Sunday, August 13, 2006

Same old, Same old

Business as Usual

Q. How long does it take for an optimism bubble to burst?
A. About 47 minutes

I may be being a bit harsh here, but this was not the start of the season anyone at Cambridge United wanted. It took just 47 minutes for most of us there to realize, that if we do not get some good strikers in we are never going to get out of this league. Give Northwich some credit, they came for their point, they came to spoil and they ended up leaving with everything. They took their game plan and executed it perfectly.

Cambridge created a few opportunities, but like last season, they all seemed to fall to midfield men, and the strikers were horribly absent. This was typified just after Northwich scored when Hanlon forced the keeper to make a good save, and as the ball spilled out, there was not striker in sight to tuck it away. They will certainly have to redeem themselves on Tuesday night at St. Albans or the promotion dreams will all be over before we even start.

So what must they do, sharpen up the defence, watch the runners and get the ball into feet as quickly as possible. It all sounds easy, it won't be St. Albans are a hungry side, and if we allow them to bully us, like Northwich did we are sunk. We also need a referee who can take control of the game and give the right decisions at the right time. We didn't have this on Saturday, but we cannot hide behind it as an excuse. Rob Newman said it was a collective bad day at the office, let us hope so, for his sake anyway.

Friday, August 11, 2006

New Season, New Start

Cambridge United vs Northwich Victoria

Well after all the waiting it is finally here, the new season kicks off tomorrow with a massive air of optimism around the Abbey Stadium. This week has been a good week for the club. A new chairman has been appointed, the rent has been paid for the next three years and our pre-season has gone very well. So how will they get on tomorrow.

Cambridge are traditionally slow starters to the season, and they face a tough opener against Northwich. Northwich are a promoted team and will be keen to stamp their mark on this season. Cambridge will need to come out all guns blazing, there is no room for excuses like last year, it has to be a good solid start. There have been a lot of changes to the team that finished strongly at the end of last season. Steve Smith will make his debut at right back, and Andy Duncan will be missing, but this will be a stronger team than started last year.

The key to everything this season will be have we got the twenty goal a season striker we need to sustain the promotion push. We have three new strikers none of whom have delivered at this level. With Brady and Pitt on the wings the service will be there it will all be down to them to put them away. In tandem with this the defence will need to make sure they do not get bullied by some of the larger strikers in the league. If these things work we'll do well, if they don't its back to eleventh place for us.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

World Cup Heroes and Villains


Zinedine Zidane – showed why he is one of the most feared players in the world today. Single handedly bought France through the group stages all the way through to the final.

Italy – for winning and being the most consistent team in the tournament.

Fabio Cannavaro – for playing the game the right way

Germany – for hosting an excellent tournament, and for never knowing when to quit

Jurgen Klinsmann – for proving his doubters wrong, and for bringing some enthusiasm to the technical area

Argentina – for their outstanding performance against Serbia, the best goal and the best game of the entire tournament


Zinedine Zidane – for a disgraceful head butt in the World Cup final, letting himself down, his team down and his country down,

Christiano Ronaldo – for being a cheat and encouraging the ref to send off one of his colleagues

Argentina – for their disgraceful scenes after losing to the Germans

Frank Lampard and Ronaldinho – World footballer of the year, and the runner up. Definitely not on this performance

Graham Poll – for issuing 3 yellow cards to one player in the same game

Portugal and Holland – for their disgraceful game in the last sixteen

Brazil – for being hailed as the best and for being totally rubbish

Monday, July 10, 2006

Congratulations - ITALY

That’s it then, it has all finished and after two and a half hours of football and penalties the new champions of the World are Italy. Did they deserve it? On the night no, as the better overall team yes. The one thing though that this World Cup final will be remembered for though is the sending off of the legendary Zinedine Zidane in his last ever game of professional football. He unleashed an outrageous head butt that floored his opponent and all because he allegedly called him a name. Where was his discipline and self control. France were starting to assert themselves and looked the more likely winners until this happened. Whatever he was called surely could not be something he had never heard before and could have been something he dealt with when the game was finished. He had demonstrated his ability to score penalties in the semi-final and final and could now have to face up to the fact that he may have lost his team mates the trophy.

The game itself was a little disappointing, mainly because the Italians did not live up to their semi-final performance. Instead of pushing on from their good first half they became a team that was afraid to lose and let France back in to dominate the closing stages. Had Zidane not been sent off their was a very real chance they could have lost. This is to take nothing away from the excellent performance of their captain Cannavaro who had the ultimate pleasure of lifting the world Cup on his 100th appearance for his country. Italian football may be in turmoil, but they are now the World Champions and will need to be treated with the utmost respect by the teams they face in the European Championship qualifiers. They are the big winners of this years world cup and later on this week I will discuss the winners and losers of this years tournament, and you can probably expect Zidane to fall in both categories.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

World Cup Final Preview

France vs Italy

Well it's here at last after 5 long weeks I will soon be able to go back to blogging about something else. It is the final we all hoped for after the semi-final line up, and now we can only hope that they both come out and play good open football to make it a final to remember. On the balance of things Italy should win, they have played the better football through out the competition. France themselves have improved with every game, but they did take part in the most boring game of the tournament against Switzerland.

One thing that cannot be ruled out though is this will be Zidane's last ever competitive football game and he will want to retire on the ultimate high note. He has certainly inspired France and if the Italian midfield do not find a way to stop him then he will hold the key. If the Thierry Henry who plays in the premiership turns up, then Cannavaro will also have his hands full for the night. For Italy, Totti and Toni should be big dangers, and they do have a far superior keeper in Buffon. They are desperate to win to show the world that despite all the current allegations there is still some pride in Italian football. For me Italy need to win this to put some kind of credibility into this World Cup, they should win by 1-0 just for old times sake.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A triumph for football

At last a triumph for football over mediocrity. OK that's a bit harsh on the Germans as they played their part in one of the best World cup semi-finals I have seen for many years. Even though it took them 118 minutes to score a goal, it was worth the wait. I think that everyone, including myself, was expecting a close affair with neither side wanting to commit too many players forward for fear they may lose. In contrast we got a very open game that demonstrated that if played properly that football is indeed the beautiful game.

The sheer ability and guile of the Italians finally got the better of the workmanlike Germans. Their short passing was easy on the eye and they must now be favourites to win. We can only hope that we get the same kind of result tonight and look forward to a feast of football in the final on Sunday. For the first and only time in my life COME ON FRANCE

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

World Cup - Semi-Final Preview Part 2

France vs Portugal

For the good of football France need to win, we cannot have two teams in the final that want to play for penalties. Let us all hope we see Ronaldo crying his eyes out after the French give them a 2-0 hiding