogba further forward and it worked well as they pressurised the German defence into mistakes.  With 10 to go, Kimmich pissed about and saw Pogba take the ball off him, beat him for skill and then chip over a cross which Neuer could only flap to Griezmann.  2-0.  German desperation took over with Kimmich hitting a post and Lloris being forced into smart saves but France were home and dried in their own tournament and heading for the Final, just as Platini would have wanted.

Just as I Rigged It!

Joachim Loew managed to stop scratching his balls and arse for long enough to have a swipe at quality of tournament due to the format and the fact that there were 24 teams. He’s right but Germany added to the averageness by being bang average themselves with no striker.

Sunday 10th July

France’s date with destiny was here and in the way was Portugal, including Ronaldo who was supporting the star men, Cédric and José Fonte.  Despite Ronaldo being a twat, I 100% was wanting Portugal to win this.

However, it became apparent early on that they were going to have to do it without their main man as payet went in very hard with a tackle and left the shiny one in heap on the ground.  For now he tried to carry on and Pepe nealy made a balls of thing, presenting the ball to payet and his superb cross picked out Griezmann who tried to lift a header over Patricio who knocked it over the bar.

All the cameras are on Ronaldo because he’s knackered and he can’t carry on.  Much to my shame and disgust with myself, I actually felt sorry for him as he was carried off to be replaced with Quaresma.  Most of the good stuff for the rest of the half comes from France and from Moussa Sissoko who is running the game in a way that he could never be bothered to do for Newcastle.  He came closest to scoring as he turned in the box before smashing a shot which was once again, well saved by Patricio.

15 minutes in to the second half and Payet, who has been kept very quiet by Cedric, is replaced with Kingsley Coman who immediately gets in a great cross which beats all the defenders and Griezmann has a free header from 8 years which he puts over the bar.  Giroud is lumbering about as usual and his last action was to bring another good save out of Patricio with a  low diagonal driver, before he lumbers off to be replaced like-for-like with the lumbering Gignac.  Why? You have Martial on the bench.

Portugal are offering sporadic threat and Nani nearly scores with an overhit cross but the main chances are falling to France and Sissoko has another good effort from 25 yards well pushed aside by Patricio.  Portugal need something up front so bring on Eder, who was fucking awful for Swansea last season, for the impressive Renato Sanches.  You can see why he was brought on through as Koscielny and Umtiti at the back clearly do not fancy playing against the big guy.

In the 91st minute, Evra squeezes over a low cross and Gignac, in a move with defied his lack of ability, turned Pepe and scuffed a shot past the diving Fonte and Patricio and sees it bounce away off the post.

Ronaldo appears to rally the Portuguese troops again and he appears to have taken over from the manager as he attracts the attention of every camera in the stadium.  The first half of extra time goes by with nothing happening aside from Eder giving Koscielny nightmares.  Portugal are getting stronger as the game goes on and nearly take the lead from a free kick as everyone is waiting for Quaresma to take it, only for Guirrero to ping one over the wall and off the bar.

No matter though as two minutes later, Eder gets the ball, easily holds off Koscielny, makes his way infield before hitting one from 25 yards which flies like an arrow past Lloris and into the bottom corner.  Brilliant strike.  Deschamps responds by throwing Martial on finally but France have nothing left and Portugal hold on easily with the back four and goalkeeper absolutely magnificent.  Tough shit France.

Having been the manager for half an hour, Ronaldo is desperate for more camera time and takes his short off for no reason whatsoever during the celebrations.  Presentation, crying Frenchmen and then the trophy is lifted by the Shiny Camera Whore.  And that is how Southampton won the Euros.

It was a ‘tear in the eye’ moment to see José Fonte carrying  the trophy around and giving it the big one.  He stepped down a division to join us in league 1, won the JPT, promotion from league 1 to Championship, promotion from Championship to Premier league, 14th, 8th, Captain, 7th, Europa league Qualifiers, 6th, Europa League Group Stages.  He was nowhere near the national team when he joined us and now look at him – holding up the second most prestigious trophy in World Football.  And the best bit is that he’s still a Saints player and he’s achieved more as a Saints player than any of those bastards who’ve left in that time.  Now that’s a legend.

