Posts Tagged ‘Shankly’

Euro 2012 – That’s the end of that then, but somehow they’ll get by without England!

June 27th, 2012 No comments

That’s the end of that then.  It wasn’t a huge shock to be eliminated by Italy.  Going out to a team of their stature is certainly no disgrace.  But few could argue that for 120 minutes we were outclassed by  a much better team.  Had we prevailed in the penalty shootout we’d have seen, to quote Bill Shankly,  “A travesty of justice”.

Pleasingly, there isn’t as much filth and fury with this exit.  Great things weren’t expected from England in this campaign.  If anything we have actually exceeded expectations.  Winning the group in relative comfort was actually as impressive as it was surprising.  What wasn’t at all surprising is that as soon as faced a team with genuine aspirations to lift the trophy we were eliminated.  We were stretched  all over the pitch by Italy.  We clearly lacked  flexibility in the squad to make differences to our system.  This is where Roy Hodgson shouldn’t be heavily criticised.  The nature of English football doesn’t make for international success.  No manager can change an entire football culture in six weeks. That is the key issue. 

Made in Stoke – on – Trent by

Spain have proven that a football culture can evolve.  The obsession with aggression has to develop into a more technical thoughtful game.   If England are to develop into a side capable of challenging the worlds best physical clashes and gritted teeth won’t be the primary requirement.

The problem is that we hype up the Premier League, import foreigners to make it  tactically astute and more technical  than the qualities we breed, sell it to almost 200 countries because of it’s physical conflict and fast pace  . . .  and delude ourselves that this makes the world tremble.  As we were delighted  to avoid Spain in the quarter final,  Italy were just as relieved to facing England not France.  Until the English game is prepared to implement the required changes, invest the time and finance to install them effectively we’ll continue to just lumber through tournaments hoping to somehow get lucky.

On the positive side England in  this tournament did keep the defensive discipline under pressure, apart from a quarter of an hour against Sweden of course.  When Hodgson was appointed we knew much of his style was about shape. There were signs that some of the work has paid off.  If attention to detail can be combined with fresh talent it will be a stepping stone to the required metamorphosis. 

While emerging talent is scarce we have to make the most of what we have.  With that in mind, as soon as Jack Wilshere is fully fit and available the England team must be built around him.  Wilshere is an exciting young talent and could lead an era of transformation.

The rest of the tournament will somehow limp on without England!  While Italy dominated against England, Germany will present a different challenge completely.  A well drilled defence combined with a pacy attack will put Italy on the backfoot.  If the game goes all the way German penalties will also be superior to the English variety.

Spain could make history by being the first European team to win three major international tournaments in a row.  It’d be a remarkable achievement… not least because as recently as 2006 they were universally regarded as the team that never fulfills potential.  In the semi final they face Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Hopefully it’ll be a more even contest than France’s meek attempt to challenge the holders.  Even allowing for Spanish brilliance the tepid French effort was a poor show.  The fascination will be to see how Spain handle being under sustained pressure.  Vincente del Bosque has acknowledged his squad is tired.  If fatigue could be exploited Spain could lose one of their titles.










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Bless me, Father – A Stoke City Christmas Blog by Bunny

December 20th, 2011 No comments

Bless me, Father

The festive period is a time of extremes. Extreme happiness and extreme sadness. A time for thinking of those less fortunate than yourselves: like turkeys.

I hate ‘Fairytale of New York’. Really detest it. Beloved of students, clueless tipsy office girls at Chrimbo parties and anyone else who wears dreadful jumpers or eats Pot Noodles. I also hate New Years Eve. “It’s the most maw-aw-kish time of the year” – that’s what Andy Williams should have sung. Unless you are royally trolleyed, you simply sit watching garbage telly and feel sad. And hope the next year is a darn sight better!

‘Auld lang syne’ is another dreadful song, too, a simply tuneless dirge even Coldplay couldn’t replicate. I don’t want to cross arms with some whopper I don’t know and pretending that
I’m happy, thanks. And no one knows any words other than the title too, but still pretend that they do. Baffled, here, as to why folk do that.

Cheery kinda bloke at Christmas, aren’t I?

