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Terry Stokes the fire

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Robbo Robson | 14:12 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

Well you just can't keep John Terry out of the news, can you?

I'd been waiting for the next trademark headed goal and subsequent celebration and old JT didn't let us down, did he? Passionate, veins bulging, and with absolutely no appreciation of how it might be received in a wider context.

All right, he says he was giving a bit of banter back to the Stoke fans -and I'm all for that - but scoring and standing still with your arms aloft is probably better than pointing at your armband in an act of self-justification.

Sometimes you wonder if Terry thinks anything through - from the reasons to him being stripped of the England captaincy, to gelling his hairdo into a cardboard wedge, when you know you're going to have to head the ball.
John Terry
John Terry celebrates against Stoke
Of course, Terry may lack a lot of things, but self-belief isn't one of them. Much like the Grate Dane Nicklas Bendtner. Here's a man who started the season with a new squad number as 52 was a number that was special for him. And sure enough, he missed exactly 52 sitters on Saturday.
In his current vein of form - and I'm not sure what you call the opposite of a purple patch (a brown patch?) - young Nicklas couldn't finish a Janet and John book - in Danish. It's the sort of performance that sees a striker get damned with that awful, faint praise of 'well, at least he keeps getting himself into them goalscoring positions.' Yeah. And messing it up.

It's a bit like the Royal Mail telling you not to worry that your parcel still hasn't arrived 'cos their van goes past your house five times a day.

Yakubu had a similar 'mare at Goodison on Sunday. Boro fans will recognise this version of the Yak. There's one that's as sharp as a kiwi fruit in lemon juice, and there's Sunday's version - the lumbering ox with the concrete boots. But Bendtner is the Sultan of Squander. Against Burnley he had more misses than a prolific polygamist.

Overall, it was one of them disappointingly unsurprising weekends of football. It looked for a moment as if Brian McDermott, (or Brian Who? as he's known in the Blue Bell) was going to be the man of the round.

But then Villa cruelly and somewhat unromantically turned the game on its head thanks to Big John Carew... a name that sounds less like a Norwegian footballer and more like a large lumbering creature from an American folk tale.

Why Carew sits on the bench when Heskey starts is beyond me. But then Heskey's renaissance as a club and international striker is one of the great mysteries of British sport. As mysterious as why British athletes are going to be training for the London Olympics in 2012 in somewhere other than Britain.

This is an Olympics on such a tight budget that I hear one of the sponsors is going to be Primark, and yet we're sending our competitors across the water to get them ready, only to bring them back in time for the races.

But even that's not as mysterious as how Team GB can lose a tennis match to Lithuania. Tennis budget for Lithuania: 90,000 quid. LTA annual budget: 59 million quid. Lithuania have three ranked players. Britain has thousands of rank players.
Victorious Lithuanian Davis Cup teamLithuanian team celebrate their victory
The LTA gets shedloads of money from UK sport and lottery funding. What the hell is happening with that money?

The lasses are doing better - well enough to pay their own way as it happens - so let's have that cash back, shall we? Let's spend it on ooh, I dunno, the handball team, or a hospital ward or a helicopter - or we could just incinerate it and thereby use it more wisely than the LTA manage to.

It's surely no coincidence that the most talented Brit to pick up a tennis racquet in 70 years left Britain at the age of 15, sure in the knowledge that he'd get no better staying here.

Any road, back to the footy. Yep. No surprises. It was foreseeable that Pompey would win, given that a Wembley semi-final was the players' best chance of guaranteeing a pay packet this month. They could be the first team to get to an FA Cup final and go down since... Middlesbrough. Sigh.

I'm not one of them doom-mongers who says the FA Cup has lost its magic, but I have to say that with the Premier League being at its most exciting for years, I was more interested to find out whether Arsenal would get Bendtnered out of shape and if a Wazza-less United could bag a win against novel opponents - that's right, Mick, a full-strength side'll give you a chance of a point, mate!

In fact, had Vokes not made Bendter's finishing look incisive, you'd have the point your team deserved.

Unfortunately, United had one Paul Scholes to pop up with his 100th goal for his club. Scholes is a wonderful - and quiet - footballer. He's got the lot: great first touch, brilliant shot, good with both feet, and tackles like a removals van on black ice.

He could just about be the best Englishman the Premier League has ever seen, bar Shearer (and David Wheater, of course).


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