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It’s All Greek

Greece is going to default on its debt sometime.

This is obvious.

It’s obvious to commentators, politicians and citizens.

The reasons are many and varied but it was surely also obvious to anyone that the solution for the Euro was to remove Greece from the currency and allow a managed default?

Instead, by their decision yesterday to make a further bail out, the German Parliament has just set up the dominoes.

If, as now looks increasingly likely, the great Euro experiment fails and countries go back to their own currencies, these will be devalued quite seriously. Their purchasing power will be a fraction of that of the currency they have replaced.

Writing here last November I made a comment to a correspondent who had linked to an article that the crisis made Britain joining the Euro more likely, I said the following:

I actually had the paper but only just read the article. Ian McWhirter is a smart cookie and whilst I agree with him on many things I feel that in this particular article he is working on many assumptions of how governments will behave.

In brief my view is this:

1) The switch to the Euro has coincided with the biggest debt crisis in Europe in living memory. Maybe there is no connection between the two but you know how people think.
2) At every limited opportunity (save for the staged re-run in Ireland) the citizenry have had a chance to offer their opinion on the closer integration of the EU, they have rejected it.
3) France and Germany despite being the pivotal axis on which the Union revolves are going to expose their own economies to huge risk in sorting out the “PIIGS”
4) As people struggle with economic hardship they might actually sit up and take more notice of the pish that rains down on them from Brussels and they will be holding their domestic governments more to account for that.

The consideration of these particular components lead me to conclude that the notion of the end of the crisis seeing the Euro survive in its present form and Britain joining it, are far off if not far fetched.





World Cup Latest

I watched both semi finals and the first one, producing five goals and a gallant effort from underdogs Uruguay was undoubtedly the better viewing experience. I’ve been reading a bit on the blogs about how dull and clinical the Dutch style of play is. This is a bit unfair I think as the coaching and managerial skill in the modern game, particularly at international level where you cant go and buy new players, is to play to your strengths.

Despite the criticism, the Netherlands v Uruguay game produced a few good goals (including a screamer from Giovanni Van Bronkhurst) and an exciting finish as Uruguay tried to get back in the game.

Last night Germany, having scored four goals in three of their games, met their match. Spain were not going to present them with the defensive lapses so evident in the games against England and Argentina.

Spain have won each of their knock-out games 1-0 but they look very confident once they have taken the lead.  And so it proved last night in this repeat of the 2008 European Championship final. Same teams, same outcome and same score with Spain having the luxury of dropping the match-winner in the previous game, Torres, to the bench.

It was central defender Puyol who came up for a corner in 73 minutes and powered Spain into the lead:

The film is fairly poor quality but it’s 2 mins 9 secs in here:

At the risk of sounding like a McMotty or a MacTildsley, anyone remember the first goal here from a Scottish central defender in the stone age? (although the relative speed of the ball in the two clips are akin to 1) A bullet 2) Tossing a turnip.)

On the highly contentious issue of video replays/goal line technology etc. I have an open mind. I do think though that if FIFA is going to continue to resist moves for video evidence, they will have to insist on a ban for its use on TV. What I mean by this is the virtual line across the park showing an attacker’s big toe being offside. Last night there were several instances where the match officials got it wrong but where only a camera or a superhuman could have got it right.

Sure, continue to show the different camera angles but the “bawhair” technology should be available to all or none.

And so the World Cup will have a new name on it and will be the first all European final outside of Europe. Therefore it will produce a European winner outside of Europe for the first time too. I use the word produce deliberately. Football is a product and one by which the end increasingly justifies the means.


“Yes, only an idiot would predict how things will go now.

I’m sticking with Argentina.” (Me this morning)

What a result for the Germans this afternoon. Of course it immediately redeemed England somewhat. Spain and the Netherlands are probably better sides than Germany but neither of them will fancy taking them on at the moment.

Reality Bites

It has been abundantly clear to all but the most fevered England supporters and those who occupy the rarefied atmosphere of the BBC and ITV studios that England were never going to win the world cup.

Today’s game, the shocking refereeing decision at a crucial stage notwithstanding, was a one sided affair.

England’s defence were terrible and were entirely to blame for Germany’s third and fourth goals. Their team had no width.

The pundits are currently totally bemused by the England performance today.

On the basis of the group games it was pretty much what the rest of us expected.

England – New Tactics

I noticed that the commentary team today were trying out new tactics.

Rather than mention 1966 directly there were oblique references – “England fans will be heartened to learn that they are wearing the red strip” and before the two minute mark, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton got a mention.

The first direct mention of 1966 took twenty minutes, just after the first German goal (Goalkeeper to Klose – goal!) “England haven’t come from behind in a world cup tie since you know when- 1966”

And the second, after a perfectly good England equaliser from Lampard was not given, “Germany will see that as retribution” (think Geoff Hurst)

Until England’s goal they looked in very serious trouble. But for an incredible miss from Klose on the half hour mark they could easily have been 3-0 down.

We’re now at 44 minutes and apparently “The German fans will see today’s incident in combination with Sir Geoff Hurst’s as 1-1”

Methinks the German fans, 66% of whom were not even born in 1966 have reasonably successfully moved on from that disappointment.

It’s half time and England have survived a first half onslaught.

It could have been 5-0.

Or 2-2.

Great game.

Shame about the commentary.

World Cup Latest

I was with an English friend of mine last night and he can’t understand the Scots’ antipathy towards the English pundits and ergo the England world cup campaign. I pointed out that Alan Hansen and Alan Green, who are respectively as English as a tottie scone and a 21 piece Ulster Fry, referring to England as “we” is only the beginning of the story.

“But why shouldn’t they (the pundits in general) express confidence in their team?”  quoth my friend.

I pointed out that on the evidence of the games thus far, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany look better teams than England. Heck, the USA, Ghana, Mexico,Paraguay and Japan have probably performed better too.

So my answer was, what evidence do they have for their confidence?

The USA arguably looked the better side against England and won the group. Ghana beat the USA yesterday to progress to the quarter finals. Germany beat Ghana and won their group.

Of course football is not linear and can be unpredictable. However the above series of events would suggest that Germany have more reason for confidence than England.

The English though can perhaps take comfort from the bookies who place them as 13/8 favourites with the Germans at 2/1 (source: bet365.com).

Really though, only a fool would predict this one.

Isn’t that right Kevin?

Do They Realise They’re Doing It???

This morning on the way to work I was listening to Radio 4 on the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation. The host of the news programme had representatives from the German and Spanish embassies on to discuss tomorrow’s UEFA 2008 final which is for the avoidance of doubt between GERMANY and SPAIN. I may paraphrase slightly but here are the main points.

Presenter to German (opening question!!) – “So do you think this has been a poorer tournament by England’s absence?”

German (slightly puzzled) – “Er. no not really”

Presenter -” But what about the feeling, the atmosphere?”

German (by now annoyed) – “I don’t think there would have been much difference”

Presenter – “What do you see as the main differences between Germany and England?”

German – (laughs slightly) “We are in the final of UEFA 2008 and England failed to qualify!”

Other questions by the presenter:

“We all know that Germany v. England is one of the classic international contests , going all the way back to 1966, does Germany v. Spain have the same kind of feeling about it?”

“I suppose Germany play in a very similar way to England. Do you think the English will be supporting the Germans?”

I mean we all expect this pish from Motty and co. But on Radio 4?