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Eurover and Out 29/06/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

A propos of nothing, but in the absence of ANY Watford news worth talking about… here’s my team of a blinding Euro 2008 tournament. And one is tempted to say, all the more enjoyable for England’s non-participation.

GK – Iker Casillas (Spain)
Yeah, sure, not very imaginative. But he let in three goals – all, ultimately, consolations – in six games, didn’t put a foot wrong and captained the winning side. Volkan Demirel of Turkey, Edwin van der Sar and Jens Lehmann also had good tournaments, Volkan’s dismissal against the Czech Republic either foolish agression or high comedy depending on your point of view. Not in contention: Ricardo of Portugal; a catastrophe waiting to happen, it came in the quarter finals against the Germans.

RB – Sergio Ramos (Spain)
You are forgiven if you stop reading now. But from providing Spain’s ONLY height at the back to providing their ONLY height attacking set pieces to achieving what was a rare feat in this tournament of looking competent both attacking and defending as a full back, Ramos has to get in. Not in contention: Stephan Lichtsteiner of Switzerland, who came in as cover for the injured Degen and looked like a pub player.

LB – Yuri Zhirkov (Russia)
It’s impossible to follow the above comment without acknowledging that Zhirkov looked a lot more comfortable attacking than defending, as befits a midfielder playing at left back. Nonetheless, only in two disappointing games against Spain did the Russians look at all vulnerable at the back, and Zhirkov was a key part of counterattacks that flowed like water. Not in contention: Eric Abidal of France. Yes, OK, his worst performance was at Centre Back, but let’s not be picky – most of the French side could stake a claim to a “worst eleven” place.

CB: Servet Cetin (Turkey)
Just for being enormous. How the hell do you play against that? Managed to not hold being part of Jim Beglin’s infuriating “big fella” double act against Czech Republic against him (“The Big Fella’s up for the corner” etc). Not in contention: Per Mertesacker of Germany, for proving that being enormous isn’t enough on it’s own. Couldn’t trap a bag of cement.

CB: Khalid Boulahrouz (Netherlands)
Looking absolutely nothing like the nervous mess who briefly played for Chelsea, Boulahrouz looked a calm, solid, ball-playing centre-back in a defence that was the foundation of the Dutch counter-attacking style… until they were murdered by the Russians in the quarter-finals. Not in contention: Traianos Dellas, or any of the other Greeks who’d done so well four years ago. The disappointment of the tournament (and no, France weren’t disappointing. Ha ha.)

RM: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)
The Pig Shagger made a nonsense of his earlier exclusion with a series of incisive and effective displays, culminating in a magnificent semi-final goal against the Turks. Not in contention: Sidney Govou, for the latest in a series of flimsy cameos for the French. Ha ha.

CM: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)
Great feet, great engine; there’s nothing more exhilarating than a lethal counter-attack. It’d have been called long ball if Watford played it, of course. Not in contention: Claude Makelele. Ha ha ha ha ha.

CM: Hamit Altintop (Turkey)
A couple of effective displays at right back were eclipsed by superlative orchestration of the midfield in replacement of the injured Emre Belozoglu. The one calming influence in a Turkish side that verged on the manic depressive. Not in contention: Simon Rolfes (Germany). Will want to forget his involvement against the Turks.

LM: David Silva (Spain)
Apart from looking like a rodent he made a terrific impression; strong on either foot and either flank. Not in contention: Andreas Ivanschitz (Austria); touted as Austria’s one attacking threat, he was one of few on the Austrian side who didn’t appear to be pulling out all the stops.

CF: Andrei Arshavin (Russia)
Yeah, OK. So he missed two games suspended for getting sent off against Andorra of all people. And he completely vanished against the Spanish in the semi final. But good god that Dutch game will live long in the memory. Not since Maradona has one player looked on such a plateau above his contemporaries at this level of competition. One assumes that his failure to cope with the man-marking of Marcos Senna explains why, at 27, he is only now making the move west, but my word you’d have to man-mark him on that evidence. Not in contention: Mario Gomez (Germany). Dear oh dear.

