Tuesday 31 July 2012

Olympic travel

Unusually for me, I needed to be in the City on a Monday, so was forced to train it in yesterday. Pleased to say that it all went very smoothly and that there appeared to be more Olympic staff, Volunteers, Police and other support staff than Olympic visitors. 

Our Head Office was also practically deserted and the journey home to Charlton after 6pm was just as straightforward. I believe they were expecting 50,000 leavers from Greenwich Park after 6pm, so maybe things hotted up at London Bridge a bit later?

Disappointing but pretty predictable that we are seeing empty seats at most venues. The largely empty VIP/Olympic Committee areas is an indictment on all of the bureaucrats and fat cats who obviously can't be bothered with the smaller events or the heats and who are, presumably, in London spending time shopping or otherwise enjoying themselves without bothering about the Olympics. I am afraid to say that the ludicrous LOCOG ticket sales plan is also to blame. Selling the majority of tickets randomly to those who could afford to write-off hundreds or even thousands of pounds in blind auctions was always going to mean that there would be plenty of empty seats at the less popular events as well-heeled ticket holders prioritised what they would see. 

It's good to hear that LOCOG are acting to tackle the problem but the 3000 additional tickets released so far is a drop in the ocean and empty seats will now become a memory of these games. Own goal I'm afraid. The lesson should be learnt for the future when "fanatics" have to take greeter priority but I am dreaming here of course. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

Monday 30 July 2012

Up at the North Greenwich Arena

We booked weeks ago so had paid our £22 each and yesterday was finally the time for our ascent over the roof of the O2 or North Greenwich Arena as it currently has to be referred to because it's hosting some Olympic events and O2 are not one of the main participating sponsors (pathetic). 

Thirty minutes before our climb it became very dark and forked lightning lit up the sky. On arrival we were told to wait until they got a weather update but that our walk was in jeopardy. I asked how many climbs they had previously had to cancel due to the weather - none. 

Within five minutes we got the nod. Quick safety film and then we were rigged out in "climb suits and given harnesses. Then it was up a staircase to the left of the main O2 entrance and we were ready for our climb. It doesn't look particularly high from that point but the ascent starts at 30 degrees and you have to do a bit of work to get up to the less-steep sections. Fifteen minutes later and we were all atop the Dome and were de-coupled from the safety wire so we could take in the splendid panoramic views of our great City. 

The descent is longer than the ascent as there are no stairs on the other side and you really need to hold on and use the braking system on the safety harness, especially if it's wet, as it was yesterday. All-in-all thoroughly recommended and reasonably priced given it cost £4m to set-up.

Saturday 28 July 2012

Off and running

I thought the Opening Ceremony last night was great viewing although I have a little sympathy with Tory Aidan Burley's tweet that it was "leftie multicultural crap." Anyone who saw the spoof Twenty Twelve TV series will have had a rye chuckle at some of what we saw last night, imagining the "brainstorming" sessions between the media luvvies that spawned it. Nonetheless, it was brilliantly choreographed and striking to watch.

I wasn't sure the green and pleasant land thing worked particularly well but the ability to control the visuals of the audience via those square light-boxes by every seat gave us some fantastic effects, none more so when the all turned blue with splashes of white at the beginning as we focused on the green "island." 

The themes chosen to show our history were interesting choices too. I wonder why Shakespeare didn't make the shortlist or why the British Pub or Beer were missed out. That probably says more about me than the average Britain and maybe Pubs are being seen as yesterday's archetypal view of our nation - certainly at the rate they are closing that could well be perceptive. The Brunel piece was well done and the whole Industrial Revolution piece was brilliantly conceived. I thought our role in the Wars could have warranted more than a crowd of soldiers standing in a wheat and poppy field. Football, too, was conspicuous by it's absence. 

The celebration of the NHS was probably merited although it was prolonged and I personally don't have great experiences of the modern day service.

Getting the Queen to contribute in the video sketch with James Bond was also great viewing, even if she did look very uncomfortable and as miserable as she does of late. There was a classic moment when she first appeared with her back to the camera and you immediately thought it was that women who doubles for her, only to see it was actually her Majesty when she turned around.

That just leaves the music choices and I suppose, given the time, it was only ever going to be a snapshot and that it would come down to personal tastes. Paul Bloody McCartney and the Beatles were there of course but what about the Stones? Were Mud really more iconic than T-Rex or David Bowie? I can't argue with the Sex Pistols but The Clash contributed far more and, for me, The Smiths should definitely have been included. 