Then there’s Cédric Soares – what a great tournament he’s had once he got into the team and it really makes you wonder how on earth he wasn’t in the Saints side at the end of the season.  There’s no telling what this could do for his confidence so whilst it’s not the ‘made in Southampton’ fairy tale that José’s story is, it’s great for Saints fans nonetheless for what it may bring to us in the future.

Finally, would Portugal have won it with the defence they started the tournament with?  Once the Saints boys came into the side they kept a clean sheet against Croatia, let in one goal against Poland (from a Cédric mistake admittedly), clean sheet against Wales, clean sheet against France.  Yep, Southampton won the Euros.

The End

The tournament as a whole was pretty dull.  There weren’t many good games and the format meant that there were many teams just boring the shit out of it.  I’m sure you could easily list 8 teams who would not have been missed from a football point of view, had they not been there… Ukraine, Sweden, Albania, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and one other…. Oh yes, England.

The TV Coverage was ok though there were some nauseating moments.  Clive Tyldesley as commentator with Glenn Hoddle summarising had me screaming at the TV with the fuckwittedness of it all.  Of the studio pundits, I enjoyed and agreed with Shearer’s England rants, Rio was ok and Bilic and Matthaus were excellent with Ian Wright entertaining in a dangerous kind of way.

Ryan Giggs is such a fucking dullard isn’t he.  Jesus Christ.  No wonder no one will give him a manager’s job – doomed to failure.  Can you imagine him saying anything inspiring at all.  Not at all.
So anyway – The L1-10 awards

Best team – 1st Portugal (has to be, they won it). 2nd Italy (wins against Belgium and Spain)
Best player – 1st Griezmann (France), 2nd Pepe (Portugal), 3rd McGovern (Northern Ireland)
Worst Team – 1st Russia, 2nd Ukraine, 3rd Austria
Most Overhyped Team – 1st Belgium, 2nd Austria, 3rd Spain
Most Overhyped Player – 1st Paul Pogba (France), 2nd Thomas Muller (Germany), Equal 3rd Harry Kane (England), Joe Hart (England), Dele Alli (England)
Most Predictable – 1st England, 2nd Republic of Ireland
Over Achievers – 1st Iceland, 2nd Wales
Best Manager – 1st Fernando Santos (Portugal), 2nd Chris Coleman (Wales – genuinely good guy)
Worst Manager – Equal 1st – Roy Hodgson (England), Leonid Slutsky (Russia)
Player Who Should Never Have Been There – 1st Henderson, 2nd Wilshere (both England)
Time to Retire – 1st Rooney (England), 2nd Schweinsteiger (Germany), 3rd Evra (France)
Lost 3 Times But Still Did Well In Their Own Mind Award – Northern Ireland
Best Pundit – Lothar Matthaus
Worst Pundit – Ryan Giggs

Best Saints Player – 1st Jose Fonte (Portugal), 2nd Graziano Pellè (Italy), Equal 3rd Steven Davis (Northern Ireland), Cédric Soares (Portugal)
English Club with most Euro Winners - 1st Southampton, 2nd No Fucker Else

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Euro 2016 Part 7 - France Show You How to Dispose of Iceland

That Isn't Going In, is it Zaza!
 Thursday 30th June

The quarter finals start today with Poland against Portugal which is an interesting clash between one very workmanlike team and one team that should be a lot better than it is.  Of course, Portugal are too reliant on the shiny twat – well they think they are anyway.  Poland have been waiting for their own superstar Robert Lewandowski to wake up all tournament.  It took him about a minute and a half when play was switched left to right and Cedric Soares (dunno which club he plays for!) failed to anticipate the bounce and it went over him to Grosicki who crossed for Lewandowski to sidefoot past Patricio who had no chance.  Portugal proved they were the more accomplished team over the next 20 minutes and should have had a penalty when the ball got played into Ronaldo who was smashed out of the way by Glick.  100% penalty not given – very funny.  Portugal eventually equalised on 35 minutes as 18 year old Renato Sanches shot from the edge of the box and it took a big nick off of Krychowiak and flew past Fabianski.

Never a penalty....

