May 27, 2010
A long, long European season has ended, giving us barely a couple of weeks to recharge our batteries and retune our engines for the World Cup. Mine's a pint of engine oil...
Time then to list my top players of the European season, and compare them to the rankings my selections gained from our friends at the Castrol Rankings. In true Jimmy Savile/Casey Kasem style I shall run through the toppermost of the poppermost in descending order.
May 18, 2010
Just the Champions League final to go before European club football wraps itself in a tight ball for the summer? Not a bit of it if you happen to follow a team wrapped up in the agonising process of the Football League play-offs.
Saturday's somewhat bloodless FA Cup final - unless you are Michael Ballack - was the latest addition to the laments about the world's oldest knockout competition and its inability to recapture the focus of the nation. While Champions League football, or the reaching of, now draws the focus of the leading lights, those in the lower divisions get their winner-takes-all kicks in an end-of-season knock-out on which footballing futures are placed fully on the line.
Monday night saw me granted my first taste of such a torturous and fingernail unfriendly fixture. A pal granted me the opportunity to be "Swindon till I die" for the evening as Wiltshire's finest took the fragility of a 2-1 lead to Charlton Athletic in the League One semi-final. To the victor, the spoils of a turn on that not-so hallowed-these-days Wembley "turf". To the vanquished, a summer of regret and inertia.
May 13, 2010
Using public transport in London often means you come into unwanted contact with the personal views of some of the capital's great thinkers. And so it proved on Wednesday evening when yet another crash of my rapidly ailing iPod left me unable to escape the inanities of others' conversations as we crawled along the dread Hammersmith & City Line.
A bunch of jabbering tele-salesmen were loudly discussing the upcoming World Cup and Fabio Capello's initial 30-man selection. Relief was expressed at John Terry's lack of a serious injury after the ridiculous rollercoaster of wild speculation that followed a Chelsea training-ground incident but then a special ire, delivered with no little bile, was aimed at none other than Paul Scholes.
Scholes was recently asked by Capello to reconsider his six-year self-imposed exile from international football. Having been given the time to "sleep" on it, Scholes was not for turning, leaving Capello to plaintively say: "I tried." This, to my rapid-fire correspondent was proof of Scholes' status as a traitor to his country, a status shared by Alan Shearer for his own refusal to play beyond Euro 2000.