31 March, 2006

Somebody stole our banner

Bloody Blogger seems to have eaten Dounball's banner. We'll get it back up as soon as we can.

Meanwhile, this week in Donutball you can expect one or more (or less) of the following:
  • more wailings of a Tottenham supporter
  • a cut out and keep guide to the IRBL Mariners (honest, we're working on it)
  • Donutball's MLB predictions (you'd be surprised)
  • Donutball's five point plan for English rugby (point 3 - hire Sven Goran Eriksson)
  • (very old) thoughts on the World Baseball Classic and an Alexander Smit dispatch
You may have noticed we promised some of this stuff a couple of weeks ago. Well, patience is a virtue as my mum told me. Thanks, mum.

Rest assured patient reader, we'll be sitting here in our thick cotton Nats' t-shirt all weekend, if necessary, to give you the best in blogdom.

27 March, 2006

At the end of the day...

Cliches win:

Tottenham Hotspur 2, West Bromwich Albion 1

West Brom gave 110%. Tottenham didn't show up in the first half.

The sign of a good team is winning when you play badly. "We got out of jail." Winners make their own luck.

"We'll take each game as it comes. If in May, we're there, we'll be happy."

"We're devasted not to come away with at least a point."

Robbie Keane spares Spurs' blushes. Two goals for the maestro as the home side comeback from 1-0 against a determined and physical West Brom side.

23 March, 2006

Lennon's eyebrow

Aaron Lennon's eyebrow is the new Mido's headband.

What's the big deal with Spurs' Aaron Lennon? The 18 year old midfielder scored his first Tottenham goal last week to help the side to a 2-0 away win at Birmingham (they of the 0-7 reverse against Liverpool in the FA Cup this week).

Lennon has fast become a favourite down the Lane. He has speed to burn in the mould of Shaun Wright-Phillips. Speed excites. Add ball control and you're coming up with a good package. Crossing and shooting ability, now they'll be useful.

Soccer Weblog's gone weak at the knees over Aaron.

Great. Donutball is a fan of Lennon. But, let's not get too carried away. Around the time of the Theo Walcott move from Southampton the Arse, one old writer commented that there was a day when players like Walcott grew on trees or were on every street corner or some such silliness.

West Ham manager Alan Pardew was on the same lines last week with his comments about too few English players in the Premiership. Players like Walcott and Lennon stand out because there is a dwindling number of English players in the Premiership.

Dountball does NOT, however, advocate quotas for home players. That is not the solution and never was. Donutball has fond memories of Ossie and Ricky, the Argentine World Cup pair who trailblazed the foreign player influx in the late 70s. The best foreign players have improved the game in England. But, the problem is with the run-of-the-mill foreign player or the faded star (Patrick Kluivert is a classic example) who gets here and just doesn't fancy it.

What Donutball would like to see is roster limits (18 first-team players is plenty thank you) to help block the hoarding of star players, combined with stricter rules on imports of players under 18. We'd stop short of a salary cap, which would be illegal under EU law anyway.

When Arsenal, through the close connections with France look to the continent for development players, then that's what's wrong. And, that's why the Walcott transfer was such a big deal.

That brings us neatly on to Martin Jol's policy at Tottenham. Jol firmly believes that an equal proportion of home and foreign born players gives the right mix. Not for him the journeyman foreign pro looking for an easy payday languishing in the reserves or on the bench. Jol's policy is bearing early fruit with 5 Spurs men on the pitch for England at the end of the Uruguay match and that - tenuous it may be - 4th place standing. There's Tom Huddlestone and Andrew Dawson on the fringes of the England side too.

Lennon for England? Maybe. But, he needs a few more than 21 first-team appearances before pulling on the Three Lions shirt.

In the meantime: Mido needs to lose the headband; Lennon needs to lose the "gansta" eyebrow.

22 March, 2006

U.S. Soccer - rank outsiders

As promised: a post on the U.S.A. - 5th in FIFA world rankings.

Well, that might possibly change after tonight's less than impressive result against Germany. The Germans were tentative in the first half, booed off the field and tails between legs.

It took confusion in the penalty area on Schweinsteiger's 46th minute free-kick to quell the German revolt. Another sub, Neuville scored a second as U.S. defending got progressively sloppy and naive. This after Kahn saved a sharp Johnson header.

Klose cleverly deeked Keller for the third, again after poor defending. The fourth was a powered header from 12 metres by Ballack, his 30th international goal (amazing record).

Kahn misjudged a 60 metre hopeful ball from Cherundolo to leave the final score 4-1.

Difficult to judge the U.S. performance as I think there were some missing cogs. Bobby Convey had a few decent runs. But, there was, otherwise, a lack of invention in midfield especially after Germany switched from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2.

FIFA rankings are teh suck.

19 March, 2006

Flu sucks

This week in Donutball:

  • a pull-out guide to the IRBL Mariners (or "I don't care if you're not supposed to blog about your fantasy/Diamond Mind Baseball team")
  • Aaron Lennon's eyebrow: the new Mido's headband
  • U.S.A. soccer: 5th in the FIFA rankings and what we should do about it
  • Donutball's five point plan for English rugby (point 4 - drink more beer)
  • soccer and sabermetrics: the adjusted Premier League
  • thoughts on the World Baseball Classic and an Alexander Smit dispatch
All this and more in your super environmentally friendly Donutball: now 'flu free.

13 March, 2006


Weekends can be ruined if your team loses. How about this then. (No links, too painful)

- Chelsea steal a win over Spurs in the last seconds of injury time.

