The Groundsman’s Shed

Grounds’ Clippings: Abramovich Takes Over Colorado Territory by groundsman

-After an unfortunate 0-1 loss to Spain earlier this month, and the excruiatingly dull 2-0 loss to England I witnessed at Wembley, the United States men’s national team got an exercise in ego boosting with an 8-0 trouncing of Barbados in a World Cup qualifying match on Sunday.  The scoreline looks pretty awesome, but the opponents were truly hopeless.  There are still some severe problems with fundamentals like ball handling and control, and even when given plenty of room by Barbados for improvisation and creativity, we played an extremely direct forward attacking style. 

Roman Abramovich is coming to America!  It’s old news, but it still brings a shiver to the spine, thinking he could buy up the Colorado Rapids club in the MLS and turn it into Chel$ki-Lite.  The Russian oil billionaire bought at 36 million dollar ranch near Aspen.  He already bought another property near Snowmass, CO back in February.  …so just what is he planning to do in Colorado that requires so much land and two houses?  (Answer: Pick up hottie snow bunnies on the slopes, no shame in that)


Waar de Engelsen zijn? Wo Englisch ist? где английские языки? Where are the English?  For the first few days of Euro2008, fans were singing it and saying it in different languages- and we have the answer… the English national team players are on beaches ’round the world, working diligently on their tans, apparently not even bothering with a bit of keepy uppy on the sand.  I mean, at least Steve McClaren is watching a bit of footy on the time off.

-The life of a football blogger is a bit well, different, during a major tournament.  With major news outlets analyzing every last morsel of each match, a blogger’s reach for material (when not on site) is somewhat limited.  So they go with whatever Getty images has available for a cheap ‘n’ easy post: WAGS and hot girls in the stands.  Por ejemplo: The top posts on both Newsnow and Soccerblogs have had to do “sexy girls” and/or “body paint” for the past 5 days or so. 



“What the hell is Capello doing?” (also titled “Captain Becks is Back”) by groundsman

I knew this would happen.  I said it, you thought about it, and now it has happened.  England manager Fabio Capello is handing the captain’s armband back to David Beckham for Sunday’s match against Trinidad and Tobago.  Now before everyone comes over all outraged about this being a terrible sign or a step back in the wrong direction, we need to take a look at Wednesday’s match against the USA:

I was at that match, and while I did enjoy my time there and the majority of England supporters were incredibly friendly and polite,  the live competition itself was only slightly more interesting than watching on television because of the pathetic abuse shouted at the few hundred USA fans from some younger England supporters.  Seriously, a chant like “your mother is your sister” or “when have you won a world cup?” can and was easily deflected with,

“You think we really hate ya, but you couldn’t beat Croatia- huzzaaaah, England.”

or “Come on Macedonia!” 

Even a simple, “Whatcha doin’ on your summer off?” was enough to make some of the England fans near us go quiet, look upset and then just call the whole lot “gay”.  I was however very proud of the USA fans for refusing to take part in the Mexican wave, because a) it’s stupid b) if the ball is in play, your eyes should be on the field c)neither team had much to cheer about as they both played like shit.

Which brings me back to the original topic: why is Beckham captain again?  The answer: Why the hell not?  It has become painfully obvious that the England team still need his crosses, as they really are the exact same team from 2 years ago.  Yes, Beckham was never particularly mobile, but as his teammates still lack the ability to pass to one another whilst running with the ball at the same time,  that’s not really an issue.  Also, the team was the “Golden Generation” with Beckham and the management of Sven Goran-Eriksson, so why not make Goldenballs lead out the team again?  They’ve already gone back to the old English 4-4-2, and Peter Crouch is getting playing time- the only difference between now and World Cup 2006 is that everyone agrees that Owen Hargreaves is a really good player.

The Bottom Line: Capello is probably just doing this to show that Beckham will be a part of his upcoming World Cup campaign.  Also- he’s demonstrating that he’s willing to do just about anything to make the other players work a bit harder during meaningless friendlies.

Read more from The Guardian here.

13 days! by groundsman
May 15, 2008, 3:46 pm
Filed under: England, England v. USA, football, meaningless friendly, USA

Less than two weeks until my first trip to the UK, and the England v. USA friendly.

My match ticket arrived this afternoon, along with a lovely supporter’s scarf.

Are you an American making the trip abroad for the match?  Not making the trip but want to talk about the match?  Feel free to login and chat in this Facebook group.

Capello names England Squad for Upcoming Friendlies by groundsman
May 12, 2008, 9:42 pm
Filed under: England, England v. USA, Fabio Capello, football, USA

Joe Hart, Stephen Warnock, and Phil Jagielka are the interesting inclusions this time around. We’ll see if Owen is actually used for any amount of time during the May 28th match at Wembley against Team USA.