Christmas is about the two F’s – Family and Football. Always has been and always should be.
8pm kick offs on Boxing Day ? The work of satan. Winter break? Shove it, as there’s nowt so character building than going to Leyton Orient on New Year’s Day on a coach where the smell of freshly sicked-up ‘Peddy’ hangs in the air like Big Bren, and watching us secure
three points, in front of a few hundred fellow souls with nowt better to do than go to East London on the first day of the year.

As much as I moan, sometimes life as a Stoke isn’t that bad you know. But first let’s make like that plum Craig David and re-re-wind (and the crowd say Bo, Ray E-vans). Ok?

Unlike most nogger fans, I can’t remember my first Stoke game. My first memories of watching us were against Middlesbrough at Vale Park and then having a season ticket in 1977 in the Butler Street Stand. Relegation inevitably soon followed.

So, basically, I was introduced to the Potters after a visit to Vale and then being forced to sit in probably the only roofless stand in Britain at that time, and watch us go down. Perhaps instead of now thanking my dad in this article I should be phoning Social Services instead?

But am I grateful that my old man grasped my 8 year old hand all those years ago and walked me to those Victoria Ground turnstiles? Daft, rhetorical question. And isn’t ‘rhetorical’ an ace word?

If you are thinking of being all sentimental and schmaltzy this Christmas, then surely a bit
of an effort could and should be made to treat that person who first introduced you to Stoke City Football Club? A lifetime of mainly struggle and heartache has turned us into the folk we are today, and should make us so, so appreciative of the status we have in English

We have a right to moan and we certainly have the right to voice our concerns about our beloved club, but that only means we care, we love. It’s when people don’t have their say – that is the time to start worrying, for the opposite of love isn’t hate, its apathy.

So I’m going to put a bit more effort into selecting my Chrimbo presents this year, and showing my caring-alpha-male side, by actually telling my old man how much I, gulp, love him and thank him for taking me to Stoke.

And why shouldn’t we thank the people who have ensured that we have grown up following the most just and righteous cause? I wouldn’t swap my soaking at the Abbey Stadium and
subsequent topless huddling on the coach back with my old fella for United’s European Cups; I wouldn’t swap sliding down the grass bank at Wigan for any number of trophies.

Because what we have one is what makes us what we are. And it makes any special moment to be even more special.

The look on his face at the end of the beamback Cardiff game at the Brit meant everything.
A craggy, weather-worn and Stoke-weary face that had witnessed the best part of six decades of mediocrity, lit up by a goal off someone’s bum. That is football. That is Stoke City. That’s my dad. Someone who would do anything for his family and Stoke City. No-one
can take away the great times we’ve had watching Stoke City. No-one.

Watching Stoke and the morsels of success we’ve had is akin to that rocket-fit blonde in The Place coming over to you after months of quarter-to-two dances with assorted livestock; It’s when the dj drops the seven minute version of Eric B’s “Paid in full” after listening to Olly Murs, JLS and any other X Factor clown all night. It’s the diamond in the rough, the needle in the haystack, the treasure in the trash etc.

Two and a half year ago my father-in-law unfortunately passed away. He was from Vale stock, and was a proper, good, kind and gentle man. A man who loved nothing more than his family, his sport, and a pint of mild in his hand, whilst listening to any football match that
happened to be on the radio. A man who I have never, ever heard say anything bad about anybody, and whom I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about.

If Stoke had lost he wouldn’t have a dig at me. He wanted all local clubs to do well. My own dad’s a little different: if Stoke lost he’d mope about on a Saturday night and only really be happy once again the next time we’d won. I suppose I’m like that – indeed, as Vince
Lombardi once said, “if sport isn’t about winning, then why do we keep score?”

A different generation, my old man and John. A better generation? Dunno, but I’m reminded of the responsibility I have as a parent (and football supporter) to do the right thing. We have to cherish our families, and we should cherish the path that they’ve chosen
for us, be it in life or football, and we should simply give eternal thanks that we have been chosen to support Stoke City Football Club.

“Football isn’t life or death, it’s more important than that”. Sorry Shanks, that’s rubbish, absolute rubbish. Football changes lives and it would be a sad, sad life if you didn’t worship your local team.

Do you still think that the Stoke coat your dad would love as a Chrimbo present is too expensive? Buy it, just buy it. And thank him.

Dad’s are ace. Tell yours that he is.

Stoketshirt Euro Tour Ad