Saturday, 22 May 2010

Blog 4 - World Cup Squad

Warning - Football Only so if you don't like football, I wouldn't bother...

It's 2.30 a.m. but I've had too much sun on my bald bonce and after an hour or so's kip, Bailey's fallen out of bed so I've had to wake up in a hurry to give her a cuddle and sort her out, and my body now won't let me go back to sleep. So being an industrious little bastard I've decided to do my blog whilst I'm up anyway.

With the World Cup almost upon us, Don Fabio has some interesting decisions to make regarding his World Cup Squad so I thought I'd chuck my two'penneth in.

I'm going to go through the various positions and say a) who I think he'll take, and b) who I hope he'll take. However before I get to that I have to explain my major bug bear with the squad.

Whenever we go into a tournamount I am always excited, always hopeful, always positive. "This could be the one", "we've got the players", "If the Brazilians stutter we might just win this..." etc etc. Wanting to win has never been an issue. I love my country, I love football, I want us to win and be the best, and I think my views on this are the same as 95% of the population at a World Cup. However, there is a black cloud surrounding my feelings this time around. The problem is that regardless of their ability, some of the players just don't deserve to win the ultimate honour in football. If they were playing for any other team, I would be desperate to see that team beaten. We unfortunately have ourselves a generation of footballers who have been spoiled and cosseted to the extent that they are simply horrible human beings. Within the 30 man preliminary squad, there are philanderers, thieves, and men guilty of common assault. And then add in players who have gone on record voluntarily either in interviews or for their own money-driven self-obsessed tell-all ghost-written autobiographies with the most shamefully revealing insights into their lack of moral fibre, their lack of respect for the game, and their obsession with self and money above all else. The fact is that I don't want these players to represent our country. I don't want to see these people celebrating if we win. I certainly don't want to see them knighted. If they miss a vital penalty and the team goes out, will they be humbled and burn with the desire for redemption a la Stuart Pearce? Or will they shrug, disappear back to their mansion and write a crap book about how hard life is on £150,000 a week when the media pick on you every time you get caught cheating on your wife or punching someone in a club?

So what are the choices? Dispense with those that don't deserve it but potentially weaken our chances of winning it? Or win with people who stand for everything that's wrong in the modern game and feel disappointed in what should be our proudest moment? It's a conundrum. On one side the thought of sacrificing a nations happiness in order to ensure that a few blokes who struggle to control their ego's and genitals whilst being under national media scrutiny 24/7 and only in their twenties, seems harsh. However, the results of winning could be even more damaging. The players would be lauded by every newspaper, t.v. channel, and media outlet in the country and the world. At a stroke past transgressions would be forgotten and only glory would be reflected. And the message that this would send out to a generation of children and the easily-influenced would be that this behaviour is ok. As long as you win, how you behave doesn't matter. Is the war worth winning if you have to enlist the support of troops who are the antithesis of everything your efforts stand for in the first place?

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, David James, Rob Green

These three will all go through regardless because the squad will contain three keepers and these are the only ones selected. I've no problem at all with Green or Hart as people or players, both have earned their spots on the plane. David James is a self-important poseur but I don't think that's a result of the money or status of the modern game, I think that's just his personality in general and would be the same whatever generation he played in. Whilst his behaviour is cringe-inducing at times, it's not offensive or detrimental to anyone except probably himself. And he's definitely good enough. As much as I love Greeno as an ex-City keeper of distinction, he's not consistent enough for the highest level. James has had many wobbles over the years but they have lessened over the years, and his presence and command are light years ahead of his two younger team-mates. I'd start with James. I think Capello will as well.

Defenders: Glen Johnson, Jamie Carragher, Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines, Stephen Warnock, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ledley King, Matthew Upson Michael Dawson.

Probably the toughest one of the lot. Don Fabio says he's going with 2 players for every position, so the right back situation is clear. Glen Johnson and Jamie Carragher are in. Carragher's only issue is that he "retired" from international football because he was getting dragged around the world away from his family and very rarely doing anything except bench-warming. Some would hold that against him, but personally I find it refreshing and laudable. Others have had the opportunity to stake their claim during his self-imposed exile, but he's still worth a place above the likes of Wes Brown on talent, so I'm happy enough to see him in. Johnson is another kettle of fish however. A man who despite being worth millions decided to try shoplifting from B&Q with a mate cackling along, not because he needed to, but because he thought it was a laugh. Because he was above the moral implications that theft held, and knew that he could afford any subsequent fall-out if he was caught because he'd have the money and the lawyers to buy his way out of trouble. He is the best right back available, and the only natural right back in the 30, but is he worthy of an England shirt as a person? Fuck no. Capello will take him and start with him. I wouldn't have him in the squad in the first place.

