It’s understandable that a manager wants to defend his team. It’s easy to appreciate that a manager might want to publicly focus on the positive aspects that come from a game. But even bearing those things in mind it’s hard to believe that Roberto Mancini seriously honestly believes that Man City deserved to beat us on Saturday. If so you have to engage, as Tone did, that well worn mantra for all football supporters when a view on a game differs from their own… “What game was he watching?” To engage yet another football cliche, it was clearly a game of two halves. There was a story that on arrival on the pitch at the Brit to warm up Balotelli, to the amusement of the Stoke coaching staff, dashed down the tunnel clearly unsettled by the cold. In the first half it seemed not so super Mario’s discomfort had become a virus which spread throughout the team. For the first 45 minutes we played with impressive intelligence, one aspect of which was that we allowed them to have the ball where it couldn’t hurt us. They could indeed play 10 passes in a row but if that’s done in areas which can’t hurt us, and angles are closed to limit their options, why waste energy frantically hassling and clattering? We paid a price for our inability to gain a lead from our first half dominance. For much of the second half we had difficulty breaking forward, but for all Man City’s possession they didn’t create many clear cut chances. There were several potshots but little seriously tested our defence. It took a combination of skill and opportunism from Richards to out us behind. Richards dummy and turn combined with Collins lack of concentration led to a shot on goal he buried in style. Some might blame Begovic but it’s hard for any keeper to save a shot hit with such power and accuracy. It looked as if that was that, especially as we seemed unable to rally to launch the usually obligatory siege on their penalty area. But in the end, and it really was the end, that marvellous bit of skill from Tuncay let to Ethers ruthless finish to gain us a well deserved point. So precise was that little piece of Turkish delight (sorry) that Ethers didn’t even have to break stride to take his shot. There was little time for anything else in the game so all that was left was for Mancini to attempt to rewrite history. One point that has to be made about Man City is that they do have some great talent in their side, but are a long way from being substantial title challengers. Stoke away is a serious test of character and how the challenge is dealt with demonstrates whether you have the resilience to stay competitive. For all the millions spent they didn’t do nearly enough to win this game and in the first half didn’t want to be out in the cold. Their collection of superstars need to be reminded that points win leagues. not hairstyles. That puts us halfway to the magical 40 mark. Lets hope we can maintain the desire of the last four games 40 won’t be too far away! Well done Stoke, we have a team to be proud of long may it continue.
It’s commonplace for Barcelona to dismantle sides. The striking difference this time is that it was done against a top team filled with stars and a tactical master at the helm. Aside from the initial humiliation, Real Madrid don’t actually have that much to worry about. There is still a long way to go and despite the obvious psychological advantage many twists and turns lie ahead. Many bemoan the fact that the Premier League is unbalanced in terms of TV money distribution, yet in Spain each club negotiates their independent TV rights deal. This means that Barcelona and Real Madrid can maintain their dominance almost totally unthreatened by the minions. There are murmurs that they are both seriously considering sharing some of the money to assist their poorer brethren, it’s hard to imagine the English mega giants choosing such altruism.
It’s pleasing to see the British home office report stating that arrests at football are down 10%. Apparently, in a World cup year, there were no arrests for England fans abroad. Is it the first time ever this has happened? http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/football-arrests-banning-orders/fbo-2009-10?view=Binary
The announcement of World Cup hosts for 2018 and 2022 is imminent. It’s actually more crucial for the national football health of Australia to host 2022 than it is for England to host 2018. In England football exists continues to generate interest and income and remains prominent. Here it’s different. The energy and expense that goes into a bid like this is phenomenal and if the show arrives here in 2022 it looks like a shrewd investment. If the party takes place elsewhere the resources used by the bid could appear to be seriously wasteful. Bearing in mind the A-league has several clubs in financial disarray, it will be suggested that the money used to fund the bid could have been more wisely spent by helping to provide infrastructure for the game here. The irony is that while moving to FIFA’s Asian section was an intelligent step to take, if Australia had stayed with Oceania they would be near certainties to host the tournament.
It’s now highly unlikely the Joeinoz dream of successive tournaments in England and Australia will come to fruition. Consecutive World Cups in predominantly white predominantly English speaking nations doesn’t sit well with FIFA liking to present themselves and as a globally inclusive entity which is trying to save the world from the tyranny of oppression. Admittedly this image of universal harmony didn’t stretch as far as asking delegates to consider a nations history of racist abuse when voting, but why get off the train when the gravy is still simmering? Combine this with the sickening way that English journalists daring to expose corruption in the bidding process has damaged the English bid, it’s unlikely to court favour with those whose gravy train is in danger of being derailed. The odious Jack Warner of CONCACAF has been wined and dined by David Cameron seeking forgiveness and votes. It’s increasingly clear that hosting a tournament is little to do with suitability to do so, it’s all politically motivated. The internal wrangling gives Machiavellian a complex for not living up to itself.