Back pages | Anorak - Part 73

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A Rallying Cry

“ONLY salutes in Nuremberg will be for new spirit of England fans.”

That’s the headline in the Mirror. And so it is we enter the city where, as Olive Holt (SPORTS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR AGAIN) says “200,000 brainwashed idolators” massed to cheer Hitler.

It’s place full of ghosts. And now it’s full of England fans. “So it is a measure of how low the reputation of England fans has sunk that their convergence on Nuremberg tomorrow should be anticipated with so much trepidation.”

Like you we are unsure what Holt means. Are we to believe that singing song about Ten German Bombers, wearing plastic Nazi helmets and even yelling a few sad chants about not surrendering to the IRA can instil a fear in the locals in excess of the horrors of Hitler and his Herrenvolk?

Sure, some disgusting England fans have been complicit in act of violence and even death, but the Germans and their partners killed 6 million Jews and 20 million Russians.

Holt, seemingly intoxicated by Nuremberg, goes on. “The fear is that something about this beautiful city’s place at the centre of Nazi folklore will stir the bestial instincts that many sceptics believe only lie temporarily dormant within many travelling fans.”

That’s right. It is the location that gets some England fans pissed and encourages them to start smashing the place up. If they can do it in Holland and France, imagine what will happen in darkest Germany. Go on. Imagine. Holt is.

But wait a moment. Our man with a pen has not yet finished writing his postcard home.

We hear the strains of Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” from La Gioconda. He’s in the forest about to be eaten by a bear. Take me home. His bunk mate has malaria. Take me home.

But wait a minute. The guys are organising a cricket match between England and a combined Trinidad & Tobago and German side. Call off the searching party. Teams of English football fans are kicking a ball for a mental health charity.

“From the ruins of the reputation that once damned England football fans, a new spirit is rising.”

Which is better. So kindly disregard Oliver’s letter…

Posted: 14th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Football’s United Nations

Quotes Of The Day

“To get the goals is the icing on the cake. We look to moments like these from when we were kids dreaming of this situation” – Australia’s Tim Cahill lives the dream

“Roy’s obsession with winning and the demands he put on others made him the most influential player in the dressing room” – Alex Ferguson looks back on the career of newly retired Roy Keane

“It was not a fight, but a short, but hot, dispute between some players. Two of those players were Mellberg and Ljungberg. It was a typical dressing-room situation, nothing serious” – Sweden spokesman plays down reports of a fight between team-mates

“I wish we had more of that sort of competition in the family of nations. Countries vying for the best standing in the table of respect for human rights, and trying to outdo one another in child survival rates or enrolment in secondary education” – Kofi Annan, Secretary general of the United Nations envies the World Cup

“Look at her arms, look at her breasts, look at her bum, very British. She belongs on a beach in Majorca drinking sangria out of buckets and you can count on her to be the first one up on the table topless” – German newspaper Bild looks at David Beckham’s sister Joanne

“[Robben] needs to take his team-mates into account. Sometimes he makes choices that are good for himself but not the team” – Robin Van Persie brings harmony to the Dutch camp

Puns Of The Day

“Don’t do a Gazza Wazza” (Sun) Rooney must not self destruct

“Robo Stop” (Sun) – Peter Crouch says he won’t dance again until England win World Cup

“He’s up ‘n at Tim” (Sun) – Australia Tim Cahill wants more glory

“Pirlo Kings just 2 good” (Star) – Italy’s Andrea Pirlo scores one as Italy beat Ghana 2-0

Posted: 13th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Roy Of The Mackems

Manchester United have upped their offer to £15million for Spurs midfielder Michael Carrick (Telegraph)

Ruud van Nistelrooy has kissed and made up with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (Star)

Roy Keane might be the next Sunderland manager (Various)

Matt Jansen could be on his way to American side New York Red Bulls (Times)

Peter Taylor is Crystal Palace’s new manager (Various)

Graham Rix hopes to be the new manager at Wycombe Wanderers (Mirror)

Posted: 13th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Kiss Me Katty


Ecuador’s players enjoying their victory over Poland were delighted to get an unexpected surprise – a kiss from Miss Ecuador, the distinctly kissable Katty Lopez. She kissed each team member in turn.

So far players in England’s Premier League have scored more goals than players from other leagues. To date, seven of the 25 goals scored have come from players plying their trade in the Premiership.


