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Martin Peters speaks to FF

Before England’s horrendous World Cup exit on Sunday, the Filter got the chance to fire some questions to ‘66 cup winner Martin Peters, thanks to our friends at Coral Dugout.

It turned out to be wishful thinking, but Peters agreed that there could have been similarities between England’s slow start this year and our opening draw versus Uruguay in 1966.

He also had some interesting broader insights into why the World Cup has been so open so far, but has a point when he says that mitigating factors such as the ball are the same for all teams.

If only for a teamful of Martin Peters this time – this year’s crop could not live up to the winners of ‘66, far from it. You can ask your own questions at the Coral Dugout via Facebook and Twitter.

Terry Butcher speaks to Football Filter

English football may be the last thing any of us want to focus on after a performance as dire as that, but Football Filter gained a couple of fascinating insights into proceedings in South Africa when we hooked up with Terry Butcher thanks to our friends at Coral Dugout.

Our first question focussed on whether Fabio Capello was the right man for the job, a quandary which is likely to be covered from every angle in tomorrow’s papers after tonight.

The bottom line, of course, is that he is the man in charge now and cannot be changed. And as Butcher says, the fact he got us to South Africa in such style stands squarely in his favour. However, questions must be raised now about his failure to make the necessary changes against Algeria and sticking so obdurately to 4-4-2.

The second was, as Butcher picked up on, inspired by Franz Beckanbauer’s “kick and rush” critique of England but still stems from the slow nature of the side’s build-up play, so different from much Premier League play. Possession seems to be England’s biggest problem, which maybe explains the long ball tendency. Tonight again showed how they struggle to retain the ball, and even if they do they struggle to do anything with it.

But it was great to get the opinion of Butcher on these matters and we hope to have more such exclusive content soon. In the meantime, others can suggest questions for forthcoming interviews with Martin Peters and Graham Poll here.

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World Cup refs learn 20 English swear words

With the 2010 Football World Cup fast approaching you would have thought referees would have better things to do than learn how to swear in English, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

According to Brazilian official Carlos Simon, he and his two assistants have been boning up on no fewer than 20 expletives as they prepare to take charge of the match between England and USA.

Speaking to the Brazilian broadcaster Globo Sport, linesman Altemir Hausmann explained the thinking behind the plan.

He said: “We have to learn what kind of words the players say. All players swear and we know we will hear a few.”

However, he admitted that it would be impossible to learn a list of words for each of the languages being used at the tournament and had decided to focus on English. Is this something that could affect FIFA World Cup betting though?

His comments will certainly have a particular resonance for the Three Lions after Wayne Rooney was booked for swearing at the referee during the side’s warm up match against the Platinum Stars. According to Jeff Selogilwe, the official during that game, the striker would have been sent off had the incident taken place during the World Cup proper.

With his warning ringing in his ears, Rooney will do well to keep his wits about him as England take on the USA, especially with the Brazilian officials seemingly prepared for his antics.

However, American coach Bob Bradley has also revealed that, contrary to some reports, his side won’t be looking to wind up Rooney during their opening Group C game.

This seems to be good news for England fans, although it seems doubtful that the Plantinumn Stars would have gone out of their way to rile the striker, who seems more than capable of blowing his top with little outside assistance.

FF shoutout to Coral Dugout

You know it’s world cup time when leading players start falling by the wayside – and Rio Ferdinand and Didier Drogba got proceedings under way in style today by dropping like flies in the African heat. Naff television programmes are another sure sign that festivities are about to commence, and judging by this performance, Peter Crouch always has a small screen career to fall back on if the footy thing falls through.

Commercial initiatives surrounding the tournament are also two-a-penny, of course, but one service that has caught Football Filter’s eye has been ‘The Dugout,’ a service launched for the 2010 World Cup by bookmakers Coral. The speculators amongst you may be interested to know about the site, which will offer daily tips and offers to members from Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling and notorious referee Graham Poll.

The latter has been marketed as the man who ‘holds all the cards,’ and, though his last world cup will be remembered for the fact he held up one too many, the pair should ensure the site is the go-to place for those willing to risk a bob or two. They will be joined by an ‘insider,’ who will be offering inside information and advice to punters. Who knows, Rio might be a late contender for this job after writing off his tournament this morning.

But here at Football Filter we always love to throw a good thing your way when we see it, and we will be teaming up with the guys at Coral Dugout to bring you interviews with leading football figures throughout the tournament. Who knows, it may even be our year: I’ve stuck a fiver on at 7-1, so let’s hope so…

Football Filter's England XI

After weeks of speculation, and in typically shambolic FA style, the final England world cup squad of 23 was announced today. The headline news is that Theo Walcott has been omitted after failing to impress in recent friendlies against Mexico and Japan, while Darren Bent and Adam Johnson can count themselves unlucky to make the cut. Scott Parker, Michael Dawson, Leighton Baines and Tom Huddlestone were more predictable absentees after Gareth Barry passed a fitness test.

After a mainly average season at Arsenal, if Walcott had made the squad it would have been largely due to his stunning hat trick in Croatia in 2008. However, with the likes of Emile Heskey included, who has had a mediocre season for Villa, Darren Bent can count himself extremely unfortunate to have missed out after scoring an impressive 24 goals for Sunderland this year. With Barry’s fitness uncertain for the group stages, Capello obviously thing the familiar (and all-too-often frustrating) duo of Lampard and Gerrard can take England to the knockout stages, explaining the absence of Huddlestone and Parker.

