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Scott Mundy, aged
11, and Jarvis Brook, Crowborough, East
Sussex, England, 5 July 2004, on David James:
I have just found this great website and would like to
add my comments. I am angry at
David James for not saving any shots from Portugal when it was the penalty
shoot-out and my and think you should someone else in goal as good
as David Seaman.
McCann, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, 5 July 2004, on "simulation":
I would just like to echo Matt Thomas' comments on
simulation (or diving or cheating as we used to call it in the good old days).
Serial offenders are Deco, Van Nistlerooy, Beckham and Del Piero to name
a few of many. In some referees
defence, I did like the practice of simply waving play on after a dive instead
of stopping play for a yellow card. This
favoured counter attacking teams particularly.
Maybe referees could be given training in how the body
reacts to situations of contact or injury.
Like Matt I was unfortunate enough to be badly injured playing an amateur
game a number of years ago. I went
for a 50-50 ball with an opponent and ended up flying through the air.
On the way back to earth I collided with a team mate and as we both hit
the ground I managed to break my wrist, arm and dislocate my elbow at the one
go. The referee stopped the game immediately and on viewing my
mangled limb immediately made arrangements for an ambulance to be called.
A few days later he visited me in hospital and I thanked him for his
quick action. He replied "I
knew there was something seriously wrong as you didn't move a muscle after you
hit the ground."
Also when a person falls the natural reaction of the
body is to put your arms out to try to break the fall.
Therefore when a player fall to the ground chest first and makes no
attempt to put out his arms, it's usually a good sign that he knows he's about
Is it time to consider the introduction of a sin-bin in
football. Say, 15 mins in the bin
other item on the football authorities hit list should be the pulling, dragging
and shirt pulling that occurs in the box at free kicks and corners.
It's hard to say what should be done other than to start awarding eight
penalties per game. Then we might
see a reduction in this practice.
We think the penalty box idea, an import from ice hockey, deserves at least
serious examination. While we are fairly conservative when it comes to
changing the Laws, we think the governing bodies should take a look at a more
refined gradation of discipline to reflect the relative seriousness of the
spectrum of offences. Sending a man off--with its automatic suspension
from at least the next match and perhaps more--seems to us unnecessarily harsh
in some circumstances. It ends up benefiting the offending player's
team's next opponent, which is in competition with the team against whom the
offence was committed, and thus it penalises the team against whom the offence
was committed. It also often ruins the match for the spectators. But
the referee only has the verbal warning, the yellow card and the red card in his
disciplinary arsenal. Discipline might well be more strictly and
uniformly applied by referees were they to have more refined disciplinary
tools at their disposal. Of course the fans would then have even more to
yell about; the more discretion given the referee, the more the quarrels with
his exercise of that discretion.
Thomas, Colchester, Essex, England. 4 July 2004 on �simulation�:
it just me that feels that the referees appear completely oblivious to the
majority of diving? There was a recent announcement from a referee spokesperson
advising that they felt 'simulation' (where the hell did that name come
from??!!) had been very well dealt with. Excuse me for using my eyes but it just
appears to have got worse.
fact is that players are just falling over at the slightest nudge or tap and
then waving an imaginary yellow/red card (a particularly hateful action). It has
not improved and the only way I see it doing so is to look at video evidence
after games. I would just love to see some real action against these cheats.
is not sour grapes- Although Messrs Ronaldo and Deco are kings of this black art,
I even hate my own teams players diving. Several years ago, at Ipswich, we
bought Boncho Guenchev. During his first few games he had a tendency to dive so
we made it clear that it wasn't appreciated. He pretty much stopped thereafter.
when a player dives the referee should have the ability to pull out a
pump-action shotgun, blast the players arms off, and then there would be a
reason for him to roll over 10 times in apparent pain! Speaking as a player that
has had his leg broken in 3 places you do not roll over like a fool if you are
in real pain you lay still hoping the pethadine is on the way!!
referee's could allow a foul, if there was one, but still book the victim of the
foul if he makes a ludicrous meal of it? Regardless, it is Sooooooooooo
frustrating to see and then watch the player get away with it.
We agree with you wholeheartedly, Matt; it is a subject that needs more rants. We addressed cheating in its many
forms as the most pressing on-the-pitch problem confronting the game (and yet
another example of cultural conflict in the game) in
comment piece we wrote three years ago after Raul's handball goal for
Real Madrid against Leeds United in Champions League play. The obstacle to
video review of cheating is the absurd scope which UEFA, and perhaps FIFA, give
to the rule which accords finality to referee decisions. If the cheating
has successfully deceived a watching referee--which is, of course, its entire
object--the situation is viewed as one in which the referee made a factual determination
that the cheating player committed no offence, and that decision is not subject
to review under the rule of finality. The reality, of course, is that
deception prevented the referee from reaching a factual determination. If you look at our piece, be sure to
read the addendum as well as our original effort.
McCann, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, 2 July 2004, on his tournament team:
Van Der Sar (Hol)
Van Nistlerooy (Hol)
Buffon (Ita), Stam (Hol), Poborsky (Cze), Rooney (Eng), Schweinsteiger
Montpellier, France, 1 July 2004, on the tabloid press:
was the beginning of a controversy in France concerning the images of Trez
spitting in the direction of Santini published by the Sun. Let's face it: we
Frenchies hate this newspaper. It shows no respect of anything, and has a
certain tendency to racism, encouraging somehow hooliganism in such a great
football country as England. We may not be objective, since we don't
like being called froggies, or systematically attacked anyway. But there is
something really shocking concerning what happened to
ref Meiers. The Sun even published his
phone number! The man got insulted on his own phone! This is outrageous, stupid
and dangerous. Some in France said journalists like the ones of the Sun
shouldn't be allowed in the stadium. My question is: isn't there the least
controversy about this newspaper in England?
for the answer about the winter break in premier
league, and sorry for saying Zidane was the best player of the tournament. He
proved me wrong against Greece.
Zidane is entitled to a less than the best performance for what he's given
football for many years. Most English football fans regard the Sun's
more outrageous stunts with contempt. Don't hold every English fan
responsible for everything that happens in England. That said, the Sun
does boast the largest readership in the U.K. We even look at its
online version ourselves because it carries the best match photographs.
But we would like to see it get its come-uppance for things like the boycott of
Swiss products it urged as well as its disgraceful treatment of Mr. Meier.
We liked the comment of one
reader in the London Times, who wrote: "Sir, I shall be
boycotting all Swiss products, except cheese and chocolate, of course.
that�s no cuckoo clocks in this house."
Sloan, Grimsby, Canada, 30 June 2004, on the disallowed goal and the tabloid
understand why the referee disallowed "Solly's" perfectly good goal.
It boils down to Continental and
English standards. The law makers
make the rules but the rules have to be interpreted.
The Swiss referee interpreted the incident along European lines.
I'm sure had the same thing happened in England the goal would have
enjoy far too much protection today. While
I don't advocate a return to the shoulder charge I certainly feel that some
contact with the goalie should be permitted
for example challenging while in the air. Goalies
are big boys with even bigger gloves they can stand the odd knock.
I'd like to say that the tabloid press's treatment of the Swiss referee is
unacceptable. Naming his family and
giving out his telephone number and email address is, sadly, characteristically
childish and pathetic of the tabloids. Football
is still only a game.
The problem for England is that it is always the Continental European (and Latin
American) interpretation of the Laws that they will face in qualifying for the
big tournaments, as well as in the tournaments themselves, and so they might as
well get used to it. Here's an excerpt from former English Premiership
referee David Elleray's perceptive piece in the London Times, Saturday,
26 June 2004:
When I first saw
the incident, I could understand why Meier had disallowed
the goal, but instinctively I felt that it was a harsh decision. Goalkeepers
are the most protected species of footballer. In this country, they are
cosseted but not to the extent that they are abroad, where they are
effectively "untouchable". I am sure that Campbell's goal would
in most English matches but, on the Continent, the chances of it being
disallowed were high.