Two England fans have been arrested outside Frankfurt’s World Cup stadium with SS insignia inked onto their bodies. The men, aged 21 and 24, are from Bolton. They are accused of displaying unconstitutional symbols. A total of 23 Britons were arrested over the weekend in Germany.

The BBC’s programme of broadcasting matches on big screens in London and Liverpool has been scrapped because of violence. When England played Paraguay, 16 fans were hurt in London and fans in Liverpool threw bottles and cans into the crowd.

Croatia’s Stjepan Tomas, who has won 48 caps and plays as a defender for Galatasaray, has been photographed preparing for his team’s match against Brazil by drinking beer in Bad Brückenau, near Frankfurt.

Posted: 13th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Crunch Time For Crouch & Co

“GROUP B CRUNCH – 2 DAYS TO GO,” announces the Sun, in an attempt to generate some much-needed breakfast table excitement. But the truth is that with two matches still to play, England’s match against Trinidad and Tobago has about as much crunch as a bowl of soggy Rice Krispies. Or Coco Pops, if you prefer.

As a consequence, the England ‘news’ is rather insipid. “Crouch: I will not dance again until we win the World Cup” appears to suggest that England’s beanpole has officially decided to stop scoring until he is bestriding a stage that is commensurate with his status. Closer examination reveals that he simply intends to drop his robot dance in favour of a more dignified goal celebration ritual.

What Peter Crouch does depends a lot upon Wayne Rooney, and the Mirror echoes the feelings of the Anorak sports desk as we watch the pugnacious talisman fling himself around the training ground, clattering into all and sundry. “Calm down Roo!” the paper cries, amid fears that the lad’s Gazza-style exuberance could end in Gazza style-tears.

Elsewhere, there is further discussion of England’s tactics, with several papers reporting that Newcastle United officials are unhappy about Eriksson’s long-ball game, which they feel is doing Michael Owen no favours.

The Guardian seems happy enough, though, and they have even printed a colourful diagram showing exactly how far Paul Robinson managed to launch the new FIFA beach ball during the victory over Paraguay. Robinson’s prowess means that the team now has three players capable of spraying fifty-yard passes all over the pitch. What’s required now is someone who can pass it accurately and lethally over ten yards – preferably into the path of an England striker.

In an attempt to spice up Thursday’s game, the Mirror has helped generate a “war of words” by making space for T&T coach Leo Beenhakker’s remarks about the England team. Mr Beenhakker compares them to Real Madrid’s “Galacticos” – that is to say, a bunch of pampered underachievers who are there to make money and generate publicity rather than win trophies.

Of course, his actual words are a bit more diplomatic, and he acknowledges that England have “great players” and a “great coach” – something which many England fans would regard as a rather premature judgement, given that none of them has yet to reach the semi-final of an international tournament.

If this counts as a war of words, and Thursday’s game is a crunch, then perhaps England have less to fear in than we had thought.

With no England action, the Times attempts to cash in on the exploits of other countries in order to extol the virtues of Sky’s major asset. “PREMIER PUNCH” declares its football supplement, reporting how Australia’s Tim Cahill “leads English clubs’ goal rush”. And to Cahill’s name must be added that of Arsenal’s new signing Tomas Rosicky, whose two superb goals for the Czech Republic would have been part of a fantastic hat-trick, had another terrific shot not crashed against the bar.

All in all, it’s shaping into a pretty good tournament, and with Rooney on the way back, even England have cause for optimism. Should it all go horribly wrong, though, another hero waits in the wings.

Alan Ball recently compared the scenes at England’s opening game to Henman Hill. And there on page 57 of the Mirror is the great man himself, insisting that he likes to play during the World Cup because it’s “a fun distraction for both the public and myself”.

So come on England, do your bit and keep us distracted for another month. Or at least as long as Tim’s knocked out…

Posted: 13th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Now You’re Ghana Believe Us


In anticipation of the arrival of England’s footballers’ wives and lovers, the Gucci and Hermes shops close to the team’s hotel have ordered in an extra £200,000 of clothes.

The World Development Movement, part of the Make Poverty History campaign, has ranked teams for national ethics and “global citizenships”. Top of the league are Ghana, followed by Sweden and Tunisia. Bottom of the list are the USA, Saudi Arabia and Australia.


