International breaks are shite. We may have mentioned this before.
Everyone’s scraping round for club-related ‘content’ in lieu of actual games and there’s only so many times you can read interviews with Steven Naismith where the reporter is incredulous that a footballer would actually think about other people less fortunate than himself. Even he must be getting embarrassed now that they keep on going on about it.
‘I bought a handful of season tickets for unemployed Blues. My motivation? Well, ‘not being a cunt’ was first and foremost in my mind.’
In other news, Romelu Lukaku is apparently struggling with a toe injury that could see him miss the West Bromwich Albion game. Apparently it’s been troubling him for a while, and that might explain why his recent anaemic performances have been reminiscent of that other famous digit-victim, David Haye, when his problematic pinky stopped him from throwing any punches at Vladimir Klitschko.
File that analogy under ‘tortuous’. We said there was no real news.
There is a rumour of Samuel Eto’o pulling his hamstring, potentially leaving Robert Martinez’s striking options Rizla-thin when the Premier League resumes. Arouna Kone is said to have scored in a 4-0 defeat of Stoke City behind closed doors – a game in which Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedobaby also featured – but the Ivorian and the other absentees won’t be ready to start for the first team until October, apparently.
The squad starts to look really quite deep – for us, anyway – with those additions, but you can never envisage Gibson staying fit for any length of time. He’s got ‘retired at 28’ written all over him, which is a shame because he has already shown that he has what it takes to ease the burden on Gareth Barry and also to succeed the veteran in the long-term. Kone is unfortunately a bit of a joke figure because of a nervy start to his Everton career, but he deserves to be given more of a chance than he’s had.
Oviedo is just slightly ace.
Another wee belter is the player who always looks like he should change back into his school uniform after games, replete with tie worn skinny end showing, shirt-tails hanging out and Head bag over his shoulder: James McCarthy. The freckle-faced enforcer is said to be set for a new deal at Goodison, which is good because he is going to keep attracting attention from clubs in this country and maybe even abroad. Couldn’t you see him playing for Bayern Munich?
Apparently Johnny Giles criticised his performances for Ireland, saying he lets games pass him by. That seems slightly harsh but there are times when his side is in possession that he looks as if he could drive forwards an extra 10 or 20 yards and commit the opposition before releasing the ball. Perhaps he’s under orders not too, for fear of exposing the defence if he loses possession, but that’s the area where he could improve, just being a bit bolder when he’s on the ball and not always shuffling it to the fullback when he’s in loads of space.
Again, possibly a bit harsh.
And that’s it, other than to recommend a few books. Hack Attack by Nick Davies is ace if you don’t know all the ins and outs of the whole phone-hacking scandal and quite enjoy being enraged at the establishment. Some of it, especially the levels of corruption in the Met Police, is genuinely shocking.
Playing Off The Rail: A Pool Hustler’s Journey is exactly what the title describes. David McCumber, the author, goes on a road trip across the US with a talented player looking for serious ‘action’ among the odd, devious characters who make up the pool-hall subculture. It’s a little-known minor sporting classic in its own way, much like Robert Anasi’s The Gloves.
Finally, the heartbreaking The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. Another road trip, but this time a fictional one taken on a push bike by an obese, drunken Vietnam veteran whose life is turned upside down by a number of deaths in his family. Occasionally the characters he encounters seem a little bit too willing to recount their colourful life stories to him at first meeting, but that shouldn’t detract from what is essentially a fable anyway. And a beautiful one at that.
For those of you who hate books we should finish with something manly about football. Well, John Stones is never a right-back and his international career could end up being ruined straight out of the gate by being played there by Roy Hodgson.