13 June ~ Slovakia coach Jan Kozak will take no comfort in the fact, but his team‘s 2-1 defeat to Wales in Bordeaux has enhanced his reputation as a man of wise words. As soon as the draw for the final stages was made last November, Kozak said he was happy enough to be in a group with England and Russia but that Wales were the fourth seeds he really hadn’t wanted.
10 June ~ They say France has ground to a standstill, but there was little sign of that as commuters poured out of Gare Lille Flandres into the June sunshine this morning. Strikes continue to take place across the country as part of the CGT union’s widespread protests against the controversial loi travail, which would change working conditions in the country – but you would never have guessed it from the number of people wandering down Rue du Molinel into offices in the usual manner or enjoying their morning cafés on the pavement terraces.
4 June ~ Twenty-five years ago Hansa Rostock won the last-ever East German cup final, but that wasn’t the end of football in the GDR. After the German reunification, East German teams were distributed into the West German league pyramid. When the Bundesliga was formed in 1963 the clubs were admitted base on a ranking calculated over the previous 12 years, yet for the teams in the GDR’s Oberliga, it came down to how they performed over just one season.
2 June ~ Brian McDermott’s sacking by Reading last week came as a surprise to some but the Tilehurst End blog argue that it is just the latest sign that the owners do not have a coherent strategy for the football club. Instead, the blog suggests that the consortium in charge of Reading are more interested in the Madjeski Stadium’s potential as an “enabling development” for the surrounding Royal Elm Park. “You can be sure that without the property development opportunities afforded to them the Thai owners – who have a background in property development – would not be interested in Reading FC,” the blog says.
1 June ~ Liverpool v Milan in 2005 then 2007; Manchester United v Barcelona in 2009 and 2011; then, on Saturday, Real Madrid defeated Atlético Madrid in the Champions League final for the second time in three years. UEFA competition has become a boring fait accompli, yet I still love the European Cup final. A marathon of cynical commercial tat, including some of the preening participants, it remains the most genuinely heavyweight fixture in club football – and an unmissable date with the television.