To the action today then and major disappointment as our cyclists were left behind in the Road Race. The sun shone and it was compulsive viewing with an estimated one million people lining the route. I wouldn't argue with the estimate. They appeared to be five to ten deep for the entire route.

Right then, to Big Ben's Stag do, the British Pub and a gallon of ale.

Friday 27 July 2012

Sort it out Slater

News that Stephen Kavanagh has now resigned from the Board is a very concerning development following Peter Varney and Alex Newall. Something these three feel strongly about is clearly going on and we need to know.

It's not good enough for Michael Slater to say that Kavanagh has "simply resigned." The decision leaves just Jiminez, Slater and Murray on the Board and we are due an explanation. Richard Murray must be feeling very uncomfortable to be part of what is looking increasingly like an arrogant or weak ownership team given his previous Board history of Perestroika and his decision to pass the baton on to Jiminez and Slater.

The management and playing staff saw Barnet off 4-1 yesterday but it's the shenanigans by the men with little money that is by far the biggest news this morning. In the absence of an explanation we are again left surmising that the truth is unpalatable or even damaging to the club. 

Thursday 26 July 2012

North Korea on war footing

The Cock-up Games took another delightful turn yesterday when my compatriots managed to put North Korea on another war footing. With delightful irony, they managed to use the South Korean flag to represent the Bonkers State for their women's football team. The biggest surprise for me was that it wasn't the South Koreans who protested.

Presumably the software available at Hampden Park didn't contain the flag of Kim Ill Jong II's totalitarian nation so they decided South Korea was, literally, the nearest thing to it. Easy mistake to make but a tad more savvy and they could have used the Texaco flag from which a vague ancestor of Kim Il Jong based his nation's emblem.

After the ticketing fiasco, the Heathrow shambles, and the G4S embarrassment, this latest cock-up prepares us for the Opening Ceremony tomorrow evening. Fingers-crossed that it goes really well and the watching world can congratulate us as they tune in properly for the first time. We also need the Games themselves to pass off incident free if we are forget the bumps along the way. Does anyone else suspect Dwayne Chambers might be stupid enough to be using drugs again? What are they going to do, ban him? He will certainly need them if he is going to make much progress.

It's been another hectic week at work and I am looking forward to the weekend. I have the first Stag Do in several years on Saturday night when my good mate, Big Ben, prepares for marriage. On Sunday, I will be joining friends as we prepare for a meal and a few drinks by walking over the roof of the O2.

Monday 23 July 2012

Countdown to kick-off

A little under four weeks to the big Championship kick-off at St. Andrews. The squad are back from their morale-building break in Spain and the hard work on fitness will begin in earnest this week.

Only two names added so far in Jordan Cook and Lawrie Wilson but, importantly, no big-name leavers and rumours abound surrounding other acquisitions. Sam Baldock being the most notable although he is being pursued by a host of other clubs and actually wants to stay at West Ham. He may go the way of several other names linked with during the Summer who appear to have passed us by.

Still no announcement from the club to explain what's been going on in the Boardroom or to alleviate concerns that we could become a crisis club again during the coming season. I have to believe that there is a plan and that we won't be forced into selling assets to pay the bills.

Back to yesterday, and how fantastic to see Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France. He looked vulnerable for the last hour yesterday on the streets of Paris where he appeared bunched in the chasing pack and every time the camera caught a glimpse of his yellow jersey and helmet I had visions of someone sliding into him to bring him down to prevent him claiming what was rightfully his. No time for Wiggins to enjoy his victory as he returns home today to fine-tune his preparations for the Olympics. 

Chris Froome deserves enormous credit for coming second behind Wiggins and Mark Cavendish rubbed salt into the French wounds yesterday by rocketing clear to win the final stage. 

Then there was the Open and I am a little embarrassed to say I enjoyed watching the Aussie, Scott Adams, blow it in the last four holes. He came across as a real bore and something of a prig when interviewed this weekend. No doubt I may have read this wrongly but he had nothing to say beyond a monotonous obviousness and when he fist-pumped on 14 yesterday I was willing him to crash. When Big Ern slotted his last put to pull another stroke back, Scott wilted visibly. Cruel but compulsive viewing.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Long Sunday

Summer may actually begin today, at least "dahn sarf." We are getting wall-to-wall sunshine and temperatures should get to 24c. That will climb this week to over 30c in time for the start of the Olympics.

