30 May 2006

By popular demand

Seriously, it seems like half my hits are coming from people searching for "Peter Crouch robot celebration" or something similar. Now, usually, I can't help people who come to my site looking for something specific -- "what Kaka thinks of Steven Gerrard"? Sorry, I have no idea. Same story for "Shevchenko hates Chelsea." True or not (and it looks like it's not), he hasn't told me anything.

Anyway. Usually, I don't have what people are looking for. But this time? I totally do. So, here, and enjoy! Thanks to the other goal-scoring robot for the link.

(Also, thanks to A Matter of Life and Death for the kind words!)

25 May 2006

One ineffective striker down, one to go?

And Morientes is going to Valencia.

The utter awfulness of that picture aside, I'm really happy with this. I don't have anything at all against him personally -- from everything I've read, he seems like a really nice guy. However, 12 goals in 61 games? No. Whether it's not adjusting to the Premiership or just getting older, it doesn't really matter. Our biggest problem last season was being unable to score goals, and he was a big part of that problem. I do wish him better luck at Valencia, but mostly I'm glad we've freed up a striking slot for someone who can actually convert chances.

Next on the hit list: Cisse. What? I can hope, can't I?

24 May 2006

Why England?

It's a question I get asked a lot, usually right after "why soccer?" I grew up in Texas -- I was supposed to love the other football, the one with linebackers and four quarters and the marching band coming out in silly hats to play the halftime show. I was born and raised in a town that lived for all that; my dad always fell asleep to the Cowboys game on Sunday afternoons. But for me, it never really took. People explained the whole first-down thing to me again and again, but it just slipped from my brain like Algebra II. So people hear I like soccer, they get a little bit confused. They hear England, they get even more confused. And the question is always "why?" Why soccer, why England, why not the USA?

Well, the answer to those is really linked. I fell in love with this sport during the 2002 World Cup, and England is the team that made that happen. I got sucked into the whole Group of Death, especially the Greek drama surrounding England/Argentina. I learned about the Hand of God and Beckham's red card in 1998, and started to figure out just what stoppage time and the offsides rule were all about. I needed a team to follow, to obsess about and record their matches, and England provided that for me. I got into soccer because of England; in focusing on them, I learned to love the sport. And here we are today. (Liverpool came a little bit later, when I figured out where Michael Owen played in the regular season. Yeah, it's not really the best reason, but it stuck.) The two can't really be separated in my mind -- I can love other teams, like Spain, but England will always be my first love. And, like every horrible romantic comedy teaches us, you never forget your first love.

A lot of times, though, when people say "Why England?", they're really asking "Why not the US?" I've been told, in all seriousness, that I must be a bad American or hate my country if I didn't cheer for their soccer team. And, my political leanings aside, I more often than not cheer for the US to fail internationally. I'll be thrilled if the US don't make it out of their group this summer. This isn't because I hate America, loathe Landon Donovan, or anything like that. It's really because every single bit of soccer coverage in this country is like "YOU MUST LOVE THE US OR PERISH." There's also a mile-wide inferiority complex that the team and the media try to cover up by pointing to the FIFA ranking and how a lot of the players play in Europe now, so, you know, they must be good now. Well, um, or not. That aside, though, I don't do well when things are shoved down my throat. Tell me I have to like something, and I'll probably not like it, just to prove a point. (Yes, I was a difficult child.) So, it's really nothing wrong with the US on its own terms. I just resent the hell out of everyone on ESPN telling me that I need to support the US in order to be a good American. England's been my favorite team for as long as I've been a fan, and nothing that anyone can say will change that for me. Try to convert me all you want, but the best you're going to get is a smile and an "uh-huh." And on a bad day, I'll call you a dumbass.

And really, if someone like Nick Hornby can decide to switch teams, why not?

14 May 2006

Text messages sent during the FA Cup final.

"3-3 at full time. Goals from Cisse and Steven (two). Will text you final."

"And now extra time. I love Steven so much."

"Seriously gonna die."



This is what happens when you have promised to text people updates on the final, and then something like this happens. I don't know what's happened to my team -- apparently we've decided since Istanbul that the only good win is a ridiculously dramatic one. It's bad for my heart, my fingernails, and my friends, but man. I can't say I'd trade it for being, like, a Chelsea fan.

Poor West Ham, though. Penalties are an awful, awful way to lose a final, and they were the better team for most of the match. That's just what happens when you go up against the comeback specialists of Europe, though.

08 May 2006

31 days! Let the complaints begin.

Four strikers, two teenagers, and Owen Hargreaves. That's who England's taking to the World Cup. Two of the strikers aren't fully fit -- though I think Owen will be back in time -- but your Plan B is Crouch and Walcott? I adore Peter Crouch, but even I have to admit that he's not the most consistent player around. He needs a very specific style of play to do well, and I'm not sure that England can get it down in the limited prep time they have. (I do think him serving as target man for Owen could be a good pairing, though.)

And Walcott. Really? I don't mind that he's 17. I mind that he's never had a Premiership start, or an international game, for that matter. I'm not sure what he has that Darren Bent (or hell, even Jermain Defoe) don't, besides youth. I mean, Bent didn't set the world on fire in the Uruguay friendly, but it's hard to argue with his Premiership scoring record. This makes it sound like I have some huge vendetta against Walcott, and that's really not the case. I'm just surprised that he's who they decided to go with. It must be hard to be the McClaren to Rooney's Scolari, so I hope he does well. It's just not the choice I would have made.

Also choices I would not have made: Hargreaves. A thousand times Hargreaves. I would have taken Shaun Wright-Phillips and Darren Bent, too. But this is why I'm not England manager, I suppose. I'm just glad Heskey didn't manage to work his way into the side.