So I have to admit when Germany beat England 4-1 I think happy would be the tamed down version of how I was feeling, and as a Scotsman I’m sure you can forgive me of that, we don’t like to hear the media blab on about how good the Premier League is which means England will win the World Cup so when they get knocked out, I think the other Home Nations and Ireland have a mini celebration of their own, now I get a little grief for the “England Bashing” but it’s how I was brought up so it’s not going to change, I live in England, I work in England, the girl I’m marrying is English, it’s just the media really, good to see them knocked down a peg or two.

The one great thing that has come out of the English defeat was the self defecation of the English football system, youngsters not getting a chance, too many foreigners, and the way kids get taught etc. Everything that is needed to create a successful football legacy was deemed to be sub par in the English game, surely though the other Home Nations can be put into the same bracket, we all have the same set-up and if England are being criticised for not bringing through youth, then what can be said for the rest of the teams on the two Islands, Once upon a time top English teams were littered with Scottish, Welsh and Irish players, nowadays they are found at the bottom edge of the Premier League and in the Championship which is no shame as they are good leagues, not quite the same as when Dalglish, Souness, Strachan, McAllister even Charlie Nicholas graced the best teams in the league, right now in the teams that finished in the Champions League places you can find, Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Gareth Bale and Robbie Keane who of course graced us with his presence in the SPL for half of this season, so out of the top 4 teams, only two of them had players from the other home nations and Ireland, and the list isn’t very long, what has gone wrong with British football.

The complaints also start “It’s those foreigners coming here for big money ruining our game…” Now there is part of this that’s true, the amount of foreigners that have come in has increased year after year and this has taken places away from British players, I have no problem with players the likes of Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabergas, Cristiano Ronaldo and the like, these players are at the top of their game and enhance the league in so many ways, the same as Brian Laudrup and Henrik Larsson did for the Scottish League, however I have a problem with teams bringing in mediocre European or South American players and they sit on the bench get a few minutes here or there and earn good money for the minutes they get, there are a few reasons why this happens.

# 1.Foreign players cost less.

 Look at West Ham this January brought in Benny McCarthy, Mido and Ilan all signed up to score goals.

Benny McCarthy – 5 games – 0 goals

Mido – 9 games – 0 goals

Ilan – 11 games – 4 goals

So 25 games between the 3 and only 4 goals scored, and luckily for West Ham they stayed up, Mido was on loan, Ilan was on a free, and McCarthy cost around £2.25 million, so they got 3 players for just over £2m and they got them 4 goals, around £500,000 not actually that bad a business deal without taking wages into account.

# 2. British Players cost too much

Steven Fletcher – 8 goals in 35 games for Burnley, personally think he had a great season, really stepped up from his days at Hibs and performed at a great level, but he only got 8 goals, and he has just moved to Wolves for £7 million, that’s a lot of money for someone had has a worse goals per game record than Ilan.

Ched Evans – 4 goals in 33 games for Sheffield United, there was great promise for this guy when he was at Manchester City, The Blades paid 3 million pound for Ched a big sum for an unproven player and not exactly the return you would hope.

What I’m trying to prove here is that even though everyone wants teams to play more English/British players it’s not always easy or cost effective, it’s easier to sign a foreigner pay less upfront and get a decent return, why shell out more money for a similar return just to help out the game.

It reminds me of the transfer of Roberto Rios from Real Betis to Athletic Bilbao, Rios was a decent defender but not brilliant, a few teams had shown an interest and were quoted about £4million, then Athletic Bilbao came in for Rios, Rios born in Bilbao interested the Bilbao side with their Basque only policy, Betis uses this to their advantage and charged Bilbao £9 million, a big jump from £4mil, however Betis took advantage of knowing Bilbao had a weakness with their policy.

I can see the same thing happening in England with this new 25 man squad quota with 8 home-grown players, either teams will buy foreign but earlier like Fabergas and bring them through, or the big clubs will get taken to the cleaners and charged extra for any English players they show an interest in, because the smaller teams know they need to buy English, It’s a vicious circle, and I’m not sure how you break it.