At left back we have three options. We have to start with Ashley Cole. On talent alone he's possibly the best left back in the world. On attitude he's a total bloody disgrace. He cares for money and the rewards of fame far more than the game or the methods he achieves them by. I'm not going to list the litany of Cole's misdemeanours because it would take too long and it would do nothing but depress me in writing it, and you in reading it. The problem is that he's so much better than anything else we have. With Bridge opting out we're left with only Baines, who is at best, a competent Premiership player with no international pedigree whatsoever, and Stephen Warnock, who, to be quite frank, isn't very good, although neither have any overbearing character issues. Capello will take Cole and Baines and start with Cole. I can't accept that. I'd take Baines only and take an extra player from another position rather than lug along the lumbering Warnock.

At centre back John Terry is another example. Again I won't bang on about his issues, suffice to say that everyone knows he's a dick even regardless of his shagging exploits. Another awful example to young footballers of arrogance and greed. Plus he's played like Titus Bramble for the past six months. Taking away the personality thing, I'd probably take him on talent but not start with him at the moment. However, of course, I wouldn't take him at all with all things considered. Rio Ferdinand is another deluded knob who thinks a different set of rules apply to him. If it were me, he wouldn't go either. That leaves King, who is talented enough but has dodgy knees that may well not make it through a month long tournamount. He has some mild "out-on-the-lash" previous, but I'm not asking for saints, just people who respect the game, and I think he does. Upson is a bit clumsy and I'm unsure whether he's good enough for the highest level. Dawson is good, but has no experience. I'd take King, Upson and Dawson and leave the established centre backs behind to get an early start on their tell-all colouring books, starting with King and Dawson. Capello will take Ferdinand and Terry and start with them, with Upson and King as back-up.

Midfielders: Adam Johnson, Joe Cole, Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Tom Huddlestone, James Milner, Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Lots of players to deal with, lets start with the character issues and get them out of the way. Gerrard thumped some bloke in a nightclub but I think that was out of character and generally he's not too bad with the whole premadonna thing. Lampard is not of high morale fibre, cheating on the mother of his kids and making a big fuss when his Mum died that would have been a source of shame twenty years ago, so cringe-inducing was it. However, like Gerrard, there's enough respect for the game to not rule him out entirely. All the rest are fine. So the question is, who's good enough? For my money I'd take Joe Cole, Barry, Carrick, Parker, Lennon, Walcott, Gerrard and Milner and start with Cole, Barry, Parker and Walcott. Johnson's good but it's too early for him. Lampard, despite his goals, is a decent player in an exceptional club team, but isn't good enough at international level, and he always disappears against good teams. All his international goals have come against the Azerbaijan's and not the Italy's or Brazil's. I think we have better players. Huddlestone is inexperienced, tubby and not mobile enough. Wright-Phillips is only left out by virtue of the fact that there are three quality players in one position and I think Lennon and Walcott have greater capacity to change a game. Capello will probably take Cole, Barry, Carrick, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner, Lennon, Walcott. I think he'll start with Gerrard, Barry, Lampard and Walcott.

Strikers: Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Darren Bent, Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch.

Character issues? Darren Bent tried shooting people with a pellet gun a few years back, but he was young and seems to have matured, so despite his Ipswich past, we'll let him through on moral grounds. Rooney shagged granny hookers, but that again was when he was very young, and few can doubt that he loves the game, so he gets a pass too. Heskey and Crouch are fine. Defoe however is a twat. He's in the game more for the money and the women. Whilst he hasn't totally disgraced himself in a specific incident yet, you can file him alongside Rio Ferdinand in terms of "do we want him representing us as a country"? Would he give a toss if he missed a pen? Would he fuck. I'd take the other four and start with Rooney and Crouch. Capello will leave out Bent only and start with Rooney and Heskey.

My squad: 1. James 2. Carragher 3. Baines 4. Barry 5. Dawson 6. King 7. Walcott 8. Parker 9. Crouch 10. Rooney 11. J Cole 12. Green 13. Hart 14. Carrick 15. Upson 16. 17. Lennon 18. Gerrard 19. Heskey 20. Bent 21. Milner 22. 23.

Because of the character-based selection I'm three players short so to compensate I'd add three from positions we're already covered in aho are good blokes so in would come Adam Johnson, SWP and, because I don't really have any other option, Lampard.