The second half became more edgy as it went on with Portugal creating the better chances and they all fell to the player they’d most want them to fall to but Ronaldo had forgotten how to kick a ball and kept missing.  I swear that Portugal do themselves no favours by ‘always’ looking for Ronaldo with the final pass.  Extra time was dull with the main chance again falling to the Shiny Twat but he played an airshot instead of connecting with Moutinho’s perfectly weighted chip over the defence. Cedric nearly made up for his first half fuck up and pinged in a great effort which flew narrowly wide of the far post. 

And so it went to penalties and I have to admit to wanting Portugal to win with my support of Jose and Cedric outweighing my dislike of Ronaldo.  Ronaldo scored.  I loved his ‘all about me’ posturing after his penalty.  It’s only thanks to you not being able to finish your fucking dinner during the game that we’re here anyway mate.  Lewandowski scored as well and on went the shootout with neither of the Saints boys being involved and eventually Blasczyzkowski stepped up for Poland’s 4th and did the old shitty stuttered run up and Patricio dived to comfortably save.  The man who always seem to be where the action is for Portugal is Ricardo Quaresma and he was next and not going to miss.  He duly didn’t and Portugal are through to the semi finals without having won a single game in 90 minutes.

Jose Fonte marches on – legend.

Friday 1st July

Wales have been annoying me.  They published a video of themselves celebrating like mad when England got knocked out and maybe I’m taking this too seriously but if it had been the other way round then we’d have been branded small-time or arrogant or somesuch but from them it’s fine and also, it’s just standard Celtic nations anti-English sentiment.  We should be used to it really and rise above it but I hope they get beat.  The one problem in that is that they are playing Belgium who have good individuals but they don’t play as a team and the one thing that Wales do best, is play like a team.  It’s a bit of a theme of this Championship.  Iceland played as a team and beat England’s (Shite) individuals, Italy beat Belgium etc.  So, whilst hoping Belgium do the business, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Wales win.

Belgium have Vertonghen out injured and Vermaelen suspended so Denayer and Jordan Lukaku are in.  The first 20 minutes is all Belgium and they take the lead when Nainggolan picks it up about 30 years out and absolutely smokes it into the near top corner giving Hennessey no chance at all.  As we settled back to watch the Belgian master class, something happened and Wales seemed to take over, equalising within 10 minutes as a corner was knocked in and Williams had the whole penalty area to himself and headed past Courtois for 1-1.  Wales were the better side for the rest of the half as  their midfield totally out-ran Nainggolan and Witsel in midfield and caused the inexperienced defence nightmares.  Witsel is Jordan Henderson in a Belgium kit.  He doesn’t attack with any quality and he doesn’t defend either – he’s just there and there’s space behind him.  Wilmots seeks to rectify this at half time but instead of taking Witsel off, he hooks Carrasco who had been decent and puts on Fellaini, pushing Nainggolan forward so with one substitution he reduced his attack and his midfield.

Straight after half time and Belgium should take the lead as De Bruyne puts in a great cross from the right and Lukaku just has to score with a free header from 6 yards but he fucks it right up and it slides off his head and wide.  Guess what happened next?  Yes, Wales take the lead as Ramsey gives it to Robson-Kanu on the edge of the box and he produces an outrageous Cruyff turn, sending three Belgian’s the wrong way and slots past Courtois – brilliant goal and 2-1.  Hazard is looking to produce something and De Bruyne is doing his bit but they’re on their own.  Witsel and Fellaini are shite and Lukaku is static and piss easy for Williams, Chester and Davies to mark.

Time ticks down and Belgium aren’t going to score and Wales break out, Ramsey runs out right to pick up a ball from Allen and cross to Vokes who gets up at the near post and shows Lukaku how to do it by powering a header across Courtois and into the net for 3-1.  Totally and completely deserved and you can’t help but be impressed.  I bet they’re wondering how the fuck they lost to England.

A word for Bale and that word is ‘bald’.  When he should have been celebrating the best win in Wales history he was fretting over his comb-over and constantly adjusting the bun and hairband and he even had team-mates shielding him from the camera as he sorted himself out.  Just cut it off mate – no one gives a shit.

And all the defenders go the wrong way...

