Nous gagnons le Coupe de Monde!

Soothsayer, I ain’t

A more continental feel to The Way I See It… this week. Hope you are all suitably impressed. Ok, ok. I hold my hands up in surrender and admit that I couldn’t predict a one-horse race. The team who were ‘head and shoulders above everyone else’ crumbled in the face of the French Revolution and Brazil now face a stewards enquiry back home. The stories surrounding Ronaldo, most of which were probably plucked out of fresh air and embellished to no small degree, should take nothing away from the outstanding professional display delivered by the French.

And there I was when we last talked telling you all how Holland, against my initial beliefs, would overcome Brazil in the semi-final and beat France in the final, 2-1. I’m going to make a packet on it, I declared. And yes, I would have won £150 on a £3 stake. You see 3 weeks ago I received an e-mail saying that someone had been reported as having a premonition that Holland would beat France in the final, 2-1. This person had previously had a premonition of the 1970 final result – and he had been right. So when Holland and France advanced through some tricky ties to reach the semis, I was sure that it was destiny.

It seemed that it was destiny as Brazil missed chance after chance in that semi-final and Holland looked certain to pull it out of the fire. I was even more convinced when Patrick ‘Just gimme another 100 chances and I will score’ Kluivert headed home minutes from time. The penalty shoot out victory for the Brazilians was a big shock to me. So that’s when the bubble burst and alternative methods of income had to be sought.

The rumour mill

Now what? The four week gap between the end of the World Cup and the beginning of the Premiership season is never easy for your average football fan. Withdrawal symptoms have set in already and I have even started to hang around parks watching the local kids play. Sadly, in the current social climate, I have been asked to move along quite frequently by worried parents.

That month of monotony though will move quicker thanks to the curse of all football managers – idle newspaper speculation. Kluivert has already finalised deals with three Premiership clubs, Gerard Houllier is both joining and not joining Celtic as their new manager and Alex Ferguson is keen on signing both Ortega and Yorke. Only he’s not.

While there is no doubt that the plethora of made up stories in the tabloids can cause severe frustration to fans already in the dark, they can also be the provider of much entertainment and topics of discussion down in the local. I had great fun telling all Man United fans that their manager was mental to consider bidding £15m for a player like Dwight Yorke. I mean if Fergie is trying to build a squad capable of winning the ‘Champions’ League, then he would be better advised bidding for some world class players. His squad is vividly devoid of any real world class talent with the exception of Schmeichel and perhaps, Keane. You see, even though the Yorke story was just a tabloid column-filler, it allows us all to have a good old debate all the same.

The rumour mill keeps people in jobs and they don’t even need to have any inside sources for these stories to surface. The Internet has been a Godsend for these reporters who can now thrive on the terabytes of false information floating around. A good example of this is the time that a Spurs supporter posted his match report of a Spurs reserve game and he mentioned that a certain Premiership manager attended the game presumably, in his opinion, to eye up Ilie Dumitrescu as a transfer target. The next day the rumour appeared in a national tabloid.

Gross the enthusiast

That rumour mill has been producing a high volume of, erm, rumour at White Hart Lane. With squads of money-grabbing foreigners linked to Spurs and only one unknown Italian putting pen to paper, one must wonder exactly what our ‘dream ticket’ partnership of Christian Gross and David Pleat are up to. Yesterday’s reported conference between the two was supposed to allow them to discuss possible transfer targets but with virtually every other major Premiership club spending a lot of money already, Spurs seem to be slipping further behind again.

This would surprise me as Christian Gross has done nothing but impress me so far. His famous quote, ‘those who do fire with enthusiasm will be fired with enthusiasm’, got me on his side straight away. He cleaned house by off-loading long-time servants David Howells and Gary Mabbutt and also dead-wood defender, Dean Austin. He has turned the Spurs midfield from a Jason Dozzell/Andy Sinton/David Howells/Ruel Fox low to a David Ginola/Nicola Berti/Moussa Saib/Darren Anderton high. This midfield combination is amongst the best in the Premiership now and I hope it can be kept fully fit for most of the season. Of course, Gross may go mental and pick Ruel Fox…

And finally…

Sky News reported extensively on the victory parade that made its way through Paris last Monday. The Sky reporter, Ian Woods, cheerfully stood in the searing heat soaking up the regalia making typical inane comments. When Patrick Viera and Emmanuel Petit were on camera celebrating, Woods said: ‘Well they have had plenty of practice celebrating on open-top busses this year but, and no offence, I would rather be making my way down the Champs Elysees than the streets of Islington’. Lets face it, a drive through Kosovo in a convertible would be preferable to a trip through Highbury.

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