Looking forward to the World Cup?
Not really. But it helps to pass the time till Unai Emery’s first Premier League game.
Why so anti?
It’s FIFA, it’s an organisation that makes me puke.
When does the real World Cup start?
On July 6th when the first quarter-final is played at 3pm in Nizhny Novgorod. Teams need time to take shape and find form, and the winners are never the eleven that started the first Group game. Even if you don’t have injuries, your team will evolve and change personnel.
Have you seen the preferred England starting X1s of our leading sportwriters?
Yes and all of those guys are much closer to Southgate’s England team than I am.
Has anybody picked the eleven you favour?
Will you publish your own team before we play Tunisia?
We play on the fifth day of the World Cup and I’ve only picked 10 players so far. We all know what system Southgate favours and I will only choose players who can perform in that system.
How many matches will you watch?
Less than I watched in Brazil 2014 or France 2016.
France was a long tournament and I was stupid to write and post 84 pieces about that one. I became exhausted long before the end. But I learned a lesson: Don’t do that again!
Surely the bottom line is that we ain’t very good? We didn’t win one game in Brazil last time.
Correct! And then we lost to Iceland because we couldn’t defend a long throw into the box!
Any good things in 2016?
Wife Jan, a Welsh girl from Oxford, got carried away by the exploits of Gareth Bale and Wales. It was very unusual to hear Jan shrieking when Wales almost scored. On the football side, I tried to explain what Pogba does best, what role he should play.
And I was glad that Portugal won a very tight final against France. With Ronaldo injured, that was some achievement. And a deserved validation for a generation of players that I’d been following for a long time. I’d been watching Ricardo Quaresma since he was 18 in youth tournaments. So it was great to see Quaresma get the winner in extra-time.
Will England beat Tunisia?
Of course. Tunisia are not very good and they will be very apprehensive about facing famous Englishmen who have played in so many high-profile Champions League games this season
Did you see the Tunisia-Spain friendly?
I saw the second half on FreeSport on Saturday night and was underwhelmed by them. But Tunisia contained Spain until very late on and then Diego Costa bamboozled the defence and set up Iago Aspas of Celta Vigo, who fired a scorching shot low into the net for the winner.
So we should spank Tunisia?
Exactly. Tunisia will play a defensive game and try to dig out a 0-0 draw. Golden Rule of any tournament is : Don’t lose your first game! We can score from outside the box and from headers.
Have you got over the Iceland disappointment two summers ago?
No. And I don’t know anyone who has. I just hope we don’t play Iceland again. I knew it would happen, I could see it coming, so I did a Win Double on Iceland/Italy that night.