Saturday 2nd July

A classic heavyweight battle between Italy and Germany with Italy having been the best team in the tournament so far, which counts for nothing as they’re playing Germany.  Germany have apparently never beaten Italy in a tournament which is a bit unusual to say the least.  The first half was a tactical battle which ended up being boring with not much happening.  It took until the second half to liven up and the Germans scored when Hector got in down the left and his cross deflected off a defender and sat up nicely for Ozil to knock into the net.  The goal was given despite his eyes clearly being offside.  The Italians came out of their shell and attacked and a ball was crossed in from the right and Boateng jumped behind Eder but had both hands above his head for some reason and the ball hit one of them and the ref gave a penalty and hardly anyone complained.  Ridiculous defending and up stepped Bonucci to beat Neuer from the spot to make it 1-1.  Full time came and went and nothing much happened in extra time and so to penalties.  It’s Germany isn’t it but I have a feeling that they’re not as good at this as they used to be. Correct…

Here we go…. Insigne and Kroos scored before up stepped Zaza who had just come on as sub specifically to take a penalty.  As he approached the ball he did some sort of stupid fucking Riverdance thing and then lashed it over the bar.  What a cock!  Up saunters Thomas Muller who has been pretty average this tournament.  The definition of arrogance that has every neutral screaming ‘miss ya fucker’ at the TV and he sidefoots it straight to Buffon.  Wankaaaaaaaaaaah!!!! Barzagli scores then up steps Ozil and hits the post.  Shite from the Germans so it’s 2-1 after three each and Graziano Pellè is next.  Now I’d heard that he wasn’t great at penalties and he’d never taken one for Saints but he was giving Neuer some sort of signal that he was going to chip it down the middle.  Confident lad… up he goes and almost falls over the ball as he sidefoots it about a yard wide.  Absolute shite.  Draxler scores 2-2, Bonucci to repeat what he did in the game, nope, saved by Neuer and so that most German of Germans, Bastian Schweinsteiger has a penalty to win it…. Over… fucking miles over…. Twat!  2-2 after 5 penalties each. 

Sudden death…. Giaccherini goal, Hummels goal, Parolo smashes it in, Kimmich who looks about 12 years old and is shitting himself….scores, de Sciglio in off the bar, Boateng scores to make it 5-5.  We’re getting down to the dregs now and it’s Darmian and it’s piss weak and saved by Neuer.  Hector is next up for Germany and though he doesn’t hit it particularly well, it’s under Buffon and in to put Germany through.  Fuckers.  They even miss three penalties and still go through.

The only consolation for Graziano is that his miss was not as memorable as Zaza’s but he’s going to take a hell of a lot of stick from Italian fans for it.

There's confidence... and there's being a Dick!

Sunday 3rd July

Iceland found themselves in the usual position of being underdogs, having been overwhelming favourites against the shower of shit they played in the last round.  Joking aside, France have had it piss easy so far so the fact that Iceland would probably be their sternest test was telling.  However, France played in exactly the way you should play against a spirited but limited team and took their chances when they had them.  After an even fist 20 minutes or do, Matuidi lifted a simple ball over the top and Giroud was through and scored with ease, through the legs of Halldorsson.  2-0 wasn’t far away as Pogba rose to absolutely bury a header from a corner.  Zonal marking is fine but if you line up on the 6 yard line and then the keeper doesn’t come for a ball that’s only 6 years out then you’re in trouble.  Iceland had to try and play a bit now and though they tried hard, they weren’t good enough to do it without leaving huge gaps for France to run into once they’d won the ball back and Payet picked up the ball on the edge of the box and found the corner of the net with his left foot.  From the kick off, 3-0 became 4-0 as Giroud, either by accident (probably) or design, allowed a ball to run through to Griezmann and he took it up to the keeper before calmly chipping over him.  Half time and you feared for Iceland and hoped that they wouldn’t get absolutely buried.

Though they were getting thoroughly outclassed, this Iceland team undoubtedly has spirit and they went for it and were rewarded when a cross from the right was converted on the volley at the near post by Sigthorsson, showing that he can’t only score goals again goalkeepers who have been clinically proven not to have dandruff.  No sooner was it back to 4-1, then it was 5-1 as Halldorsson got very flappy under a cross and Giroud got there first and nodded into the unguarded goal.  France were creating chances at will as Iceland tried to get another back and they did themselves no favours by taking Giroud off and putting Gignac on who put his own personal quest for a goal ahead of the greater good of burying the Icelanders.  It was nice to see Iceland get another back in the last 10 minutes as Bjarnason got on the end of a cross from the left to head past Lloris.