Accountancy firm Grant Thornton calculate that absenteeism and staff being distracted by the games could cost business up to £1.26 billion.

Brazil and Italy should note that no team with an average age of more than 28 has won any of the past 10 World Cups. Both Brazil and Italy have teams older than that, and Trinidad and Tobago are the oldest squad with an average of 29.5. England’s average age is 25.5.

Loser: Serbia and Montenegro’s Ognjen Koroman, who received a yellow card for waving an imaginary card at the referee in his team’s match with Holland.

An administrative error meant FA chairman Geoff Thompson was asked by FIFA to board the Paraguay team bus for the journey back to his hotel in Frankfurt. He declined the offer and waited for a car.

Posted: 12th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Shooting From The Lip

Quotes Of The Day

“Because I can” – USA goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann explains why when at home in Seattle he carries a handgun

“If we had attacked them from the start, we could have scored. We also might have lost by several goals but at least it wouldn’t have been in such a cowardly fashion” – Serbia & Montenegro’s Ognjen Koroman reviews his team’s defeat to the Dutch

“We’re very competitive people. We like to win and we will never pull out of a tackle. But it doesn’t mean that we go out to hurt people” – Australia coach Guus Hiddink confronts accusations that his side are dirty

“I couldn’t believe it” – Bobby Robson wonders why Michael Owen was taken off in England’s opening match

“I’ve been coach for 3½ years, we’ve played around 50 matches and I can’t believe people are judging me by what happened in one 40-minute training session” – Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira responds to his side’s defeat to Brazil’s reserve team

Puns Of The Day

“RAIN ROONEY” (Sun) – “Sven boosted by return of Wayne and wet forecast”

“HOLDEN BALLS” (Sun) – Rio Ferdinand says England must retain possession better

“This benchmark is sub-standard” (Mail) – A look at the England substitutes

“THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVEN” (Star) – It’s hot in Germany

“Omars’s a Bravo two hero” (Star) – Mexico’s Omar Bravo scores two in his side’s 3-1 over Iran

Posted: 12th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Chasing Shadows

Manchester United have made offers totalling £45million for midfielders Michael Carrick, Aldo Duscher and Mahamadou Diarra (Star)

Birmingham will complete the signing of Tottenham defender Stephen Kelly (Sun)

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp is interesting in signing former Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka (Telegraph)

Porto want to swap Benni McCarthy for Everton winger Andy van der Meyde (Independent)

Robert Huth is moving from Chelsea to Middlesbrough (Guardian)

FIFA have ordered that all future day games at the Waldstadion should be played with the roof closed. The shadows made by the rods holding the massive TV in place made watching England’s opening game yet more difficult

Posted: 12th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

An Enigma Wrapped In A Mystery Wrapped In A Swede

“ENGLAND players perplexed by Eriksson’s substitutions,” announces the Guardian’s sport supplement, explaining that “England’s senior players” are beginning to express doubts about the enigmatic Swede’s bizarre tactics and selections.

So who are these senior players? Only one of them is actually named, but he’s a real heavyweight. It’s Sir Bobby Robson – the kind of senior player whose opinions are based on a wealth of international experience. Admittedly, his last game for the national side was in May 1962.

But he certainly knows what he’s talking about, even if his somewhat opaque verbalisations tend to hide his meaning from others.

Unfortunately for Eriksson, Sir Bobby has chosen this particular occasion to be uncharacteristically clear and concise. “I couldn’t believe it,” he says simply, when asked about Sven’s idiosyncratic use of Stewart Downing and Joe Cole during the second half of England’s opening match.

And as if Sven’s antics on Saturday weren’t strange enough, there’s the baffling decision to send back Jermain Defoe.

The Telegraph reports that Defoe “was understood to have been sensational in his final training session before flying home”, and the Spurs striker has been expressing his disappointment and disbelief to anyone who’ll listen, including the News of the World.

Defoe’s departure leaves Eriksson with four forwards: Peter Crouch, Michael Owen, Theo Walcott and You-Know-Who. Peter Crouch is doing well, but needs a suitable partner in order to be effective. Michael Owen is clearly unfit and out of sorts. Theo Walcott has never played in a full international or even a Premiership match, and Eriksson says he “needs more time, more training” before he is ready to play in the World Cup. All things considered, it is looking increasingly likely that Wayne Rooney will make his return sooner rather than later.

