I'm not going to South Africa. So instead I'm gonna try and watch a bit if not all of every game at work, or at home or in a bar or wherever. On the telly. With a beer. And I'm gonna predict who I think is gonna win. And talk about football stuff. So there.

Monday 31 May 2010

A nerve wracking 24 hours...

It's the not knowing that kills you, they say. And for a group of players, the next 24 hours will see their fate decided. But I'm not talking about the seven England players who'll have to watch the World Cup at home on the telly with the rest of us. I'm talking about my team, Crystal Palace, who face going bust unless the money men can hammer out some deal before 3pm.

We've all got to accept that the game is run by money nowadays. But it is hard to accept that a second tier team with a 105 year history could go to the wall within 24 hours. If there's no Palace, there's no real point to domestic football for me. I'll just carry on following England, and remember being there when Freedman slotted in that winner against Stockport and going absolutely fookin mental.

Let's hope I don't have to go mental for totally different reasons at 3.01pm tomorrow...

Sunday 30 May 2010

Japan 1-2 England

Well, we don't look like world beaters on the evidence of that performance. But then we don't need to yet. No point peaking in May when the final's in July.

Reckon the game will have confirmed a few things though. Bent, Huddlestone, Parker, Warnock and Dawson won't be making the trip to South Africa. Joe Cole definitely should.

ITV need to tighten up their introductory sequence, as Chiles made an unexpected early appearance before being cut off. Always embarrassing to watch. And I hope their World Cup title sequence isn't as long as the one we witnessed today.

Who'll Make It To The Final?

This predicting lark is a tough old game. You never know who's going to get injured during the course of a tournament. And if any game goes to penalties, it's a lottery, and I have no luck on the lottery either.

Bearing all that in mind, I think the 2010 World Cup Final will be:


Saturday 29 May 2010

The World Cup Wallchart

At what age does it become unacceptable to pin up one of these? I think the serious collecting of Panini stickers has to end before you reach double figures, though I am collecting this year, so there. The World Cup wallchart is a different matter. I seldom remember filling one in right to the end. They usually get ripped off the wall once England has been eliminated. Plus it's tricky finding a pen that'll let you write at such an angle without the ink running to the wrong end of the pen, which soon becomes annoying.

Friday 28 May 2010

Feign Injury In Training. Get name in papers.

That's all any international footballer has to do right now. Go down and stay down on the practice pitch and a nation will hold its breath. A journalist skulking in the bushes will file some copy about an injury scare. An editor back at base will run a scaremongering headline about Player X's worrying fall. Player X will hobble off to the treatment room and put their feet up for a bit, happy in the knowledge that little fall will have kept them in the public eye back home.

Thursday 27 May 2010

Women And The World Cup

There's a fair few emails doing the rounds. Either explaining the offside rule in femme-terms (shoes and handbags). Or it's lads laying down the law for the 30 days of the tournament (featuring things like 'never say it's only a game).

But there's a fair few women around who know the game and who can hold their own in a footie conversation.

That said, I still wouldn't want to be sat next to one during an England game, especially if they started to analyse the quality of male thigh on show, or the bounciness of certain centrally located packages. Keep your eyes on the big balls, girls.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Best Snack To Watch The World Cup With

Got to be the Pringle. You can conveyor belt these into your gob without moving your eyes from the screen. They should have released a Paprikaka flavour for the World Cup. Missed opportunity there, Mr Pringle. Bet he's gutted.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

England 3-1 Mexico

It's only a warm-up would be my cry to all those fretting over the performance. Oh, and we won. Sure, not a vintage display, but it's time to roll out the cliche - if you can play badly and still win - er I don't know the rest of that cliche, or even if it is a cliche.

Both Johnsons looked good as did the crowd in their matching t-shirts. Chiles was so laidback in the booth I wouldn't be surprised if he was horizontal during the game. Wasn't impressed with Baines or Carrick, but I doubt either are pencilled in as starters. Sure, no England player looks confident with the ball at his feet for longer than 10 seconds, but that's the English way.

And it's probably why we won't win the World Cup.