So, goodbye Iceland – you’ve been quite a story, not least because you highlighted what a shambolic bag of shit England are.  The players and fans all performed their Viking Clap in unison which is really cool.  England of course wouldn’t have shown enough teamwork to perform that.

Semi Finals of Wales v Portugal and France v Germany it is then.  Normally you’d pick a Portugal v Germany final but the Germans aren’t great and France are at home and Wales seem to have something and Portugal seem to find a way to win without actually winning.  My predictions are that Wales will struggle without Ramsey and Davies and this will be one game too far and that Germany will piss on the French party, being as they are, the first decent team that France have played.

England…. Well the new manager race is hotting up, sort of.  Southgate has rules himself out of the running which has to be good news.  Hoddle fancies it and right now, no one gives a fuck and won’t for a while.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Euro 2016 Part 6 - Shit.

£14 million for Being Useless, Not Too Shabby!

Somehow, despite being in what was generally held to be the more difficult side of the draw, England had landed themselves a last 16 match against Iceland. That's Iceland, the little country in between Scotland and Greenland. They have got through this far by drawing with Portugal which got the shiny twat Ronaldo slightly annoyed, drawing with Hungary and then beating Austria so all in all their progress through to the last 16 was better than ours. The assumption was that we would be better in this game though and show our class. I'd say that was a pretty dangerous assumption. Roy Hodgson gave no indication that he knew what he was doing yet again as the rumours emerged that Raheem Sterling was going to play and apart from that it was to be the team that failed so spectacularly to do anything in our first game and a half at the tournament aside from Sturridge for Lallana. Lallana, despite being thick as mince has actually been one of our better players so far, even with the gaping deficiency of not being able to finish anything. Sturridge, when he started against Slovakia, was absolute shite.

When interviewed before the game about why a woefully out of form shite player had been included, Hodgson said that we would need width today. So he's gonna play wide then is he? Good.

We started well and Sterling was put through and Halldorsson hesitated as he came out and took him out... Penalty, even though there was an element of Sterling falling into the goalkeeper. It wasn't a red card as Sterling was heading nowhere except out of play so a dumb decision by the keeper. Up steps Rooney and buries it for 1-0, get in.

The early goal was supposed to be ideal as it meant that Iceland wouldn't be able to park the bus and we'd be able to pick them off on the break etc. Anyhow, from the kick off, Rose put the ball out for a throw. Iceland have been dangerous from long throws but it's nothing we haven't seen before so no worries. Gunnarsson hurls it to the edge of the box, flicked on by the giant Arnason who is up against Rooney and Sigurdsson (not Gylfi) has got behind Walker who is asleep and bundles in to net. Fuck off! Why the fuck have we got Rooney marking the big guy and what a surprise with Walker - the first bit of defending he had to do all tournament and look what occurred. 6 minutes, 1-1.

Something has happened. Something has gone wrong. Suddenly, we are not closing down anywhere on the pitch and allowing Iceland to just pass the ball about. This is the team that do not pass the ball and do not have any possession but we are allowing them to pass it about at will. They work it up to the edge of the box, a quick layoff and Sigthorsson fires in a shot and Joe Hart dives over it like a complete cunt and it rolls under his wrist. 2-1 down. On top of the goal he threw in against Wales, that is a fucking scandal. It is not his fault that we allowed them to string 20 passes together without so much as a challenge before the shot but fuck me he's got to save that. Still, at least he hasn't got fucking dandruff.

We created little for the rest of the first half.  A Sturridge cross and a Kane volley that was straight at the keeper being the best of it.  I can just imagine that wanker Hodgson’s Churchillian speech at half time but what he did that was noticeable was remove Eric Dier (who had been shite to be fair) and bring on Jack Fucking Wilshere, last seen being taken off against Slovakia because he was shite and not fit.  Is that the cavalry?  Why not try Ross Barkley you useless old goat?

Nothing much happened, except Iceland nearly scored again when we didn’t defend a corner and a point blank overhead kick hit Hart on the chest and bounced out.  He should have controlled it and rolled it along the ground – then it would have gone in.  Our first effort was a free kick from miles out which Kane took and smashed miles wide.  7 players in the penalty area and he does that.  He’s shot to bits – take him off for fucks sake.  Kane does get on the end of a Wilshere cross but heads straight at the keeper.