Poor Coaching

I think what the Premier League are trying to do with this rule is encourage teams to bring through their own players, develop them and therefore not need to buy expensive foreigners unless of course they are at the top of their game. All in all this is a good idea, however there needs to be a lot of changes to the way British football is run before we will see any effects, there have been many stats thrown about with the number of UEFA trained coaches in this country compared to the other top nations, it’s a disgrace that there are not more properly trained coaches, there is a great chapter in the book “The Italian Job” by Gabriel Marcotti and Gianluca Vialli about the famous Italian training centre, the name escapes me just now, but all coaches are made to go their for a 2 year course to learn the intricacies of the game and make sure they are fully prepared for life as a football manager, there needs to be something put in place like that in this country, don’t just give people like Gareth Southgate a job because he was a player, he should have been made to go away learn his trade and build his way up, and now he’s a pundit for ITV, not a successful career in management.

A few years ago I looked into doing a UEFA badge as a means of maybe getting a job a some level of football club, the price I found was £2000 compared the level 2 Basketball Coaches licesne I am soon to go for which costs £160 and will give me the ability to coach any Basketball team in Europe, just a little bit of a difference, so I don’t blame people for not jumping onto these course, so what are the other countries doing right that people are jumping on them, it’s not like the credit crunch only effected the United Kingdom, something is wrong somewhere.

When I was a kid playing football, training consisted of running, conditioning work more running and maybe at the end if you were good you got to play with the ball, I was picked at a Centre Half because I was fat, surely putting me against usually the best and fastest players upfront is not a good idea, I was actually better on the right as I had a decent right foot, once came on as a sub, set up two goals, next game I was back in the centre of defence.

The one thing I was told when playing at centre half was “if the ball comes to you, just hit it as hard as you can up the field!” what a genius my manager was.

Of course that was over 10 years ago and I really hope the standard and method of coaching has improved, from what I hear from Kids, Dads and some research etc for all the good coahces there are out there that are trying to play the game the right way, there are still a large majority that play the old fashioned way, pump the ball forward and chase after it

Basketball Priciples

Now I’m 28 so it’s been a while since my football days, however I have the honour right now of learning to be a Basketball Coach for Leeds Carnegie, been going for a year now, and It’s such a different mindset, we pride ourselves on player development, not on the results we get, we had an Boys U13, U14 and U15’s team and a U14 girls team, and out of the 4 teams we probably lost more games than we won, however we had 25 players go on to play for Yorkshire, which is a vindication of how we go about setting up our teams, they may not be the best teams but as individuals they are fundamentally sound and when they grow up to be 18/19 or older and hopefully go on to bigger and better things, they will be able to learn all the team principles they needs because they will have the fundamentals locked down.

From what I can see this is not what is taught in football, players will skill and individual talent are known as “greedy” “selfish” players and they need to be more team oriented, and the skill and expression is drilled out of them from the ages of 12/13 onwards then when they get to a higher level they all play the same way have the same British mentality, and yeah they might go on to be good footballers, however we will never see a player of the likes of Iniesta/Messi come through that system.

I am not saying the Basketball system is perfect as lots of teams don’t have the same principles that we do at Leeds, and most have a very “British” mentality, small players are bad, big and strong players are could, and they very quickly type cast players before they even develop, looking at the Dutch performance last night in the World Cup final looking at Van Bronckhorst got me thinking of his adaptability, started off if I’m right at Feyenoord and could play Right-Midfield, moved to Rangers, played more centrally, then onto Arsenal, became more of a fullback, then last night he started the World Cup Final at Left Back as the captain of his country, how many British players could have adapted like that, I like to think it’s the Dutch mentality of “Total Football” and interchanging positions that gave him the ability to adapt and continue his career, it seems players like James Milner that can play more than one position baffle the football hierarchy the ability to perform and multiple positions seems to hinder his chances at playing, a ridiculous notion a very British notion.

