Sunday, June 25, 2006

Just a quickie before England's game with Ecuador…

Written by Smart

Apparently its going to be a hot day today in Stuttgart, where England face Ecuador at 5pm local time. Infact heat has played a part in many of Englands recent tournament matches. Against Paraguay 2 weeks ago, games in Portugal (Euro 2004) and Japan (World Cup 2002)… well it is the summer for god sake – what did you expect?

Poor second half performances due to the above have cost England dearly in the past, and will probably continue to do so unless some thinking changes, and my thinking is now this – before a major tournament, don’t play games in England – play and train overseas instead.

Englands warm-up for Germany 2006 was to play Jamaica in ‘sunny’ Manchester, hardly the most appropriate place to acclimatise to stifling heat of the impending summer. In major tournaments we will face the likes of Paraguay, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil and many many more teams which are used to playing in the heat.

So why not take a month off and play and train in such countries? Why not train in Argentina or Brazil for a month, and play matches there? Too much of a culture shock? Then how about Florida? Or just too far? Well then how about closer to home, such as parts of Africa – Egypt, Tunisia or Morocco for instance. Even Turkey perhaps, even that gets hot enough. Surely places such as those are more appropriate for a summer tournament than Manchester?

Well I’m off to watch the game. I hope England win, but with the predicted temperatures most likely to suit an Ecuadorian than an Englishman abroad, I am expecting a very nervous second half. Again.

And in case you were wondering - the next World Cup is to be held in… South Africa.


Chris said...

Excellent article, and you make your point very well. I agree totally with what you say there, and let's face it - unless the World Cup ever gets held in Finland or Iceland, you're always going to come up against warm temperatures when the Finals start.

And just to extend your point at the end, the 2014 World Cup will more than likely be in Brazil. Go figure...

Kedge said...

Yes! Agreed! Superb article.

Didn't the squad have a get together in Portugal at the end of the domestic season? I realise it wasn't a serious build-up session, more a get to know you meeting. Our trouble is, there are too many groups involved with our football. The FA, the Premier League, the Football League, the Clubs, the Owners, the Sponsors, the Players, the agents, the Press.

And don't forget the real owners of English Football..... BSKYB.

They all want to make as much money as possible, therefore they want as many games as possible which means little time for a decent rest for the players, no time for a really serious, scientifically devised build-up program.
Then you can add in the Wembley fiasco. This centrepiece of english Football was due to be ready for the FA Cup, followed by England warm-up matches (again for financial reasons not footballing reasons). This meant the warm-up matches were arranged for this country and when it became obvious the Wembley would never be ready even for the 2012 Olympics, it was too late to rearrange outside of England. Besides, why would Jamacia want to play in Egypt/Tunisia/Brazil etc, when their biggest fan base is right here in the UK? Again, money talks. 1,500 die-hard fans in some overseas stadium against 80,000 paying customers in Manchester? No contest. Sod the England squad's chances at the World Cup.

How do we solve this dilemma? God only knows. Take the powers that and have them shot at dawn. Then start again with a single governing body with footballing experience?

Anonymous said...

Sitting just opposite Chris has been the main reason that I have not written so far. Don't get me wrong - I was not put off by him - au contraire. Chris encouraged me to write and now I finally got something to 'b*tch' about.

After the game with Ecuador I got a phone call from my other mate Chris, with whom I had a long conversation (I don't want to say argument - although it was damn close to one) about England’s performance (or lack of).

This time is the old one of acclimatisation. Although I am supporting England (being a non-Englishman) I am increasingly getting frustrated with the excuses that they are coming up for bad performances. Surely they must have thought about this. Surely you will not expect the team to play in Siberia. I wonder what will happen when they play in South Africa in four years time (assuming they qualify). Ok it may be winter in the summer hemisphere when the world cup will be played – but surely it will be as warm as it is now in Germany.

All of this prompted me to come up with a list of lame yet obvious excuses that I have ever heard and then rated them (most of them not football related). Feel free to suggest other ranking – but I bet you will never be able to dislodge the number one.

5. Acclimatisation (of the English team)
Beckham who plays in Spain is surely acclimatised by now.
4. Serbia blaming Albanians when Montenegro voted for independence
I really thought that they will go on to blame the defender Duljaj for their heavy loss against Argentina - who judging from his surname – his dad must have been Albanian.
3. ‘Wrong leaves on tracks’
For the last 12 years that I have lived in England / London – I have heard this same excuse in autumn.
2. The ‘snow surprised us!’
This one I heard in Kosova where in January the snow surprised the authorities.
1. ‘Wrong sunshine angle’
This is my favourite. A few years back, there was one sunny winter day in England (certainly the only one I have ever seen). And on that day I was listening to the rush hour report on the radio sitting in my car on one of many traffic jams. One of those jams was on the M11 south, caused by a big pile up. I heard on the radio as to how the official line (read: excuse) was that it was caused by the ‘wrong sunshine angle’.
I mean - COME ON!!!!



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