WORLDOFSPORT with Alan Swann

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Sport -

I’M se­ri­ously think­ing of boy­cotting the World Cup. I’m sick to death of the com­pe­ti­tion and it’s still al­most a fort­night away.

In fact I’m sick to death of foot­ball full stop. I’m not sure I can stand a month of fak­ing, cheat­ing, pos­tur­ing and ar­ro­gance, ac­com­pa­nied by Eng­land’s in­evitable demise, prob­a­bly af­ter a penalty shoot-out, in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

Even Ja­pan’s anony­mous foot­ballers were div­ing around in Sun­day’s point­less friendly against Eng­land, hold­ing their faces when­ever they were slapped on the shoul­der. It’s in­grained in pro­fes­sional foot­ballers to cheat at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and I’ve had a bel­ly­ful of it.

As Italy keep prov­ing, the best team won’t nec­es­sar­ily win the World Cup. Luck and ter­ri­ble de­ci­sion-mak­ing by of­fi­cials are just as im­por­tant.

The me­dia cov­er­age in this coun­try will be bi­ased and ru­ined by com­men­ta­tors who have started to be­lieve that their opin­ions mat­ter more than peo­ple who have played and man­aged at the high­est level. Un­less those opin­ions be­long to Alan Shearer, it’s non­sense.

I swear I heard Clive Tyldes­ley, a man fa­mous only for men­tion­ing he was present at the 1999 Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, crit­i­cise Fabio Capello’s tac­tics on Sun­day.

Still what has Cap­pello ever done com­pared to a cliche-spout­ing com­men­ta­tor like Tyldes­ley. Noth­ing if you ig­nore the league ti­tles with ev­ery club he’s ever coached and the fact that he steered Eng­land to the eas­i­est qual­i­fi­ca­tion in their his­tory, even with Emile Heskey and Gareth Barry in his squad. AND

those last two Eng­land friendlies were a com­plete and ut­ter waste of time un­less Capello needed fur­ther proof that Theo Wal­cott’s legs are about a thou­sand times quicker than his brain.

Our des­per­a­tion and panic is now so great that Gareth Barry has sud­denly be­come a vi­tal cog in our World Cup team.

How did we get into this state? Barry is a one-footed, plod­ding mid­fielder who has just en­dured an av­er­age sea­son at Manch­ester City and who passes to the op­po­si­tion more than to his own team.

But he misses one match against Mex- ico, when ad­mit­tedly Eng­land de­fended like lemons, and we are are sub­jected to daily bul­letins about Barry’s poorly an­kle.

Barry is not Wayne Rooney. He is not even Ashley Cole. His ab­sence is an ir­rel­e­vance. ON

the other hand Led­ley King’s ab­sence would be a bonus. I al­ways thought the praise he re­ceived as Spurs sneaked into the fourth and fi­nal Cham­pi­ons League place was a bit over the top.

It’s easy to mark stat­ues like Eman­nuel Ade­bayor, but even the move­ment of the Mex­ico for­wards was too much for King.

Add in the fact that he’s un­likely to be fit for a vast chunk of the tour­na­ment and it’s clear Eng­land are tak­ing a huge gam­ble in­clud­ing him.

I have a the­ory that Rio Fer­di­nand and King are on a glo­ri­fied job share. They will take it in turns to be fit enough to part­ner John Terry. IWOULD

have con­sid­ered tak­ing Shaun Wright-Phillips to South Africa, just to en­sure we didn’t suf­fer the in­evitable rant from Ian Wright about how badly treated his son has been. LOOK­ING

at the thread­bare na­ture of Eng­land’s orig­i­nal 30-man World Cup squad, it’s no sur­prise that Capello ap­pears to be hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about his fu­ture from the au­tumn on­wards.

I have found 11 play­ers for the open­ing game against the United States, I sort of trust. If any of them get in­jured then we are will be in big trou­ble.

For­get the non­sense about 4-5-1 and hold­ing mid­field­ers, If we can’t get through a group which also in­cludes Al­ge­ria and Slove­nia play­ing 4-4-2 and go­ing all-out at­tack, the play­ers and man­ager shouldn’t bother com­ing home. My team v USA: (4-4-2) Joe Hart Glen John­son, Rio Fer­di­nand, John Terry, Ashley Cole.

Aaron Len­non, Frank Lam­pard, Steve Ger­rard, Joe Cole. Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch. They’ll win 3-0 min­i­mum. We can save the fancy tac­tics for the later stages. down to an ex­tent, not sign­ing play­ers of equal class, yet to sug­gest Wenger’s pru­dence is an ar­ro­gant fail­ure is ridicu­lous.

If the key to sucess is spend­ing mil­lions year on year how come Spuds never look like win­ning the Premier league?

on a shoe­string Wenger has achieved cham­pi­ons league qual­i­fi­ca­tion 13 years on the trot, a feat only matched by a cou­ple of other clubs.

If we can no longer have the joy of Fabre­gas it will not set us back 10 years. We have lost Henry, Vieira and oth­ers and sur­vived.

As for Spuds fin­ish­ing above us, that’s as likely as you writ­ing an ar­ti­cle declar­ing your undy­ing love for all things Arse­nal. Mark Baker


NOT A QUICK THINKER: Theo Wal­cott’s legs are about a thou­sand times quicker than his brain.

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