England’s Golden Generation X

England’s Golden Generation’s peak lasted about fifteen minutes, from when Micheal Owen, 12, ran through the Argentinean defense to when David Beckham tried to kick Simeone in the nuts. He missed.
England’s previous Golden Generation turned to custard when the successful vox-drums-bass-guitar formation was changed to a more European vox-drums-bass-guitar-guitar line up, resulting in an early exit from Glastonbury in the semi finals
Instead of, you know, developing young talented players and nurturing them until they were ready to win World Cups and that, England (who probably should have just built a team around Matt le Tissier) instead decided they’d just pinch the Man U youth academy and call it a Golden Generation.

David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdiand and, erm, Gary Neville (unluckily, Ryan Giggs, who would have been handy, was given suspect directions to a Welsh training camp as a youth) were going to take on the world and show ’em that Tel and Baz England hadn’t forgotten how to beat them foreigners at their own game. Or something. All they needed was a manager. That’s where it gets complicated.

First, England tried an English manager. Big mistake. Glenn Hoddle was like a swan on meth, elegant and stylish from a distance, but the closer you got, the more likely he was to bite your nose and fling shit at you. Kevin Keegan was fantastic at geeing the lads up, but hopeless at tactics, selection, media management, winning games, being generally coherent, brushing his hair and riding a bike. Steve McLaren was like teeth perched on a pair of legs. None of them, with the exception of Hoddle’s early days, none were much chop at managing football teams.
Then, seduced by the continent like an London businessman tipsy at a Parisian working lunch, England turned to foreign managers. Big mistake.

First there was Sven-Goran Ericksson, who has somehow managed some of the biggest clubs in Europe without anyone being able to ascertain if he’s actually any good. Strangely, his ‘biggest feats as England manager‘ wikipedia section omits shagging Ulrika Johnson. Sven spent most of his time in the hot seat shagging, making incomprehensible statements and giving the Golden Generation a sense of entitlement to rival David Beckham’s hairdresser. His 2006 world cup team were outplayed by their own WAGs, and Sven was out of a job.

Fabio Capello, despite a CV rammed with titles and Champions League trophies, had issues learning the language, and the culture. Seeing his players crowded around a telly willing Susan Boyle to a Britain’s Got Talent title and playing as themselves on the XBox was hard to take for this proud, sophisticated and urbane man. His squad’s obsession with the goings on in a boring Manchester pub boiled over in South Africa, as this extraordinary video reveals:
England’s Golden Generation now lies in ruins, like Cesar’s Rome, Mountbatten’s India or McCartney’s Wings. Despite dominating the Champions League and the tabloid headlines with their clubs, this gilded group never gelled for their country. And as the next generation coming though seems more interested in fucking about with their phones and threatening each other with knives, they may need a hero from down under.

The white album

That’s yer lot. If just getting to the World Cup was climbing Everest, then three draws, including one with Italy, is getting to the summit, throwing up a bach made from number eight wire, slamming some sausies on the BBQ and cleaning your fingernails with the ice pick.

For me, the All Whites’ cup has been about expectations, and changing them, rapidly. First we were happy to be there. Then we were ecstatic to get a World Cup point off Slovakia. We kind of left ourselves nowhere to go from there, because drawing with Italy (who were poor and old, it must be said) was beyond the wildest expectations – expectations that were ratcheted up to a whole new series of notches when it dawned on everyone we could actually go through to the knockout round. And now we’re all a bit glum now we’re out, and this wonderful ride is over.

Cactus Kate reckons we should have some perspective, but anyone saying this is our greatest sporting achievement is just after easy column inches. You have to *win* something to be OGSA, but we’re right to get excited all the same (I bought the feckin t-shirt). These guys have done us proud, punching WAY above their weight and put the icing on the cake of a very special year in NZ football. We’ve got more of this coming, team, and I’d expect to see some of these All Whites getting snapped up to play in Europe, and  good on them. Let’s just hope Ricki Herbet can be convinced to stay, I love him.

It hasn’t always been pretty viewing, to be perfectly honest, but that’s football – we played our own game, and considering we were aiming for ‘not getting dicked’ going in, this is as good as it gets. On thing that struck me during the all-encompassing post-mortems in the office, watching James McOnie moshing with the brilliant, brilliant crowds in the Republic and seeing little kids wearing their All Whites kits despite the wintery blast, is that supporting the All Whites is fun and rewarding – can you say the same about supporting the All Blacks lately? Be honest.

Last thing, I’m pleased the All Whites have resisted doing the Haka- stark contrast to our Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams, for whom a Haka is an acceptable form of greeting when passing a teammate in the hotel corridor on a night trip to the loo. Like Ryan Nelsen says, “No-one wants to see skinny white guys do the Haka.” Fair play.

