Internationals Week and More Good Blogs
England. Have to admit England looked pretty good against Russia. Much ado in the press about how McClaren finally picked a good team instead of just the 11 best players (to be fair, this was an Erikson failing, too). Heskey certainly seems to have done enough to keep a place ahead of Crouch or any of the midgets on the bench; but I have a hard time believing that Barry will keep a place ahead of either Lampard or Hargreaves.
And what of Rooney - how does he get back into this side? Is it possible that Rooney himself is the problem with England? He can't play Heskey' s big-man-barging-around-like-a-bull-causing- problems-at-the-back role, and he can't play the Owen-cheeky-little-fella-grabbing-goals-in-the-box role. So what does he do? He has no obvious partner, so maybe it's best to leave him on the bench (fat chance).
Anyways, McClaren now looks like a genius (dear God, you have no idea how hard it is to write that sentence) because injuries made him actually think. The team sheet for the next game will be the most interesting football document of the year. Keeping Lamps and Roo on the bench might even make me want to cheer for England. A bit. Not much. Actually, not at all. But it would make me respect McClaren.
Italy. Lucky. But like England, they managed to get three points from a star-poor line-up. Good for them.
Scotland. Scotland? Scotland?!? France seem hell-bent on proving that they can't do shit going forward without Zidane.
Worst. Ref. Ever. Check out Zoltan Gera's sending off in the Turkey-Hungary match. See what I mean?
Good blogs. Has anyone but me noticed that all the decent international-culture-and-politics-of-football-blogs are based in North America? Culture of Soccer and Pitch Invasion I've already mentioned (although the latter's custodian is an English expat). There's also the grandaddy of these sites, The Global Game, which I can't believe I've never mentioned here before. Why, I wonder, do these sites not flourish in England itself? Or anywhere else? Do we North Americans just obsess more about this stuff because it's not actually in our blood? Hmmm...
It's not as though there aren't any good UK sites. Twohundredpercent is more anglocentric than is strictly my taste, but the writing is undeniably better (and certainly more voluminous) than most anything else out there. And, while not a blog, the onetouchfootball messageboard is an astonishingly addictive way to meet knowledgeable football folks from around the world and talk complete bollocks with them (many thanks to a mysteriously-named Milanese Brown Bear for turning me on to this insanely counterproductive use of my time).
And finally a good Italian site. Sort of. Spangly Princess is an Anglo-Italian history grad student Gooner with a shoe fetish and a Roma season ticket in la Curva Sud. I know, I know, be still my heart. Were I younger, unbetrothed and living 5000 miles closer to Rome I'm sure I'd be totally obsessed with her (although, to be honest, her writing style reminds me of no one's so much as that of a woman now at the FT with whom I had my most totally catastrophic affair ever, so maybe not). Anyways, the football writing is OK, but the photos of Italy, long discursive bits about art, history, life in Rome and the inevitable (for Italians) food porn make for a nice way for those of us not actually able to live la dolce vita to dream a bit. For which, again, many thanks.
photo credit: Dakhino via the Pitch Invasion Photo Pool