Meier gave an honest "continental" decision but replays clearly
show that he was wrong. The ball comes back off the crossbar high in the air
almost directly above Terry. Terry jumps vertically but Ricardo jumps
diagonally towards the ball - in effect, entering Terry's space. The
resulting contact is caused by Ricardo jumping into Terry and not the other
Terry's arm seems to be across Ricardo preventing him from jumping but,
again, closer examination shows that this is not Terry's fault. Ricardo
jumps fractionally after Terry and jumps from underneath Terry into the gap
between his arm and body, causing Terry's arm to appear to be blocking him.
So, did Meier cost England the game? Well, there were other crucial moments
after that decision and, if David Beckham or Darius Vassell had scored,
Meier's decision would have been forgotten. The issue of the state of the
penalty spot is something of a red herring because it was the same for both
sides, which is why penalties are always taken at one end.
England may claim that they were "cheated" but Meier was faced
impossible decision. Had he allowed the goal, the uproar now sweeping
England would have swept Portugal. Meier would have been excoriated by the
Portuguese public and press for allowing a goal that, by their domestic
standards, was a clear foul on the goalkeeper.
Meier did not cheat but, in terms of the English game, he was wrong. But so,
too, was Dick Jol, the Dutch referee, when he gave the dubious free kick at
Old Trafford that allowed Beckham to score and send England to the World Cup
finals in Japan.
McCann, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, 30 June 2004, on video review of
Sol Campbell's disallowed "goal" against Portugal we have heard calls
from many quarters for video replays to be brought into football as an aid to
referees' decision making. The use
of video evidence is commonplace in rugby union, rugby league, cricket and some
other sports. Indeed football
authorities do use video evidence in matters of indiscipline not spotted by the
referee or linesmen e.g. Francesco Totti's spitting incident.
Personally I would be very much against this move for the following
If referees got 100% of decisions right 100% of the time, where would
journalists, professional pundits, or even worse, this forum be??
It is one of the great traditions of the football fan that he/she
reserves the inalienable right to argue endlessly over a couple of pints/cup of
coffee/glass of wine about "outrageous/spot on" decisions made by
referees. How many people's day at
work has been immeasurable enhanced by debates at tea breaks about balls
crossing lines, offsides (passive or active), fouls etc.
How many entertaining radio phone in shows begin with the line
"Alan, I've just come back from Mansfield and the ref had a
shocker..." Arguing about
refereeing decisions is part of the bedrock of the football fans lives and a
move away from this is the first step on the slippery slope to the World Cup
final being decided by the means of a computer game.
Those who advocate video evidence imply that the "video ref"
will get it right 100% of the time. I
can recall at least two incidents from international rugby in recent years where
quite clearly the video ref got it wrong. Being
Irish I remember quite well Brian O'Driscoll (the Beckham of Irish rugby) being
credited with a try against France three years ago when it appeared that the
video ref was the only person to see the pictures who thought that O'Driscoll
hadn't dropped the ball before scoring a try.
How do you decide when to use video evidence and when to not.
Only for deciding when the ball has crossed the line or not for a goal?? Or offside, or for was it a penalty, or did the keeper move,
or was the midfielder fouled in the lead up to a goal, or did the ball go wide
before it was crossed? Once you
start using video evidence it won't be long before matches are taking four hours
to complete and we're using video evidence to see whether a coach went out of
the technical area or not.
I believe the rules of football do not lend themselves to decisions by
video evidence. Again in rugby
union if the ball touches the line or the post it's a try and if your foot
touches the sideline or the "corner" flag you're out of play.
In football the whole of the ball must cross the whole of the line, even
for a throw in. This is a
subjective call made more difficult by the fact that the ball is round.
A certain amount of contact is allowed in football.
Can you use video evidence to determine whether or not there was enough
contact to merit the player falling in the penalty box?
It seems to me TV evidence only leads to extreme confusion in the
interpretation of the new offside directive.
how would the game have been different had video evidence been used in the 1966
World Cup final? For one thing the
term "Russian linesman" would have been lost to two generations of
football commentators. For me the
game has been enhanced by the phrase "They thinks it's all over...it is
Thomas, Colchester, Essex, England. 27 June 2004. responding to our comments on
his last message on David James:
to your response, I would just like to pick up on a couple of points... okay....
all of them!
were addressing only Eriksson's judgment on James, not his judgments in
Sorry I'm just irritated all round that we haven't learnt from previous mistakes
so I thought I would cover Sven as well.
your criticisms of Eriksson, we think it rather makes our point that what you
single out to spend your time and energy on
is David James.''
Only because it was the original subject, although I do touch on a few elemental
errors- a couple of which the pro-commentators have mentioned also- that
Eriksson appeared to have made.
far as criticising the team, well, I'm not sure anyone could criticise their
effort just the way it was focussed.
are a team that has a limited 'keeper situation, are missing one of our key
defenders, has not got a natural left sided midfielder and a culture for blaming
anyone that we can to explain failure.
is that, yes, we were a bit unlucky (ref blew for a push, which never happened-
although Terry might have been keeping the keeper down with his arm- so we might
have had a goal correctly (but arguably) disallowed for the wrong reason), but on
the night we played the wrong way (IMHO, anyway).
Bring on 2006. I still prefer Sven to the tactical
inadequacies of Keegan- despite the fact that most of us might like Sven to have
half the charisma of Kev.
Yes, whatever criticisms we may have of Eriksson, let us remember the shambles
Keegan left the team in.
Thomas, Colchester, Essex, England. 27 June 2004. on David James:
James does have great agility and, as with the games against Croatia and
Portugal, essentially kept us in the game with outstanding saves. This should
not disguise the fact that he is still not an international quality 'keeper.
your point that he should not be held accountable for the Zidane freekick, well,
he set up a wall to defend the left hand-side of the goal and then failed to
cover the right hand-side himself- a very basic error in any goalkeeping manual.
far as the Henry foul goes, he wasn't helped in the slightest by Gerrard's error
but nor was he helped by his own thoughtless charging out to miss the ball.
made at least 2 handling errors in each Euro 2004 game. The fact that he wasn't
punished with a goal for any of them means that he was just incredibly lucky.
problem, as you touched on, is who else we have to replace him.
There is Robinson and Kirkland on the way up, but one has been prone to
mistakes himself this season and the other is prone to injuries. Walker is in
the same error ridden league as James. And that's about it (unless Richard
Wright gets his confidence back as well as a regular Premiership slot).
choice at the moment would be Robinson. He is only 24 and potentially a great
'keeper. Time will obviously tell but he couldn't make any more handling errors
than James and is just as mobile and powerful.
comment to ''Sven-Göran Eriksson, who takes goalkeeping advice from Ray
Clemence, although we suppose you question their judgment, too.''
Yep, I do. To many long balls up to our 'big' strikers Rooney, Owen and Vassell,
when the full backs were available. Playing too deep and also too defensively
when we were ahead in each match.
you say, we armchair critics shouldn't take ourselves too seriously, and it's
easy to criticise when you will never have to do the job, but when there are so
many that share the goalkeeping opinion it's got to make you wonder......
just found the website and it's quality, thanks.)
PY: One thing at a time,
Matt. We were addressing only Eriksson's judgment on James, not his
judgments in general. While we have confidence in our ability to argue for
or against almost anything, we're not prepared to take on defending Eriksson in
general. Given your criticisms of Eriksson, we think it rather makes our
point that what you single out to spend your time and energy on is David
James. We would be happy were England to find a great keeper, but we do
not think he has surfaced yet. It's strange that in all the messages this
forum received lamenting England's elimination, there is barely a word critical
of the way England played as a team against Portugal. No, far easier (and
much less challenging to the intellect) to find someone to pin the blame on,
whether it is one of the players for a missed penalty kick or the referee for a
bad call or the groundkeeper for a dodgy penalty spot. Finding, pursuing
and skewering a scapegoat--now that is truly the national sport, and one
at which the English are second to none.
Sloan, Grimsby, Canada, 25 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty
another brilliant and crucial game ruined by sub standard refereeing. The
Portuguese must count themselves very lucky.
It was all over when "Solly" nodded in the winner.
