Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A thought: England Team Prediction 2014

Yes it's a long way away right now, but indulge me.

I was mildly concerned about the future of the England squad whilst watching Rio Ferdinand putting in a half decent performance in against AC Milan just now.

Then I looked at our recent under-21 squad and was actually not as alarmed.

Some predictions (and a lot of typos):

*Joe Hart will be first choice by this point.
*Rob Green might still be knocking about as back up.
*Hopefully Ben Foster will have joined a club where he'll get some games, the lad's got talent but could go the way of Carson and Robinson.
*Scott Loach will have made a move to a prem club by then (posibly this summer in fact if Watford's financial woes should continue).
David James will be running a comedy club somewhere.

I hesitate to lump them all together but some of them are yet to specialise as full backs or centre backs.
I would be shocked if Terry and Ferdinand haven't retired from international football by this point, probably Cashley too. Unless Upson and Lescott suddenly raise their games they will be replaced by young uns.
*Glen Johnson will be 29, nd hopefully have learnt to defend as well as bomb forward.
*Micah Richards will have matured by this point so will be in there at right back or centre back.
*The only positon where we have proven specialists right now is left back, and Leighton Baines and Kieron Gibbs will be a good shout.
*Gary Cahill continues to look useful,and will be 28 by then.
*Ditto David Wheater.
*If Chris Smalling fulfills his promise he's a possibility.
*Ditto Mancienne.
*Spurs signed two lads called Kyle - Naughton and Walker, both of whom are very highly rated.
*Stephen Taylor, assuming he ever makes it back to the Prem, is an outside chance.

The Gerrard/Lampard conundrum will have disappeared with their respective retirements from international football, Beckham will be nowhere near the squad, and Barry will be getting on a bit. Joe Cole and Owen Hargreaves probably won't even make it to this world cup.
*James Milner should have established himself as a regular someone in this side. Anywhere frankly.
*Ashley Young will be an option on either wing.
*Lee Cattermole (cat? or mole?) already looks like a future Hargreaves, hopefully with less brittle legs.
*Lennon another option on the right.
*Jack Rodwell looks a fantastic prospect, very skillful and has some power.
*Ditto Jack Wilshire.
*And probably Dan Gosling.
*I'm not convinced about the likes of Muamba, Delph and Jack Cork, but they all have a lot of time
*Tom Huddlestone is a fantastic player on his day. He seems to have shed his beer gut over the last season, and could make the step up.
*Stewart Downing - don't laugh, he's doing well for Villa right now and is probably the only proper left-footed player on this list.
*I'm going to throw Lewis McGugan into this list because I'm mental. He's a fantastically talented player, and there's been rumours about Prem clubs sniffing around him for a couple of years.
*Micheal Johnson appears to have fucked his life up with pies, beer, fighting and going to 42nd Street, he won't make it, which is a shame as he was a great player.

Surely no one will be talking about Owen or Heskey at this stage. Crouch and Defoe will be in their 30s but are possibilities.
*Rooney, obviously. By this stage he should be recognised as one of the best players in the world.
*Gaby Agbonlahor should be reaching his peak. He's not reached great heights yet but he's got the talent to do so.
*Daniel Sturridge might have ruined his career by going to Chelsea, but he looks a great prospect and if he can get games he could be fantastic. Unlike Frazier Campbell (who will end up a mid-range Prem player at best) his club did not want to lose him, and Chelsea actively courted him. The lad's a bit special, and if he can learn from Drogba and Anelka he could end up deadly.
*Can't really tell with Carlton Cole - he could end up at a top half club this summer, and that will be the making or breaking of him.
*Freddie Sears looked great in the few West Ham starts he got, he hasn't had many goals though so another unsure one.
*Danny Welbeck - probably not.
*If James Vaughan ever gets fit he'll be great!

*Theo Walcott might have turned into a striker a la Henry by this point. Hopefully he'll have learnt to put in a consistent performance too.
*Tom Cleverley - you're thinking "who?" unless you're a Watford fan or a particularly dedicated ManYoo fan, he's 20 and looks very useful, can play attacking midfield or striker.

Obviously more players will emerge in the meantime, and some of these lads could go downhill rapidly (Shawcross is highly rated right now, I have missed him out because I think he might be another Nicky Shorey/insert briefly promising player here).

Of course, it's going to be held in Brazil so we probably don't have a chance, but it's nice to dream.

Any thoughts/glaring omissions?