The imminent return of the saviour has sent the hacks into frenzy, and some are even suggesting that he could play in Thursday’s game against Trinidad and Tobago.

Rooney himself is said to be desperate to get stuck in, although we are told that he’s not taking any chances. That would be sweet music for Alex Ferguson’s ears, were it not for the fact that Rooney’s idea of not taking chances seems to involve hurling himself into tackles with no regard for his own safety or anybody else’s.

One way in which he does appear to be taking no chances is by ensuring that Theo Walcott has no chance of keeping him out of the side. The Sun reports that young Walcott was “clattered” by “wild Roon” during training – an incident observed by Lee Sharpe, who confirmed that Rooney “didn’t seem to be holding back” and “smashed Theo from behind”.

The Mirror confirms the story, with pictures of Walcott limping around with his leg bandaged while his girlfriend, for reasons best known to herself, is grinning from ear to ear.

Rooney’s return is a genuine cause for rejoicing, but as he puts himself about like a hyperactive kick-boxer, he should remember that those who live by the sword often die by it too.

The nightmare scenario is that Rooney returns to a hero’s welcome, only to be crocked once more.

Sir Bobby Robson is certainly worried about this, and has been confiding his fears to the good people of Radio Five Live. According to the Telegraph, he told the station that “you can’t say that an opposition centre-half is not going to think about the opportunity of standing on Rooney’s bad foot”.

Well, it is possible to not say it, Sir Bobby. But given that you decided to say it on national radio, we’ll just have to hope that no opposition centre-halves were listening.

As they used to say in your day: careless talk costs toes…

Posted: 12th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Rives To Cross

World Cup Winners

A gambler has wagered his life savings – £27,000 – on Brazil winning the World Cup. The man says he has placed the bet to stop his wife getting her hands on the cash in a divorce settlement. At odds of 5/2 he stands to win £94,000.

World Cup Losers

German police are trying to track down the owner of 800 World Cup tickets found in a sealed palstic bag on a street. The tickets are worth £78,000.

The Britsh emabssy in Berlin is refusing to allow the English flag to flutter from its roof. The ambassador says he will only display the Union flag. “It’s political correctness gone mad,” says Tory MP Philip Davies.

Elen Rives, girlfriend to England’s Frank Lampard, was not allowed to take her considerable kit on board a flight to Germany as hand luggage. Reports say a discussion with British airways staff grew heated until she was “barred” from her intended flight.

Posted: 11th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Turf Luck

After their scrappy win over Paraguay, England will use Wayne Rooney for their next match against Trinidad & Tobago

England defender John Terry says blisters and the wrong kind of turf were to blame for the team’s performance against Paraguay

Spurs have told Manchester United they want £20m for midfielder Michael Carrick (News Of The World)

Ruud Gullit is in line to take over the vacant manager’s post at Crystal Palace (People)

Liverpool are interested in signing Real Zaragoza midfielder Alberto Zapate (NOTW)

Portsmouth have given Harry Redknapp the go ahead to make a £12million offer for Jermain Defoe (Sunday Mirror)

Reading are to offer £2m for Manchester City keeper David James (People)

Posted: 11th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Roon The Day

World Cup Quotes

“In football you suffer and it’s not so bad to see your team suffer. We will need to play better and we will play better” – Sven Goran Eriksson vows to improve

“The lads were complaining about their feet burning. Mine felt as if they were on fire. I’ve got a couple of blisters. The turf was a bit too dry and all the lads were complaining about blisters” – John Terry tells us what went wrong for England

“If Sven picks Rooney in the group stages and he gets injured, then United will take legal action against him personally” – A “highly-placed” source tells the NOTW about what will happen if Manchester United’s star player is injured

“We’ve come away with a win, so should we be even bringing tactics into it?” – Terry Butcher explains why he is not a manager

“Nuts, absolutely nuts”; “He can’t keep his hands out of his pockets’” – BBC commentators John Motson and Mark Lawrenson keep an eye on referee Marco Rodriguez, who referred England’s opener

“He should be given both barrels!” – Mark Lawrenson is not keen on the referee

“Everyone can come, shout until they lose their voices, have a great time and feel at home with friends. But the message to any hooligan or troublemaker is clear – security will function and we are not here to joke around” – German interior ministry spokesman tells it like it is

World Cup Puns

“Heat Is On” (Sun) – Sven feels the pressure

“3 LIONS, 3 POINTS – and Owen-ly one moan” (NOTW)

Posted: 11th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Hot & Bothered

“MAYBE we suffered a lot. I think this was a real hot, hot day and I think that knocked us in the second half.”