Why the referee disallowed the goal we'll probably never know.
before anyone bangs on that it's sour grapes I hasten to add that England isn't
the only team in history to be robbed. The
last World Cup saw many a dodgy decision putting one team a head of another.
For example Korea Republic benefited immeasurably
from third rate refereeing. The
Germans might argue that the 1966
"Wembleytor" (Wembley goal) would be another instance.
I could go on.
all know that chance has a lot to do with footie. That's one of its essential elements but I think it's fair to
say that the quality of refereeing has diminished over the years to a point
where it's having an inordinately negative effect on the game.
Oh well on to Germany on to 2006.
and Kim, location not given,25 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on
I'm Lara - Portugal vs England was a set up the ref was bribed or
he was a home supporter, it was in a idiot could see there was no mistakes it
was a clean goal. I wanted someone to kick him and pretend it was an
accident. I don't
care that we didn't get through every English person knows we won that game and
should have gone through. Bi Bi.
P.s David James needs
to learn to save a goal.
I'm Kim - I
think that we should of won that game as that ref was totally gay and should've let
that goal in!!! Sol was the most passionate player there and Michael Owen so
they both deserved a goal, but o no the Portuguese had to win as they were the
hosts. - well screw the hosts, we won that game totally!!!!
Montpellier, France, 25 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty
first of all wanted to congratulate the England team.
I found them really impressive through all their matches. I even think their
players had a certain class out on the field (except for Rooney, who's really
good but always seems to be hesitating between kicking the ball and other
players' butt). But their strength resided in the physical pressure they
were able to put on their adversaries. And Thursday night, they just looked
exhausted. So did many teams like France, Italy and Spain.
the specifity of England is the absence of a break in
winter. It has to have an impact on the health of english players. In the French
squad, Vieira, Pires and even Henry are on their knees. Isn't there the least
discussion about instauring such a break?
team for the title: Czech Republic. Most
beautiful Goal: Baros against Holland.
player so far: Zidane (he carried France on his shoulders until now).
also wanted to know what English fans think of the goal that was refused to their
team against Portugal. Wenger
said that kind of attack on the goalkeeper is not sanctioned in England. Is
After some waffling, it has been decided a short winter break will be instituted
in the Premiership--in time for World Cup 2006. At first we did not think
any foul had been committed, but that was because the video replays we saw
during and immediately after the match did not show any contact between John
Terry and Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo. What we first saw was Terry
merely leaping in place, and a player is not required to yield his ground to allow
a goalkeeper to reach the ball. But the following day we saw a video clip,
taken from a different angle, plainly showing Terry draping his arm across the shoulder and back of the
goalkeeper as they both leaped just before
Campbell headed the ball into the net. By then, of course, all England had
seen the first clip over and over again and had concluded the
referee had made a horrible error. Almost any contact with the goalkeeper
inside the six-yard box is deemed a foul these days, and the referee was within
his discretion in disallowing the goal. We do not know whether all
Premiership referees would have whistled a foul and disallowed the goal in these
circumstances, but it would have been within their discretion to do so and some
referees have said they would have done so. Of course referees regard
themselves as a brotherhood and often come to the support of fellow referees who
are under fire. We remember the days in English football when goals were
allowed even though they were scored through shouldering the goalkeeper into the
net as he held the ball. That may explain the reluctance of some English
observers to accept the full protection given goalkeepers today. The
English have been generally much slower than most others to accept the crackdown on physical
contact in all areas of the game.
Those who have blasted the referee for his decision would be better advised to
go after those in charge of making and interpreting the Laws of the Game.
Their quarrel is with them. It did seem to us that the referee
consistently exercised his discretion in favour of Portugal and against England
throughout the match, but even in our biased eyes he did not exceed his
discretion, and we certainly would not blame the refereeing for England's
Fagundes, 25 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty kicks):
the site. I was reading your
section on penalty shootouts today and saw that you claim that goalkeepers
cannot participate in the shootout: "In a penalty kick shootout, each
player on the pitch at the end of play, with the exception of the goalkeeper,
participates in attempting to put the ball past the opposing goalkeeper from the
penalty spot." This seems at odds with yesterday's result, where
Ricardo kicked the winning penalty. Was
Portugal in violation of the rules?
No. Regrettably, in a rush to get it done, we relied on our memory when
we wrote our essay on penalty kick shootouts, and a couple of errors crept in as
a result. That will not happen again. Our statement was wrong;
goalkeepers do take the kicks, although coaches usually put them
well down in the order of those taking kicks. Ricardo is one of those
goalkeepers who is quite good at taking penalty kicks. We have now
completely revised the
penalty kick shootouts. Thanks for the heads-up on our goof.
Akehurst, location not given, 25 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on
I think it is unfair that Urs Meier was the ref of
the match England v Portugal because he is Swiss and as England beat the Swiss
team he didn't want us to go through and win the competition. for example, Sol
Campbell's goal should of been allowed because the linesman said it was a goal
but Urs Meier said it was a foul,
where was the foul?
Lam, Hong Kong, 24 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty kicks):
am an England fans since the World Cup 1986. We are out of Euro 2004! To be
honest, I think we destroyed ourselves this time. If we can try attacking a
little bit more and pushing some little more pressure on Portugal, we will win
without going into the extra time. Yes, injury of Rooney hurts. But, you just
can't defend from 3rd minute.
we did a good job. (at least much better than WC2002 and Euro2000) But, we have
to wait another two long years before we get another chance.
Barker, location not given, 24 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on
and disappointed but left wondering how a clear goal is disallowed. Marley
and Barker say remember when we were cheated by " the hand of God well
is it the same again? Or is there now a financial incentive?
location not given, 24 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty
was ripped off by the goal kipper there should be a rematch with out a ref that
is from the country there playing against or if its not from the same place then
does no support that country England should have a fair trial rematch end of PS
i am an England fan and that as pi**ed me off
Melissa, Leicestershire, England, 24
June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty kicks):
would just like to say on behalf of the majority of England fans what a disgrace
it is that a 1) Swiss and 2) grocer was allowed to referee the game. I have
never seen such a shambles. Was it payback from the referee in disallowing that
goal in the 90th since Switzerland never went through, especially since the
linesman gave the goal
Roll on World Cup 2006! Hopefully David Beckham will
be playing back at his roots and will have stopped putting commercials before
football. Concentrate on the day job Dave!!!
Hughes, location not given, 24 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on
you tell us if Sven is going to complain to the footie authorities that be about
the terrible decision of the ref to disallow the goal.
was amazing that the ref made little effort to show where his bias lay and even
the linesmen were cheering when Portugal scored...did we stand a hope in the
face of such opposition?
boys played well though, good going guys
Even if there were grounds for complaint about the disallowed goal--and there
are not--filing a formal complaint would be useless as well as unbecoming.
We would think Eriksson has enough sense not to file one.
Finland, 24 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty kicks):
game was what it was. The whole time my heart was in my throat. After all this I
can't say much...
I can say one thing for sure: Despite all this you are the best team. Someone
could say something else about that(at this moment) but this is my opinion as a
fan, whose heart belongs to England.
the end I can just thank to the whole team. You are truly the brightest stars!
This whole past weekend, Sanna, we were wishing the game was what it wasn't or
wasn't what it was. But it always turned out it was what it was.
location not given, 24 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty
ref should be shot, its about time they look at video evidence in important games
like these, for any team, no wonder you get hooligans. anyway still proud of
them. they did what they could except pay the ref more than portugal.
Taking up a collection for next time, Paul?
location not given, 24 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on penalty
what ref lets pen's on sand???? the Swiss!
ref disallows a perfect goal???? the Swiss!!
many free kicks from wrong decisions, why was he there?
HOME ENGLAND HOLD YOUR HEADS HIGH!
PORTUGAL WONT GO FAR!
