Tuesday, April 17, 2007

News Catch-up

A selection of recent news stories from the world of football that we'd love to have talked about earlier but frankly didn't have the time...

Neil Desperandum

How very sad. How incredibly ignorant and pathetic.

That was my reaction to the utterances of Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock last Friday as he was interviewed on the eve of their match against West Ham. Warnock was aggrieved by the fact that West Ham were likely to avoid relegation due to a goal scored by Hayden Mullins against the Blades in their previous encounter which should not have been given and another scored recently by Bobby Zamora against Blackburn where the ball never actually crossed the line.

Such things happen in football as we all know, but because Warnock's side are now slipping dangerously close to the relegation zone that West Ham may now scramble out of, he feels West Ham don't deserve to stay up. By his reckoning, West Ham have played poorly all season as reflected in the poor number of points they've accrued (which no-one can deny), but what an insult it would be if they avoided the drop on the back of those two 'non-goals'?

He even went on to say that “everyone else will be very bitter” if the Hammers were to stay in the Premiership (by a single point) too.

Well here's a reminder for Mr. Warnock: the Premiership is played over an entire season, and if at the end of that season West Ham somehow manage to gain just enough points to stay up while Sheffield United endure months without a win, he'll have no-one to blame but his miserable old self.

It's hard to be spiteful about an individual - especially one who this season has been less irascible and outspoken than in the past - but on the basis of his comments last week it has to be said that this emotionless man deserves to be banished back to the lower leagues he languished in for so long.

Chelsea v Man U x 3

So we appear to be heading for a triple showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United, but what are we to make of it all?

If the great fixture organiser in the sky has his way, we could be seeing a European Champions League Final, an FA Cup Final and a Premiership decider all featuring the top two teams in England. Such a mouthwatering prospect... or is it?

On paper, it could be a chance to see two teams that both think they're the best thing since sliced bread battling it out in a goal-packed and somewhat fractious series of games, but do we need to see the same thing played out in triplicate?

Yes, they're both great teams that at times play to a breathtakingly high standard, but the big games are an ideal opportunity to showcase the variety and talent of as many teams as possible and to that end it's a pity we may be denied the chance to see it.

And I know what you're going to say - it's not the fault of Chelsea or Man United that they've been successful enough to get where they are - but it's got to be a fear amongst many that follow the game that this may be the start of a trend that leads to only the biggest teams battling it out for glory.

In the meantime, let's keep our fingers crossed that we at least get to see one game between the two that shows the quality they have as a sign of the best that the Premiership has to offer.

Brazil to host the 2014 World Cup... maybe...

On the eve of UEFA's announcement on who's to host the 2012 European Championships, FIFA has given notification that Colombia have now dropped out of the race to host the 2014 World Cup. This leaves Brazil as the only contenders under FIFA's continental rotation policy that dictates that the World Cup after next should be held in South America.

But before you pack your yellow and green shirt and head off for your apartment overlooking Copacabana beach, be warned: things aren't as cut and dried as they look.

The problem is that Brazil lack the wherewithal to host the World Cup. Its stadia are in desperate need of an overhaul, its transport links are feeble and the money to improve both is practically non-existent. Even if the Brazilian government could somehow stump up the money to make such wide-ranging improvements, it would meet vehement opposition from the public who feel it would be better spent on education, crime and poverty.

And yet by taking on such a huge project, Brazil could make things better for themselves. The jobs created to improve the transport systems and build nearby hotels could invigorate the local and national economy. The notoriously low attendance figures for league football would undoubtedly be boosted and who knows - maybe tomorrow's young players would want to ply their trade in their home country rather than in Europe?

Deep down, I suspect many of us would love to see the World Cup return to Brazil for the first time since 1950. It represents the spiritual and emotional aspects of the competition and the game of football itself to millions all over the world, so it seems only right that Brazil should provide it with a temporary home in seven years time. Don't be surprised, though, if sheer practicality dictates that the World Cup doesn't on this occasion return to the birthplace of Jairzinho, Rivelino and Pélé.


patrick said...

It's hard to be spiteful about an individual - unless that individual is Neil Warnock.

The Blades' have probably done enough to stay up, players like Jagielka have done them proud. Unfortunately Warnock's constant bitching probably prevents a lot of neutrals from warming to them.

Chris said...

I couldn't agree more, Patrick. Maybe next season they'll go down as West Ham head back up again...


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