Before then however, we need to concentrate on today when Bradley Wiggins will be crowned winner of the Tour de France barring outrageous misfortune. Wiggins rides into Paris today at the head of the field and will, presumably, be overtaken in the burst for the finish but will be more concerned about staying out of trouble and becoming the first man from our islands to win the event. It really will be a remarkable achievement and a perfect prelude to the start of the games. It's a pity Paul Weller won't be there to congratulate him in person. I will be watching.

We then have the conclusion to the Open. The wind is predicted to pick up over the Lancashire links which should make things interesting for the leaders who will be the last out. Graeme McDowell heads British interest and he will partner leader Adam Scott and I reckon he could take advantage of the weather. His biggest challenge may be a lurking Tiger who remains in touch in spite of some duff putting yesterday.

Either way, today should feel like Summer and I will be firing up the Barby and urging the Brits on. Make the most of it.

Friday 20 July 2012

One hundred and eighty!

I have always watched the big darts tournaments and envied those in the audience. It's not much, I know, but they always seem to be having a better time than me. When the "Charlton Masters" was announced, I knew this was a must and a handful of us signed up immediately.

The Northstand Lounge isn't the most natural venue for watching darts and I felt sorry for those at the back. It wasn't the most competitive of events either, but I got to see Webster, Wade, Whitlock and Barneveld close-up and it was throughly enjoyable, even if I didn't leave the bar all night.  What was refreshing, was how ordinary and down-to-earth the players obviously are.

They were piped in to the sort of music boxers are accustomed to but they looked completely at home, slapped every hand offered to them and were genuinely very humble and appreciative. Whitlock won it and I am now determined to get to one of the big ones.

Thursday 19 July 2012


After five years of blogging, I received my first "takedown" notice from Google yesterday advising me that they had received a complaint and that under the Digital Millennium Copyright ACt, they were obliged to remove the offending post unless I could prove right of access to an image I had used.

I make an effort not to allow this minor hobby to get myself into any real trouble. Yes, I can vent some spleen if I want to but those are personal opinions as I am always conscious that I might need to justify an opinion or perhaps face an individual and that helps moderate behaviour every now and then. I get the occasional one-eyed comment from readers but by-and-large, it's only ever as good as I give, which is fine.

So, to the offending image and use of copyright. I checked the post in question and it was from January. I had used two images. One of the F A Cup and another an advertisement for Fullers beer. Typically I find these on the internet and whilst I am aware that the law of copyright protects other people's pictures, on the basis that I am not seeking to do any wilful damage or looking to profit from what I am doing, it's usually very small risk. In many cases it's simply a little more publicity and we know that's no harm.

So, who complained, the FA or Fullers?

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Greenwich Comedy Festival 2012

Along with a group of friends, we made an appearance at the Greenwich Comedy Festival last night down at the Naval College. In a tent that seats close to 2000, we were entertained by the headlining Sean Lock. When I booked the tickets, I looked at the line-ups from all eight nights and it was Sean Lock that swung it for me, just as Micky Flanagan had done last year.I have to say I was a tad disappointed.

Ed Gamble was the warm-up man and he was pretty lightweight if I am honest. I might not have been any worse. Danny Bhoy surprised me by being a Scot and he was ok, although he wasn't laugh-out-loud funny and relied upon reciting cleverly written letters to various people in the style of Henry Root. Still, we had the big two to come.

Tony Law is a quirky Canadian who just about earned his salt, although he was nowhere close to Tom Stade, his countryman, who did the same slot last year and had me in tears. To the main event then, and Sean Lock was funny but wasn't quite as polished and well conceived an act as I had hoped for. To be fair, it must be hard for him to do the best part of an hour without straying back into well-known TV material and to his credit he didn't do this once to my knowledge. His routine was, however, all over the place and the gags weren't as quick or an incisive as Mr Flanagan.

Still, it was good to see friends and you have to make an effort to do these things when they come along or you risk turning into a right boring git! Ok, ok...

Sunday 15 July 2012

Welling United 0 v Charlton Athletic 4

We had visitors yesterday, so I gave the Welling match a miss. I have gone very cold on friendlies in recent years. They have officially become practice matches where there is no pretence of any real competition. Guest appearances, dozens of subs, different teams out for both halves etc. Having said that, Welling is the one I would normally make an effort for, especially if it was a curtain raiser in a month's time where fitness levels are higher and we would be more likely to see the first team.