But they will go further than England--in fact to the semifinals, and there's
only one place further to go. Those foreign refs are a bummer, alright,
always robbing England. We'd do better with English refs, we're
sure. England have taken part in 11 World Cup final tournaments and by our
count--we've been around for all of them--were hard done by through one thing or
another in all of them save one. The exception was 1966, when the Germans
and the Argentines complained they wuz robbed. They wuz wrong, of course,
unlike us. At last we've now put in a good enough performance in the
European Championship to allow us to claim we wuz robbed there, too. A
definite sign of progress.
Fowler, location not given, 24 June 2004, on Portugal 2 England 2 (6-5 on
shadow of a past player should not have been on the pitch. Thanks Dave your
commitment helped us lose the match.
Over the bar.
McCann, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, 25 June 2004, For England’s Sake,
Eriksson Has to Go:
those (and some have appeared in this forum) who take delight in England's
misfortunes this has been a good 12 hours.
First of all England exited Euro 2004 after a defeat on penalties.
Secondly, we awoke this morning to hear that Sven-Göran Eriksson had
decided to stay on as England manager. I
have long admired Richard Williams of The Guardian as an astute and entertaining
writer on football matters. This
morning Richard has produced a lucid article on the reasons that Eriksson should
stay with England. For once I
disagree. In fact I'd go as far to
say that under Sven, England will win neither the World Cup nor the European
Championships. Eriksson is a serial
qualifier. I have no doubts that
England will qualify for the next World Cup.
They could very well go through qualification unbeaten.
I am even more sure that they will fall at the knock-out stages.
England lost last night because of Sven Goran Eriksson.
Unfortunately for England they have a dubious refereeing decision and a
penalty spot that was like quicksand to blame the defeat on.
I say unfortunately because these issues may deflect fans and even
pundits from looking at the real problem. England
does not produce players to defend a one goal lead.
That is OK for Italy who have been doing it for 50 years and who are
brought up to play that way. The English game is built on passion, fitness, commitment,
giving 100%, getting up and down the pitch and outscoring their opponents.
We saw glimpses of the best of England in the first half against Croatia.
That is the way they should have played against France and Portugal.
But I'm convinced that Eriksson went for 0-0 against France with the hope
that England might sneak a goal. When
England went 1-0 up against Portugal, the natural "English" thing to
do was to go for a second goal. 2-0
at half time and England were most likely home in a boat.
What they actually did was to string two lines of four between the goal
line and an imaginary line 25 yards out. There
then was a space of 50 yards up to Owen and Vassell. This space was usually occupied by three scarlet shirts.
When the ball did reach the forwards they had to hold it up and wait.
This aspect of the game suits neither forward.
Owen is at his most dangerous when facing the opponent's goal not
England's. So England's tactics
were all over the place.
there were Eriksson's substitutions. The
least effective player on the pitch by a country mile was David Beckham.
He has had a poor tournament. When
we peel through the layers of hype we see at last very little substance.
Was England not crying out for a Joe Cole or even a Kieron Dyer to run at
a tiring Portuguese defence and at least temporarily lift the siege on the
England goal? Instead we get Owen
Hargreaves and please God...Phil Neville, players more comfortable with the
8-0-2 formation. Eriksson was
afraid to sub Beckham. He was
afraid that if he subbed Beckham and England lost, the press would blame him.
Compare with Scolari who finally lost patience with a waning Luis Figo
and even dared to replace him with Helder "Two Goals A Season"
On the face of it Eriksson has a good statistical
record. Since he took over England
has lost only three competitive matches. However
this is the same record as Rudi Voller erstwhile coach of Germany.
In the knock out phases of tournaments Eriksson's record is P3 W1 L2.
When a draw is taken out of the equation Eriksson struggles.
An international manager with tactics that do not suit his team added a
fear factor does not make for a cup winner.
In a few years England fans may look back and realise that Urs Meier did
them a favour last night. For
England to have gone through would have been to paper over the cracks.
Cracks that would have reappeared later with more devastating
PY: We note,
from the time of our receipt of it, that Seamus wrote this before pieces
similarly critical of Eriksson appeared in the English media.
Ian Forrester, Ealing, London, England,
with still more on David James:
think there is any evidence to suggest that James has received so much criticism
because he's black. Ash Cole and Sol are black and they haven't received
criticism, even though their positions were traditionally occupied by whites
before they won their places in the team. The reason James gets so much
criticism is that, unfortunately, he is the worst keeper England have had for a
long time, a great shot stopper but prone to make handling errors when under
pressure. The sad thing is, like Heskey, I think he has the ability but lacks
the self-belief to perform consistently on the big stage. Unfortunately
consistency is the most important attribute for a goalkeeper and it is for his
inconsistencies that he is criticised. Clearly he is not helped by the fact that
he plays in goal and when he makes mistakes they very often lead to our
conceding goals. Another factor, I think, is that, traditionally, England has
been a nation that produces very fine goalkeepers. Guys like Banks and Shilton
are tough acts to follow.
Ashley Cole has received some blistering barracking, particularly when Wayne Bridge
was in contention for his place, but even as recently as just before the Euro
2004 tournament. A good case could be made that the decline in English
goalkeeping is as much due to the decline in English defending--defending in the
Premiership is regarded as a joke abroad--as it is to the decline in
goalkeepers. The comparisons should be with who else is available, not
past greats, and there are very few English goalkeepers in top flight
football. Most of James' critics are much more familiar with the talents
of David Seaman and Nigel Martyn than those of Banks and even Shilton. James has
been consistent enough to preserve his place in the England team, and he is No.
1 in the opinion of the only man that counts, Sven-Göran Eriksson, who takes
goalkeeping advice from Ray Clemence, although we suppose you question their
judgment, too. If your comments in this message and others were an
accurate measure of James' abilities, it is truly astonishing he ever got a minute
in the England goal, what with his poor wall assembly, his misjudgement in
placing himself for free kicks, his misjudgement in taking down onrushing
players, and now his handling errors under pressure and his lack of
self-belief. The goalkeeper is indeed the player most readily
subjected to criticism and yet his performance is also the most difficult
to judge and hence to criticise fairly. Engaging in armchair criticism is one of the great pleasures of
following the game, but armchair critics ought not to take themselves too
seriously. We prefer Eriksson's judgment over yours, at least on this.
Ian Forrester, Ealing, London, England,
23 June 2004,
with more on David
I'm sorry that you took my comments about David James as
an unnecessary criticism; they were certainly not intended as such. I merely
wished to lodge my disagreement with your comment that James was in no way
responsible for conceding France's two goals. I was sorry to see that you
interpreted my comments as those of another whinging England fan "taking a
swipe" at one of our players. I'd like you to know that I have been
vehement in my defence of all of the England players to anyone who will listen
and there is nobody in the world who wishes England success more than me. That
said, it is crucial that England acknowledge their mistakes in order to learn
from them and prevent their repetition in the future; pretending our performance
was perfect and living in fear of uttering a critical word will get us nowhere.
Finally, is there a reason my comment was removed from the site?
PY: Your comment is still
there, below the comments added more recently, and it has been there since it
was originally posted. Only David
James is entitled to a persecution complex in this forum.
As we said earlier, we do not censor readers� comments.
Don't be sorry about the way we
took your comment; we're not. It must be gratifying to believe
one�s criticisms are helping England’s goalkeeper learn from his mistakes,
particularly since the advice of goalkeeping great Ray Clemence is also readily
available right on the England bench, where he sits as the team�s goalkeeping
coach. James religiously reviews
videotapes of his performances, and since he�s a pretty bright fellow and a
pretty experienced goalkeeper as well, we doubt he misses much.. In any event,
most of the criticisms of James have nothing constructive about them, and there
is nothing to learn from them. .
They come from the braying mob. The
reader whose comment started our exchange--�Robinson, not, I repeat not,
Calamity, in goal��wanted James dropped, hardly an effort to help him learn
and improve his game. What is even
more irksome is that other players make egregious mistakes that put James in an
exceedingly difficult position, yet it is James who bears the brunt of the
criticism.�for failing to stop a
wonderfully placed free kick taken from the edge of the penalty area by a player
several times voted world or European player of the year and known for his dead
ball abilities, and for taking down, when he was in on goal
alone after a horrible back pass, a
player who was almost universally hailed as the English Premiership�s
player of the year and whose ball talents have dazzled us all season long.
