Tracklisting as follows:
- Chicken Dog
- Give Me A Chance
- Blues X Man
- Bell Bottoms
- Lovin’ Machine
- Talk About The Blues
- Magical Colours
- Full Grown
Grab it here.
Tracklisting as follows:
Grab it here.
So England did what was expected of them, nothing new learned about the players on show. Gerrard’s goal was the pick of the five and in fairness to the forwards, they were not too wasteful in front of goal. In the other match in England’s group, Israel won 1 – 0 in Estonia to make a three way tie at the top with Macedonia joining them both on three points. The first big game in the group comes on Wednesday when Russia entertain Croatia whilst Israel play host to Andorra and England visit Macedonia.
In Group A, Poland’s World Cup hangover continued with a 3 – 1 home defeat to Finland whilst Nikola Zigic who was linked heavily with Arsenal last January scored the only goal in Serbia’s 1 – 0 win over Azerbaijan, leaving them and Belgium to slug it out for top spot. Well, that’s if FIFA do ban Portugal for the civil suit taken out by Gil Vicente to avoid relegation last season. The papers are reporting that FIFA could ban the national and club teams as a result of this legal action but here’s a newsflash chaps, it is not going to happen so Arsenal will still face Porto in the Champions League.
Group B saw Scotland record the biggest win of the day, 6 – 0 over the Faroe Islands which represents a marked improvement on their normal performances against this type of nation. Italy did their usual poor performance in the opening match of qualifying, stumbling to a 1 – 1 draw at home to Lithuania, even managing to trail for nine minutes in the match before Filipo Inzaghi equalised on the half hour. Unsurprisingly, Thierry Henry scored (and was the only Arsenal player to so yesterday) just after half time to seal France’s 3 – 0 win in Georgia. France play Italy in Paris on Wednesday whilst the Sweaties travel to Lithuania, a win is necessary for them to have their faint hope of qualifying kept alive.
Travelling fans would have been the happiest in Group C as all three visiting nations won. Norway put four past Hungary, Bosnia went one better winning 5 – 2 in Malta whilst defending Champions Greece stumbled to a 1 – 0 win in Moldova. This is a tough group to call as there is not one outstanding team in the seven but the qualifiers should be Greece and Turkey although Bosnia and Norway are more than capable of upsetting the applecart.
Group D on paper ought to be a straight slugfest between Germany and Czech Republic, both sides recording narrow wins yesterday. Tomas Rosicky led the Czechs to a 2 – 1 win over Wales, all three goals coming in the last fourteen minutes, the winner in injury time whilst the feared flattening of the Republic of Ireland never happened as a Lukas Podolski goal separated the two nations. Wales play Brazil on Tuesday at White Hart Lane which will be something of a comedown for the South Americans having played in the splendour of The Emirates this afternoon.
Group F saw the surprising result of the day with Iceland scoring three for the first time in ages during their visit to Belfast. Group favourites Spain cruised past Liechtenstein who will go away thinking that their 4 – 0 defeat was a good result which harks back to the point I made yesterday about what exactly the smaller nations get from matches like this. Sweden won 1 – 0 in Latvia to seal the feeling that the matches between them and the Spaniards will be the ones that decide the top two places.
Finally Group G saw one win registered, the Dutch’s 1 – 0 victory in Luxembourg sees them top. The matches involving Belarus and Albania and Romania v Bulgaria finished two apiece leaving the second place wide open but my hunch is that the Bulgarians will sneak through.
More footballers behaving disgracefully, this time from Division One’s Bristol City. David Partridge, Bradley Orr and Steve Brooker will all be spending time in one of the British Government’s comfortable hotels for their part in a brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol last October. Partridge has a two month booking whilst the other two have a four week stint in the Prison team. Clubmate Scott Brown will do 100 hours of Community Service. They may yet be joined by Ben Thatcher for his recent assault in the Manchester City v Portsmouth game. The FA have apparently decided that Manchester City’s punishment is sufficient according to reports but The Old Bill have yet to take the same view. I find it curious that the press think the FA will not take further action. I know that the disciplinary process is weak but even the FA could not possibly believe that Thatchers six match suspension by his club is sufficient. He has to miss roughly double that amount. Should Thatcher go before the Beaks, he could quite easily end up with two or three months inside, close to what you or I would get if we laid out some unsuspecting punter with our elbow in our local.