Size isn’t everything

While looking at the England Basketball website a few months ago I saw an advertisement for players interested in playing for England, the advert said something like, “If you are over 6’ 4’’ and would like to try out for the English team please register your interest here” Now I find that all wrong, you can have all the height in the world but no matter how tall you are, if you’ve not got it, you’ve not got it, what about the 6 foot 2 kid sat at home that reads that, wants to have a try, but because of his height no one will even look at him, what an awful thing to do, yes height is important, it is not the be all and end all, we have a kid who is 5 foot 8 and can touch the rim, and we have a 6 foot 3 kid that can reach the same height, the smaller kid is much the better basketball player and I have high hopes for him, he will need to grow though, however at 14 he’s got plenty of time.

We have got very lucky in the past 2 weeks a kid who is 15 his started coming to our team, he played in Sheffield last year, and stands at a huge 6 feet 8 inches tall, a coaches dream, has some knee problems but he can play, now the problem is at Sheffield he’s only been taught how to be a big man, moves under basket etc, Yes he is the biggest players in our team, however he won’t always be, at 18 he could be playing with two 7 foot giants and no longer able to play the big man, he’ll need to show what else he has, that’s why we teach all the kids the fundamentals of every position, we have a kid called Roshan, he’s that small when he wears the shorts it looks like he’s wearing trousers, however if you give him the ball under the basket he has the moves to outwit the biggest of defenders, now if this kid stretches to near 7 foot, he has the skill set to play any position he wants.

Now lets relate this back to football, look at the World Champions, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Navas not the biggest players in the World, and I can guarantee if they had been British not a chance in hell they would have been allowed to play in the centre of midfield, they would have been classed as wingers, too small for midfield too small to be a striker, and they’re skill and artistry would have been lost to the game, and what a travesty that would have been, the same has happened with Joe Cole, great on the ball, lovely passer, where do England play him, Left midfield, personally I’d give him a role similar to Pedro for Spain let him come inside create things and you’d get the best of him, don’t confide him to the wings, the same principles apply to Cristiano Ronaldo an out and out winger, I remember when he scored a header at Euro 2004 the shock in the commentators voice, a winger won a header, surely not, overlooking the fact he’s 6 foot 1 and good in the air, the mindset of he’s a winger what’s he doing heading the ball.

Bright Future?

Lots of things have to change in this country, the coaching, the academies, the influx of foreign players, however before all that changes the one thing we need to change is the backward thinking that does and always will exist in this country, if nations like Uruguay and Slovenia both with tiny populations can achieve success on the greatest football stage, there is absolutely no reason that with the right structure England, Scotland even Wales and the Irish teams can’t achieve similar results.

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Some good game and some bad games, the most important things is for me the best 4 teams from the 2 groups went through and have set up to tasty matches, bring on the Last 16.

PORTUGAL

0

 

BRAZIL

0

         
1.EDUARDO     1.Julio CESAR  
2.Bruno ALVES     2.MAICON  
5.DUDA – Y OUT – 54   3.LUCIO – C  
6.Ricardo CARVALHO     4.JUAN – Y  
7.Cristiano RONALDO     5.Felipe MELO – Y OUT – 44
10.DANNY     6.Michel BASTOS  
15.PEPE – Y OUT – 64   8.Gilberto SILVA  
16.Raul MEIRELES OUT – 84   9.Luis FABIANO – Y OUT – 85
19.TIAGO – Y     13.Dani ALVES  
21.Ricardo COSTA     19.Julio BAPTISTA OUT – 82
23.Fabio COENTRAO – Y     21.NILMAR  
         
Subs     Subs  
8.Pedro MENDES IN – 64   17.JOSUE IN – 44
11.SIMAO IN – 54   18.RAMIRES IN – 82
14.Miguel VELOSO IN – 84   23.GRAFITE IN – 85

MY THOUGHTS

Not going to spend long on this game as it was truly awful, only 2 half chances I can think of from Ronaldo and Fabiano, the memory I do have is the referee handing out Yellow card after yellow card, a very scrappy game, one of the truly bad games at this World Cup, the fact that both teams had all but qualified really showed in the performances, Nilmar and Baptista did nothing to push for a starting place, as did Danny for Portugal, Fabio Coentrao played well again, one of the surprising stars so far, really want to see more of him for club and country.