It seems to us James has been
judged much more harshly than other England goalkeepers.
He has become a whipping boy, a scapegoat for the England team�s
defensive failings, and it�s become fashionable to barrack him.
We don�t know whether it is because he is a black man playing in a
position traditionally held by a white player.
But there is definitely a nasty, negative, cynical, dismissive and
aggressive tone to most of the criticism directed at him, and a great deal of it
is entirely unfair in its substance.
We understand the value of fair criticism, but the kind we�ve seen on
this forum is either mere insult or scapegoating, which
we regard as worthless, or, at best, second-guessing
(�Monday morning quarterbacking,� to borrow a phrase from the
Americans) that draws its only strength from the certainty of after-the fact
judgment and is blissfully devoid of any awareness of the difficulties and
uncertainties a goalkeeper faces, particularly behind defending that has been,
at times, woeful.
your criticism of James for moving just before Zidane took his free kick.
Goalkeepers have to make instantaneous judgments based
on their observations and experience since they do not know where the ball is
going How do you know what
James saw that caused him to move at the last second? The answer is you do not know.
But that doesn�t stop you finding
him at fault. Armed with your
after-the-fact knowledge that the kick went in and
where it went in, you simply presume James moved because he did not know
where to place himself to have the best chance of preventing a goal, in short, that
he made a misjudgement. We wonder
whether most armchair critics have ever played the game
and we question whether they are capable of putting themselves in the
goalkeeper�s shoes and examining
the imponderables he faced as the penalty kick was about to be taken. We
are convinced they base their criticism entirely on the after-the-fact
certainties of instant replay, the benefits of which are not, of course,
available to the goalkeeper when he must decide what he is going to do.
Deborah, location not given, 24 June 2004, on Portugal
are all watching tonight, Good Luck, Boys.
... and all the rest of us.
Seamus McCann, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland., 24 June
2004, on butchery of the English language and everything else:
Following a few days in which Joe Royle referred to
Wayne Rooney as a "packet bockleship"
(though I did like his reference to the Croatian goalkeeper's
"chocolate wrists") and John Motson posed the question of Rooney
"Is there anything he can do?", I am intrigued by the frequent
reference to England not having conceded a goal in "open play".
Two points here: 1) A goal from a penalty, free kick or a corner has
exactly the same value as one that comes back off the post, hits the keeper on
the head and goes in, or one that follows a Maradona-like mazy dribble.
If England continue to concede goals from closed (I presume) play their
chances of winning the competition will be diminished.
2) When does play cease to
be closed and become open again? I
would have said we were in open play once Ashley Cole sliced the ball goalwards
Predictions for the semis:
England vs. Netherlands
France vs Czech Republic
Goal of the Tournament so far: Jon Dahl Tomasson for Denmark vs Sweden
Biggest Joke of the Tournament so far: Referees declaring that there has been little simulation (or cheating as
we used to call it) in the games played.
Refereeing Decision: Kim Milton Nielsen's decision to award Holland a
penalty against Latvia.
Vanja, Croatia, 22 June 2004, on fan rivalries and the
I'm reading different posts about how much England and
Scotland's football fans hate each other and I think that those guys are
just simple morons that are not interested in the game. We have a similar
situation in Croatia, between the fans of Dinamo (Zagreb) and Hajduk (Split) who
only want to fight each other. They almost got into a fight before the match
with France, instead of uniting and cheering for our team. Morons, to hell with
Anyway, enough about those idiots, I have a question
which I think you could answer. How come there are four teams from the UK which
play in international championships, instead of one? I understand that UK
comprises of GB and NI, and that England, Scotland and Wales make GB, but it is
a bit strange that one country (and I guess UK is one country, with a
parliament, government and the queen, correct me if I'm wrong), is represented
by four teams. Is it a political thing, or did it start that way in the
"early days of football" when you were the only ones who played it and
you guys didn't want to change it. If you could explain that, I'd be much
obliged. Was there a time in history when there was only one team, and then it
split, or was it always four of them? I'm not saying that you're not "good
enough" to have four teams, I'm just curious as to how it came to be.
on kicking our butts in Portugal the other day.
You have me tiptoeing through a minefield here, Vanja.
I would not draw an analogy between club fans and the fans of the
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland national sides, although the level
of the rivalry has often passed the bounds of the acceptable with respect to
both sets of fans. One would expect
the English fans of English club sides to come together in support of the
England national side. While fans
of one of the four national sides of the �home countries� supporting the
team of another during an international tournament is not unheard of, it is not
expected and it is certainly not the norm.
The U.K. is a political state (union, if you wish) consisting of four nations, none of
which is entirely sovereign; and to this day there is debate about national
identity. Most people in the U.K.
think of themselves as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish before they think of
themselves as citizens of the U.K. The
English and the Scottish started international football, the four �home
countries� of the U.K. fielded four separate national sides from the
beginning, and it has always been that way.
International competition between the home countries began more than 30
years before FIFA was founded. A
condition of the home nations joining FIFA was its recognition of the
special status of the four home nations as founders of the modern game, a
recognition which remains in place
today. Not only are the four home
countries permitted to field their own international teams, but the
International Football Association Board, the body in charge of the Laws of the
Game since two decades before FIFA�s founding, is made of up representatives
from the football associations of the four home countries plus representatives
from FIFA. No other football
association is represented on the board other than indirectly through FIFA.
united British or U.K. football team (of sorts) has been fielded only in the
Olympic Games�although not for the past few decades in part because of fear of
endangering the home countries' special status in the football world�and on
special occasions, such as the Great Britain vs. Rest of Europe match in May,
marked the home countries� readmission to FIFA.
Most English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish fans would regard loss of their
own national sides as unthinkable. Surely
Croatians can appreciate this; my understanding is that most Croatians were
delighted to see the re-emergence of a Croatian national side for the first time
since the 1940s on the breakup of the former Yugoslav Republic in the early
Nigel Sloan, Grimsby, Canada, 22 June 2004, on
Seamus McCanns's ramble is insightful and quite witty.
I don't agree with his comments concerning antipathy towards England
though. There's nothing wrong with
friendly banter or the sharp witted put down.
Indeed his comment on Calamity James is bang on. But the fact
the English media go crazy over Rooney shouldn't bother anyone.
It's only football. Who
wouldn't celebrate such a fine young player?
The Irish would if he was Irish. And there'd be nothing wrong in that.
What is wrong and unconscionable is the out and out
racist abuse posted not just on this
site but many other national team sites. This
isn't banter, this is bigotry. One
can't explain away the ugly manifestation of hatred under the guise of football
rivalry. I know Seamus isn't seeking to justify abuse and hatred. However,
abusing the English and their football because one hates them doesn't seem
something that's too difficult to understand.
McCann, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, 22 June 2004, on virtually everything:
a few rambling thoughts so far.
those England fans who fail to understand the antipathy of Scots, Welsh and
Irish fans towards the England team, can I ask the question, do you not savour
victories over Germany just that little bit more than those over, say,
Switzerland? However it is
certainly not the England players who are responsible for anti-English sentiment
and maybe not even the fans. But
the media...now that's a different matter.
I expect an over the top reaction from the tabloids but this time the BBC
has completely lost it, e.g., the twisting of Eriksson's comments over Wayne
Rooney into "Rooney being the new Pele" (when Eriksson didn't say
anything close to that). And this
morning Radio Five Live treated us to "the defeat to France being a good
thing." Eight days ago it was
a national disaster. However back
to the football.
England win this tournament? Yes...but
so can about five other teams. There
is no outstanding team at the moment. France
got 7 points out of 9 without playing particularly well.
Germany are the same old stumbling, stuttering Germany that emerged after
Euro 96 and don't seem good enough. I
think Holland are on their way out. Spain
paid the price for not having the "cojones" to drop a horribly out of
sorts Raul. Czech Rep. certainly
look good going forward but is their defence good enough to win it?