That’s what Capello thinks – and on five million plus a year, his opinion is certainly worth more than ours. But here at Football Filter we feel obliged to have our two bobs worth and throw our view into the mix, so here is our perspective on how England should turn out in South Africa (given the players available).

Football Filter’s England XI to start vs. America

(4-4-2, left-to-right)

A. Cole Ferdinand Terry Johnson
J. Cole Lampard Gerrard A. Lennon
Rooney Crouch

If the orthodox 4-4-2 formation with Gerrard and Lampard in the centre is not good enough to advance beyond the group stages, the England players should be forced to make their own way back from South Africa. Having said that, FF would have included Scott Parker in the squad to stifle any attacking threats before they got started and gone with a more flexible 4-2-3-1 formation (see below) from the start. But this formation should still see England through a relatively kind group draw. The back five pretty much picks itself, while Cole and Lennon should provide enough threat from the wings to allow Gerrard to burst forward and get involved in the fun. Up front, FF selects Crouch over Heskey despite Rooney’s better goalscoring record with Heskey in the side. But you cannot look past Crouch’s amazing potency at international level. Heskey would not even have made FF’s 23-man cut after the season Bent has had. But things will get really interesting in the group stages.

Football Filter’s England XI to start in knockout stages

(4-2-3-1, left-to-right)

A. Cole Ferdinand Terry Johnson
Lampard Barry
Gerrard Rooney A. Lennon

As England face more talented opposition, they will most definitely need to focus more on a defensive bank in midfield to nullify the threat from the man in the hole. Lucky, then, that Gareth Barry should be fit by then, and able to sit with Lampard and hold in front of the back four. The formation also breaks midfield into two lines, thus separating Lampard from Gerrard and solving that familiar riddle for England. An attacking three of Gerrard, Rooney and Lennon (or Cole if he impresses), running off Crouch’s flicks is an appetising prospect. With defensive matters under control, Gerrard would be given full license to cut in and get involved from the left in a roving role, while Lennon or Cole would ideally hug the right flank and attack an isolated full back. Gerrard’s cutting in would give the additional advantage of allowing Ashley Cole to overlap down the left, which is when he is most dangerous.

Injuries aside (Warnock at left back, no thanks), what could go wrong? Quite a lot probably, which is why Mr. Capello is in charge and not us. However, given that ���trustfabio’ was trending on Twitter today, two poor friendly displays have not quelled belief in the Italian’s England project. But let’s be realistic, we are not going to win it. Yes, this could be our year. But on that logic it could be New Zealand’s or North Korea’s too (or more probably Brazil’s or Spain’s). Here at FF we are looking forward to enjoying a festival of football, nothing more. Mind you, we are due a bit of luck in these competitions…

Football Filtered

Hello and welcome to my latest look at what has been passing through the Football Filter this week. Starting with a round-up of the latest World Cup news.
With Fabio Capello set to name his final 23 this week THE GUARDIAN reports that the FA are confident the Italian will stay with the Three Lions despite rumours linking him with the Inter Milan Job.
Given the state of the FA at the moment you could forgive Capello for wanting to look elsewhere. WHEN SATURDAY COMES looks at the current power vacuum at the heart of English football following the Lord Triesmann scandal.
Meanwhile, any England fans feeling a sense a de-ja vu heading into this tournament will not be encouraged by the news that the perennially failed midfield partnership, Gerrard and Lampard, is back. THE INDEPENDANT reports that Capello will play the due in the opening game against the USA and is convinced, just like Steve McClaren and Sven Goran Eriksson before him, that he can make it work.

In one of the more stand out results from the latest round of international friendlies New Zealand caused a shock by beating World Cup dark horses Serbia. The home fans were so incensed at the defeat they started a riot, with captain Nemanja Vidic having to calm them down. See the video over at DIRTY TACKLE.
Fancy a retro moment? The check out FOURFOURTWO’S review of Bulgaria’s 1994 World Cup campaign, which saw them reach the semi-finals (knocking out Germany along the way!) and contain of of the greatest players of all time – Hristo Stoichkov.
A further step back in time took place in Madrid this week where the likes of Maldini, Zidane, Figo, Cafu and Rui Costa took part in a legends charity match. Highlights can be seen over at THE OFFSIDE. George Weah wins the John Barnes award for biggest post retiring midriff!

The special one is on the move again, this time to Real Madrid with THE GUARDIAN reporting the shock news that Mourinho his keeping his mouth shut – only about potential transfers that is.

And finally….

It is D-day for Crystal Palace according to THE MAIL. A consortium trying to buy the London club is desperately trying to come to an agreement with the Royal Bank of Scotland regarding future revenues from the sale of Selhurst Park. If not deal is reached by a self imposed deadline of 3pm on Tuesday the Eagles could go bust. Though we have seen clubs on the brink before, only to survive at the last minute, the demise of Chester earlier this year showed that the threat of liquidation among financially stricken clubs is very real. It would be a tragic failure of the system if the Eagles, a Championship club don’t forget, suffer a similar fate.

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