I am no socialist but there is a fundamental misunderstanding amongst many Americans that socialism and the USSR are basically the same thing. The amount of times I have had discussions about it is striking. I even heard Tony Blair called a communist in 1997. Of course after he supported the war effort, he was suddenly seemingly a friend. A bit like the conveniently forgotten facts about the dear friend called Saudi Arabia.
I have been to Paraguay maybe 5 times. Seems a lot eh? Well thats because there simply wasn’t a border there or no one who asked me for an ID. So I just wandered over from Argentina a few times. The rumour is everything is stolen in Paraguay. Even the President’s car was stolen in Brazil. So I somehow liked the place. It felt quaint in its quirkiness. I have never seen more guns either on the street. A security guard outside a Chinese restaurant had a shotgun on his shoulder, a handgun on his hip and then pulled out an Uzi from his pocket. Nice food though. All that said, go New Zealand!
Domenech must be the worst manager in the history of football. I include Paul Gascoigne in that list, a man fired after 39 days for being drunk every day of it. But that’s Gazza. He shouldn’t have been anywhere near responsibility. Raymond Domenech has presided over the deterioration of a supremely talented team, strong in every position, dynamic in possession, organised in defence and with some of the best attacking talents in the world. Domenech simply lost control of this group who understood he was placed in his position without the pre-requiste track record of an international manager. Respect is earned and not given and no one in France respects Domenech.
The other factor that stands out are the strident egos of within the French team. All players have egos and some huge. That’s almost understandable considering how much they are paid and the adoration that goes with their job. But in the French team, they seem to have a significant group of wankers who have caused trouble at almost every club they have attended from Gallas, Ribery and Anelka. A strong leader is needed to keep this group intact and Domenech wasn’t that man.
Every player including the much vaunted goalkeeper had poor tournaments. France managed one goal against South Africa, Uruguay and Mexico. No push-overs but very beatable. Sarkozy will get involved as usual, after all its far easier to run your mouth than run the country. But ultimately its a footballing issue and Laurent Blanc may not have a clean slate but it can only get better.
Some fact below:
As the shadow of Zinedine Zidane lurks menacingly over French football, do you think Zizou knows this: That since 2002, Les Bleus have played eight matches without him in major championships, winning only once and failing to score in six of those games.
I kinda feel sorry for the English players sometimes. I mean they have failed under 3 managers now so you can’t feel too sorry for the over-paid ballerinas. But also they have to deal with this media who will print any rumours they have heard or made up and every morning have to defend themselves in front of the same bunch of scaremongers who run agendas and will happily twist any line or look for a player.
I know the players say its part and parcel of the game but it simply isn’t. Its a whole different game run by sales. Sadly too many football fans are led to the water by it.
I’d been in Cardiff for four months this year and left last weekend. It couldn’t come soon enough in some ways. Work was fine if uninspiring, Cardiff as a city could be summed up also the same. It really has no scene. Even Welshness is fairly muted there yet it does spring up when rugby or the Stereophonics are playing. Its very smallness could be considered cute or affecting but I found myself slightly bewildered by the sheer emptiness of it all.
Cardiff felt like a reasonably sized town rather than a capital or international city. The weekdays were predictably quiet. The city comes alive at the weekend as the streets fill and sway with the drunks from the valleys, creating an ork rampage of gaped-mouthed proportions. The pavements and roads are literally covered in shattered glass. Three burst bike tyres are testament to the lingering shards and the potholed roads.
The pavements of splintered glass. shard of unsophistication on a Friday night as the valleys arrive in the centre. Searching for answers I mused whether the council deliberately left the glass there to make the city sparkle come rain and shine but alas foresight and irony are not the hallmarks of local solicitors, GPs and former bus drivers.
Living with Luke and John was cool. The place is just about big enough and it was kept in reasonable shape despite the Anderson’s disjointed view of tidiness. It got slightly cramped when Luke’s first born Poppy arrived but the paraphernalia that comes with kids is phenomenal these days. It was time for me to leave.
So I leave again. With my bag on my back. My hat on my head. My eyes down the road. It all seems familiar but the excitement is there as usual. Yet this time the path is predictable and that what energises me. I don’t feel unnerved. University looks sorted in one way or another.
I left for Swindon to see my sister and her little ones. Trampolining, tractor videos, water pistols and barbecues. Now I am in Devon to work for a week before heading to Sheffield to see T and then down to Oxford for the summer. Finally after all that, I go up to Nottingham to live for the year with two Polish girls. The house in Nottingham is shaping up with Basia and possibly Milena coming in. A bit of a run around but I’ll get there in the end.
Hope to catch you along the way.
Interesting research here about the future of Africa. Its demographics are maturing as the population growth slows, democracy becomes more entrenched, aid packages now involve infrastructure projects rather than handouts and consumerism takes a greater hold. Africa is traditionally seen as an abundant mineral resource but less than a third of Africa’s GDP is linked to mineral exports and bountiful human resources are increasingly developed. This will become truer as China and India’s cost base increases.
So this may not just be century of Asia or South America but simply of not Europe.
‘Summer in England is always a pageant of class, as tattooed flesh is laid bare and different social strata rub up against each other in parks, but never more so than during World Cups.’
Brilliant quote there from Bagehot, the enigmatic Economist columnist making vague comparisons with the present economic times and the state of the English mentality.