Italy have played about 30 minutes of good football out of 180 and Vieri
couldn't hit a barn door with a banjo. Sweden
look a good if not spectacular side. Portugal? I'm
not sure they have the cutting edge in the forwards to win it.
They're certainly doing well without playing champagne football.
Four things would worry me if I were an England fan.
1) The loss of Rooney through injury or even a red card.
It seems to me he's ten seconds away from either a brilliant goal or
being sent off. 2) A thin squad quality-wise.
Beckham and Owen continue to play poorly. There is a sound case for dropping both but who do you bring
I had David James down for about three ricks in the tournament and so far
he's made one. We still have to
wait for the flapping of the simple cross to the feet of a forward and the
harmless shot bouncing off his chest. OK,
that one was a bit tongue in cheek. 4)
The age old problem of giving the ball away when not under pressure.
This was the downfall against France and after a great season for
Liverpool, Steven Gerrard is one of the biggest culprits. Oh I nearly forgot,
Gary Neville has played unfeasibly well and surely is due a stinker.
OK, that one was tongue in cheek too!!
of the Tournament so far: Wayne
Rooney. Honourable mention for
Ricardo Carvalho. Plank of the Tournament so far:
So many to choose from. Honourable
mentions for Totti, Owen, Silvestre, Cocu, Mornar and Raul, but I'm going for
David Trezeguet. If France continue
to start him they won't win it.
Billingham, Newcastle, England, 22 June 2004, on Jenas and Dyer:
thought the England team was going to let us down, what with Jermaine Jenas and
Kieron Dyer not playing, but I am glad to say they have proved me wrong.
A football team isn�t made of just two men.
Nice one, lads, just keep up the gud work and score more goals.
I know we can go on and win. And
as soon as Jermaine Jenas and Kieron Dyer get fit put them in.
Dyer did get a bit of playing time, but Jenas is not on the Euro squad and will
have to wait until next time.
Nigel Sloan, Grimsby, Canada, 21 June 2004, on
sad it is that others should take so much time
and effort to put the English down.
Anti-English remarks can be put down to two things: first, bigotry and
second, a pathetic desire to be noticed (i.e., Scottish, Welsh & Irish
fans). Mind you, the same can be
said about English morons that boo other national anthems and cause disturbances
in or around matches.
the beautiful game attracts a multi-national cretinous element with a need for
self-expression far beyond the scope of its natural gifts.
support our boys. Let's ignore the
abuse. Let's have the last laugh.
Right you are, Nigel. These remarks reveal much more about their makers
than their targets.
Ian Kilcoyne Brasil, 20 June 2004, on fan criticism
of England players:
have watched all of England’s games for many years and I can only say that
when they play well, it does not matter because most of the fans have never
played football and do not know how hard it is to try to get the ball away from
a skilful player, they do not know what it is like to run around in 36 degrees
of heat, I myself am English and live in Brasil and after working for a
little while in the sun I am knackered and I am pretty fit. Also the
mentality of the British fan is to run the team down even if they win so how can
they possibly win. Here in Brasil when the players are not playing good
their fans still defend them by saying so what, he had a bad game, Beckham and
Owen have not been performing to their best but try to take the positive and
hope they will improve and look for solutions rather than insulting them. Good
luck, England, I hope that you win not only tomorrow but the whole tournament,
and to Beckham and Owen, have belief because you are as good as anyone out
Ian Forrester, Ealing, London, England, 18 June 2004, on David
James and insults to the English:
Having just read the editor's comment about neither of the
French goals being David James's fault (in response to Ashy from Wigan), I felt
compelled to post a remark. While several England players were at fault in the
events leading to the goals (Emile Donkey and Stevie clearly the main
offenders), the mistakes made by James in the build up to both goals must not be
overlooked. James set up a poor wall to defend Zidane's free kick and then, just
as Zidane was about to strike the ball, took a step to the left, thereby
destroying any chance he had of being able to see the flight of the ball. This
is quite an important error from a man charged with keeping said ball out of our
goal. Had James had faith in his wall and stayed where he was he would have been
able to react to the shot, which, while hit with venom, was a good two feet
inside the post. This may have made the difference between our losing or not.
Regarding the second goal, James clearly made beeline to Henry, not the ball,
careering into him, conceding a penalty and causing us to lose a game that
should have been wrapped up.
A personal message to Keith Forsyth. Nice one mate. If you
are going to insult the English on an England supporters' website at least have
the common decency to write a coherent sentence. Idiot.
PY: We're responsible for posting
Keith Forsyth's comment. We don't censor reader comments, which is also
why we allow readers to take swipes at England's goalkeeper on an England
supporters' website while he's still playing for England during an important
David Catalano, age 9, London, England, 18 June 2004, on
England 3 Switzerland 0:
against the Swiss!! I told you you could do it! All we need to do
now is get a win and hope France tie (or lose!!). My family is moving back
to America in a week, but I will still be supporting England and I'll still be
your greatest fan!
Actually all England need to do to advance as second-place team in the group is
draw with Croatia, but we see you're still hoping England win the group,
David. Well, why not? Tell your parents it's bad timing on the move;
they should have put it off until after Euro 2004. Moving, holidays,
weddings, births, deaths, school exams and the other events of normal life must
be scheduled so they do not interfere with important football matches and
tournaments. If you don't teach your parents this now, they may never
learn. Anyway, the matches are available live by satellite or cable
television at home or in selected pubs in the U.S.A. Good luck!
Jon, Canterbury, England, 17 June 2004, on England
on, guys. You did great against France. Yes, a very disappointing end to
the match (well, really gutted actually) but you showed that you have the
capability to beat them and it was by far the best match of Euro 2004 so far,
two teams putting everything into winning. Everyone knew this would be England's
hardest match. Time to puff out those chests and get a result against
Switzerland later today and then Croatia. We all know you can still do it. Just
have to show Zidane, Bartez and co in the final!
We'll be watching with pride.
Anonymous, location not given, 16 June 2004, on France 2
of heavy flooding across Northern Ireland....
It's thought that the major flooding throughout
Ulster has been caused by Northern Ireland football fans (The Green & White
Army) pissing themselves laughing at England :-)
Robert Starck, Tarbes, France, 16 June 2004, on England and
LUCK for european cup 04 ;-)
Lesley, Glasgow, Scotland, 16 June 2004, on France 2
Although I very much enjoy living
in Scotland, it very much disheartens me, as a half English half Scottish girl,
to watch the football up here. I had the mispleasure of standing in a pub
listening to 200 Scots cheering on France. I can't for one second
understand this - and no matter how much the odd Scot tries to explain it to me
- it makes no sense other than bigotry.
I will watch the remainder games
south of the border for sanity's sake.
Although I have to say, I wish the
commentators would stop talking about 1966. It is boring to everyone's
Paul Wilson, Copenhagen, Danmark, 16 June 2004, on
France 2 England 1:
I think the performance of the England squad was
okay during the French match, but it highlights how disgusting it is to pay
people vast sums of money to not make easy mistakes and miss penalties and to
give them away. I am also thinking
the petty fouling, general attempts at cheating shirt pulling, etc, totally
unprofessional and should be stamped out harshly by the referees.
To be honest, there are millions of people who would pay to play for
their country and would entertain us equally as well .... and if we are going to
lose, then let's do it with style, with class, with honour, with dignity ...
bring back some fun into sport. The great sporting heroes in the past
would be turning in their graves and it is not setting the high standards to
inspire and motivate young children.
15 June 2004, on France 2 England 1:
kiss your football. it's Great !!!!!
Les plus grands joueurs
n'ont pas besoin de nationalit� ni d'avis politique !!!! Seul leur football compte.
Si Mon post vous a paru "special", mettez le sur le compte
d'une victoire ind�cise et d'un match � rebondissement !!!!
Nous savons tout les deux que de grands joueurs
peuvent faire la diff�rence � eux seuls.
Italy, 15 June 2004, on France 2 England 1:
hope England team will win European Championship but Beckham must never
Didier, Marseille, France, 15 June 2004, on France 2
I�m dishappy because English people have whistle
French national anthem; it s not fair play and good spirit. Eriksson does some shit, he wanted to play with offense
player and after England played defense!!?? I don 't the tactical
and why he replaces Scholes!!