CF: Fernando Torres (Spain)
Ultimately Spain had what arguably nobody else in the tournament had; a striker capable of playing the lone role and yet still being the central rapier threat (unlike the nonetheless effective lynchpin van Nistelrooy for the Dutch). Not in contention: Luca Toni (Italy). To quote half of Europe: Cow’s. Arse. Banjo.

Coach: Joachim Löw (Germany)
Goes without saying really. Getting that defence to a Championship final, with that serious a lack of attacking options (note: None of the forwards in the German squad are German by birth) and coming across as a thoroughly decent bloke to boot. Not in contention: Raymond Domenech (France). Ha ha ha ha. Etc.

Also not in contention: TV coverage. Good god. BBC pundits’ assertion that Spain’s victory was “proof of the superiority of possession football” (as if a one-goal victory, despite Spain’s superiority in every department, proved that point) was eclipsed only by Clive Tyldesley and David Pleat’s defiant ignorance of the basics of the offside rule in the Netherlands’ annihilation of Italy.

Right. When are we going to sign someone then…


1. Tybalt - 30/06/2008

“one is tempted to say, all the more enjoyable for England’s non-participation”

Why would one only be tempted? Russia were fantastic and Croatia gave a great deal of enjoyment. I can’t imagine the current England team reaching the level that either team did when they were on song…

2. Dan - 30/06/2008

Agree with most of that… but no Senna? Now if there’s one player from this tournament who I’d love to see at Watford (as if!), it would be Senna. And he already plays in yellow for his club. He’d jump at the chance, surely?

3. Si - 30/06/2008

Sign someone? When QPR stop hiking up the prices and then dropping out.

4. Matt Rowson - 30/06/2008

Senna is a good call; to be fair, any of the Spanish midfield could have made it in there but calling Spain “the team of the tournament” doesn’t make for much of a discussion point.

5. DM - 30/06/2008

Good side Matt. Some other names in consideration.

Buffon (Italy) almost single-handedly kept his side alive till that penalty shoot-out…

Nihat (Turkey) if only for providing the most exciting moment of what was an exhilirating competition…

Iniesta, Capdevilla, Marchena and Xavi (Spain) were consistently excellent throughout, point 4 notwithstanding…

Modric (Croatia) shone througout the group games. Spurs may just have themselves a bargain…

6. DM - 30/06/2008

PS. Ban ITV.

7. Paul Goss - 30/06/2008

Torres instead of Villa. I thought that Villa had a good tournament on the whole.

8. Clutching at Straws - 30/06/2008

Matt, how can you miss in your “not in contention” list the truly woeful Florent Malouda who, to be fair, did bring his abject premiership and champions’ league form to the championship. Surely the Jamie Moralee of our time!

Also an article the BBC’s generally poor coverage cannot ignore the most bizarre double act of Ray “shouting every question as though he was talking to a half-wit” Stubbs and Marcel “I can be patronising to a whole continent” Desailly. Priceless entertainment for all the family.

Now who ARE we going to sign?

9. Tapps - 30/06/2008

Matt – in David Pleat’s defence I believe he doesn’t actually watch the games he commentates on – I can’t think of any other explanation for the barrage of crap he inflicts upon us.

10. Kris - 30/06/2008

I agree with Dan. Senna is my man of the tournament. He does the unglamourous stuff that frees up the others. And he chooses the simple passes. He’s a rich man’s Gavin Mahon.

11. Richard - 30/06/2008

I greatly enjoyed the competition and this is not only for thoroughly revelling in the French mediocrity but for England’s absence. This allowed me to actually watch the football rather than sweat through England games. I am becoming concerned with absoultely no Watford transfer news coming through though.

12. Matt Rowson - 30/06/2008

Messenger – Buffon did OK, but is an idiot and this rules him out in the face of stiff competition for the keeper’s jersey. Nihat is a very good shout though, a real star turn. Xavi was obviously brilliant, but see comment 4. And Marchena was just a cheap thug who wouldn’t have looked out of place in any of the other sides without better players around him. Except France maybe (ha ha etc). Modric, yes, worryingly.

