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England manager John Terry announced Aaron Lennon had “played his way into the World Cup squad” with his display in England’s destruction of Croatia yesterday, one that — of course — has the English press in a frenzy. But, please, can we not call Lennon “Azza”? Thanks.
Of course, there are plenty of plaudits for the actual England manager, Fabio Capello, who now faces nine months of managing expectations that will presumably rise to include Frank Lampard curing cancer on the way up to lifting the World Cup trophy in Johannesburg next year.
Paul Hayward gives a much-needed touch of wariness to the celebration, pointing out that England’s group contained “Andorra, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and a Croatia side unravelling so fast that a nought may have to be added to their No9 ranking in Fifa’s global list.”
Still, all England fans will enjoy scouting the Guardian’s interactive map of World Cup 2010. And finally, Steve McClaren’s umbrella seems like ancient history.
- Failure elsewhere is of course on the agenda for the national associations of countries who will only be vacationing in South Africa next year. Poland waited merely minutes to fire Leo Beenhakker — even though technically, Poland could still qualify (Polish football’s chief Grzegorz Lato: “I don’t want to make a rash decision but this cannot be changed. That was Leo’s last game as coach”). The Scottish FA, meanwhile, are typically hedging their bets for now after their elimination (Scottish FA chief Gordon Smith: “unlike many people who are quick to offer a knee-jerk reactive opinion, I feel that this a time for measured and considered reflection on the campaign that has just been completed”).
- Not surprisingly, 87% of Argentinians want Diego Maradona to resign after last night’s 1-0 defeat to Paraguay. As Marcela Mora y Araujo points out, that won’t solve all the problems (given Argentina were already struggling when Maradona took over), but perhaps more difficult is identifying exactly what all the problems are. It’s obviously not a shortage of good players.
- In the CONCACAF region, the U.S. and Mexico made heavy weather of beating Trinidad & Tobago and Honduras respectively, but they both moved considerably closer to automatic qualification. Costa Rica’s disappointing form, as they fell 1-0 to El Salvador, will be some solace for Argentina, as they are now the likely playoff opponents if Diego’s boys do continue their current struggles.
- In today’s installments on the ongoing “poaching saga” in the Premier League, the war of words between Manchester City’s Garry Cook and Ken Bates heats up (it’s hard to think of two men with fewer legs to stand on when debating moral issues in football). Meanwhile, Alex Ferguson says Manchester United have behaved impeccably and that it would be “crazy” for the club to pay parents.
- A writer for EPL Talk got to play FIFA ’10, and it sounds good enough that it might waste even more of our time than FIFA ’09.
- Australia’s Adelaide United have a new sponsor: global behemoth “Jim’s Plumbing”.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.