Iceland nearly score again on the break but Hart pulls off a decent save from Gunnarsson.  Roy gives Vardy 30 minutes or so instead of the unless little fuck that is Sterling, pulling Kane back into midfield and then with 4 minutes to go, wiith us having done nothing at all, Rashford comes on for Rooney.  He has a few promising runs on the left wing but it’s too little too late.  One final cross into the box and an Icelandic head gets there before Vardy and that’s it.  Wankers.

Iceland deservedly go through to a quarter final in Paris against France and I wouldn't bet against them messing them up as well and fair play to them. Brilliant team spirit and work ethic which against ramshackle uninspired crap like England is all you need.

And so we reach the end of another international tournament for England. This one has brought the most humiliating exit I can remember in my entire lifetime. I thought we'd have to go something to eclipse 2014 and our two game, no guts exit but Roy fucking Hodgson and his gutless bunch of fucking useless clowns have managed it. No system, no plan, no chance. Out, beaten by Iceland who’ve got a talent pool of about 30 blokes to choose from.  When they chose their initial squad, number 40 was a fucking penguin because they didn’t have enough blokes. At least we used to get knocked out by traditional football nations but not anymore. We get beaten by teams who just have to be organised. They even gave us a goal start.

Hodgson quit even before the magnificent Icelandic fans and players had vacated the stands and the pitch. He turned up and read out his resignation letter which he had to have written before the game. Just let that sink in... When he should have been spending every waking moment earning his £3.5 million a year and masterminding a game plan to beat Iceland, he was spending time writing a resignation letter. Also, he shouldn't have even been remotely thinking about getting beat by Iceland. The prepared statement meant he didn't have to answer any questions but I guess they'll happen another day but maybe they won't unless he's obliged to. Crawl under your rock and retire you useless senile old goat. I really hope that no media channels on the radio or TV give him any airtime to top up his pension pot. You've gone Roy, you're a disgrace, you're an idiot and we all knew it. There is no way he should have survived 2014 but he did and then wasted 10 easy qualifying games and all the friendlies. No plan, no system, wrong players.

As Roy wasn't taking questions, here are some I'd like answered, mixed in with some commentary about what the hell we've just witnessed.

Why wasn't Joe Hart dropped after Wales? He was clearly shot to bits. Why not after Slovakia? Yes he kept a clean sheet but was as nervous as you like. Fraser Forster may not have international experience but you gotta start somewhere and I promise you he would not have let in that goal against Iceland. He would not have let in that goal against Wales and I don't remember a single save that Hart made that any other competent keeper would not have made. It's another example of our inability to drop a big name.

Was anyone surprised when the first bit of defending Kyle Walker had to do, ended up with a free shot from 6 yards and a goal? I wasn't surprised. Clyne is the better full back. Always was, always will be but everyone got blinded by Tottenham last season so if you played for Spurs then you were in, regardless of the competition. The 'back' bit in 'right back' is a bit of a clue as to what you are supposed to be good at in that position. Much will be made of Walker's rampaging performances against Wales and Russia but Clyne was equally as good in that regard against Slovakia.

Rooney played in midfield because Van Gaal used him there for United because he wasn't good enough to take the place of Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial up front. This gave Hodgson a way to shoe horn him into the side. He played very well in the first two games against poor teams when under little pressure but he was useless today and crap when he came on in that Slovakia game. That usually happens when a player plays out of position, you get the odd good game and then one where he looks completely lost. Why are we conducting this midfield experiment in a major championship? Oh yes, because as you quoted Roy, "Wayne Wooney is Wayne Wooney". No he's not Roy and he hasn't been for years. Wayne Rooney retired about 8 years ago and since then, this fat bloke with a squirrel in his head has taken his place.

Mind you, if Rooney hadn't played in midfield, who would have? Injured Wilshere who was clearly not up to it (big fucking shock after being injured all season) or maybe Henderson who is simply not good enough or maybe Milner... Give me strength. Maybe the midfielder who won the Premier League might have been worth a place. Just a thought but he was on holiday.

