Thursday, January 03, 2008

More talk

England National Squad - 3 Lions, or a bunch of Lambs?

Since I'm completely mailing it in this week at work, I've decided to follow up my last post with another post. I have been following closely the Euro 2008 qualifying matches this year. So much so that I may be tempted to get a subscription to GolTV for the Euro championships this summer (Hal, finals party?). Anyway, particularly enjoyable was the "group of death" with France, Scotland, and Italy. It was the final match for Scotland, who played Italy at home, that eliminated them from contention this year. Better luck next year, tartan army! It's great to see the smaller international squads make headway against the giants. However, a "giant" that was nothing but disappointing was the English side. England, after losing to Russia in the next-to-last game of their qualifying schedule, had to root for Israel to defeat or draw vs. Russia in order to stay alive. The 3 "lions" survived, only to blow it majorly vs. Croatia at Wembley. The whole English squad, with the exception of two players, Peter Crouch and the much maligned David Beckham, showed a complete lack of interest in the endeavor. They couldn't wait to get back to their club teams. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Stevie Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, were all utterly disappointing in the qualifying stage. Obviously, they cared more about the club honors. I have been on a few chat sites where all the English fans are slamming Becks for coming to LA to play "soccer." I had to lash back after the pathetic display by the English side and the delicious irony of Beckham being one of two players who really cared about Euro qualifying. Well, at least all the English players can focus on domestic and European club competition instead of representing their country. Alexi Lalas can breathe a sigh of relief as, Beckham will not be distracted by Euro competition and can focus on MLS matters. Since the loss to Croatia, England has fired the coach, former Middlesbrough man Steve McLaren, and has hired the high profile Fabio Capello to turn their World Cup fortunes around. Hopefully, the squad produces results for Capello, and brings home the ultimate prize, which has been missing from England for many years. Not good for the country that invented the game.

Going Green

It feels great to follow the Celtics again! Their games have been entertaining beyond my imagination, and they are playing at a level that has not been seen in years. Hal, I have to say, the HSG Bill Simmons said it best when he spoke of the Celtics and their "chemacterility."
"Sure, Danny Ainge revamped the Celtics by acquiring Ray Allen and KG, but the rest of his game plan has been equally important to the team's early success, and it hasn't received nearly enough fanfare. He filled a depleted roster with unselfish, high-character guys like Eddie House, James Posey and Scot Pollard and refused to pursue any moody vets."
Chemistry and character. It's at work in Boston. Not just the Celtics either. It's in almost every sports team in Boston, and it's surprising that GMs of sports clubs all across the nation haven't figured this out sooner...

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