Only high note I can leave this on is that both teams will play again and they won’t play worse, and I expect much much more, or they won’t last long.

KOREA DPR

0

 

COTE D’IVOIRE

3

      Yaya TOURE (14′)  
      ROMARIC (20′)  
      Salomon KALOU (82′)  
         
1.RI Myong Guk     1.Boubacar BARRY  
2.CHA Jong Hyok     3.Artur BOKA  
3.RI Jun Il     4.Kolo TOURE  
4.PAK Nam Chol     5.Didier ZOKORA  
5.RI Kwang Chon     9.Cheik TIOTE  
8.JI Yun Nam     10.GERVINHO OUT – 64
9.JONG Tae Se     11.Didier DROGBA – C  
10.HONG Yong Jo     13.ROMARIC OUT – 79
11.MUN In Guk OUT – 67   18.Kader KEITA OUT – 64
13.PAK Chol Jin     19.Yaha TOURE  
17.AN Yong Hak     21.Emmanuel EBOUE  
         
Subs     Subs  
16.KIM Kum Il IN – 67   15.Aruna DINDANE IN – 64
      7.Seydou DOUMBIA IN – 79
      8.Salomon KALOU IN – 64

MY THOUGHTS

Despite all the connetations of what the Cote D’Ivoire could do to qualify in my eyes it was always a nothing game, CIV were never going to score 8 and Portugal were never going to ship lots of goals, it was nice though for Drogba and his men to get a well deserved victory in this tournament, the only down side for me was the appearance of Kader Keita, he who feigned injury causing Kaka’ to get sent off, a disgraceful bit of simulation, I would have expected FIFA to ban keita for at least the next match, after some internet searching it seems that FIFA have said nothing about the incident, so a note to all players at the World Cup It seems trying to get someone sent off in a match is encourage in this tournament so keep up the good work, god FIFA boil my blood at times.

Anyway back to the football, I thought Yaya Toure took his goal really well placing the shot rather than trying to smash it, was a nice finish, for the Romaric goal the way Drogba took the ball down was superb, a deft touch and a wonderful shot so unlucky it didn’t go in Romaric was there to head the ball in so Drogba’s effort was not wasted, from the highlights I saw Gervinho looked very dangerous again and I look forward to him having another great season for Lille, on a different day he could have had 2 or 3 goals.

Artur Boka’s performance today sort of brings Sven’s lineup choices up again, Boka played in 3 great balls that set up the 3 goals, Tiene set up no goals in the 2 games he played, Gervinho should not have been dropped after the Portugal game and maybe these choice cost Ivory Coast a place in the last 16, this group shows apart from drawing a tough, the fixtures can play a part also, I wonder if Ivory Coast’s last  game had been against Brazil or Portugal if the standing would have looked any different, a lot harder to play Brazil when they need to win the game as Eriksson’s man found out in Jo’burg.

Korea DPR lie bottom of the group, I feel sorry for them, not disgraced in the first game and things looked good for them, positives will be #9 Jong Tae-Se #10 Hong and the #8 Ji all played well in the 3 games, shame Jong couldn’t get his World Cup goal, maybe next time.

SWITZERLAND

0

 

HONDURAS

0

         
1.Diego BENAGLIO     18.Noel VALLADARES  
2.Stephane LICHSTEINER     2.Osman CHAVAZ – Y  
5.Steve VON BERGEN     3.Maynor FIGUEROA  
6.Benjamin HUGGEL OUT – 78   5.Victor BERNARDEZ  
7.Tranquillo BARNETTA     6.Hendry THOMAS – Y  
8.Gokhan INLER     7.Ramon NUNEZ OUT – 67
10.Blaise N’KUFO OUT – 69   8.Wilson PALACIOS – Y  
13.Stephane GRICHTING     10.Jerry PALACIOS OUT – 78
16.Gelson FERNANDES – Y OUT – 46   11.David SUAZO – Y OUT – 87
17.Reto ZIEGLER     16.Mauricio SABILLON  
19.Eren DERDIYOK     17.Edgar ALVAREZ  
         