Now we know Zidane pownz Beckham but it isn't a
news. It was the same in the next
euro when journalist said "Zidane vs Figo" for France-Portugal.
Zidane powned Figo.
English player want to break the game with many fault
and they paid for it; if they had a
better spirit maybe they are win....
Good luck from Euro,
I hope France will replay versus England
and Italy, too :-)
sorry for my bad English!!!
Rennes, Brittany, France, 15 June 2004, on France 2 England 1:
is some artwork I made in order to celebrate France's victory over our longtime
enemy "England". Please
understand that it is just to take the piss ... ok? No
Best regards and good luck anyway. (I'm
sure we can play England again during this Euro 2004.)
PY: We note, in case it's not
apparent, that the champagne bottles are pasted in on the photograph of the two
young supporters posted above right.
Forsyth, location not given, 14 June 2004, on France 2 England 1:
well done, your shit team lost again and you got humped at the rugby but oh you
won the cricked wipee doo serves you english right your so full of shit once
again well done ha ha
We suppose there's always one, even among England Football Online's
readers. Watch it, or we�ll put England’s Greatest Fan after you to
teach you to write a proper English sentence and see how fast you run away.
Catalano, age 9, London, England, 14 June 2004, on France 2 England 1:
worry about losing to France. You'll
most likely win against Switzerland and Croatia. So I still believe you can win this competition. You're
still a strong team.
PY: That's the spirit, David.
Wigan, England, 14 June 2004 on England's Euro 2004 lineup:
and Rooney up front
Owen, Beckham and Bridge midfield
King, Campbell and Cole defense
Robinson, not, I repeat not, Calamity in goal.
We understand your dissatisfaction with Michael Owen, but media and fans have
conferred sainthood on him. In any event, UEFA would have to grant
permission to add Jermaine Defoe to the squad at this point, and it would not be
forthcoming. Paul Scholes' fitness is in doubt, and so you may get your
wish for a change on the left side of the midfield, although it may not be Wayne
Bridge who steps in. David James is
unlikely to be replaced short of injury; he was in no way responsible for
France's two goals.
location not given (guessing France!), 14 June 2004 on France 2 England 1:
votre football est un des meilleurs europeen.
vous respectons, vous et vos joueurs!.
on vous l'a mis bien profond celle la. NON????
est pr�sent � n'importe quel moment D'un match et david doit le savoir.
moi l'adresse de votre gardien pour que je ne m'en prenne qu'� lui. on lui
enverra des fleurs de FRANCE.
On a TOUS vu votre publicit� d'avant match sur la rencontre FRANCE-Angleterre.
ON rigolait d�j�.
+ la t�te est lourde, plus dur est le descente.
LE COQ FRANCAIS.
PY: Merci, mais je parle
francais comme un homme de Manchester parceque je suis de Manchester.
Eich, Germany, 14 June 2004 on France 2 England 1:
We were happy with Greece on Saturday and now we're sad
with your national team, on the one hand.
On the other hand, we want to congratulate you to a
wonderful football-evening, which surely was recognized far over Europe. This is
now written history. Your fans are on the right way to become real champions.
I know, what I'm talking about, I still remember sittin'
in Galway in a pub, watching the Cup-Final Manu vs. FC Bayern. It was just
unbelievable for me first, a kind of deep shock. Honest, I'm no FC.B.-Fan
(my heart beats for the VfB Stuttgart since 1977).
To make it short: with your team and the new spirit of
your fans you should find a good way of success in the further European
championship. I personally think and even hope a little bit with you, it
could be long enough now (since 1966), you might take your title and -if
possible- you won't beat our team again 1:5 please. Keep your coach and
take your way now!
PY: Thanks for the kind
words, Karl-Heinz. No promises on Germany, though.
Goodall, location not given, 14 June 2004, on France 2
I am stood in a
pub the whole pub is rocking with
cheers of 'come on england, come on england'
this isn't at the start of the match but being one nil up after 90
minutes. Then, well we all know what
happened. First of all I have to
praise the defense, with all talk about Ledley King; he played excellent and I
can't remember Henry causing us real
threat. However, the midfield were
terrible. We all know that attack is the best form of defense;
however, someone should tell Heskey that, that does'nt mean to actually try to
be a defender!! Who trips someone like that on the edge of the box when you
outnumber the attacker! Also Steven Gerrard and his cocky little back
pass, well he got what he deserved. Will
I go to pub again to watch England?...............yes of course.
But we can't go through the agony of watching something like that again.
Pull your socks up, England! Concentration
till the last!
PY: At least the team has won
admirers across Europe, if the two messages above are any indication.
We're tempted to declare a moral victory! But you're right; that's no
consolation for the loss of concentration and discipline that led to France's
Fiona, Colne, Lancashire, England, 13 June 2004, on France 2
pissed off - England don't deserve to win anything after tonight - they should
have won - you can't throw matches away like this. There are no excuses.
That match should have been won. Sven should do some serious kicking of
England backsides. Should have won, at
least drawn - what was Gerrard playing at? Rule is kick it out of
play. Please, someone educate him before it's too late.
PY: Uhmmm, it is too late--
for the France match, anyway. Fiona, rest assured you are not
alone. We're still a bit stunned ourselves, but it
surely shouldn't have been unexpected. We all know great
teams find a way to win and that you can't give away the midfield for almost an
entire half and not expect to pay for it eventually through defensive mistakes,
which are bound to come sooner or later under that kind of sustained
pressure. Giving away possession, surrendering the midfield
entirely, defending so deep in their own half -- all part of the fatal flaw that
has plagued the team against top opposition for more than a decade now. As
the French say, the more things change, the more they stay
Chris Hutchison, Bristol, U.K., 13 June 2004 on France 2
for Sven (please forward with the other 30.000.000 or so similar opinions):
a few minutes to go, we're (against all the odds) one-nil in the lead and Sven
brings on Mr Heskey to, as my wife said, make sure we lose. Anyone who has an
ounce of awareness knows that it was this decision that lost us the game.
you cannot afford to do what he did at primary school, let alone at
international level. is he really worth all the crap stuff just for the
occasional bit of half decent footie. I don't care how nice a bloke he is and
who he must know to even be playing footie, quite frankly, what I care about is
how consistently rubbish he is at playing international football. Please do us
all a favour and get rid of him for everas far as Engerland are concerned, he
just isn't up to the job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Surely the entire team must bear some responsibility for the failure to preserve
the lead. It goes beyond mistakes by Emile Heskey and Steven Gerrard. It's
the same old story. We lost leads against Portugal and Romania at
European Championship 2000 and against Sweden and Brazil at World Cup
2002. Now add France to the collection. The fact is England still
have not learnt how to play possession football, the surest way to preserve a
Marcos Soria Grohne, Hamburg, Germany,, 13
June 2004, written minutes before the France vs. England Euro 2004 match ended:
a wonderful game against France!!!!!
half Spanish and half German (two great football nations), but after this great
game my heart beats for the English team! What a brave squad!!!!
I hope the "three lions" will get the cup!!
PY: You spoke too soon, my friend. As
the great American philosopher Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over until it's over."
luck. It was like Bayern against
ManU!!! But I'm sure England will get six points in the next two games!!!
have a new big supporter from Hamburg, Germany!! Keep your head
high!!! Adelante England, don't give up!!!!!! Sometimes life can be
strange,and the looser will be the champ at the end!!!
can be proud of this team!!!
Tackovic, Sisak, Croatia, 4 June 2004 on Croatia
I hope that England and Croatia will go further in the Euro 2004. But if Croatia
will be stopped, then I'll support England! Good luck!
Thanks for the support, Ivana. We're posting your message very late, after
the group's first round of matches, and at this point, it is probably in England's
interests to see Croatia lose to France since that will further England's
chances of advancing as second-place team in the group. But it still would
be nice to see France taken down a peg. We would be entirely happy to see
Croatia advance as long as it is not at the expense of England.