As it was, the first-half side wore Welling down before the team who appeared after the break scored all the goals. I was pleased to see Michael Smith get a game and a goal. I'd like to think we get something from him, not just pay his wages for a couple of years before moving him on.

Elsewhere, it was a night of boxing. Amir Khan's glass chin was cracked again and his career in terms of any ambitious of being a reigning champion looks over at 26. In East London, the "grudge match" between Haye and Chisora was over after relatively quickly. Predictably, Chisora was finished off in the fifth round and we had the cuddling and words of respect between the two actors as the Boxing Smackdown played out.  Amazing to think the public would come in force to watch this - 30,000 there to see Del-boy knocked out.  Haye's quote after the fight that he "had sent a scary message" to the Klitchko's and the world of boxing. Nice try David but your career is following Audley Harrison's down the pan. I once thought you might be the real deal but you are too small to make it as a heavyweight and you have decided to cash in and avoid taking any unnecessary punishment. Panto at Christmas?

Friday 13 July 2012

John Terry guilty

John Terry was today found guilty of not being able to think to himself without speaking aloud. In a landmark judgement which will again raise questions about just how much football boys should be allowed to play during schooling years, Chief Magistrate Itsa Riddle said "the Prosecution evidence as to what was said by Mr Ferdinand at this point is not strong. It is therefore possible that what he (Mr Terry) said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him." In other words, you can say what you like if you believe it has just been said to you. 

John Terry will, no doubt, enjoy a few pints in the Dog and Duck this evening with his security team as they toast his PR renaissance and he plots his legal action to be restored to his rightful position as Leader By Example of the national side who will do anything to foster harmony and unity amongst his team-mates.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Merde, il pleut!

The Summer continues to whizz by in a sodden haze. I am furiously busy at work (I'm not complaining, honestly) but have that tiny piece of satisfaction that I am not missing long hot days in the garden, or at least opportunities for an hour or two in the garden whilst getting particular pieces of work done (I am having to be in the office more frequently than usual). The long-term forecast looks better and I expect two weeks of unbroken sunshine from 10th August because I will be in Greek Cyprus living the life of an alcoholic lizard. In the meantime, it looks very much like a case of "merde, il Pleut!"

The Charlton Board remain schtumm over the hotly rumoured turmoil, although their actions so far would not suggest any immediate need to panic. Lawrie Wilson was a target for Peterborough and it looks very much like we had to find the sort of money for him that we simply couldn't have mustered in days gone by when the Grim Reaper has been at the door. As has been said already, the sale of a major playing asset could quickly turn the tables but, so far so good.

It was good  too, to see that the replacement of the crumbling club badge on the back of the Covered End has begun in earnest after the recent announcement that it was to finally be tackled. Rumour also has it that the players have had a whip 'round to have the potholes in the car park filled in following the damage to a number of Baby Bentleys and Range Rover suspensions during the season.

As you would expect, I am following the John Terry Case closely and was dismayed to hear some of the evidence recently. A conviction, in my humble opinion, is looking less likely. I was surprised that Terry's defence did not rely upon him saying he said something close to what is alleged but which removed the rascist element of it. Instead he has gambled on the fact that he will say he repeated the rascist insult in an ironic manner. The fact that it appears he was 26 yards away from Ferdinand at the time tends to defuse the intent and "harm" done that Anton is claiming. 

Finally, I got my hands on an Olympic torch this week. The idea for the travelling torch looks inspired given the thousands who have come out to see it and I was genuinely surprised how much excitement there is at even the presence of one of the 8000 torches. I may also have managed a couple of tickets for the athletics too, so my Olympic Huff may be subsiding after my complete disillusionment with the ticketing fiasco on a number of fronts.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Sunderland striker

Unexpected news yesterday that we have moved for 22 year-old Sunderland striker, Jordan Cook. Cook would appear to fit the "Michael Smith" bill i.e. one for the future, although I am left wondering why we have 21 and 22 year old players who look unlikely to break into the first team any time soon. Cook has only 30 league appearances to his name, three of which were for the Mackems and the rest for league One loans, notably Walsall and Carlisle.