Sven Goran Eriksson there, offering an explanation as to why England – who won their opening match 1-0 after Paraguay scored an own goal – were so desperately unconvincing.

David Beckham agrees with his coach that it was hot. The Sun hears him say: “You don’t realise how hot it was out there.” Perhaps we don’t, but we are learning fast.

Here comes Frank Lampard to tell us just how hot it was, and how such heat is unfair on England. “Paraguay are more used to this climate,” says Lampard.

Readers may like to note that the match was held in Germany, not in southern Tunisia, or Paraguay, and that in the summertime it can get pretty sunny here, too.

But before we blame the sun for being too hot, too yellow and too sunny, Steven Gerrard offers another explanation for England’s laboured performance, also in the Sun. “There were a lot of players suffering with blisters,” says he.

So England scored a fortunate win, putting in what the Observer calls a “ragged performance”, because they had blisters? And, presumably, these blisters were on their feet and not, say, on their thumbs?

“The lads were complaining about their feet burning,” says John Terry in the Telegraph. He has a “couple of blisters”.

And that is not all. Terry also wants us to realise that the “turf was a bit too dry”.

As the Observer puts it, so much for “England the Slayer of Worlds, Destroyer of Planets, Bringer of Life, Giver of Water, Redemptor of Man”. This is England the normal. We’ve seen it all before. Although blaming the wrong kind of turf is something new.

But England can get better. And the team does have Wayne Rooney.

As the Times’s man on the scene says, it was seventy minutes into the match before England’s fans started chanting Rooney’s name.

And, as the Guardian reports, it was Rooney, bare-chested and smiling at the crowd, who was among the last to leave the pitch.

How England fans must be hoping he’s on the field of play for longer next time…

Posted: 11th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Where’s The Party?

“THIS is the best team I have ever had and I have always said we can win it in 2006.” So says Sven Goran Eriksson on the back page of the Star.

While we wonder what Sven would be saying were he not leaving his job as England coach after the tournament (“We are building a team. Yes. They could be good. Yes. We hope to win. Who knows? Yes. Don’t tell Nancy”), he calls for a party.

“At the end I hope there will be a big, big party in England for a month.”

So do we all, Sven. You can imagine the wonderful scenes as England fans join hands and perform the world’s longest “Berlin Wave”, named in honour of Peter Crouch celebratory dance at the World Cup Final.

That’s the dream. And who would have believed it a few months ago when Crouch was being booed by sections of England’s fans. Now, not only has Sven developed a personality but Crouch has mutated into something papers call a “national treasure”.

The Guardian looks at England’s unlikely hero, a man it describes as being “half-man, half-ladder”. A player so “exceedingly nice” that we learn that the 6ft 7in striker used to apologise to the opponents he tackled.

That’s nice. Crouch might even be nicer than Wayne Rooney? The Mail has a picture of the player on whose metatarsal the weight of a nation’s hopes and dreams rest.

The photograph shows Rooney enacting a sliding tackle on teammate Ashley Cole. This sounds like a risky move for someone being nursed back to full health. And it would be had Cole not taken a leaf from the Crouch book of fair play and stepped out of the way.

So long as the opposition leave Rooney alone, resist the urge to stand on his foot, things should go well go well for him.

But maybe it’s too much to expect Rooney to jink past the opposition like a heifer on skates, score a hat-trick in each match and bring the World Cup to England?

Writing in the Express, former Charlton manager Alan Curbishley says he can’t help but feel sorry for Rooney. “Everybody will be waiting for him to pull on the shirt of his country and become some kind of superman”, something Curbishley sees as unreasonable.

But why? Cometh the hour, cometh the man. And Rooney is England’s best player. Well, he was before Crouch emerged from the clouds…

Posted: 10th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

To Timidly Go

World Cup Winners

Silent Night are making a special bed for Peter Crouch. The lanky striker’s bed in Germany is too small – it’s 7ft 3in long.

An England fan has waged £150,000 on his country winning the World Cup at odds of 6-1. He will win £1,050,000 if Beckham and the team go all the way.