Lee Ross, Droitwich, near
England, 28 April 2004:
What has happened to our strikers in this
country? Going back 10-15 years ago, we had STARS like Gary Lineker, Peter
Beardsley, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham �all players who would
walk into our team now.
Who have we got now?
Emile Heskey � Awful, simply awful. Has all
the attributes, but does nothing with them. Could really scare defences, but
seldom can be bothered.
Michael Owen � Not a patch of his former
self, but then again, what has he ever done? Scored a great goal against
�and??? A quick striker who can't finish. Will never be mentioned
in the same breath as a legend like Shearer or Lineker (or Ian Rush, to
Alan Smith � A tryer. He will run, and kick
his way around for 90 minutes but that�s it. Doesn�t know where he should be
playing, as he continues to be used in midfield for club and country.
James Beattie � A talented Premier league
striker who would score goals at international level if we got balls into the
box. Sadly, other than Mr. Beckham, we can't cross our legs.
Kevin Phillips � When he is on form, he is
on form �. But when he's not .... Needs a big man along side of him a la
Niall Quinn. Would have worked wonders with Alan Shearer.
Darius Vassell � Pacey like Owen, but this
boy makes things happen. He seems to have an extra edge when playing for
as though he is trying that little bit harder� why doesn�t Owen???
Wayne Rooney � Another hothead like Smith,
Rooney scares people with his strength, pace and aggression. Mr. Heskey
please take note. Good job he came along when he did, but are we putting too
much pressure on such an inexperienced player?
Sadly, when you look at our first opponents
in Euro 2004 �
compare their strikers to ours.
Henry � Enough said!!!
Trezeguet � Also, enough said.
Saha � The new king of Old Trafford.
Cisse � Superb young striker, possibly soon
to be replacing Heskey at
Plus MANY, MANY more �.
Why kid ourselves, we
aren�t good enough, and until we start getting qualified coaches to coach
junior teams rather than helpful Dads, we never will be. Grass Roots is the
problem � it needs to be sorted now.
Sherezade Suhail, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2 March
I thoroughly enjoyed going through your website. I was surprised to see
comments about the new away strip up already (although I think you take a
hard stance on Umbro!). The bit about the world cup thing is totally correct,
and even I feel that one star has a more negative effect than having no stars at
The reason I think you're harsh on Umbro is because from my vantage point,
the brand seems to be on the way down. It was unfortunate Man United decided to
switch to Nike, since Umbro always 'personalised' United shirts whereas Nike
take their blueprint, change the colours, and roll it off the conveyor belt.
There was a green and yellow strip c. 1994 which was reflective of the old
newton heath colours, and though Umbro obviously pulled it out to make money of
off it, it was at least nice to see them put a bit of thought into it. Nowadays
both locally and internationally, everyone wears the same shirts, only in a
different colour. That is why England will have one of the most distinct strips
in Portugal this summer.
All in all, names and numbers have become an integral part of modern
sport, and your site has done a wonderful job of charting its rise to
Personally, as a traditionalist, I would rather have teams going out
numbered 1-11 than having all sorts of numbers on the pitch at the same time. I
think that if a player was good enough, you'd automatically associate him with a
given number rather than have it flashed at you a million times.
Plus, if your favourite player got transferred, at least your shirt would
still be of some use! I had a mate once who got a blue/white United strip for
Christmas with Ince on the back. So distraught was he when we sold the guvnor
that he went out and bought the same shirt over!
The bit about sponsors is an interesting debate too. Although I don't
really have a problem with it when it blends in with the strip, sometimes the
advertising just looks plain ugly (Rangers this year, and Celtic a while ago
when they had the Umbro logo across the front). I think eventually the national
teams will end up with sponsors too, since they're losing enough money as it is,
and a lot of originality too. Lets hope that someone, somewhere, for the sake of
tradition, keeps the shirts plain. Look what Barcelona did and how classy that
looks (although, with the nike symbol on it, you can argue it's worth just as
much since it stands out in the absence of anything else).
That is about it. Just a few random thoughts that came across my mind
going through your site!
PY: Yours is the second comment
we've had questioning our criticism of Umbro. (The first, along with my
reproduced below.) You are right
that Umbro's strip is far better than what Nike is turning out. But the
fact that other strip manufacturers are worse than Umbro does not, in my view,
exempt Umbro from criticism. However, I've added a sentence at the
end of my comments on the new away strip: "We recognise, however, that Umbro's strip
is preferable to the assembly-line uniforms Nike is producing for many of the
world's other national sides."
Paul Robinson, Kanata, Ontario,
Canada, 24 February 2004:
My 23 for England’s Euro 2004 squad would be:
Goalkeepers: James, Robinson, Martyn
Defenders: G. Neville, Campbell, Terry, A. Cole,
Bridge, Southgate, King
Midfielders: Beckham, Scholes, Gerrard, Butt, J.
Cole, Lampard, Hargreaves, Dyer
Forwards: Owen, Rooney, Vassell, Smith
PY: You're the only
reader who has faithfully posted squad preferences for all the major tournaments
since our website began way back in 1999. There have been only three of
them, but we expect to be around for many more. Thanks, Paul. My
understanding is that UEFA has not yet officially upped the squad limit to 23
players, rather than 22, as FIFA did for World Cup 2002, but I expect that is
just a formality and that it will be done very soon.
Craig Garratt, location not given,
U.K., 18 February 2004:
Why do you
feel so strongly that
England shouldn't include the star symbolic of winning the World Cup? Only
seven nations have ever won this prestigious trophy so why not display it?
Also you moan about the Umbro logo appearing on the kit but if you look at any kit in the world the designers' logo appears on the top, the shorts and on most occasions the socks, too
so why have a dig at Umbro for doing it with the England kit?
PY: When does honest criticism become moaning? Answer: when one disagrees with it. Let me address your moaning about my criticisms.
I criticise the logos because I refuse to accept that commercial motives must be allowed to prevail in every aspect of our game.
I criticise the Umbro logo on the England kit because we're an England website and because Umbro happens to manufacture the England strip. If we were a Brazil site, I would criticise the placing of commercial Nike logos on
Brazil's national strip.
My view is that the placement of commercial emblems on football uniforms was disgraceful at its inception 25 years ago and remains
inappropriate now, particularly in the case of the national side's uniform. It wasn't done 30 years ago and it shouldn't be done today. The latest innovation--placing multiple manufacturer logos on every item in the strip and making the logo on the shirt even more prominent than before--permits cheap commercialism to mar our national side's uniform.
North America is the home of commercialism, and yet sport teams there have not
allowed commercial logos to mar their uniforms.
I criticise the gold star because it is a cheap fad. Just because other teams do
certain things doesn't mean we have to copy them. What's wrong with the
three-lions emblem as the sole adornment on an England shirt, as it was for more
than a century? No football fan needs a gold star on the shirt to remind him or
her we won the World Cup once. What does the gold star have to do with today's
team? The answer is: nothing.
The Brazilian federation started the practice because it wanted to make the gold
stars a constant reminder to the rest of the world that Brazil had won more
World Cups than anyone else. Why we should cater to this Brazilian (and later
Italian and German) triumphalism by putting up a single star on our shirt--a
measure of our comparative inferiority--is mystifying. We should ignore the
stars, as we always have. The three lions emblem is sufficient symbol of the
grand tradition of our team. We shouldn't feel the need to boast about our
accomplishments just because others feel the need to do so.
Having said that, I recognise that while many fans agree with me, others have different views. For all I know,
my website colleagues disagree with me. Since I wrote that last sentence, one of my
colleagues, Chris Goodwin, has told me he has nothing against commercial
logos on club shirts, but he hastens to point out that that's what he grew up
with and that he thus never knew anything else. There's the difference, I
think--age and what we grew up with.
Jim Bartley, North Wales, 18
February 2004 (writing immediately after England's 1-1 draw in Portugal):
Yet again the most over rated English
"striker" for many years has done nothing. Why Sven perseveres
with Michael Owen is beyond me. When are people going to realise that he is
a waste of time.