- Bolton win to put pressure on Spurs' 4th place position.

- England rugby team drop the ball after 40 seconds paving the way for an awful, awful performance.

- Steven Gerrard hands Arsenal a victory.

And, the capper...

- England cricket team dissolve on Sunday and lose to India on Monday.

You can add, three of four British clubs get knocked out of the Champions League (tm) last week. The only survivor is not only the hated Arse, but they field an entirely non-English/non-British team.

06 March, 2006

To Dare is to Do, handball edition

Tottenham Hotspur 3, Blackburn Rovers 2

We here at Donutball are nothing if not consistent. Some might say consistently boring; others would counter with perceptive, enlightened or well-reasoned if perhaps dogmatic.

Tottenham are not Champions League (tm) material. Top 6 would be a smashing finish. The next game is crucial.

Yet, the Spurs bird flu free cockerel sits proudly in fourth place tonight following the weekend's events. That's a five point advantage if you are counting down in Finsbury Park.

Luck certainly played a part in Sunday's 3-2 win over fellow European aspirants Blackburn. "Sparky" Hughes, Blackburn manager, had reason to gripe. Two of Spurs goals owed to fortunate refereeing decisions. Late on, with Blackburn battling to salvage a well deserved point, Stalteri handled in the box.

Results count. Of course, on the day it seems rough justice. Rovers were by far the better side: more skilful, better prepared and dominating in every aspect. But, a touch of impudence by the ageless Robbie Keane, a lucky bounce on a free-kick and Aaron Lennon's speed. Three goals.

Debit side, Sinama Pongolle nets an easy chance after Ledley King falls asleep; misses an easier chance; sets up Craig Bellamy for Blackburn's second after another King error. A header clips the top of the bar; Robinson makes a brilliant save; chances go begging.

Other issues - and these are consistent thoughts

- Edgar Davids looks lacking in pace and gets caught in possession too much (his lack of peripheral vision, maybe?).

- Keane has signed a new contract. What does this mean for England man Jermain Defoe? That threesome with Mido works, but will Defoe stand for the arrangement much longer?

- Y-P Lee at left back is too much a lightweight. Both goals came down his flank and in the second half Blackburn gave him an aerial bombardment.

Next week is the simple matter of avoiding defeat at Chelsea. Statisticians will be paraded in the media all week to tell you that Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister when the Pensioners were last cocked.

05 March, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches: Smit makes the cut

Alexander Smit, Donutball's adopted Minor Leaguer, has made the final roster for the Netherlands WBC team.

Eenhoorn sees a bright future for lefty Alexander Smit, who is in the Minnesota organization. "He's a young pitcher with good stuff," Eenhoorn said. "He's still developing, but I'd rather take a guy with good stuff who's still learning the game than one who has been around but doesn't have the stuff."..

Lefty Smit has never pitched higher than A ball, spending most of his three years in the U.S. at the Rookie ball level. This represents a major step in his young career. He's still only 20.

The guess at this blog is that Smit will pitch little more than one inning. He's been converted to short relief by Minnesota and saw action in the recent World Cup as a one-inning only guy.

Nevertheless, we're delighted the guy is getting a chance to pitch against Major Leaguers in a competitive situation. Go Alexander! Hoep Holland, hoep!

02 March, 2006

Lanky, but skillful

I'm too tired to write the post I really want to write about Peter Osgood, Peter Crouch and England.

Even though he played for Chelsea, Ossie (Os-good is good) gets respect from Donutball. Like Crouch he defied the stereotype of a traditional physical centre-forward who is only an aerial threat. As the footage shown last night proved, he had a soft touch for a tall man. Of course, he was a huge physical presence in a pretty robust Chelsea side of the late 60s and early 70s.

Osgood never got a decent run in the England side. Like his teammate Alan Hudson he was a non-conformist in an age when the England manager was as concerned about conformity as he was about talent. See also Jimmy Greaves, Frank Worthington, Tony Currie.

So sad that Osgood passed away yesterday.

As for England's performance last night, 2-1 against a side knocked about that less than great soccer power Australia is no great shakes. That said, Uruguay were well organised and for 75 minutes well disciplined. Once they started substituting and getting shirty about robust English challenges, they lost their shape and two goals.

Crouch proved again that he is Plan B for Germany. "Johnny Foreigner doesn't like it up him."

As the papers no doubt exclaimed - I only saw an early edition Guardian report - Joe Cole was en fuego. Michael Carrick (one of five Spurs players on the pitch at the end!) put in a creditable show, and is the injury option to Gerrard-Lampard. I thought David Beckham was a spare peg and Shaun Wright-Phillips once again showed that in 15 minutes he can do more damage than "Becks"(tm) can in 90.

Darren Bent hardly got a kick and ran offside in nearly every attack. Message to Sven: stick with Defoe, Michael Owen's fitness or not.

The defence gave me the jitters in the first half. Rio Ferdinand looked like he was cruising through the match with his head plugged into an iPod. John Terry was a rock, as usual. Ledley King, as a second half replacement, was passable but his positioning and ball watching are worries. Jamie Carragher, for the injured WAyne Bridge, again proved that he's an invaluable utility player. However, he's probably now the No.1 left back choice.

And, I've now run out of steam.

Addendum: I see Germany got pasted 4-1 by Italy. That makes me all the more determined to go down the bookies and place an each way bet on Germany in the World Cup. The price must be great. And, I beleive that old chestnut: "never right off the Germans."

Check (this) mate

There is a blog for everything including chess.