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Class and politics ramble

Some scribbling on class and politics:

I should probably give up trying to establish a class identity. It’s fairly irrelevant to most of our generation and all of the generations below us, except those that get involved in socialist/anarchist politics – and those people would come under ‘middle class’ really anyway as they’re either a) students or b) people with enough leisure to time waste at such meetings. I used to bother to defend my alleged ‘working class’ roots but sadly the media own such debates now and ‘working class’ now seems to mean ‘dole scum’ i.e. the non-working class.

[It’s as tragic as the misappropriation of the word ‘emo’ to describe a recent fashion trend rather than an excellent 90s sub-genre of punk. I can’t even use the word now. Post-hardcore isn’t really the same, but it will have to do as a description for the future now that 'emo' is forever tainted.]

There’s isn’t a classless society as some politicians might like to suggest, but once clear lines are now faint to the point of barely existing, like a recently cleaned whiteboard.

I have perhaps in the past exaggerated my relative scumminess in comparison to the people I generally see these days, i.e. university educated, some of whom went to public school. I’ve probably been in more fights than most of them having lived in Mansfield from birth ‘til uni, and my family are far from rich, but I’m hardly a council estate kid selling hash and robbing pensioners.

To skip back to a half made point, it seems the people most interested in things like marxism and anarchism are students, especially the students who get involved in student politics. They don't seem to recognise the irony there.

It doesn't help that political debate in this country and others has been reduced to stupid reactionary debates, led by tabloid agendas set by media moguls who think it's their right to try to influence elections. It's created a situation where the papers will bang on about immigrants and muslims being the root of all evil using misinformation, outright lies and picking at latent prejudices, and if you speak to people who don't know much about politics there are the issues they will talk about, informed by the slow drip of hate coming from various media outlets. When the BNP try to campaign on exactly these issues (sometimes using quotes from these papers) the papers attack the BNP, having failed to notice that they have created a climate where their ideas can be accepted by people who would normally find such parties abhorrent.

Then the problem is created that expressing fairly liberal opinions on these issues leads to accusations of somehow agreeing with islamist terrorists and 'hating this country' because it's been turned into some stupid 2 sided argument (I hesitate to use the term 'black and white' here...) when in reality it's far more complex than that.

Then there's the feedback loop of parts of the media accusing other parts of 'dumbing-down', a debate so unhelpful it's ridiculous. When a newspaper accuses the BBC of dumbing down and then spends 3-4 pages talking about Katie fucking Price what conclusions are we supposed to draw from that? Even the 'quality' papers are increasingly guilty of this kind of shit.

Then in the same paper there will be talk of the government encroaching on our freedoms with tracking technology, CCTV, airport scanners etc, while encouraging the government to 'crack down' on crime and 'illegal immigration' . What do you want? A police state or anarchy? If you want it black and white then those are your choices. The reality lies in the middle, as ever. Some people like the idea of a crack down until it stops them doing what they want, as quickly as they want (see any UK airport, or any kind of police cordon anywhere), while others love the idea of anarchy until they get robbed or someone pushes in front of them in a queue. I could go on, but I've already rambled to much for now.

You can have it both ways - we've had a version of it for a long time - but it needs some tweaking. I have no faith that any of the political parties currently in existence will be able to make these tweaks.

The romantic comedy of the year!

The following is edited highlights of an email conversation with one of my musical co-conspirators, referred to here as 'S'.

Badgersmack: I actually remembered a dream, although it was about getting my wallet nicked and, after a very brief chase scene, the dull process of cancelling cards and getting a new driving license. Even my dreams are dull.

S: Also had a mundane dream last night, something to do with missing a ferry and having to reschedule. Woo hoo. Can't see that inspiring this summer's blockbuster, least of all because it would be set in the exciting metropolis of Stranraer.

Badgersmack: They both have potential for some European arthouse film. Or perhaps an Alan Bennett play if you were to throw a monologue or two in. given to a European director it would turn into some Kafkaesque bureaucracy hell, which would be infinitely more interesting than the actual dream.

S: The presence of Semtex at the back of the car could also open it up to the mindless chick flick market - Jennifer Aniston and Matthew McConaughey find themselves stranded at the Stranraer ferry terminal as they try to get home for their niece's christening. As the ferry sails without them, old conflicts rise to the surface. Can an adorable puppy bring them together? Typing that made me nauseous.