Villa… well I missed the Russia game, but Torres stood head and shoulders for me and you just can’t not put Arshavin in there if you saw the Holland-Russia game.

Malouda. Yes, that was a criminal omission. I was going to play him instead of Ivanschitz, but a “France were really crap” thread would have been almost as valueless as a “Spain were really good” thread. Except perhaps funnier.

13. Matt Rowson - 30/06/2008

Messenger… oh, you did see comment 4. Sorry. You still owe me a tenner though. And, yes, ban itv. Obviously.

14. duds - 01/07/2008

I would particularly like to hear dm’s view on the croatia v turkey game – unmissable

15. DM - 01/07/2008

Duds – It was exciting. Even my burd enjoyed that one.

Rowson – Yes, Tenner on the way.

16. Dan - 01/07/2008

A couple more things, if I may:

Boulahrouz – are you sure? My judgement of him is clouded by memories of falling off my chair laughing at him every time he appeared on MOTD. And I spent the Holland games either falling asleep at their ponderous passing (obviously I missed something there then, as everyone said they were brilliant), or doing Duff Man impressions every time Mike Ingham pronounced “Ooijer” (Ooh yeah!)

TV coverage avoidance – all you need is a Sky+ box, and a DAB radio with pauseability. Pause your ITV coverage by about two-three seconds, and pause your radio tuned to Radio 5 for about three-four seconds. You then have Big Tournament football with no David Pleat. Result!

One more thing – was it just me who thought Iniesta (the whitest man outside a Goth festival) had a shocker of a tournament?

17. JR - 01/07/2008

To stick up for poor Bastian’s much abused surname.

There’s a village called Schweinsteig in Upper Bavaria whose name either comes from “Schweinsteig” which is old Bavarian for pigsty, or “Steig” meaning slope.

So Schweinsteiger only means “coming from Schweinsteig”, sorry…

18. Anders - 01/07/2008

Good Analysis.

Buffon might be an idiot but he was still the best keeper in the tournament. Casillas did not put a foot wrong during the knock out stage but was not at his best early on. His dealings with crosses in the two first games were below par.

Xavi should be in there despite comment 4, as should Marchena in place of Boulahrouz.

Also agree with you about the German back line, though I thought Christoph Metzelder was even more flimsy than Mertesacker.

19. Wrighty - 01/07/2008

Never mind who are we buying, don’t we need to raise a few million for ‘Plan B’. Should be a case of who can we keep and what replacements can we bring in on the cheap/ for free.

Great tournament, but the problem of crap commentary wouldn’t have been improved by having to listen to Radio 5 as they have Alan ‘let’s try and be controversial’ Green

20. Matt Rowson - 01/07/2008

Dan – agree about Ooijer. And also that Holland were liable to get found out as soon as they weren’t able to play on the break. But you don’t play effectively on the break without being able to absorb pressure, and Boulahrouz was terrific. And Iniesta, no not just you, someone on the telly made the same point. Don’t agree – he didn’t stand out for the Spanish, but didn’t lookout of place either.

JR – you’re not convincing anyone.

Anders… my team, therefore my rules. Buffon IS an idiot and that rules him out because I say so. But to argue the point – no, sorry… Buffon did well, but Casillas captained the winning side, saved two penalties against Italy… it’s a no brainer. Agree about Xavi, not about Marchena, see comment 12. And yes, Metzelder was cack.

21. Esp - 01/07/2008

Dan wrote: “all you need is a Sky+ box, and a DAB radio with pauseability. Pause your ITV coverage by about two-three seconds, and pause your radio tuned to Radio 5 for about three-four seconds. You then have Big Tournament football with no David Pleat. Result!”

