launched their World Cup bid yesterday in uninspiring fashion.
First of all, they couldn't
seem to decide which tournament they want to host, hedging their bets with a
logo proclaiming England's desire to see football come home in both 2018 and
2022, which seems a little unrealistic.
And what better way to woo the world than with a giant
some kids with flags painted on their faces
and a Prime Minister with all the charisma of a cereal box?
Gordon Brown was on the scene to chat with David Beckham and
Wayne Rooney amid much forced joviality,
although goodness only knows what they had to say to each other. Something about
second homes, probably.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg also lent their backing to the
bid, which seems a bit odd given what a fiasco the 2012 Olympics has become. Presumably
all three figure that by 2018 it will be someone else's
Brown said he had made it his "personal mission" to
drum up support from the rest of the world, but did not explain how he planned
to butter up foreign leaders from the Labour back benches.
FA chairman Lord Triesman insisted England would not get complacent - as sure a
sign as any that England
have already got complacent. Otherwise, why mention it?
"People are not up for us swishing in shouting 'England
invented football, here's a
cocktail, now give us the World Cup,'"
There's Plan A
out of the window, then.
The list of proposed venues also filled ED with a slight
sense of horror, as it featured a whopping five London stadia including Twickenham, the home
of rugby and Bon Jovi concerts.
The World Cup may also visit such historic football outposts
as Milton Keynes, Bristol and, horror of
- - -
Sunderland had cause for complaint last night when Alan Wiley blew his whistle
before John Utaka scored during Portsmouth's
3-1 win. The referee was presumably awarding a penalty for a foul on
Utaka but allowed the goal to stand after illegally playing advantage.
Middlesbrough were denied
what looked a clear penalty against Aston Villa when John Carew hauled down
Marvin Emnes. In the previous match, Obafemi Martins's
hugely important winner stood despite the involvement of a clearly offside
West Bromwich Albion could easily have had a penalty for
Lucas Leiva's challenge on
Marc-Antoine Fortune during the 2-0 defeat against Liverpool
ED mentions these incidents to balance out the
disproportionate focus on Newcastle United's
grievance against referee Howard Webb, who disallowed a Mark Viduka header
against Fulham for obstruction by Nolan.
Alan Shearer even had the gall to blame Webb for basing his
actions on an illegal block - again by Nolan - in the Middlesbrough
game that allowed a Steven Taylor goal.
Newcastle have also appealed, ludicrously, the red card
against Sebastien Bassong despite the fact that he first pulled back and then
tripped Diomansy Kamara as the striker ran through on goal.
If the Toon go down, effigies of Webb may end up being hung
from lampposts in the North-East, but nobody has a monopoly on hard luck
stories, least of all Newcastle.
As fans of Sunderland, Middlesbrough, West Brom and Hull seem to understand;
if you get relegated, you probably deserve it.
- - -
Early Doors allowed itself a slight smirk yesterday when it was announced that
Ben Foster was to undergo thumb surgery that would "rule him out" of
the Champions League final and England's
forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.
The Manchester United man was, of course, going to play no
part in any of these games anyway, save the odd glimpse at his iPod from the
Edwin van der Sar will play for United in Rome
and Foster has failed to dislodge David James as England's
number one. And, whatever Calamity James's
other failings, he never gets injured.
Only now he has. James will have an operation
tomorrow on a niggling shoulder injury, meaning he will play no part in England
Chris Kirkland, as ever, is crocked, Manuel Almunia is not
quite English enough yet, and Joe Hart has been sitting in a corner, sobbing
gently, ever since Manchester
City bought the best
goalkeeper in the world in January.
Which means, other than that Foster is the unluckiest man in
the world, that Fabio Capello will probably call on England's self-proclaimed number six, Robert Green.
Mind you, as the qualifiers are against Kazakhstan and
Andorra, so any self-respecting England side should be able to pick Peter 'The Cat'
Bonetti in goal and keep two clean sheets.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Alex Ferguson on why he loves Europe:
"You can smell the cigars and there's
perfume wafting down from the stands. It's
wonderful, it's different. I love it.
You go to Milan
and everyone's so stylish. Every
woman who passes you by is Miss World."
India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has sought an immediate release from his club, accusing it of humiliating him after they claimed he appeared more keen to participate in a television dance show than play in the I-League.
Mohun Bagan, India's oldest soccer club, wrote to Bhutia last week asking him to explain why he was skipping training sessions to appear on the celebrity-based dancing show on television and accused him of lacking commitment during the league season.
The diminutive striker, the face of Indian soccer, in turn blamed the club for leaking contents of the letter to the media.
"I no longer have any desire to play for Mohun Bagan after all that has happened. It is good, both for me and the club, to part ways in a peaceful way," The Times of India quoted him as saying.
"After playing for 17-18 years, I don't need to prove my commitment. From day one, the club was aware of my schedules for the dance programme.
"I am extremely disappointed with this attempt to make me the scapegoat...I have been humiliated and now I feel no urge to play for the green and maroons."
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