Young Lions: A Bright White Future?

29.06.09
The Young Lions overcome the curse of the penalty shootout in Sweden.

The Young Lions overcome the curse of the penalty shootout in Sweden.

With England’s Under 21s set to face off against Germany in the European Under-21 Championship Final, English fans could be forgiven for hoping that the future is bright for the national side. After the heartbreak of missing out on Euro 2008, England have bounced back, inspired by Fabio Capello and Stuart Pearce and are in the middle of a far more successful 2009. The question is though, regardless of the result in the final, can England’s talented crop of youngsters fulfill their potential and give England success at senior level?

Their success in this tournament is no one-off either, after they lost at the semi-final stage on penalties to eventual winners and hosts the Netherlands two years ago, and indeed that is their only defeat in seventeen matches since Pearce has been in charge. However, even with such potential evident in England’s younger players, we must acknowledge that success in the youth grades is no guarantee that the senior side will follow suit in the near future, after all the ‘golden generation’ failed to deliver entirely on the big stage.

Click through for the full article…

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WDKF Wednesday: Too Many Cooks…

24.06.09

WDKF Wednesday Topper
Hello one and all, today I wrote my first article over at ‘We Don’t Know Football‘ which means that today marks the start of a (hopefully) long tradition of ‘WDKF Wednesdays’, whereby you get to read an article of mine somewhere else, with slightly different formatting. Pretty exciting, no?

Anyway, today’s post sees me suggest that Cesc Fabregas would be a very unwise man to leave Arsenal, especially for Barcelona, and looks at his and Spain’s performances in the ongoing Confederations Cup to prove it. I think it’s well worth a read so get on over there and check it out.

Click through to read my ‘WDKF Wednesday’ article…


No One to be No.1: England’s Goalkeeping Dilemma

23.06.09
Talk about a no-brainer...

Talk about a no-brainer...

As I’ve been watching the Confederations Cup I have, along with everyone else, been hugely impressed with the Spanish side. Aside from the obvious talent that they possess, what has really impressed me is the sheer strength in depth that they have – though given that the mercurial Mikel Arteta is yet to be capped by them that shouldn’t be such a surprise. Nothing sums up this strength in depth nor provides a starker contrast to the England national side that the position of goalkeeper.

The occupant of the number one jersey for England is one of a couple of undoubted weaknesses in the side, while Spain do not hesitate to give their goalkeeper spot of Iker Casillas, who is probably the best ‘keeper in the world at present. They also have Jose Reina as their backup ‘keeper, who despite some comedic errors in his time at Liverpool is undoubtedly a better stopper than David James, England’s current ‘number one’, and the up and coming Sergio Asenjo demonstrated his ability by saving James Milner’s penalty in the European U21 Championships recently.

But it comes as no great surprise to me that Spain are so much better off in the goalkeeping department, click through to find out why…


Not All White: Where NZ are going wrong.

18.06.09

Parker was a beneficiary of NZs atrocious defending.

Parker was a beneficiary of NZ's atrocious defending.

I will concede that I’m not a very big supporter of new Zealand’s All Whites. My loyalties lie very much with England when it comes to international football and usually I’m not really bothered by NZ’s results. However, I am an avid supporter of New Zealand football in general. As an exiled Englishman who is fanatical about football I’m very keen to see the profile and popularity if the game raised in this largely egg-chasing country. And I know that the best way for that to happen would be for the All Whites to qualify for next year’s World Cup, and so in that quest they have my support.

After watching this morning’s game though, I’m very worried. The 5-0 defeat to Spain can be struck off, that means nothing. But if NZ are serious about overcoming Asia’s 5th placed qualifier and making the World Cup they will need to improve vastly from their showing against South Africa. They were beaten 2-0, but had the Bafana’s finishing been up to scratch it could have been many more, and NZ’s complete toothlessness in attack and haplessness at the back is of a major concern for New Zealand football fans, myself included.

Click through to find out where NZ went wrong…


Spain 5-0 New Zealand: Five Conclusions

15.06.09
It was as easy as "1-2-3-4-5!" for Spain.

It was as easy as "1-2-3-4-5!" for Spain.

1. Spain could have had double figures…
…if they’d have wanted it. Fernando Torres struck a hat-trick inside 17 minutes and with Cesc Fabregas netting the fourth goal inside 25 minutes, Spain were literally cutting New Zealand open at will. Indeed it was getting rather embarrassing for the ‘All Whites’ (what’s wrong with just saying ‘New Zealand’?) until the champions of Euro 2008 eased their foot off the pedal and reduced the tempo, content to merely knock the ball about and very much reducing the game to a training exercise.

Some will claim that the slowing in scoring was the result of New Zealand solidifying their defence but that just wasn’t the case. Had Spain had the motivation to, they would have embarrassed the kiwis with relative ease. With NZ just a two leg qualifier against the 5th place Asian side away from the World Cup next year, this match simply served to demonstrate what we all knew – that the gap between Europe and Oceania is enormous, and NZ have a long way to go before establishing themselves as a competitive international football side.

Click through for four more conclusions…


Confederations Cup: Major or Meaningless?

13.06.09
Even the trophy is a cheap knockoff of the World Cup.

Even the trophy is a cheap knockoff of the World Cup.

A few weeks ago, as the Premier League season drew to a close and Everton lost out in the FA Cup Final to Chelsea, I lamented the onset of a long summer with no major tournament, which cursed us to a few long months with no football to savour. I made that remark in full knowledge of the fact that the Confederations Cup was to be played this summer, and I stand by it. But why is a tournament that will feature Spain, Brazil and Italy not deemed a ‘major’ international tournament to the majority of football fans?

Especially given the fact that as a rule, the nations involved, even the big ones, tend to send something resembling their strongest squad to the competition. This year’s tournament will see the likes of Xavi, Torres, Kaka, Robinho, Pirlo and Buffon gracing South African pitches. And yet, no one really seems that bothered. It certainly appears to be one of footballs little anomalies, that while we’re all sat around in the sun complaining that it’s too hot and there’s no football, there are actually some world class players doing battle.

So why aren’t we watching? Click through to find out…