• Winter Is Coming (how many more years of hurt?)


    Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

    Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).

    Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

    Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

    So the young knights from Old Albion are gathering in Kingslanding (St George's Park) readying themselves for battle. Fare Thee Well, men....

    Will they end 50 years of Hurt, though, Henry? Winter is coming, so the expression goes on the hit TV show Game of Thrones, and my pitch is that ‘you know nothing, Roy Hodge!’ Like an agricultural labourer tending delicate orchids, how likely is it that Hodgson's flowers can survive the harsh environment of tournament football in France? Picking Jack Wilshire, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge has meant leaving out the Premier League fitness of Danny Drinkwater. This seems imprudent: any England centre back pairing looks fragile already not withstanding any injury worries (i.e. Eric Dier could be playing centre back before the group games are out). Drinkwater would then be the premier choice for an in-form defensive midfield role, would he not?

    Drinkwater’Gate’ goes deeper. Should Rashford have gone with Gareth Southgate to the undercard tournament and become a France EuroU21 winner, for example? Is it better to have the experience of winning a tournament or be a ‘tourist’ in another unsuccessful squad? It’s unlikely Rashford will get much game-time at France 2016, given that Vardy, Kane, Sturridge and Rooney - who lest we forget has been picked as a striker - are of a higher order in Hodgson’s pack of cards. So, by taking Rashford as an extra striker [who may not play] has the Hodgson shuffle unbalanced the squad by knocking out Drinkwater?

    Of course, Roy Hodgson knows more about football than I ever will. That said, it's as clear now as it has been throughout his career that his decision making is not the greatest. Replacing Hodgson with the next fool is not going to change England's fortunes until the structural problems are fixed, but in the interim I do believe in performance related pay. Senior stakeholders at St Georges Park think that England will win a major tournament in the 2020s. Do you?

    The choice is stark: do we continue hanging on in quiet desparation [the English way?] or, after France 2016, do we boycott international football altogether? Until the Garcia report is published in full and we have transformational change in Fifa and world football what is the point? Ok - it's the economy, stupid, I heard someone say, but we can't just carry on with this can we? Carry on with what, exactly [i.e. see Henry Winter, 50YoH, p 162...]

    Winter is coming. Remember: life [at FIFA] is strange and life keeps getting stranger every day. And yet we still allow the procession to move on to Russia 2018, where the stakeholders and tournament selection process - and those doing the selecting - all have a case to answer. In this ultra competitive over-commercialised sporting arena, where England's 'White Walkers' and the true spirit of football in Old Albion are on ice, the biggest statement you can make is to turn your back on football’s product placement.

    Have your say on the FA - link here

    Monday 13th June update:

    Life at UEFA gets stranger every day, too. For example, the press are reporting that Vitaly Mutko, the Russian politician for Sport, Tourism and Youth policy, was in the stadium and seen applauding the balaclava-clad ultras that charged England supporters at the end of the match between England v Russia Sat 11 June. I find it astonishing that despite there being a bit of noise about this in the press in the days afterwards there is no actual sanction for Mutko or Russia overall. It seems like there is a new story almost every day in the press that point towards foul play. This Geo-Political phase of play is in need of some new players and a new strategy, it seems:

    FIFA WC 2018 (Russia) does not compute!

    FIFA WC 2022 in Qatar? Nope - in tatters!

    By tolerating this procession of corruption it brings shame on all of us. I say we can not 'Carry on Regardless'. Some might say that it’s only football and is not that important. If that is true then it can only be in the context of life itself being not that important. Football is beautifully inclusive (i.e. no expensive specialisation of kit required and even the ball itself can be improvised from other materials, if required). It may be the best chance we have of fostering a spirit of brotherhood/ sisterhood to celebrate diversity, love and life.

    If we tolerate this (i.e. these corrupt western business practices and bad governance from our football administrators), then radicalisation and intolerance of western culture as a whole will be next. This is not someone else’s problem. This is your problem. This is our problem across the generations now and in future. The universe might be expanding, but here on earth we are rubbing shoulders with each other more and more and we need now - more than ever - to learn how to get along.


    Tuesday June 28th - update:

    Let's not have the discussion about changing the manager. Let's have the discussion about the FA themselves - front and centre. The patient (England) is sick and the condition seems terminal. There is a cancer within the body of the Football Association and the patient doesn't look to have the mental resilience for the fight.

    Should we turn off the life support machine [money] and build a new Jerusalem of which we can be a proud football people in the 21st Century?


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