Monday 24 May 2010

British Weather Lets Us Down - Again

England only has a couple of warm-up games before the World Cup. Tonight's Wembley match-up against Mexico isn't exactly going to replicate South African conditions. It's winter down there, and no doubt, the FA were hoping that the weather in London today would be as rotten and disappointing as it normally is this time of year (or anytime of year for that matter).

Sadly, it resembles Mexico out there. And no doubt there'll be a shot of a pitchside thermometer on tonight's TV coverage just to show everyone how far away we are from emulating a southern hemisphere winter.

Thanks Mr. Weatherman. Just when we wouldn't have minded a bit of bad news on the weather front, you serve up this scorcher.

Sunday 23 May 2010

Bad Times For Cows

Aside from non-footballing wives and soccer shy blokes, it's cows that must be dreading the World Cup the most. I've already been invited to three barbecues for the England v USA game. So it looks like a lot of beef is going to get charred on griddles this summer. Sunshine, football and fat oozing burgers with a smidgeon of salad look like being the order of the 30 days of the World Cup. I'd suggest any cows reading this should head for the hills.

Friday 21 May 2010

Who'll Make It To The Semis?

Getting down to the nitty gritty now. I've already predicted that many people's favourites - Spain - will fall to the Ivory Coast in the round of 16. And I'm going to predict an African side gets to the last four.



Monday 17 May 2010

Still Time To Get Injured

The Michael Ballack situation is a wake-up call to every player hoping to make it to the Big Show (that's American for the World Cup). It just shows how fragile the World Cup dream is, and how quickly it can be taken away. My advice would be to hold on to every bannister. Don't run on slippery floors and stay away from footballers who've just missed a penalty.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Chances of hosting 2018 tournament

Did it really take 1700 odd pages to outline why England should host the 2018 World Cup? Who's going to wade through all that? I hope there's lots of pictures, not to mention a few bribes!

Ah, yes bribes. A word that's been banded about by the leader of our bid. Something to do with Spain, Russia and referees. All sounds like school playground stuff, and not anything that's going to help us put our case across.

To be honest, Russia must have a strong case to be the hosts, despite the fact that it'll have been 52 years since we did the honours by 2018. Obviously, I'm backing the England bid, not that'll make a blade of grass worth of difference. Back the bid

Saturday 15 May 2010

Best World Cup England XI (Since 1978)

'78 is the first World Cup I can remember and, of course, England didn't quality for it. So here's an Eleven made up of the players that I reckon have performed best on the big stage for England since then.

ST Michael OWEN

Friday 14 May 2010

Who will win the 2010 World Cup?

According to this ingenious system, it will be Brazil.

That's based on a few tried and tested formulas, apparently.

The fact that they are predicted to beat Serbia in the final is harder to justify.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Who'll Make It To The Quarter-Finals?

The time hath come to lay it down in writing. To put my already dubious predicting skills to the test. Here's how I reckon they'll line up in the Last Eight:





Wednesday 12 May 2010


There's going to be a fair bit of it knocking about during the next month, I'll wager. Today it was 'Terry's broken his foot'. Yesterday it was 'Heskey's in the squad'. (Ah, he really is.) Tomorrow it might be Carrick's done a loud sneeze. Nerve wracking times. But you can't wrap em up in cotton wool, as someone's mum probably once said...

Tuesday 11 May 2010

A month to go...

A month today we'll be underway. Get in!

30-man squad

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, David James, Robert Green.

Defenders: Leighton Baines, Jamie Carragher, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Ledley King, John Terry, Matthew Upson, Stephen Warnock.

Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Scott Parker, Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Forwards: Darren Bent, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney

Hmm. I had Robinson, Neville and Downing in my 23, so unless there's an injury crisis, that's three I've got wrong already....

Monday 10 May 2010

World Cup ads Pt II

Forget everything I said yesterday. This is top drawer.


Sunday 9 May 2010

World Cup ads

Prepare to be inundated. It's still over a month to go, but there are already shedloads of them out there. Spot the ones that haven't got an official World Cup sponsorship license. They'll be bigging-up football but won't be mentioning the World Cup by name, because legally they can't. But they'll be trying to piggyback on the football hype and get you to buy a product that has - at best - a spurious link to football.