This interview with Those Guys Dressed As Kiwis is worth a watch, just to see John Campbell being called “JC” and “Cambo”

Eliminated New Zealand ‘sort of world champions’ – I laughed at this, but hesitated to link, as the site is much funnier than this one. Please come back when you’re done!

Zinedine vuvuzela take down – I lol-ed

Weekend preview

sportreview weekends aren’t what they used to be. Friday night drinking heavily at work. Drinking heavily in a bar. Drinking heavily at home. Watching videos for 24 hours and eating starchy, salty food to recover, before accidentally drinking heavily on Sunday night.


There’s a lot happening this weekend that isn’t me lamenting the fading of youth and opportunities to drink heavily (and responsibly! Har, forgot to mention that!). The All Whites are taking on a ninja.

The NZ Herald have captured a ninja on film, who has ninja-ed their way into the Italian squad.
Ninjas, as well as being awesome, are famed for manouvering silently, killing efficiently and spiderman-like crawling on the ceiling. Football in Italy is serious business, and the ninja call-up reflects how gravely they’re taking the All Whites’ onslaught. Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss will be kicking himself he didn’t bring a ninja, or indeed a sniper or slasher film protagonist on to do a job in midfield. Taking Shane Smeltz, Mark Paston or Winston Reid out of this mortal coil and the game would have greatly increased Slovakia’s chances of hanging on to their one goal lead providing the referee and referee’s assistants were unsighted.
It will be intriguing to see how Marcello Lippi deploys his ninja in the match, with the options of starting him at the top of the ‘christmas tree’ formation to create havoc in the All Whites’ back four (possibly using Shuriken or throwing stars), or bringing him off the bench to do a job. With a sword.
The whole country has gone Winston nuts thanks to his last minute equaliser, including this popular mobility scooter salesman.
Down south, the All Blacks will take on the Welsh in what used to be our national game. The All Whites’ World Cup run has shifted our national game paradigm significantly, it now looks like this:
1. Doing the fingers out the car window

2. Football

3. Rugby

4. Watching netball with a milo, silently wondering what the jiggins is going to happen tomorrow night on Coronation Street

5. Bitching and moaning

The Welsh have a strong rugby talking pedigree, fielding a great side of talkers in the 70s, who won respect with their flair for talking, before losing their talking edge in the 80s and 90s. Importing Kiwi talking talent has helped them become one of the modern era’s most feared talking nations in the six nations. The All Blacks were so rattled by Gatland’s fearsome ‘lost aura’ talking in 2009 that they only won 19-12.

Gatland appears to be keeping his talking powder dry in the build up to this two test series, mainly talking to himself in his hotel room, but there is still time to lay down some serious talking before his team runs on the field to be thrashed soundly. Enjoy your sporting weekend, team, and talk nicely to each other.

World Cup notes 17 June

We drew, we bloody drew.

It seems like half the country stayed up late on Monday, and what a reward for those that stayed awake. Winston Reid’s pinpoint header from Shane Smeltz’s thoughtfully angled cross in the 93rd minute has turned the All Whites from a ‘glad just to be here’ team to ‘we’re capable of reaching the second round. Seriously’ one. And we have a point, a wonderful, wonderful point.

It seems a large part of credit for Winston Reid even playing for us and not Denmark goes to TV3’s excellent football reporter Andrew Gourdie, who reached out to Reid on Facebook. That is social media in action, team, and thank Hadlee he did. Read Naly_D’s Andrew Gourdie interview from a couple of years back.

I’ve watched Ricki Herbert’s reaction to the goal over and over, the little leap, the little run and the big punch into the air. I’m actually in love with his attempts to remain cool, calm and collected in interviews, while obviously bursting with pride, and just a little disbelief at his team’s latest feats.

I felt (a little bit) sorry for Slovakia, their coach dejectedly throwing his water bottle away was the perfect inverse to Ricki’s little run. As we all know, it’s a 93 minute game, and they paid the price for not chasing the second goal. Very European. Low scores are the trend, though, up until the Germany v Australia match the tournament has produced half the shots and half the goals of… Italia 90, officially the most boring world cup ever.

So bring on Italy – as @sportzfreak has pointed out, Italy are the masters of sitting on one goal leads, so you never know. Let’s see more of Fallon mixing it up with these pampered superstars of Serie A like a deranged lobster on P – they won’t like that one bit.


Friend of sportreview Colin Peacock appeared on the Guardian’s World Cup Daily podcast to talk up the All Whites, revealing he flipped over to watch Christopher Walken blow his brains out in Deer Hunter during the second half, before rejoining the match for the winning goal. That’s class.

