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World Cup Interlude

By Football, 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, Sport

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, 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, 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, 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…