Meanwhile David Moyes is threatening to sue over allegations that he forced Wayne Rooney out of Everton. A writ has apparently been issued against The Daily Mail and his lawyers are reading Rooney’s autobography to see if they need more to be issued. Chelsea are also considering suing over allegations of a rift between Kenyon and The Setubal Suedehead, the latter reported by several newspapers to be furious that William Gallas was sold behind his back. Curious idea that, given that Mourinho had already consigned Gallas to the reserves before Arsene Wenger came riding in on his White Charger to rescue the poor lad from his £90k per week hell. Quite why the two Chelsea men are so sensitive on this issue needs some explaining. To my mind, that they are considering suing would indicate that there is a problem between them. It reminds me of the infamously weird Harry Redknapp / Clive Woodward Press Conference to prove that they were good buddies and could work together only to end up convincing everyone that the opposite was true. Given that football is an industry that thrives on rumour and using the press, it would have been better for Chelsea to let this one drop and just get on with their jobs. However, in true Chelsea media attention-grabbing style they could not do so and have put themselves in the position whereby if they do sue, everyone looks on incredulously trying to work out how and where the reputations of Kenyon and Mourinho were besmirched or if they don’t sue, everyone assumes there is a problem and that it is only a matter of time before one or both leaves. Mourinho is in my opinion likely to be first out of the door but I think it will be onto a bigger club, e.g. Barcelona or maybe Juventus in two years time, or else onto the Portugal job.
Some Sunday Funk for you today, tracklisting as follows:
Grab it here.
Todays first post was going to be a preview of the England v Andorra match but to be honest, if England win then its a case of “So what?”. If they win by 5 goals, its a case of “So what?”. Anymore than that and I might start to get impressed. Any less and I think that quite rightly, boots will be flying in the direction of the players or manager, sorry Head Coach, depending on whose fault I perceive it to be. Because lets face it, this is a pointless match in the great scheme of things other than the accumulation of two points. And I do not mean that disrespectfully to Andorra either but believe me, this is an easy international match. McClaren knows it. The players know it and so do we supporters.
With the increased globalisation of football, every nation seems to have its own national team and that is a good thing, do not get me wrong. Where it is becoming poor value is in nations such as San Marino being beaten game in, game out. They derive little or no benefit in playing the top ranked nations, other than to see how much work they have to do to catch up with the rest of Europe in this case. This may seem at first a harsh assessment of the current state of affairs but it is not. Consider the results of the bottom ranked over the past four years and you have to seriously question whether they benefit in any way, shape or form by playing matches against the top ranked nations (and by that I mean those in the top 40 according to FIFA’s idiosyncratic system). Between the bottom ten ranked European nations, they have won around 8% of their games since 2002’s World Cup. This is about 17 games in total. Of the rest, approximately 15 – 20% were draws, leaving them to have lost around 75% of their games in that time period. Can we seriously believe that these results improve their performances? No. Surely it would be better to raise their collective standards to a minimum level?
To this end, a pre-qualifying tournament between the bottom thirty two ranked nations split into eight groups of four would develop their levels. Given the World Cup qualification ended before Christmas 2005, they could have started this tournament in February and played through the World Cup itself. It is not difficult to schedule games in the latter stages on Rest Days to have a less detrimental effect on attendances. Of these, twelve qualifiers would progress to the main Euro 2008 qualification tournament involving 32 teams, in eight groups of four with the top two in each group making the sixteen finalists. International Managers would benefit through this less punishing schedule as players would be together for a one game at a time, the qualification process could take place in one season avoiding the necessity of weeks such as this one with two games in five days. Clubs benefit as the international players would play less football and return to their employers a full week before the next league or cup fixture.
For supporters, this would provide a better quality of opposition, giving a better idea of how good their nation actually is. And because by their very nature ranking systems are fluid, there is a fair probability that the pre-qualifying tournaments will involve some different teams at the top end of the scale avoiding staleness creeping into the process.
For the National Associations, there is more time to play friendlies against high quality opposition to continually improve their financial rewards. The other plus for them, FIFA and UEFA is that clubs can no longer complain about the onerous requirements of the international calendar. Indeed it could be argued by cutting their number of matches they are placing the clubs in a position whereby they have to follow suit and reduce the number of games, effectively forcing them into reducing the size of the top divisions through occupying the moral high ground.
This won’t happen as the Federations and Associations will not look at anything for the good of the game, just for the good of their bank balances.