Is it just me, or does Martin Devlin seem like a post-lobotomoy Murphy from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest? Where’s the spitfire prickly opinions and verbal slapdowns? OK, its TV One, whose target audience is pretty Horlicks-friendly, but COME ON. Its the World Cup team, get frickin excited.

Maicon has scored the goal of the tournment for me so far. OF COURSE it was a shot.

A German boffin reckons he’s sussed out the vuvuzelas with a noise cancelling MP3. Lifehacker has more.

World Cup notes 13 June

The only jaw dropping moment for me so far was Robert Green fumbling the ball over the line to gift the United States prepsters an undeserved equaliser. Yes, my jaw literally dropped, it was a mistake as cataclysmic as wearing an airline sleeping mask in a downhill ski race. Unlucky. And, unluckily for Green, England as a nation just doesn’t do forgiving goalkeepers – just ask Paul Robinson, consigned to the scrap heap by the Zagreb turf. He’s not playing at this tournament, it will be interesting to see if Green is playing at the next one. You can imagine the headlines in the UK press, not noted for their sensitivity – The News Of The World went with ‘Hand Of Clod’ and ‘Shock n Draw’, while the Daily Mail went for the jugular with the wordy, functional and indignant ‘What a let-down! Fans’ disappointment as England’s World Cup campaign begins with a draw.’

Still, England could have won it – they created a very nice opening goal, laid on for Gerard by Heskey, who, when I saw his name in the starting line up, almost prompted jaw drop one. I decided to go with a long groan instead. Heskey had the best chance to snatch an equaliser – if he was aiming to hit US goalkeeper Tim Howard between his nipples and his waist, he hit the target. He failed to score a goal on that occasion, however.

Rooney was everywhere, except in the middle of the park near the goal, presumably where his best chance to score is. He looked tired, and was running everywhere trying to get things going. If England are relying on him, I’d prescribe Wayne picks his battles a little better.  They should go through on this showing though, they were bright and attacking, and could have easily won the match with better  goalkeeping and finishing.

Elsewhere, South Africa scored an emotional goal, and were only overhauled by Mexico’s extra class telling over 90 minutes. They have a point, however, and if they can keep riding the emotional wave they’re on, they may make it out of the group. Fair play to them.

Argentina and France were subdued, but at least Maradonna’s team got their win. One theory says Maradonna is shaping his side, which could have been one of the all-time great attacking sides if Diego had bought even half the talent at his disposal (sportreview.net.nz’s official Dick Move Of The Tournament is leaving Riquelme at home), in the image of his 1986 cup winning side, made up of ten cloggers plus Maradonna. Messi = Maradonna in this case, obviously. We’ll see. Old weird beard has been great value on the bench this far anyway, imagine when it starts to get tense.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far – it’s nice to be back on Planet Football*. See you on the couch.

*pinched from Pete Davies’ brilliant All Played Out.

All Whites also surprised to learn New Zealand plays football

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NEWSDESK: New Zealand’s participation in the World Cup finals has been a rich source of comedy for pundits and broadcasters alike in the tournament build up. Most members of the international press were under the impression the South Pacific island nation were more of a rugby playing / sheep shagging / quasi Welsh proposition. “New Zealand? Playing football? Sounds about as likely as Snoop Doggy Dog walking into t’ Rovers  and pooing on the bar, like,” said Pastie Cornish of the Manchester Evening News.

So it was little surprise when the All Whites themselves expressed their astonishment they were in fact a football team at a packed press conference in Johannesburg. “I knew played sport, but I just thought it was touch rugby, I used to play that at Uni,” said Leo Bertos, who was surprised to learn he is a right back. “Turned out to be football – we used to call it poofball! The touch guys are going to give me heaps when I get back.”

Goalkeeper Mark Paston was able to dimly recall a big match in Wellington last year, but said he couldn’t remember due to alcohol-related memory loss. “I recall I had gloves on – but I always wear gloves when its cold, I thought nothing of it. Trip to South Africa? Sure, why not? I didn’t suspect a thing.”

“To be honest, it’s a big weight off my mind to learn we’re playing in the World Cup,” said coach Ricki Herbert. “I had all these people congratulating me in the street and the supermarket, I didn’t know WHAT they were on about – thought I was going farkin mad.” Herbert was confident he and the rest of the New Zealanders staying in his hotel would give a good account of themselves. Playing football. “At the end of the day, we’re here to do a job and not let the country down. Apparently. FIFA have been kind enough to supply some football DVDs for us to watch, and we’ll be down the video shop to rent some football games on the playstation as soon as someone sorts out two forms of ID.”

In other news, the ICC said they would be reviewing the Black Caps’ participation in the recent T20 World Cup in light of today’s revelations.