World Cup Losers

Jermain Defoe is looking to be in the squad for the next World Cup. After spending a month with England as stand-by cover for Wayne Rooney, the 23-year-old Spurs striker is now back home watching it on the telly.

The offical slogans which have to be written on each country’s team bus were coinjured up by FIFA. Every team has a slogan – expect the USA. It seem that security concerns mean they must travel incognito.

Send you ideas for team slogans to

Posted: 10th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Iran The World

“That England lot have been united by him, I’m convinced about it. That dance of his, his personality will have got them all going” – Ian Holloway, who managed Peter Crouch during his time at Queens Park Rangers

“This match will be taken by the people as a chance for a challenge, for revenge” – an Angolan official looks forward to his team’s match with former colonial masters Portugal

“If we win it, the country would see things they have never seen before. What happened with the cricket and the rugby as huge as well, but we would see something really special if we won the World Cup” – David Beckham looks forward to the victory parade

“Ronaldo is fat, or isn’t he?” – Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva asks the questions that matter in a video conference with his team

“Goalkeeper-unfriendly” – England’s Paul Robinson appraises the new Teamgeist ball

“As soon as they let women into the grounds, they nearly took over. They are so loud and passionate and they are all so well informed. Women in Iran are becoming less and less segregated. And, for them, following football is a form of emancipation” – Iran defender Rahman Rezaei on the power of football

World Cup Puns

“Herr–raising opener as Germany rock but then roll to a victory” (Mail)

“It’s Klose as Germany get ball rolling” (Mail) – Germany’s Miroslav Klose scores as the hosts beat mighty Costa Rica 4-2

“It’s two Klose for comfort” (Star) – Klose scores two

“Give ‘em the chop Robobop” (Star) – Cheering on Peter Crouch

Posted: 10th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

The Language Barrier

Paraguay will communicate in Guarani, their country’s second official language, when they play England

Italy coach Marcello Lippi has vowed to shave off his hair if his team win the Cup

Manchester United are preparing a £12million offer for Tottenham’s Michael Carrick (Mail)

Didi Hamman is on his way to Bolton Wanderers (Star)

Birmingham’s Emile Heskey wants to join Blackburn (Mirror)

Manchester United midfielder Quinton Fortune is being targeted by Bolton (Guardian)

Posted: 10th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Herr We Go

DOES Sven Goran Eriksson’s halo-styled hair have more bounce today?

We ask in light of the Mirror’s news that the England manager has just had a spell under Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous hairdryer.

“HERR DRYER,” says the Mirror’s headline. The news is that the pair shared a heated “four-letter exchange” over the matter of Wayne Rooney’s toe.

During the 25-minute phone call on Wednesday, Ferguson is said to have ranted at the Swede. “Ferguson goes ballistic over Rooney verdict,” says the Mail. The piece is afforded the exiting title “Sven at war”.

But surely Sven is too civilised for war? Is he not the man who emptied the dishwasher before bedding Faria Alam? Any fight with Sven will only take place once he has vacuumed the lounge carpet and dusted his Nancy.

But we are mistaken. And in the Express we read that Sven was up for a fight. The paper says that while Fergie ranted and raved, Sven “warned” him to stay out of things that do not concern him.

By way of an example of how Sven saw off Fergie’s assault, we note what he said to the assembled hacks. “I’m prepared to listen to everyone and discuss with them about Rooney, but the last say in this story is Rooney’s and mine.”

Though not quite in the league of Brian Clough (“If I had an argument with a player we would sit down for twenty minutes, talk about it and then decide I was right!”), Sven’s words are a welcome departure from his more usual “Yes, er, well, you see, yes, very good, I think so”.

And Sven has more to say. He continues: “I’m doing this in the best interests of Rooney, the England team and 40 million England fans. I’m responsible for it.”

Not to mention it being in the best interests of a manager keen to leave his job on a high and who knows that Rooney holds the key to England success.

But we must not be too excited. The Express hears from James Bliss, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospital, London. He says the nation is being “deluded” about Wayne. Says he: “There is a significant risk of his foot breaking down.”

But Bliss concedes that Rooney should be fit enough to play in the World Cup’s late stages. Which should be fine so long as the team qualify from their group.

And we should not expect too much. As the Mail reports, of 14 matches played in opening matches at major tournaments, England have won just three – and lost five.