Badgersmack: It doesn't just sound likely - it sounds inevitable. I'm sure there's a way to force mundane dreams through the Hollywood filter.

s: Combine the two! With a side story of the whacky best friend played by Vince Vaughn loses his wallet - CAN HE GET HIS RECEIPT FOR THE DIAMOND RING HE BOUGHT FOR HIS GIRLFRIEND BACK SO SHE WON'T THINK HE'S JUST A WORTHLESS LAYABOUT??? Only the adorable puppy can bring THEM together too! Possibly by crapping out the diamond ring at the end to prove that it existed! Aww!

Badgersmack: My god, you've just written the romantic comedy of the decade!

s: I'm thinking Charlize Theron in a business suit for Vince's girlfriend. Imagine the scene - a beautiful sunset, Jennifer, Matthew, Vince and Charlize all standing around the Stranraer docks, a car ferry in the background, watching a bulldog puppy squat and crap out a diamond ring as the credits roll, to the strains of some appalling summery indie hit like 'Elvis Ain't Dead' by Scouting for Girls...

Badgersmack: *suppresses laughter to avoid confusing co-workers*

s: Maybe Semtex would have to have a more Hollywood makeover ñ he could become a Golden Lab puppy called Charlie... I can hear the appalling soundtrack now. I can see the film poster too - Stranraer docks at sunset, seagulls circling, the P&O logo visible in the background and a few HGVs, while Jennifer, Matthew, Vince, Charlize and Charlie the dog squashed into a really kitsch old-style Mini, Jennifer and Matt grinning cheesily while the dog's face is photoshopped into a visibly happy canine expression that does not occur in nature, Vince smirks in a hangdog way and Charlize looks away while chatting on her cellphone. Need a really stupid title now... hmmm.... Dockside Blues? No! -

Love Ain't All Plain Sailing ñ Missing The Boat Can Make You Right On Time for What REALLY Matters

Urgh. I am already firebombing cinemas in my head.

Badgersmack: I was gonna go for "Love and Semtex", although other possibilities I am currently making up on the spot include "P&OMG", "Diamond In The Rough", "Ferry Folly", "Hitler's Day Off", "The Stranraer Dockside Massacre"...

S: My favourite is P&OMG - a nod to maritime industry, yet being the most wince inducing title imaginable, proudly proclaiming its target audience of early teen girls who say things like 'LOL' out loud. It would also have the most linear plot imaginable, with even Helen Keller being able to guess in the first 10 minutes that smug Matt and waster Vince are going to get their girls back by the end of the film. Oh, and Matt and Jennifer could run slow motion into each other's arms past 2 burly middle-aged Scottish security guards and a bemused sniffer dog, who in an even more adorable twist can be seen being licked by Charlie the puppy at the end of the film.

Badgersmack: One of the security guards has to be Rab C Nesbit.

s: Maybe Billy Bob Thornton as 'Grizzled Trucker With Heart of Gold'.

Badgersmack: And an inspirational barroom pep talk from Sylvio Burlusconi

s: By barroom you mean 'customer lounge at ferry terminal, with drinks machine in the corner and ye olde video arcade game'?

Badgersmack: Perhaps, I've never been their but then neither has most of your target audience. Alternatively Rip Torn providing shambling drunken advice. In other words, as himself.

s: Maybe a few Loch Ness references and bonnie Scotsmen in kilts to placate the US market.

Badgersmack: Nessy has to pop up in the credits somewhere.

s: Like so?

Badgersmack: exactly

S: If someone actually made that film, I'd be too embarrassed to sue for breach of copyright.

Badgersmack: I'm tempted to put this whole thing in a blog post!

S: It would amuse me. Try to make me sound hardworking though! You totally need to put it on the web. It should bring amusement and renewed affection for actual films to the masses.

Badgersmack: It will be on Toast and Badgersmack by the end of the week (and here it is!).

S: :D Subplot: Jennifer Aniston bites her nail too short in the car. It hurts.

Badgersmack: That sounds a bit too highbrow for this kind of film.

S: I don't know, it could be another reason for her to cry in a stereotypically pre-menstrual manner and snap at Matt who is being particularly useless and irritating!

Badgersmack: Perhaps, she'd have to also get hysterical for no good reason, possibly to do with shoes.

s: Because he forgot to pack her favourites, and packed the ones he thought were her favourites, which are OMG SO LAST SEASON, which is obviously an understandable reason to fling the shoes into the dock, via his head.

Jennifer Aniston's character would be unbearably girly and ditzy and would do stupid things like wear 4 inch pink patent stilettos to a motorway service station, and her limping back to the car, parked at the far end of the car park beyond all the HGVs, would be a partial cause of missing the ferry. Their delay would be added to by Matt gawping gormlessly at some kind of sports fixture on silent TV in the service station.