Cook joins Lawrie Wilson to make it two in and none out so far. Wilson is reputed to have cost us £500,000 which suggests the rumours of immediate financial crisis may be off the mark.

News too, thanks to Al Gordon, who reveals that action is finally to be taken on the embarrassing crumbling club badge on the back of the Covered End. It looks like we should have a shiny new aluminium replacement in bold red and black for the kick-off of the new season. The current version looked fantastic when it was new but it's construction has always been suspect and when combined with the crumbling "honour board" beneath it, it has reflected our fortunes in recent tears. Hopefully they will sort the board out too as the permanent-temporary scaffolding around it looks an eyesore.

Just time to say I enjoyed seeing John Terry walking into court yesterday surrounding by four very cheap looking security men. Very appropriate. I assume they are mates of his. The five foot eight one with the shaven head and the dark glasses was the most amusing. Also good to know that the famous expletive he is accused of using was, as I had lip-read, and that his defence appears to be that he said it in mock or ironic reference. Doesn't sound the most plausible line of defence to me but we shall see how far his money goes in terms of his brief. Certainly a lot more than the maximum £2500 fine.

Monday 9 July 2012

A British tennis champion at last!

Great to see Jonny Marray and Freddie Nielsen win the Men's Doubles at Wimbledon on Saturday. Amazing considering they were wildcard entries and had barely played together before. Andy Murray gave it a good go yesterday too and can hold his head high after moving a step closer to a Grand Slam. He's not the best player in the world and he queues up behind three men who are currently better but he will come again and I am sure his time will time.

Word on the grapevine is that right-sider Lawrie Wilson could be the Addicks first Summer signing. I was very impressed with Wilson last season although my immediate concern would be that he is being signed so we can cash in on Chris Solly. Wilson is too good to play second fiddle.

Wilson is an ex-Charlton youth player and at 25 has time yet to develop into a top-class player. I was informed by a Stevenage-supporting mate at the match last season that Wilson's claim to fame is that Ellen Rives (never the subject of a "would ya") left the limelight of Frank Lampard to share his company. Needless to say, he's married to someone else now...

I shouldn't finish without mention of the Supporters Trust meeting at the Beehive in New Eltham tomorrow evening at 7.30pm. This is a second go at breathing life into a ST, something that is most often born out of necessity. The latest gossip re "financial worries" will no doubt have greased the wheels here. In the nicest possible way, I hope it dies a death in the next few weeks, but I suspect we will form one at some point in time in order to try to protect our own interests and with hindsight, you would always have wished you had done it earlier so it was mature, organised and, hopefully, flourishing. It's a "yes" from me.

Saturday 7 July 2012

One of ours makes history

Andy Murray strolled for two sets yesterday before Tsonga rallied. He still had plenty in the tank and did the job in the fourth. His movement and larger armoury of shots was too much for the Frenchman and tomorrow he gets a crack at Federer in the final.

Federer will start as hot favourite but he is the one player in the top three who Murray knows he can beat. His career record against "Fedex" is eight wins to seven. Andy's biggest challenge will be the occasion. If he can settle quickly like he did against Tsonga, we could be in for a five setter. 

Murray has crumpled in finals previously but he has never made it through to a Wimbledon final and he knows this could be the defining moment in his career. He is a winner and despite his dour persona at times, he gets a hard deal from the majority down south which is unfair. If you saw that interview when he said he would be cheering on whoever England played you would know he meant it in jest and it was a riposte to being teased by Tim Henman and a journalist because Scotland hadn't managed to qualify again.


Come on Andy Murray!

Friday 6 July 2012

Peculiarly British days

Today is one of those peculiar days in the British calendar where we witness the annual disappointment of a unique phenomenon. Think "Flying Ant Day" or Summer Solstice. You know, the day when Flying Ants manage inaugural flight in their billions, only to be stamped on by our children in the playground in equal numbers. Like Druids celebrating the Summer Sun in it's highest annual position in the sky, like their ancestors for thousands of years - under 300 ft of cloud.

Well folks, today is one of those days. We don't know precisely when this one falls each year but embrace it nonetheless, it's "Wimbledon Mania Day." It's that special day when the home of Tennis puts it's Champion up for his, or very occasionally her, biggest game of the year and they lose honourably. Admittedly, this day has come slightly later in the year in the last decade or so. Tim Henman and now Andy Murray have managed to keep hope alive rather longer than Andrew Castle or Buster Mottram ever managed previously in the days when the Champion had to pass their racquet down the line to the next hopeful when they finally admitted defeat.