Capello will pick: 1. James 2. G Johnson 3. A Cole 4. Barry 5. Ferdinand 6. Terry 7. Walcott 8. Lampard 9. Heskey 10. Rooney 11. Gerrard 12. Green 13. Hart 14. Carrick 15. Upson 16. King 17. Lennon 18. Milner 19. Crouch 20. Defoe 21. J Cole 22. Carragher 23. Baines

I fully acknowledge my side would be less likely to win, However I'd rather take those men than the ones who will go, and my conscience would be a lot clearer win, lose or draw.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Blog 3 - 1984 anyone?

Blog 3 - 1984 anyone?

I'm increasingly frustrated and saddened at societies aquiesence into fear. Not fear of terrorism, paedophiles or them there immigunts that the Daily Mail would prefer us to be quaking in our stout British loafers at. The fear I'm talking about is far more insidious and disturbing, mainly because the moral minority seem to be getting the rest of us to accept it's validity. I'm talking about the fear of thoughts.

Over the last couple of days Lord Triesmann has been forced to resign from his positions as Chairman of the F.A. and Chairman of England's World Cup Bid following comments he made about the Spanish and Russian F.A.'s rumoured attempts to bribe referees. On the face of it he seems bang to rights. Ridiculous thing to suggest, can only hinder the work he's trying to achieve and hurt our country. And considering I've always thought Triesmann a liability as head of the bid, I was just happy to see the back of him initially.

However, the context is the key to this story. Triesmann was not making these remarks publically. He was doing so at what he thought was a relaxed lunch chat with his former P.A. ; a young woman who claims he was also her lover for six months. So he did what we all do at lunch with "friends": we chat, we talk about people we know, about common interests which would have included work, and goddammit we have a good gossip. The problem Triesmann faced is that he trusted someone he knew and never for a second thought that she would be secretly taping their conversation before flogging her grubby shameful little sneak recording to the Mail. Triesmann never broke a law, he never lied, he never made a public statement. He said he'd heard rumours that Spain and Russia were looking to bribe referees in the World Cup. In private. To a friend. As a major player in European and World Football it's his job to know about rumours such as these, whether there is any substance in them or not.

Now I can understand why this has put him in an awkward position and made his position untenable in the current media climate. However, my point is why? Who cares what Triesman says or thinks in private? If he manages the bid correctly and does his job, who cares if he's a racist, a sado-masochist or a transvestite when he's off-duty? I say loads of things to friends that I wouldn't neccesarily want to have broadcast on Facebook. The difference is that the bloody stupid Mail paid this woman her 40 pieces of silver for a bit of cheap dinnertable chatter. The rule would seem to be that anybody in the public eye cannot have thoughts of their own or talk about anything unless it's cast iron fact. God knows what would have happened if they'd discussed the Kennedy Assassination. Presumably the Warren Commission would have had to have been recalled.

Example no 2 is the poor sod who lost his job and gained a criminal record for making a joke on Twitter. Paul Chambers, a normal everyman accountant had been chatting up someone he'd met on Twitter. Eventually, after much cyber-persuasion he managed to get the object of his desire to agree to meet up. God knows where she was from but the destination of their first meeting was to be his local airport as she arrived on their metallic bird of love from parts unknown. However with the ash cloud issues cropping up the week before, the hapless Chambers makes the pronouncement on Twitter "Airport shut down - Right, you've got 10 days to sort this shit out or I'll come down there and blow the place sky high!"

Somehow Chambers Twitter, which would have only been visible to his friends and anyone who had signed up to receive his tweets, was passed on to the Head of Security at the airport who subsequently passed it on to the police. Next thing you know, Chambers has been arrested, hauled up in court, charged with threatening public safety and fined £1000, before seeing his employers publically sack him as a result. What the hell???!!!

Did they really think that Chambers was a particularly publicity-friendly member of Al Qaeda? I don't remember Osama Bin Laden popping onto Facebook on September 10th saying "Planning a big bash tomoz lol". It's ridiculous. Nobody, not one adult human in the English speaking world can have actually taken that as a genuine threat to security, yet our judicial system has treated this man like a genuine terrorist. He meant no harm to anyone but has been criminalised, fined and then subsequently sacked from his job, and for what? A joke that any number of us could have made without a seconds thought and which meant nothing to anyone save a few pompous pedants with the power to prosecute and the lack of common sense that ensures that they should never be given the reponsibility in the first place.