Err, yes Dan but for idiots like me that sounds more complicated than Arshavin which I have tried with little success

The latter is impossible btw – I did it with a Bic disposable and a mirror and ended up pulling a hamstring and sticking a plaster on the mirror

Right – when are we going to sign someone then…

22. jimbohornet - 03/07/2008

Hands up all those who thought something was going on !
It was too quiet for my liking bearing in mind the usual guff emanating from the PR machine. Perhaps there is a fan from the far east or Russia with a few billion who wants to lose some of it ? Not the best time to be selling anything in the current climate but I am geninely sorry to see Simpson go who is after all a fan and had the club’s interests at heart. I predict more exits esp Ashford unless he has a buyer up his sleeve who would install him as CEO.
How secure is Aidy’s position now ? Can he sign anyone ? Time will tell.

23. Esp - 09/07/2008

Agreed about not being the right time to sell Jimbo, as for Aidy leaving that is an interesting one.
After the tragic end to last season (OK not as tragic as world poverty or the Iraq war but, you get my point..) my money would have been on Aidy to walk (or be pushed) by the end of last season.
The fact that GS timed his announcement 2 years before the culmination of the “AGM” triumverate’s much heralded “Vison 2010” dumbfounded everyone, especially this writer.
Maybe his health is failing him or maybe he has, in his own words, simply had enough and he wants a little less stress.
The last 5 years have not been wothout their share of controversy but overall we are in “reasonable” shape (I chose that word carefully) and GS has sampled successful semi-finals in cup competitions and a promotion to the Promised Land where, no doubt, Michael Ashcroft wanted to be this year – (he obviously wasn’t with us for the long term especially with a recession looming)
The last word must belong to Kevin Birdseye, well known in these quarters, who apparently said on wml today that maybe the change in our style of play against Hull in the Play Offs was a ploy by Aidy to ensure he was going to continue to be employed by the new regime. The Salad Brothers (allegedly) not being that impressed by the boy from Bradford last season OR in the Prem

24. Jim N - 16/07/2008

So we learn from SKY SPORTS NEWS that Dan Shittu’s contract negotiations with Rangers have broken down!
Are we to assume that every player not seen laughing, smiling or “working so so very hard” in Austria is in contract negotiations elsewhere?
Will they not tell us anything?

25. Harefield Hornet - 22/07/2008

Although this has already been mentioned a couple of times I just have to emphasise the point again and again and again….. In fact here are 10 good points ( In no particular order) why ENGLANDS ABSENCE FROM EURO 2008 WAS ABSOLUTELY BLOODY FANTASTIC..

1. The chance to watch quality football “TEAMS” without the stress of wondering how our underachieving bafoons will fare.
2. No stupid remarks and facial expressions from Lineker, Hanson & co about Englands (NON) performances.
3. No moronic drunks (and jump on the band wagonners) frequenting your local pub who only get interested in football during championships.
4. No silly reports about which restaurant/wine bar the England Wags are frequenting tonight or which local shops they are patronising.
5. No ridiculous inquest after we lose ON PENALTIES AGAIN and stupid pictures of the team arriving back at Heathrow trying to pretend they are upset.
6. No crazy calls for the managers head only a couple of years into his £50 Million contract because we’ve gone out of the quarter finals AGAIN.
7. No articles in newspapers about how the town centre of Guildford/Croydon/Basildon has been completely wrecked in the aftermath of defeat.
8. No ridiculous interviews with people who have spent the night camping in the nearest field.
9. No overpaid players announcing their retirement from international football at age 23 because the manager has upset them.
10. No silly St Georges flags with Scunthorpe Utd, Billabong Rovers etc draped around stadiums.

26. Dave Hart - 25/07/2008

Is anyone here???????

27. Matt Rowson - 26/07/2008

Yes, Dave, but having a summer. Be back on the case(ish) soon…

28. Kris - 31/07/2008

Matt – maybe a review of our options up front. I doubt we’ll be bringin anyone new in so we’ll have to make do with Priskin, Hoskins, Theo and Moses. Each with different attributes. Who is better suited as the lone striker in a 4-3-3? Moses has strength and speed but no technique, Priskin has technique but no power, Theo has pace to burn and Hoskins a bit of everything I think. So who will bare the cross it is to scorethe goals to keep us up?

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer 😉

29. Matty McG - 17/08/2008

Jens Lehmann?! Good tournament?! Did you see the Turkey game?

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