Subs     Subs  
15.Hakin YAKIN IN – 46   12.Georgie WELCOME IN – 78
23.Xherdan SHAQIRI IN – 78   15.Walter MARTINEZ IN – 67
9.Alexander FREI IN – 69   19.Danilo TURCIOS IN – 87

 

MY THOUGHTS

Only able to watch the 3 minute highlights from the BBC Website, and I think that’ll be enough, doesn’t sound the best game, and it ended a boring nil nil which I am happy with as both Spain and Chile can advance, I hate teams that come to a World Cup to defend, then you defend so much you forget to attack and fail to score against Honduras (no offence) you don’t then deserve to go through at the expense of 2 great attacking teams.

Had to mention David Suazo’s miss, a great cross from Alvarez after he left Gritchting for dead, but the former Inter man could only flick his header wide, need to also mention Benaglio’s save, Alvarez through on goal surely thought he had scored but Diego Benaglio pulled out a tremendous one handed save, possibly the save of the tournament, you need to see it.

Both teams will now go home, and probably deserve to, Honduras showed more attacking ideas than Switzerland, they need to show more going forward in future tournaments, hopefully Honduras will come back stronger with the experience.

CHILE

1

 

SPAIN

2

Rodrigo MILLAR (47′)     David VILLA (24′)  
      Andres INIESTA (37′)  
         
1.Claudio BRAVO     1.Iker CASILLAS  
3.Waldo PONCE – Y     3.Gerard PIQUE  
4.Mauricio ISLA     5.Carles PUYOL  
7.Alexis SANCHEZ OUT – 65   6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Arturo VIDAL     7.David VILLA  
10.Jorge VALDIVIA OUT – 46   8.XAVI  
11.Mark GONZALEZ OUT – 46   9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 55
13.Marco ESTRADA – Y/R     11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
15.Jean BEAUSEJOUR     14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 73
17.Gary MEDEL – Y     15.Sergio RAMOS  
18.Gonzalo JARA     16.Sergio BUSQUETS  
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Fabian ORELLANA IN – 65   10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 55
20.Rodrigo MILLAR IN – 46   20.Javi MARTINEZ IN – 73
22.Esteban PAREDES IN – 46      

MY THOUGHTS

Very enjoyable game, Chile started like a house on fire really taking it to Spain in the first 20 minutes, but then found themselves 1 down, after a crazy moment from keeper Bravo the ball fell to David Villa 35 yards out and he curled it beautifully with his left foot swerving into the empty net, Chile then lost their temper and racked up the yellow cards, including 2 for Manual Estrada, the second of which was not deserved Torres ran across him, Estrada was not even looking at Torres, and the Liverpool man fell over Estrada’s feet went down like a tonne of bricks and the Chile midfielder was given his second yellow and his marching orders, a disgraceful decision and could have cost Chile their place, as while Torres was on the groud Villa had set up Iniesta for Spain’s second.

Marco Bielsa had some work to do at half time, calming down his players was the priortity surely, and it looks like it paid off, substitute Rodrigo Millar hit a shot deflected off Pique and over Casillas into the net.

Bielsa’s men had calmed down however it sort of took the edge off the game and it petered out into a nothing last 15 minutes when nothing of note happened, luckily Switzerland could have still been playing and still not scored and both teams went through.

Alexis Sanchez again was lively again the player that was unexpectedly impressed me is the big #15 Beausejour “The Frenchman” they call him has pace and power, a very strong runner, has the ability to deliver a quality cross and he showed against Honduras he has an eye for goal, the 26 year old plays for America in Mexico and has scored 3 goals in 45 games, I’m surprised at the lack of goal, I will be keeping an eye on Jean.

Again Torres didn’t look himself tonight I wonder if Del Bosque will percivere with Fernando or maybe go for Jesus Navas or Pedro and move Villa to the middle for the Portugal surely he can’t start a 70% Torres again.

Portugal will take on Spain and Chile will play Brazil 2 potentially fantastic games, make the mouth wet with anticipation.

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