Not even our unique Summer weather will be able to postpone Andy Murray's special day today, now that we have a roof on Centre Court. No, he will play his match uninterrupted by the elements against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the annoyingly hard-to-dislike Frenchman. 

Whisper it, but this is the semi-final and if Murray wins he will be our first Champion in 74 years to play his final singles game on the second weekend of the tournament. He also happens to have beaten Jo-Wilfried on the last four occasions he has played him and Murray's game looks just about perfect. An-dy, An-dy, An-dy!

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Middle Eastern backers moving into the Championship

Whilst we are undergoing Boardroom discomfort, Director Alex Newall resigned yesterday to join Peter Varney, our Championship rivals at Nottingham Forest and Leeds United may be about to see Middle Eastern money backing their clubs. 

Kuwaiti's, in the shape of the Al-Hawawi family are expected to take complete control at Forest and Leeds United say due diligence is being carried out by potential investors, again rumoured to be Middle Eastern.

The interest for us here is that one of the latest lines of speculation suggests that Tony Jiminez, formerly associated with brokering the ill-fated Zabeel Investments deal from the ruling family in Dubai, is trying to revive the deal. The only fact so far is that there are Boardroom moves afoot that are unexplained. The Official Site reported Newall's resignation yesterday simply as part of a "planned restructure."

If Jiminez is now keen to exit quicker than originally planned, following promotion, it is either through necessity or opportunity. The necessity option would suggest he is struggling financially and may scotch the Kevin Cash rumours once and for all. In those circumstances, you would have to hope that opportunity is driving the changes, although I am unclear why Peter Varney and Alex Newall would resign in those circumstances.

Logic also tells you that there has been no positive change in the global financial situation which prompted Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed to pull out of the £50m takeover last time around. In fact, we teeter on the brink of a Eurozone crisis which looks very likely to run and run extending financial uncertainty well beyond the coming season.Having said that, the stories at Forest and Leeds are encouraging. Perhaps they are seeing the bottom of the market in sight and are moving to capitalise. If that's the case, we must be attractive in terms of value for money.

Once again we find ourselves in the dark as supporters and with no practical explanation forthcoming from the Board, rumour fills the void and deep-down we are all scared of the dark.

Monday 2 July 2012

Viva Espana

A fantastic match last night as the best side in the world went through the gears and made their Italian opponents look very ordinary. Before the game I thought we might be in for a nil-nil and penalties but David Silva's opener after 14 minutes signalled the Spanish intent to avoid the lottery and they, quite literally, ran away with it after that.

I really don't like Mario Ballotelli and am left wondering whether or not he is for real. At times last night he looked like a vulnerable pouting drag queen peering out from inside someone else's body. He was as unhappy as any of his colleagues at being on the losing side but the strop he threw at the end in brushing past his management team looked very theatrical to me and he was left bubbling on the pitch long after the rest of the team had managed to shake hands with their worthy opponents, just like all those Premier League Saddo's who sit in their seats crying fully twenty minutes after their team has been walloped in the hope they will be spotted by tear-cam  and given 15 seconds of ridicule by the rest of the nation.

I thought the BCC commentators were a trifle over-the-top too. Hanson said Spain were the best team the world has ever seen and Alan Shearer wasn't far behind with his praise. They are a fine side but the Brazil 1970 team were exceptional and played with a swagger we have never seen since, even from Iniesta and Company. They may well be a match for the German World Champions of 1974 although Maier, Beckenbauer, Hoeness, Breitner, Muller, Vogts and Bonhoff trip off the tongue nearly forty years later. Probably too soon to judge on either account. These things take time.

What was different was the fact that the Spaniards rely upon a host of outfield players who are all very similar in that they have beautiful balance, are comfortable with both feet and can play their way through defences with the aid of one team mate. They don't waste training routines on five lunks charging in on a corner or a free-kick looking to get a touch or committing players to the opposition box hoping for a knock-down or a rebound. 

All-in-all, it's been a pretty successful European Championships and just a pity we didn't have more to cheer from a home side in the latter stages. I'd like to think lessons can be learnt for next time but these need fundamental changes in our FA's and the Turkeys' don't vote for Christmas. We keep hearing about the coaching revolution in youth football but something goes wrong when our players enter the international set-ups.