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World Cup Interlude

By Football and meta

Once again, things have gone a bit quiet around here but I have been producing some writing for the Internet at Russell Brown’s Public Address blog for the last week or two. Hadyn, Peter D and I have been World Cup guest-blogging and you can read my contributions here, here, here and here. My final piece, trying to reach some conclusions about the tournament, will appear after the Final is concluded some time next Monday.

On the subject of the World Cup, I came across this article at The Guardian today, again trying to sum the tournament up with two games to go:

As we saw in this year’s European Cup, and are now seeing in the World Cup, football is going through a phase in which the science of coaching has the upper hand over the technical skill of individual players. That emphasis gives an advantage to the rich European clubs, and by extension to their national teams, who benefit most immediately from the rising levels of tactical sophistication.

Which seems a reasonable conclusion to come to, I guess, but quite different to what was being said a fortnight ago. I would add that the argument about the primacy of the coach is confirmed by the success of New Zealand (the best coached and led side at the tournament?) and the failure of England, whose coach failed to overcome the negative influences of player-power and media bullying.

Anyway, the World Cup has taken a lot of my time recently, and the Film Festival kicks off in Wellington next Thursday so that’s another fortnight spoken for. Indeed, I have been beavering away at screener DVDs from the Festival for my Capital Times preview which goes to print next week — and I’ll post it here (and at Wellingtonista) as soon as I can.

Management consultancy

By Hammers, Literature and Sport

CM3 box (1999)If I could have another life to live, simultaneous with my own, I would probably spend most of it playing Sports Interactive’s Football Manager (aka Championship Manager). While I tend to scoff at those who get excited at Beatles Rock Bands and am baffled but impressed by those who take games seriously, I cannot deny my achilles heel and so every year I download the demo of the latest version and then force myself to not buy the full game in order to stay sane.

The 2009 version introduced half-time and full-time team talks, allowing you to gee-up or dress-down your team depending on your psychology, theirs, and the state of the match. Motivational options included “Show your disappointment at the team” or “Tell your players to do this for the supporters” and you could single players out for criticism or praise (“Tell Cole that you are delighted with him”).

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Paul Ince, Tactical Genius

By Football, Hammers and Sport

Paul Ince - Tactical Genius

Close-up of Blackburn manager Paul Ince’s notebook during the 4–1 defeat against West Ham on Sunday morning. Spotted by oofuss (Terry O’Connor) from the West Ham mailing list I’m on. Click to enlarge.


By black caps, Cricket, Football, Hammers and Sport

Mitchell Johnson dismisses Peter Fulton and New Zeaoland lose their second wicket, Australia v New Zealand, CB Series, 8th match, Perth, January 28, 2007“You make your own luck” in sport they say. Gary Player once said, “The harder I practice the luckier I get” as if things were really that simple.

No team deserves to win a game dropping Hayden twice before he’d scored 4 or chasing 334 but Lady Luck did not shine her torch on the Black Caps at Perth tonight. Falling 7 runs short with 5 wickets in hand is an outstanding performance in anyone’s book, and more evidence that the summer has been turned around since that awful shellacking by Sri Lanka in December.

But … but … We could have done without Rauf firing Vincent out when he was looking in great touch and don’t get me started on the rain interruption! It’s hard enough being competitive in Australia when everything from the travel schedule to having to play the best team in the world is stacked against you. For the last seven or eight years this Black Cap side has backed itself to score 11+ an over in the final ten if they have wickets in hand (and they bat accordingly). Duckworth-Lewis doesn’t take that into account (and probably shouldn’t even try) but it was the rain break that killed the run chase – and it never seems to happen to Australia IN AUSTRALIA.

[And on the subject of luck: how about losing your best striker for seven months to a munted ankle in his first ever England training session. And your new star signing doing his ankle ligaments 20 minutes into his first game for the club — out for seven weeks minimum. I’d like to see Gary Player explain away that rubbish.]

Still, we scored 335 against Australia and Oram’s 100 was the fastest ever by a New Zealander in ODIs. Our luck will have to change soon.

Sporting Weekend

By black caps, Cricket, Football, Hammers, Lions, Rugby and Sport

A bad weekend for all the teams I follow. The horror, the horror.

West Ham United CrestThe Hammers have now lost seven on the spin, haven’t won in eight and haven’t scored in 10 and a half hours 11 hours (a club record); The Lions became the second Wellington team this year to lose a major rugby final; The Knights have also lost seven in a row but at least scored a couple of times in Adelaide; The Black Caps rolled over and had their tummy’s scratched by Sri Lanka in that unwatchable tournament in India and my Dad’s team (Torquay United) have also lost six in a row so there’s no respite at home.

Common sense says, like the crap weather, this has to change but I struggle to see when. West Ham could easily get turned over by Colchester in the Carling Cup on Thursday morning the way we are playing; the rugby season is over; the Black Caps have to beat Pakistan to progress in India and we never beat them when we have to; I can’t see the Knights winning again this decade and the future isn’t promising for The Gulls (sorry, Dad).

Oh, and Newtown Athletic had the weekend off (or a ‘bye’ if you prefer) due to the long weekend. At least that isn’t a defeat…