Friday, August 11, 2006

Terry's All Gold

I should write headlines for a tabloid paper, you know. So, Terry it is. A wise choice, I think, but something of a no-brainer. Steven Gerrard is a fine footballer, but I'm somewhat less than convinced by his abilities as a captain. I can't put my finger on exactly why... I just get the feeling that he was made captain at Liverpool because he was (and still is) the best player in the team, which is the wrong reason for making somebody the captain of a football team. You can hardly say the same for John Terry, but he is a magnificent defender, and his comeback from the period in 2002 when it looked like his career was heading down the tubes has been quite amazing. It's easy to forget that he looked like he was headed the same way as the likes of Jody Morris, having fallen in with what my mother might call "a bad crowd". A year later, Abramovich was in charge, and the times, they were a-changin', as it were.

Since then, Terry has become the model professional. Casting aside the talk of his domestic dalliances, he has worked and worked to become what he is now - one of the best central defenders in Europe. He is the perfect modern defender: strong on the ball, excellent in the air, with tremendous timing, and more than capable of turning up at the other end at a set-piece to score at the other end. More importantly than that, he is an old head on young shoulders. He has experienced more in his career so far than most grizzled old pros have. He's played at the top end of world football: the quarter-finals of the European Championships and the World Cup, and the semi-finals of the European Cup. There isn't a single club side in Europe that wouldn't have him, but they know that Chelsea won't part with him. There's no point in them contacting a dodgy agent and submitting a bid. It's not going to happen.

In other news, there was a mixed week for the British in Europe. With depressing predictablilty, the English clubs all did just fine. Arsenal were flattered by winning 3-0 in Zagreb, but not half as much as Newcastle were in getting a win against the mighty FK Ventspils (the runaway champions of Latvia, in case you were wondering), or Liverpool, who had to come from behind to beat Maccabi Haifa. Elsewhere, Gretna's 5-1 home defeat was marred by crowd trouble from Rangers supporters that had travelled all the way to Motherwell (where the match was played) just to try and fight the Irish. God. Elsewhere, there were a couple of minor surprises in the European Cup. I could make a crude joke about Chievo going down in Sofia, but it hardly seems worth the effort. My eyebrows were also raised by Valencia's 1-0 defeat by SV Red Bull Salzburg. In the UEFA Cup, Marseille were held by Young Boys. Hur Hur.

Tomorrow, I'm due to be off to Kidderminster for the opening match of the Nationwide Conference season. It means getting up at 5.45 in the morning, getting a train to London, and a coach to Birmingham, and then another train to Kidderminster. Fortunately, I'm getting a lift back to London, so at least the journey back won't be quite so tortuous. Will it be worth it? I'm afraid I can't answer that question until about 4.55 tomorrow afternoon. A full report on what promises to be a riotous day out will follow when (or if) I recover from it all.


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