Who wants to win the Carling Cup?

What are you lot shouting about, its <i>only</i> the <i>Carling</i> Cup...

"What are you lot shouting about? It's only the Carling Cup..."

It’s all a bit quiet of late isn’t it? After the drama of last weekend with the time-keeping in the Manchester derby vociferously questioned in certain quarters following on from the previous controversy surrounding Manchester City’s clash with Arsenal, or rather Adebayor’s clashes with Van Persie and the Gunners’ faithful, it seems like football is collectively taking a bit of a breather. A typical Carling Cup week then.

But that’s an interesting thing really, because for me to say that a Carling Cup week of football is a bit like a breather isn’t exactly controversial, given that that’s exactly how it’s treated by many Premier League managers. It’s the one competition that no one is ever really disappointed about being knocked out of, the one from which elimination is actually a ‘good thing’ because it “allows us to concentrate on the league”. But that’s rubbish really isn’t it?

Click through to find out…


Brazil 1-0 South Africa: Four Conclusions


He doesnt look very happy... perhaps hes feeling the cold.

He doesn't look very happy... perhaps he's feeling the cold.

1. Dunga is a tactical genius.
Well, not really, but you have to admit that when he brought on Dani Alves at left-back with the score at 0-0 with just eight minutes on the clock you wondered what he was playing at. Bringing on a right-back at left-back is one thing, but given that they were being held to a stalemate by South Africa who entered the game as bigger underdogs than the US of A were against Spain, you were probably justified in wondering why he didn’t throw on another striker, especially as in Alex Pato, Julio Baptista and Nilmar they’re not exactly short of striking options.

However, perhaps he’d been banking on Brazil picking up a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box and so handpicked Alves as the man to win the game, because to be fair, as soon as he stood over it you knew he wasn’t going to miss. It was a stunning free-kick, with Khune having absolutely no chance of saving it. And while it wasn’t a vintage performance from Brazil and South Africa deserve a hell of a lot of credit (and even more sympathy), credit must go to Dunga, whose ‘inspired’ substitution won the game.

Click through for three more conclusions…

WDKF Wednesday: Too Many Cooks…


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

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…

The Sinking Ship of Setanta Sports


Why the demise of the Irish broadcaster is evocative of the modern evolution of football.

With advertising like this, how could they fail?

With advertising like this, how could they fail?

While the Confederations Cup and the European Under-21 Championships are doing a good job of distracting us from wave upon wave of ridiculous transfer rumours which look destined to continue throughout the summer, it is worth noting that some actual news is still abound in the football world and shouldn’t be forgotten. I speak primarily of the demise of the Setanta Sports TV channel, who look to be on the brink of administration after failing to meet numerous payments to footballing bodies and whose allocation of broadcasting packages have reverted to the governing bodies, to be auctioned off afresh.

While never a Setanta subscriber in my days in England I nevertheless feel that it’s a shame to see them go down the pan. Not only did they provide some competition for Sky but they also ensured that ESPN were kept out of the English market, which has only been a good thing in my opinion as their coverage is awful, Americanised and excessively advert ridden. More than that though, Setanta, started by two Irish blokes in a pub, was a throwback to the ‘good old days’ of football, when it wasn’t quite so corporate. And it’s demise also suggests that to break the dominance of established success is nigh on impossible, which could be bad news for Manchester City…

Click through to find out why…

Not All White: Where NZ are going wrong.


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

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…