It's been a fairly eventful week in football, what with the Irish failing to qualify for the world cup and England enjoying a harrowing experience against the fairly decent Brazilian outfit who look likely to contest the final of the world cup. To hit the Irish situation first, it's simple, if they were serious about qualifying they should have won their group. Going into the play-off is a lottery, at best a 50-50 chance of going through, as shown by Russia. Ireland's horribly inept finishing cost them in the end, it would have only taken another goal to shut the game down. Only being a goal ahead after a handful of missed chances and the script is pretty much written. Things like handballs and dodgy decisions happen every week for every team and Ireland are no different. France themselves would have a massive case to feel (rightly) aggrieved if the result had gone the other way, a clear trip by Given on Anelka would surely have led to a penalty and potentially a red card for the Irish keeper. Either way in their present states I don't believe Ireland or France would be troubling the later stages of the tournament and honestly Bosnia look to be a far superior outfit to Ireland who still look to play in the hoof-ball style that time forgot.
After seeing the story this morning that Ben Foster, England goalkeeper and occasional Manchester United bench warmer, will not be leaving his club. Now this seems a fairly normal statement but after a quick look at Wikipedia it seems like madness for the player. Paul Robinson, currently on the England scrapheap has played 180 league games for his clubs since 2004. Foster 138 since 2000. Based on that there is little wonder that he has hardly developed and is continually called out for his poor decision making, he has next to no experience of high pressure games, only 11 league games for United, whereas Robinson who is a regarded as a lesser keeper by some has the experience of relegation battles with Leeds and Blackburn. Robinson would be my England keeper for the world cup but of course he has hardly featured for his country since his catastrophic mistake against Croatia and since can't really be expected to feature. Foster on the other hand is likely to be one of three keepers taken and looks the favourite to start between the sticks in spite of his lack of games for United, unless Van Der Sar is injured (again) during the season. Strangely 'keepers and only Foster (see David James situation) seem the exception to the England manager's golden rule that players must be playing every week for their clubs. Either way, should it matter? England are near enough guaranteed a slot and defeat in the semi-finals, of course Portugal are involved again so another shoot out could be in the offing.
A final word on Brazil, the should be the excellent Brazil in fact. The excellent, wasteful, quick, skilful, imaginative and intrinsically watchable Brazil could well take home the trophy. They battered England, they controlled the game and England had no unmissable chances and no time on the ball, two things that England really struggle to contend with again good sides. Brazil look likely to miss a fair few chances in every game. For instance penalties but that can sorted out. Brazil have only a short way to go to be the best team in the world, while England have further to go, a long way further to go.