Saturday 8 May 2010

Great Armchair World Cup Moments No.3

Ah, the balmy summer of '86. Still at school. Late nights still a novelty. But the World Cup in Mexico that year meant a lot of the games kicking off in the early hours over here. One great game stands out from that World Cup - USSR v Belgium. One of the best matches I have ever seen. 4-3 to the Belgians. After extra time. Jean-Marie Pfaff in goal for the Belgians. Rats up front for the USSR. Great names. Great game. Great stuff.

Friday 7 May 2010

What politics can learn from the World Cup

You can't be having draws in the knockout stages of a World Cup. Someone's got to win. Someone's got to lose. Same should be the case with elections. We can't be having tame draws when we need someone to get stuck in and sort out the economic mess. So maybe the voting should move into extra time when there's no clear winner. A chance to vote again. And if that doesn't sort things out, it has to be sudden death. Literally. Russian Roulette between the party leader. Last man standing gets the keys to number 10.

Thursday 6 May 2010

Great Armchair World Cup Moments No.2

1998. Penalties. England v Argentina. The commentator asks Keegan the most awkward question ever as Batty runs up to take his spot kick. 'So will he score?' Kevin quickly says yes. Seconds later we were out of the World Cup.

Not a great moment, actually. But a moment I'll never forget. Unfortunately.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Full Round of 16 Prediction


World Cup Group H

Spain will have this one in the bag, so it's a battle for second by my reckoning. Think the Swiss will roll over and not make it, leaving the South Americans to battle it out. I'm going to go for Honduras to make shock progress to the latter stages. I know Wilson Palacios is in their ranks and a couple of other Premiership players. Chile however, well, Salas is the only one of their players I've ever known and I suspect he's long retired. 1 SPAIN 2 HONDURAS 3 Chile 4 Switzerland

Tuesday 4 May 2010

World Cup Group G

Perm any two from three in this group, and I'm not talking about a Ronaldinho style perm. Have Brazil ever failed to get past the Group stage of a World Cup? I'm not going to be the first to predict that. They'll go through as will Ivory Coast I think. Meaning England's nemeses Portugal will fall by the wayside and can't knock us out on pens again. The People's Republic of Korea will finish fourth in this group, I think. And I might even put money on that. 1 BRAZIL 2 IVORY COAST 3 Portugal 4 PR Korea

Monday 3 May 2010

World Cup Group F

Have to say on paper (and on screen) this looks a fairly easy group for the current World Champions. Paraguay used to have a high profile keeper who banged in a few free kicks. Reckon he'll have retired by now. So that's nothing I know about them. New Zealand? In the football World Cup? With Australia as well. Dunno what that's all about. Slovakia will fancy their chances of getting the runners-up spot in this group. I do. 1 ITALY 2 SLOVAKIA 3 Paraguay 4 New Zealand

Sunday 2 May 2010

World Cup Group E

The Netherlands aside, this Group is a difficult one to call. I don't know much about Japan, other than its capital city is called Tokyo and Lynchpin Lineker ended his career at Grampus Eight. Always got a soft spot for Denmark, especially after their success in the '92 Euros. Bring back the Laudrups I say. And you can't mention Cameroon and the World Cup without Roger Milla, corner flags and dancing in the same sentence. I've been talking up the Africans here, and really think this is another group in which they will triumph. 1 HOLLAND 2 CAMEROON (Roger Milla, corner flags, dancing) 3 Denmark 4 Japan

Saturday 1 May 2010


Can now say, officially, that the World Cup starts next month.

Round of 16 Top Half Prediction

According to my predictions, here's how I see the top half of the Round of 16 looking:





World Cup Group D

D is definitely for Deutschland. The Germans haven't failed to qualify from the group stages of a tournament since 1066 and can't see that changing here. But who'll join them in the knockout phase. The Aussies will never be pushovers. The Serbs know where the goals are kept, but I'm gonna go for the Ghanayans to join the Germans, as this African festival of football is gonna give the nations from that continent extra impetus. 1 GERMANY 2 GHANA 3 Australia 4 Serbia.