And have never won an opening match with Rooney on the field…

Posted: 9th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Real Love

World Cup Quotes

“He’s our best player and having him back helps our chances of going all the way” – Steven Gerrard on Wayne Rooney

“He has this harmony in his movements, a coordination that is very good and he also can go back and help with the game building” – Paraguay’s Santa Cruz on the robotic Peter Crouch

“In Spain, we all kiss each other before we go out. I nearly did it when I came off against Jamaica at Old Trafford. When Aaron [Lennon] was coming on, I reached forward to kiss him, but then thought, ‘No, I better not’” – David Beckham feels the love

“When you start with three points it’s like a password into the next round. The next game you don’t play with pressure, with a knife at your throat” – Poland’s left-back Michal Zewlakow prepares to stick it to Ecuador

“By scoring more goals, I suppose” – Poland’s coach Pawel Janas outlines his team’s cunning plan for victory in Germany

“Of course! I’m a fantastic dancer!” – Cameroon legend Roger Milla who romanced the corner flag in Italia ’90 with such panache

“I think I got all that out of my system quite quickly” – England’s Paul Robinson on the outbreak of vomiting and diarrhoea that afflicted his Spurs club on the last day of the Premiership season

World Cup Puns

HERR DRYER (Mirror) – Sven Goran Eriksson takes a phone call form Alex Ferguson

“You have to hand it to us” (Mail) – reliving Maradona and 1986

“STUFF ROO FERGIE” (Star) – More on that Sven-Ferguson row

“SWEDE REVENGE FOR SVEN (Star) – And again…

“Let’s get it Ron, lads” (Sun) – Ronaldinho can’t wait to face England

Posted: 9th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Taxing Times

World Cup Winners

Taxing Times
Residents of Rio de Janeiro are “taxing” motorists to raise cash to pay for street decorations. Vehicles have been stopped and drivers invited to make “contributions” to help deck the streets out in Brazil’s green and yellow.

Not So Nazi
Insp Sandra Kessing, a German Federal Police officer, says plastic Nazi helmets worn by England fans are just a bit of a giggle. “They just want to have fun,” she said.

Looking For A Herro
Sven Goran Eriksson who stood his ground when confronted by an angry Alex Ferguson (See Backpages).

World Cup Losers

Causing A Stink
Three Englishmen are reported to be the first hooligans arrested at the World Cup. The yobs, who vandalised a taxi at the airport (!), pleaded guilty in a Cologne court to being drunk and disorderly.

Not Wanted
Police are looking for 180 banned individuals who failed to surrender their passports last week. The known troublemakers were required to do so by law.

Posted: 9th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Wayne’s pain

Reports say Wayne Rooney was “blowing heavily” in yesterday’s England training session. Since breaking his foot, he has lost 7lb.

Togo’s Prime minister Edem Kodjo will travel to Germany today to help resolve a pay dispute with his country’s squad

Chelsea are to offer Frank Lampard an extra £40,000 a week to keep him at the club (Sun)

Craig Bellamy could be on his way to Liverpool (Express)

Newcastle are interested in making a £4m bid for Fulham’s Steed Malbranque (Mirror)

Manchester United are believed to be set to offer Spurs £7million for Michael Carrick (Independent)

Arsenal defender Pascal Cygan is set for a £1million move to St Etienne (Mirror)

Posted: 9th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Over The Roon

Quotes Of The Day

“I have never used my father for nepotism to boost my career” – Serbia & Montenegro’s Dusan Petkovic, son of team manager Ilija

“Wayne Rooney will be fit to play some part in Germany 2006” – FIFA give England fans hope

“The taller they are the harder they fall” – Paraguay’s Roque Santa Cruz on England’s Peter Crouch

“A penalty shoot-out is like Russian Roulette. It is a brutal way and there has to be a winner. We just hope we won’t meet Germany in a shoot-out” – David Beckham looks forward to another painful defeat

“The English know we have always been more successful than them in tournaments. That is instilled in the back of their minds” – Germany’s Jens Lehmann says Germany have the edge over England

Puns Of The Day

Wayne Rooney’s return to fitness:

“Over The Roon” (Mirror)

“Roojoice!” (Mirror)

“Toe news is good news” (Sun)

“Here we toe” (Star)

“World War Toe” (Sun)

“Swede dream” (Star) – Rooney to return for Sweden game

Posted: 8th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

All Bar One


Winners Are Grinners

Ladbroke’s are hoping Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen or anyone other than Brazil’s Ronaldinho will be top scorer at the World Cup. A punter is set to win £671,000 if the toothsome one scores most.

