Wish You Were Here

More rumblings about Sven Goran Eriksson’s England squad. First up to okeh was Ian Wright who wondered rather egotistically if Shaun Wright-Phillips had been overlooked because of the criticism that he had dished out to the Swede, although he did make a fair point that SWP was omitted from the squad because he is not in Chelsea’s first team whilst he included Theo Walcott is not in Arsenal’s first team. Well, here’s the rub, Ian. If he left out Walcott for SWP, there would have only been three strikers going to Germany. SWP has been left out because he received poor advice to sign for Chelsea. He had the English football world at his feet and should have stayed at Maine Road until after this World Cup. But no, head turned by the lure of filthy lucre, he was publicly advised to go to Stamford Bridge by none other than, er, yourself. This is the price that is paid when signing for a club like Chelsea where they have two players or more, who can play in any particular position. And in any case, SWP has hardly set the world alight when he has got into the First XI, has he? When thinking of who to put in the squad, I like most people, did not even give SWP a second thought. Come to think of it, he never got a first one either. It is rumoured that Liverpool are to offer £14m for him in the summer. Should that turn out to be true, he would well advised to take the contract and get himself back on track.

Meanwhile over in Farmers fields, the most succesful England manager since Don Revie was digging himself out of the vegetable patch to lambast Eriksson for allowing Arsene Wenger to pick the England team. Yep, the Swede was being done in by a Turnip. The internecine vegetable wars have kicked off, Graham Taylor stating that Wenger has persuaded Eriksson to pick Walcott and that the FA have allowed this, “having not given the job to Wenger, Wenger has now picked our team”. What is apparent by this one phrase is Taylor’s bitterness at being removed from the England job. Throughout the whole selection process, Taylor was a regular critic wasting no time in not so much kicking The FA whilst it was down, more stamping on its’ head. Surely the old saying should be changed to “Hell hath no fury like an England manager scorned”?

Ruud van Nistelrooy appears to have argued his way out of Old Trafford this summer. Darth Fergie appears to have had enough of the Dutchman’s frankness and open exchanges with team-mates and will now be moving to pastures new, looking for fresh grazing ground if the right stableboy can come up with around ten million sugarcubes. It is a case of how the mighty have fallen. So low that he was banned from appearing in Roy Keane’s testimonial last night, instead joining a Dutch World Cup Training Camp. To this day, the striker is in the top three of the Leading Goalscorer charts for domestic football and not so long ago was considered to be worth more than £20m. Consider his plight, if one may call it that, alongside that of his bete noir, Thierry Henry. Both have one year left on their contract, both could leave but only one will be valued at something like his true worth, £25m, and even that is a bargain.

Sixteen hundred Liverpool fans are to miss out on the FA Cup Final following the theft of tickets from a Royal Mail Delivery Van in the city. The Millenium Stadium’s policy of not allowing duplicates to be issued has ensured heartbreak for those fans, statistically there are bound to be youngsters in that number. It is not beond the wit of man to enable duplicates to be issued and allow them to be collected in person from the Stadium, upon proof of suitable photographic ID. As it is, their refusal to change their policy has caused considerable ill-feeling towards the game when a quick fix is available. Having enjoyed a number of cup finals, the fans who miss out have my sympathy. The Millenium Stadium authorities have stated that they will eject anyone from the stadium if they sit in those seats. Well, lets see if they do particularly if the individuals in question have bought tickets from a tout having had their tickets stolen initially.

Middlesbrough are on the verge of their first European honours tonight when they take on Sevilla in Eindhoven. After waltzing barefoot through their Group Stage, they have twice come back from a three goal deficit to reach the final. This time however, they face an in-form opponent who are consolidating themselves in the Top Six of the Primera Liga, replicating last seasons performance. This is their first European final and indeed it is more than forty years since their last major honour. For the Teesiders, this is likely to be one game too far this season and I would expect the Andaluz side to win by two goals, maybe 3 – 1 to give the travelling fans one goal to cheer about.

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