Tuesday, June 29, 2004
  Mark's Law
Scott, yeh, I saw the snide dig at Hargreaves in the Times. I still think England enormously improved when he came on. (I'm less enamoured with the Times since they gave Ashley Cole 4 out of 10 for his masterful subduing of Ronaldo --- though at least Brian Glanville corrected this gross error yesterday).

See, I've got a theory. Every man and his dog now agrees that Sven is too cautious. But I wonder if he doesn't have the opposite problem; namely, that the side he picked was too full of flair players. There weren't any pragmatists, any of what Eric Cantona, referring to Didier Deschamps, famously called 'water carriers'. The brave decision might perversely have been to go for a safer player, the question is who? Not Phil Neville, whose 50 caps are 50 too many. Not Nicky Butt, who looked sadly off the pace in the warm up game against Iceland the other week. Hargreaves is a strong candidate, but I would also suggest Scott Parker. I think Parker's move to Chelsea - like Joe Cole's - was a disaster for England. If Parker had stayed at Charlton and maintained the level of performance he managed in the first half of the season, the case for his inclusion would have been overwhelming. We need someone who can take the game by the scruff of the neck when things aren't going well.

Mwanji - who will win?

Well, we have Mark's Law to contend with. Mark's Law states that the team I most dislike in a tournament is always historically destined to win it. Hello Germany, Brazil, Argentina... On those grounds, Holland are a shoo-in. Like everyone else, I'd like the Czechs to win but they're the best team and the most exciting (never encouraging signs) and they also committed the cardinal sin of starting the tournament well (most winners pick up momentum as the tournament proceeds - another ominous portent favouring the Dutch).

So, while I'd much rather any of the other three won, I think it'll be Holland.

I hope I'm wrong.

Except I do not see how Holland is picking up momentum. A 0-0 tie decided by penalties is hardly an encouraging sign. The Czechs on the other hand have yet to show any slack.
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Blog for discussion of Euro 2004 football tournament.

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