Patrick Fletcher shares some thoughts on the FA’s reaction to the recent Euro 2016 draw…
Maybe the Gods were looking down on Greg Dyke as he brought his finger across his throat to indicate his despair at England’s nightmare World Cup draw in December. Maybe they took pity on the hardships he faced that day, and maybe they contrived to right those wrongs on Sunday and give England what could hardly be a more straightforward qualifying group for Euro 2016.
Their work will be no more appreciated, though, and this time Dyke will be turning his throat-slitting gesture away from himself and towards the heavens. Indeed, the draw was seen as too straightforward by FA representatives in Nice, who sat stone-faced as images of empty Wembley seats set alarm bells ringing. Their fear is that the clashes thrown up, against the likes of San Marino and Estonia, will not be enticing enough to fill the £757m stadium, on which £277m is still owed. If the concern pre-draw had been ‘go easy on us this time’, the sentiment afterwards was no doubt: ‘not that easy’. Continue reading
TFN regular David Wild finds some solace in the the spirit of San Marino…
“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting” – George Orwell – The Sporting Spirit, 1945
As England held their breath last week and the spheres of World Cup Qualification began to move in the favour of Heavyweights and Underdogs alike, another, less heralded game was being played out, miles away from the oceans of expectancy. Despite the lack of TV camera focus and fanfare this was a match that would answer another burning question in the footballing world.
Would this be San Marino’s worst round of major tournament qualifiers ever?
20:00 GMT- 15/10/13 – San Marino lined up against Ukraine having conceded an average of 5 goals per game in World Cup 2014 qualifying, roughly one goal every 1080 seconds. Euro 2012 tournament qualifiers had seen them concede 53 goals without reply, their worst figures to date. La Serenissima faced up this time against the impending yellow threat determined to stand strong.
They lasted 13 minutes before conceding, then shipped another 7 that night. As can be seen in the figures below, this meant that the worrying upward trend of goals conceded per game in tournament qualifiers continued to haunt the ‘whipping boys’ of European football. Continue reading