Fred Certs

Bookmaker Fred Done has staked £250,000 at 10-1 on England winning the World Cup.

A Long Story

Residents of the German town of Unna are knitting a World Cup a scarf. When completed it will be eight miles long.


All Bar One

Residents in Oehringen, Germany, hosted a World Cup party for the Australian team. The beer was there. The big sausages were there. All the Australians were not there. Only Luke Wilkshire, who plays for League One Bristol City, bothered to turn up.

Demand For Tickets

England fans are angry that 21 nations have been given a larger ticket allowance. Organisers gave the FA just 9,269 tickets for England’s three Group B games. That’s less than Trinidad & Tobago (9,615 tickets), Togo (10,010), Ivory Coast (10,618) and Tunisia (11.854). The FA asked opposition FAs for any unsold tickets. An additional 4,889 have now been acquired.

Posted: 8th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Sol Long

Barcelona are in the hunt for Chelsea’s Frank Lampard. The Spanish side are prepared to offer Portuguese player Deco and cash (Sun)

Arsenal and Tottenham are both interested in French left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Mirror)

Liverpool players Steen Gerrard and Peter Crouch have asked manager Raphael Benitz to buy Birmingham’s Jermaine Pennant (Sun)

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp is ready to pay £5m to West Brom for defender Curtis Davies (Sun)

Spurs are ready to make a £2m bid for Blackburn’s Steven Reid (Sun)

Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan has been in talks with Graeme Souness about the vacant manager’s post at Selhurst Park (Various)

Wolves’ Joleon Lescott is set to sing for Everton for £5m (Sun)

Fulham are willing to pay £3m for Birmingham striker Emile Heskey (Guardian)

Middlesbrough are set to sign Cameroon winger Rudolphe Douala from Sporting Lisbon for £2m (Sun)

Sol Campbell is set to leave Arsenal for Turkish club Fenerbahce (Star)

Paraguay’s captain Carlos Gamarra says England will not even make it through Group B (Various)

Posted: 8th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Model Behaviour

“IT’S time to end the clichés about Germany,” says Claudia Schiffer.

Schiffer, a German and, surprisingly to some not dressed in a pair of patent leather boots, slapping a small whip against her thigh and jutting out her chin, has been helping her country prepare for the World Cup.

“We want to do this with lightness,” says Claudia in an interview with the Times. “We want to show that Germans really do have a sense of humour and a creative flair.”

Sure, Albert Speer was creative. And what cinema goer hasn’t heard a German laugh, even in a sombre moment, like when telling a Britisher the war for them is over or pulling Dustin Hoffman’s teeth out.

But modern Germany is nothing like it was back in the middle of the last century. As the Times says, there is more to the place than “Hitler and Nazis”.

The paper tells us that Germany is “a land of inventors”, who created the aspirin, the laptop and a spiked running shoe (a particularly unpleasant weapon in the wrong hands).

The entire campaign is called ‘The Land of Ideas’.

The paper says Germans are being prepared for the arrival of a million tourists for the tournament with English language classes for bus and taxi drivers. Waitresses are being encouraged to ask customers if they have enjoyed their meals.

There are institutions called “Laugh Academies” and “Smile School”. Little more is said about them in the piece, but they sound uniquely terrifying and intrinsically German.

But the Germans are trying, and they are aware of their history. The Times uses the example of the official slogan for the World Cup, “A Time To Make Friends”.

Klaus von Dohnanyi, a retired German politicians and former government minister, explains: “A proper translation from the German slogan would be something like ‘We are playing host to our friends’, but that seems to be too bold a statement.”

Modern Germany is not just welcoming Japan, Croatia, Italy and maybe bits of Spain and France, it is welcoming everyone.

“Vorsprung durch football,” says the Times leader. This is Germany’s chance to show that the county is nothing like it was back in those “12 years of madness”.

Sport can present a new German face to the World. This is the biggest sporting event a unified Germany has staged since the 1936 Olympics. It’s sure to be a lot better than that…

Posted: 8th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment