(Being the first, and possibly last, of a very occasional series)

From an Express and Star piece on the appointment of Norwegian Stale Solbakken as the new Wolves manager:

Like his nation’s record on human rights and equality legislation, he has a record for progressive thinking

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Let there be linkage:

A Vision Of Foreign Policy Only Beck Can Provide – That’s Glenn Beck, but reading out the lyrics to Devil’s Haircut might make more sense. Watch the video for something that looks like a dramatic reconstruction of the thought processes of a crazed conspiracy theorist, except it’s for real (via)
A Guide: How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt – Something worth checking, just to see if you’re guilty of any of them
Soccer clubs central to ending Egypt’s ‘Dictatorship of Fear’ – Something I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere else, and interesting that all football games have been cancelled in Libya following the events in Egypt.
Prisoner votes in Scottish elections again – Are BBC journalists and government ministers bloody stupid? – Since I’ve begun reading legal bloggers like Love and Garbage, I’ve become aware of just how poorly a lot of issues are being reported in the media. Here’s another example.
How Cyclone Yasi compares around the world – An indication of just how huge the storm currently threatening Australia is.

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Which nation’s international football record does England’s most resemble – Sweden or Germany?

(Answer under the cut, so if you don’t want to know the score and are reading this in some manner that doesn’t allow for the cut, look away now)

Read the rest of this entry

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Only a couple of weeks in, and we might have the oddest managerial appointment of the football season already. Just 10 days ago, Colchester went to Norwich and won 7-1, which cost Bryan Gunn his job – and today we find out that Paul Lambert has quit Colchester to take on the job. Unsurprisingly, Colchester fans are angry.

Of course, there’s a sense of deja vu about this for Colchester fans, as it’s now fifteen years since George Burley left the Us to head up the A12 to take on Ipswich. I expect the ‘Cheer Up George Burley’ song (to the tune of ‘Daydream Believer’ will get some new words now, even if ‘Paul Lambert’ doesn’t scan quite as well.

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As the controls for regular football games on consoles become increasingly complex, and the games become harder and harder to play in the ridiculously high-scoring manner they used to be, why has no one yet created a playground football game? You could have a gain that ranged through all the permutations from three-and-in on a tiny space to massive forty-a-side scrambles across a giant playground, with options that included things like ball type and size (my school limited us to nothing bigger than a tennis ball, for instance), through the age of the players to the number of other games going on concurrently within the same approximate space.

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The US Government now owns 80% of AIG. AIG sponsor Man United. Does this make them the Red, White and Blue Devils?

Given that it will be at a neutral venue between the two losing semi-finalists, could this year’s FA Cup Final also be seen as the Champions League third place playoff?

It seems that football can still produce a shock result, even if it’s only at the administrative level, with the news that Poland and Ukraine have suprisingly beaten Italy in the race to host Euro 2012.

Though it’s a bit worrying that Platini still seems to be going ahead with the plan to boost participation to 24 teams in 2016 and beyond – first, because it will limit the opportunities for the smaller nations to host the tournament and second, because one of the best parts of the European Championships has always been the strength of the competition. It’s rare to see a match there that looks like a complete mismatch on paper, so unlike the World Cup, there’s a sense of every game being a challenge, rather than sleepwalking through the group until the real competition starts.

In football hell, all games are 0-0 draws between Ukraine and Switzerland commentated on by Mick McCarthy. That Clive Tyldesley wasn’t sitting beside him in the commentary box tonight is the only indication we have that we’re not all damned to watching passes that made Ray Wilkins look ambitious for all eternity.

I’ve come up with a good reason to not want England to win the World Cup. If we were to do it, you know that within seconds of David Beckham lifting the trophy, recording studios up and down the country would be full of people recording versions of ‘We Are The Champions’ to clog up the airwaves and the charts for months afterwards. Do you want to listen to Heather Small warbling her way through it, accompanied by the sound of Freddie Mercury rolling in his grave from now until Euro 2008?

But, it doesn’t matter, as England won’t win, but they stand a good chance of being runners-up. This year’s footballing patterns show that English teams are very good at getting to major international finals, but then losing them – Liverpool in the World Club Championship, Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup and Arsenal in the Champions League.

For those of you interested, there are some interesting odds available on Betfair right now. For instance, Costa Rica are currently being offered at 16.5 (15.5/1 odds) to beat Germany this afternoon. Given that this is one of the weakest German sides for years, plus the tendency of opening matches to cause shocks, that seems rather good value to me. Other good value bets being offered are 6.4 (just under 11/2) on Poland to beat Germany and 4/1 on Ukraine to beat Spain.

There’s also good value in the overall market – you’d be hard pressed to find the Czechs at better to 25/1 from conventional bookies, yet Betfair have them available at 40 (39/1) while Mexico at 70 and Ukraine and 75 also look good value, given their relatively easy groups. Ukraine’s price seems especially good value to me, as I’d say they have a good chance of winning their group which would mean a second-round game against the runners-up in France’s group, likely to be Switzerland or South Korea. And, of couse, this is Betfair, where you can easily lay off your bets for a profit before the end of the tournament should the prices drop, as they likely will for teams who qualify from the group stage.

And who do I think are going to be beating England in the final? I’m plucking for the Dutch or the Czechs, while wondering just how long a Holland-England final would take to complete if it went to penalties.