What can you say, either publically or privately now? What can you think? And what's next? Any bloke with an ounce of honesty will tell you that during an odyssey through the land of free porn that is the internet that there are occasions when during normal, ahem, research that you discover the links you're following have edged towards the more "fringe" elements of acceptable taste. And at this point, I think any of us will agree you realize that there are links there that a) you probably don't want to click on for reasons of general taste, but b) you definitely mustn't click on for fear of who may be monitoring it. Now at this moment in time I don't think (although I'm not 100% certain because I've never tested my supposition believe it or not) that you would be hauled off by the rozzers for clicking on HorseShaggers.Com, SnuffFiles.Web or similar. But there are any number of police operations in place aimed at catching Internet paedophiles and the availability of accessing these sites and others like them is terrifyingly easy. We're frighteningly close to a situation where one wrong click could see you in serious, life-changing trouble.

And those are the margins we are dealing with now. One wrong click. One throwaway remark. One comment in private. You would hope that the powers that be would have the common sense and testicular fortitude to see these things in the context they are actually presented in, but when the Mail buys a taped lunch conversation between friends discussing vague rumours and sees fit to publish it, or when the Crown prosecutes a guy and ruins his life for a run of the mill comment, you have to be scared for that moment which we all have when we put our foot in it inadvertantly, and hope the repercussions remain in proportion.

Anyway, I've said my piece and I'm off to get some dinner. I could murder an Indian...


Friday, 14 May 2010

Blog 2 - Sicko

Sicko in 2 ways.

1st - Apparantly at the age of 33 I've got asthma. What the fuck? Don't you have to be a frail 6 year old to have asthma? Not a fat bald bastard. The last 2 nights I've been hacking up my lungs to the point where I threw up, which I put down to a chest infection that has seemed to linger on since about October (and which I reckon is more than a little to do with the air-con at work which I swear was fitted by Bin-Laden Conditioning whom you can find at Ricin.Com). So I toddle off to the doctors and he says it's more likely that I need to take a daily preventative asthma thing to stop me coughing like Benedict Arnold on truth serum. He's shoved me on anti-biotics to clear the initial problem but in a couple of weeks I have to go to asthma clinic. I may just have broken the first two rules of asthma clinic, as the first rule is you don't talk about asthma clinic. I forget the second...

2nd - Where's the line? I've always thought that anything and everything is fair game in terms of talking about, thinking about etc. Taboos are things other people use to attract attention with their fussiness and lack of mental sophistication. "You can't say that" usually guarantees that as soon as possible I will not only say "that" but I'll make the crudest possible joke about it. And if you think these observations will end with me saying something along the lines of "but this shocked even me", you'd be wrong because I'm still an all-encompassing purveyor of anything "wrong". As such, please have a look at these two wonderful examples of moral ambiguity to see if you're just as sick as me.

The first is Pandemic 2. Try Googling it, or select it in Flash Games. (For some reason I can't get links to work on here yet). It's a free game, the point of which is to launch a viral, bacterial or parasitic attack on humanity. You are given a start region, say North Africa, and some basic symptoms, such as Coughing, Sneezing, Fever etc with the idea to spread that mutated puppy to all four corners of the globe. You then have Infection Points which you can distribute on adding symptoms to your Superdisease, (Ebola is possible but you need a hell of a lot of infection points) and the more people you can infect, the more points you get. As well as adding symptoms you can make the disease more resistant to drugs, moisture, heat and cold, again by the use of points, and finally you can aid it's distribution by making it airborne, waterborne, insect driven or spread by rodents. It's a horrific idea on every level, as the ultimate goal of the game is to develop a disease that kills every last bloody person in the world. What freak comes up with this? A fucking genius that's who. The game is great, seriously addictive and very user-friendly. Should I be enjoying it as much as I am? Probably not in most peoples eyes. Does that bother me? Not as much as the fact that I can't seem to get the virus to spread to Mozambique before they shut the airports... Anyway, have a go, it's wicked.

The second is the work of Stephen Lynch, a real guilty pleasure. Lynch is a singing comedian and dabbles in the darker side of humour that shocks the more puritanical. I won't say any more than that, but for gods sake check him out on YouTube. Start with Grandfather or Talk To Me and then see if you don't want to watch everything else he's ever done.

Go on Sicko's, you know you want to... Join me...

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Blog 1

Hello Blogosphere.

I'm just trying this to see if it works. If not I've wasted 20 mins and you've wasted nothing, so hey ho.

I've been told to write a blog before but never done so because I never thought anybody'd bother reading it, or that I'd bother writing it after the initial interest of the first few wore off.

However, as much as I like venting on Twitter, and to a far lesser extent, Facebook, sometimes those damn boxes are too small to say what you want, so I'm going to give Blogging a go.

This is Blog 1, or Ground Zero if you prefer, so what can you expect from future Blogs? Rambles about Football, Family, T.V., Current Events, My continuing obsession with the NFL, and probably quite a bit of random gubbins as well.

Anyway, lets see if this actually works or not...