Harry Kane .... Fucking hell. He fell over the line at the end of the season. He was crap for Spurs in the last few weeks and clearly knackered yet he started the first two games. He was shocking and given the additional responsibility of set pieces which he didn't need. Oh yes, he's not good at them either. He's shot to bits and it’s your fault Hodgson. I have never seen a player visibly crumble as Kane did in the last half an hour against Iceland but still he was left on the pitch whilst the fresh and totally fearless Marcus Rashford was left on the bench.  By the end, Kane was looking like a man who had never seen a football before as it was going under his foot or bobbling off his shin.

Oh yes, Rashford.  Only in the squad because Hodgson was scared of the media reaction to not taking him, he’s actually looked pretty good. We're going out of the tournament and Roy gives Rashford 4 minutes to save us. Why not half an hour? He did more in 4 minutes than most did in 90. Kane was shit and visibly disintegrating, Sturridge was useless, Alli was useless.

Sturridge – fucking hell. He has ability, as a striker. He's not a winger or a wide forward. Anyone can see this except the bloke paid £3.5 million a year to see it. He is simply too greedy and does not have the awareness to play anywhere other than as a central striker. He was great against Wales as a sub but shocking as a starter against Slovakia, probably because he’s spent the whole season injured so hasn’t got 90 minutes in him. Picked to start out wide against Iceland he was absolutely useless. Everyone saw it coming... Except Roy Hodgson.

Why on earth did we end up playing a formation that requires wide players when we only took one wide player in the squad and that was Raheem Sterling who was never that good anyway but now he is completely shot to bits. A £50 million winger who never gets a cross in, rarely beats a man and plays on the left when he has no left foot. He also doesn't know when to run and when to slow down. He sprints for five yards and then stops like it’s that training drill you do between lamp posts – jog three and then sprint one.  All his runs are from the wing to the centre of the pitch and so he offers no width at all which according to Hodgson, was the reason he was picked to start the Iceland game. Did Hodgson tell him to stay wide or not?  Andros Townsend, Theo Walcott, Michail Antonio....all watching on TV, all quick, all natural wide players, all playing better than Sterling at the end of the season.  Forget his transfer fee, forget what he did at Liverpool.  What did Raheem Sterling do this season and more specifically, in the second half of last season.  Answer: fuck all.

I could go on all fucking night about the nonsensical decisions that have been made by Roy Hodgson. Some of it is of course in the benefit of hindsight but so much of it was incredibly predictable. He was making it up as he went along, frightened to make any decision. £3.5 million a year.  He’s earned £7 million since the last World Cup.  Fucking hell. Can I have my money back you charlatan.  He crapped on about us needing to be an attacking side which is why he loaded the squad with strikers. At times we had four or five strikers on the pitch but only one was playing as a striker, the others were being shoehorned into wide midfield positions which simply didn't suit them. Not many English players are adaptable but he was incapable of making a decision. if you have five strikers but only one striker in the formation that you want to play then you can only pick one of them. Just decide which one. That's what you are paid £3.5 million pounds a year to do.

You could blame it all on the FA of course. They didn't sack the useless prick after 2014. The same FA are now in charge with finding a successor. The next yes-man off the rank is Gareth fucking Southgate who's appointment would guarantee a half full Wembley for the first World Cup qualifier. Glenn Hoddle's name has come up again but after listening to him as a co-commentator on ITV, I do wonder if he's spent too long out of the game as he now just seems to talk utter bollocks. Who do you call for when your team is complete shit and you need to get a job done? That's right, Sam Allardyce... We could certainly do a lot worse and we probably will.

The players need to take a long hard look at themselves as well.  You need leaders to take hold if it and say ‘this isn’t fucking working’ and shake a few people up.  Nothing.  Fucking useless.  No doubt we’ll be watching Sky in a month or so and they’ll be telling us how brilliant everyone is.  Wankers.  Rooney, just retire mate.

We have another ridiculously easy qualifying group for the next tournament, World Cup 2018 in Russia. Slovakia are the 2nd seeds and Scotland are in there as well. Unless they appoint Southgate, we will probably all tune in again for the qualifiers. Things can only get better especially now that fucking idiot Hodgson has gone. The England rugby team has recently been transformed from being a joke to being the All Blacks main challenge by just by appointing the right coach. A similar transformation has happened with the cricket side. I believe the players are out there but we need to identify the right players and give them the right guidance. For now though, the consolation from another completely dismal England tournament exit is: Thank fuck the Roy Hodgson Era is over.