EDIT: Apologies if the squad seemed a tad small this morning when I posted this, but part of the blog entry got cut off! Yes, Steven Gerrard was named as part of the squad. Cheers!

Squad: Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth), Chris Kirkland (Wigan); Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), David Wheater (Middlesbrough), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), John Terry (Chelsea), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham Hotspur), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Stephen Warnock (Blackburn Rovers); Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham Hotspur), Owen Hargreaves (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), David Bentley (Blackburn), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham Hotspur), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough); Forwards: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Michael Owen (Newcastle United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Peter Crouch (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth), Dean Ashton (West Ham United).

Another Slap in the Face for England Fans… by groundsman
April 26, 2008, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Comment, England, football, football manager, Steve McClaren, What the Balls?

As the BBC announces Steve McClaren will be a part of their Euro2008 coverage team. 

I’ll just let that sink in. 

Yes, it’s that Steve McClaren.  The failed English national team coach who failed to take the team to Euro2008.  He will now be providing “expert analysis” on the game during a tournament he failed to go to, and laughing and talking with other “pundits” who were all but burning him in effigy on live television during November. 

Look BBC, I understand how the ratings system works, and I know this will generate plenty of buzz for your radio coverage, but… it’s Euro2008.  People would have tuned in anyway.  You don’t need to stoop to this level of dirtiness with your promotional stunts.

Read More:

Is McClaren the new court jester?

USA to invade the motherland on May 28th. Who’s with me? by groundsman
April 3, 2008, 3:48 pm
Filed under: England, meaningless friendly, USA

Tickets for the England-USA friendly at Wembley Stadium on May 28th are available online NOW!

The match tickets are $115.00, with hotel packages starting at $895.00

Please insert your exchange rate jokes here->> _)_)

I’ll be there- will you? If so, comment below or just check back here for details on a US fan meetup at a London watering hole of sorts.  With the way the England team has been playing, you’re going to want to be prepared for a possible victory celebration.

In case you were in any doubt as to why England aren’t in Euro2008… by groundsman

…please see a replay of the second half of today’s friendly against France. 

It was supposed to be meaningless, but the saddest thing is that for the first half, before a massively unfortunate error by David James, the England team had a bright, if not desperate start, signifying that to these boys who have an empty summer stretching before them– this means quite a lot.  So eager were the lads to please the coach, the fans, themselves- they were all running out of their shirts.  It was sloppy, nervy play expected of guys who aren’t practising with eachother regularly, but it was a sight better than the mess that followed.

I don’t blame Capello– we all knew there were fundamental problems with the national team’s play.  I just wonder how he’s going to be able to teach these guys how to pass cleanly and quickly, tighten up their play, and react with their heads and not just their bodies.  Owen Hargreaves had a nice match, but then- his aggressive tactics usually make him shine in international play for some reason.   As for the captain situation, the Rappin’ Rhymin’ Cap’n and his immediate predecessor had a very rocky start, with Rio Ferdinand giving some very good opportunities up front for Les Bleus, while John Terry played an unfortunate part in the moments leading up to Anelka colliding with James, and after Franck Ribery‘s goal(and then the yellow card for a tribute to his deceased friend), he was fairly quiet  for the rest of his time on the field, leaving at half time with a sore thigh.  

I’m not entirely sure about David Beckham’s performance.  It wasn’t shambolic by any means, and he didn’t appear to injure himself, so those are two pluses.  As for his ability to still contribute to the team- he was never a fast boy, and his pace has tapered off even more- but while he was on the pitch, the plays did work through him very well- there was just incredibly poor finishing.  Rooney and Gerrard were taken off the pitch at halftime, perhaps fatigued from Sunday’s hard work for their clubs, and also– they were simply useless for the first 45 minutes.  However, the substitution of Owen and Crouch was like a child being promised a pony for her birthday only to recieve a mechanical bull. 

Overall, the team WAS different than they have in past years, they held posession a bit longer than usual and seemed intent upon trying to pass more often, rather than the ol’ “Hoof it up to the man up front” technique, which they lapsed onto whenever they seemed worried.  Which was often.  It was nice to see them trying something “different”, and it’s never good to see them lose.

On the bright side, my home country’s team won 3-0.  USA! USA! USA!  I was watching the above tosh live, purely because I wanted to see what Rio would be like with any sort of responsibility for anything held over his head.   I’ll see the US match a bit later, but I’ll just say this– if England play against Team USA like they did today, I’ll be dumping tea into the river Thames whilst wearing a tri-corner hat and screaming things about how much I love our Founding Fathers after the match. 

Going to London for the match on May 28th?  Let me know! 

[Photo: AP/Michel Euler]