Badgersmack: The concept of Aniston in a motorway service station is almost funny enough for its own film. Or Friends: Norton Canes edition.

S: Surrounded by ruddy faced people in fleeces and hiking boots queuing up for their soup and sandwich deal, while she wears a polka dot prom dress or something and makes a big show of asking if it is gluten free. Matthew also needs to laugh at her about “roughing it” while she whines about the fat content in a Ginster’s BLT, all the while standing out by being tangerine coloured in a sea of pale Brits and ruddy truckers.

Badgersmack: You’ve obviously not been to a service station in a while, the oompa loompa skin tone is increasingly in popularity. I think a visit to Wimpy might be necessary though (seriously, that would surely confuse them, it confuses me how they’re still in business), and general whining about the state of British coffee, perhaps with Vince Vaughan losing on Sega Rally to some 10 year old kid and then smashing the arcade up.

S: My knowledge of service stations is limited to Newport Pagnell and Westmorland on the M6, which has the benefit of pleasant greenery surrounding it. Vince would be dragged away by an angry humourless Charlize, and no-one comments on the fact she’s wearing a power suit to a service station on a weekend journey. I also think that Vince should drink a beer at the service station to showcase his US style “alcoholism”, even though he’s not driving, and be dressed something like Nathan Barley.

Badgersmack: You have had a deprived life! The service station is a grand institution, where human life at it’s most tired and irate can congregate to buy overpriced junk and relive themselves whilst their offspring pump coins into outdated arcade machines.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Coming up

Soon I shall be posting a mildly amusing email conversation, and probably a few more rambles. I've 'finished' and published everything from February now so if you like any of the other crap I've written please go back and have a look.

Conclusions on England vs Egypt

Having just watched England beat Egypt 3-1 I have a few conclusions. I'll do it player by player

1. Rob Green is adequate. He's a bit less gaffe prone than David James, and a lot more expereinced than Joe Hart. Hart will eventually be England's goalkeeper,but Green should start in South Africa.

2. Wes Brown is hardly a spectacular right back. Or centre back that matter. I can't see why Micah Richards isn't higher up in the queue, but I'll be hoping that Glen Johnson is fit.

3. Leighton Baines was ok, but again I'll be hoping Ashley Cole is fit.

4. Gerrard was a bit indifferent, much like is for Liverpool at the moment. He left a lot of chaseable balls which was disappointing. He wasn't terrible, but he was far from his best. By contrast James Milner looked like a world beater when he came on, and was relentless - I think he's booked his flight. Not saying he should start instead but Gerrard needs to bring his A game to South Africa.

5. Matthew Upson is a liability. It seems like not too long ago we had too many international class centre backs, so many that Sol Campbell ended up on the scrap heap. I think it might be time he was back in contention. Once again we can hope Rio Ferdinand is fully fit, but equally in terms of back up it would be nice if Ledley King could keep his knee together for a bit. Jonathan Woodgate is probably too crocked at this stage. Lescott is the same level of liability as Upson at this level.

6. John Terry has been in dodgy form for weeks,for obvious reasons. I've never been his biggest fan but right now he's the best fit centre back we have.

7. Theo Walcott ran a lot, bu his end product was lacking. Wright-Phillips was a lot more useful when he came on, so much so that I think he'll be going to South Africa. If Lennon is fit by then I think he'll be joining him ahead of Walcott. I've a feeling Beckham will be coming no matter what, which considering how mny positions he's played in at AC Milan is not necessarily a bad thing.

8. Lampard was a bit anonymous. Not awful, and he was playing in deeper role than he plays for Chelsea. Carrick was about the same when he replaced him, solid but unspectacular.

9. Defoe was busy, on another night he might have scored a couple but it was not to be. Crouch was fantastic as his replacement. He seems to be the opposite of Gerrard in that when he puts an England shirt on he looks like a world beater as opposed to the average striker that he is. These two should both be on the plane.

10. Rooney was pissed off that a lot of the starting 11 didn't seem to be trying. He was everywhere, because they weren't. As such he didn't get to show the form he's been showing for Manchester United. He seemed a lot more settled once Crouch and Wright-Phillips came on, possibly because he was no longer the only one putting a shift in. Carlton Cole didn't get enough time to make any real impact as his replacement.

11. Barry was as out of sorts as anyone in the first half, but seemed a lot better in the second half. A solid performance in all.

We'll need a lot of luck to win the World Cup. We'll need a lot of luck to get past the group stages if we play like we did in the first half.