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banner Friday, 2 November, 2001, 16:08 GMT
Brian Glanville on the World Cup
Put your questions to football writer Brian Glanville
Brian Glanville, The Sunday Times' respected football writer, was on hand to answer your questions on any football issue.

  • real 14k Click here to listen to Brian


    Having covered every single World Cup for the last 40 years, Brian Glanville is the ideal man to put any of your football queries to.

    Currently writing for The Sunday Times, Glanville has also written for the Corriere dello Sport in Italy, as well as writing and co-editing 'Goal!' the official film of England's 1966 World Cup triumph.

    His new edition of "The Story of the World Cup", published by Faber and Faber, is about to hit the bookshelves priced 9.99, and BBC Sport Online had ten copies to give away. Thanks for all your competition entries.

    Click below to hear Brian answer your questions.

  • real 14k Click here to listen to Brian

    Christopher Hickey, England

    Realistically, do England have a strong chance of winning the next World Cup?

    I think 'no' at the moment, I'm sorry to say. I didn't see the meaningless friendly against Sweden. Although they had this marvellous, somewhat freakish win against Germany, and although I've got a lot of time for Sven-Goran Eriksson as manager, who I've known for years having caught up with him all over Italy, I think he has been somewhat fortunate.

    There have been some very poor performances by England and they've been very lucky in home games they should have won comfortably.

    I think there is a severe lack of quality in the team and they desperately miss Michael Owen when he's not playing. I think Beckham's done exceptionally well for them; I don't think he is ultimately in the class of Michael Owen.

    I resist the view that Beckham is a so-called world-class player but I think he plays wonderfully well within his limitations. I wouldn't go as far as George Best who trashed him, saying he hasn't got a left foot, which he has, he scored an important goal with it not long ago.

    He's not much good in the air, he's not particularly fast and he can't get past a man, but he's got a wonderful right foot, which he uses superbly for crosses and free kicks. But there is a definite lack of quality in the team, not least in midfield, I just pray for the re-emergence of Joe Cole.

    You mentioned problems in midfield, what about the so-called problem area of the left flank?

    Well that hasn't been resolved, but it has been with us for years curiously enough. Some of your readers may remember how right-footed players such as Emlyn Hughes and David Nish were deployed there.

    Phil Neville, who I don't think is a player of international class and I have doubts about his brother, is a right-footed player who has played on the left and gave away that crucial penalty against Romania in the European Championships which put England out of contention. Ashley Cole I don't think is remotely ready.

    Nobody has made Zenden of Chelsea and Holland look as good as Ashley Cole did at Tottenham playing for England against Holland. Like so many fullbacks today he is very good at going forward, but because classic wingers today are so few and far between, when they do come up against a winger who will take them on with pace and skill, they often just don't know what to do.

    Would you say Dunn is a realistic prospect for the World Cup?

    I think he's a possibility, but these are very early days, and as far as international football is concerned, you really never know about a player until you've put him in and seen him. But there are so many players who do well at club level but they're duds at international level.

    I mean surely we've seen enough of Phillips to tell that he's never going to crack it as an international footballer. Surely we've seen enough of Liverpool's Carragher, in contrast to Gerrard who, at his best is an international player. But Carragher was not a left-back at all, A: it's not his position and B: he's not a natural left footer.

    There are so many players of this kind who keep being called up. I don't think Nicky Butt will ever be an international, he's an aggressive player, I don't say dirty player, he can win the ball but once he's got it he never seems to do anything remarkable or unexpected with it.

    This position hasn't been filled for a very long time. Gazza was probably the last player of truly tremendous quality and originality.

    He behaved like a lunatic on the field perpetually injuring himself etc, but he was a wonderful talent, and had this glorious capacity to 'invent the game' as the Italians say, do something you'd never expect him to do until he'd done it. I saw him play for Everton against Blackburn recently and he was far and away the best player on the field.

    Lucy Oakley, London

    Do you think Sven-Goran Eriksson is a likely candidate to take over from Alex Ferguson at Man United next season?

    I've no idea! I can't imagine he'd want to do so anyway. He's under contract to England and I'm sure he wants to see that out. Probably in his dotage as manager he'd like to take over Sweden, but I can't see he'd be in the frame at all, no.

    Simon Mayhew, UK

    Every World Cup sees a star emerge from obscurity. Who do you think will impress in 2002?

    I think we know most of the players who are going to do well and be stars. You've got one or two, like Riquelme for Argentina who may or may not get into the side, the Italians are trying out new players, Doni of Atalanta did extremely well for them in Japan recently.

    I would love to see Joe Cole come through; he has been very unlucky to be injured. He has wonderful close control, and always uses the ball with tremendous intelligence. I'd love to see him play for England and perhaps emerge as the surprise of the competition.

    Phil Harlow, London

    Brazil's hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup hang in the balance following their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bolivia. Are they a spent force?

    They're an absolute mystery. They change managers about every other month! Nobody they bring in seems to make any difference. If you look at the team that lost 3-1, you can't really understand quite how it is doing so badly.

    But they've been flagging time after time and playing appallingly badly, not least when they lost to Ecuador. The great star Zico has poured scorn on the European-based players more or less calling them mercenaries not prepared to give their all to Brazil. But you look at the team, with Rivaldo, Cafu, Denilson, and you really felt this was a team who could do it.

    Elber hasn't been released by Bayern Munich for the last couple of games, but if they get him back for the game against Venezuela it might make a difference, but it is going to be a very difficult game. Brazil have never lost a home World Cup qualifying game, but Venezuela have come into a stupendous run of form, and have been beating one team after another.

    Brazil will really have to win because there is an escape hatch - which in my opinion should never exist. It's insane that the winners of the Oceania group don't automatically qualify. Australia, with players like Kewell and Viduka, are quite a formidable team, so if the Brazilians have to play them home and away I think they'll be in trouble.

    I don't know quite what's happened to Brazil, the talent appears to be there, it is a mystery.

    Cameron Ostovar, USA

    I have read your commentaries since the early 70s. Would you change the current qualifying countries per continent allotment for the World Cup?

    Well I, for donkey's years, have been against the way the World Cup has been zoned. Fifa appear oblivious to the invention of the jet plane! There should be more of a mix-up. African and European teams should be pitted against one another. I think the Asian teams have far too many teams in, in some cases of very little quality or prospects.

    And of course the South American tournament is insane now, they used to have a relatively limited number of matches but now, for the second time they have this enormous 'come all ye' competition which goes on for 18 months!

    And I think the European countries are eventually going to put their foot down. France playing in Australia was insanity, not least because most of the Australians are playing in Europe anyway. And it has turned out very grimly for Dugarry, who was appalling fouled by Muscat - I mean what's new - and now he's out for many months, and just in a silly little friendly.

    Alexandre Gontijo, Brazil

    Why, in your opinion, does Spain never really do well on the international stage?

    It's very odd. I thought they did very well in America and were extremely unlucky to be eliminated by Italy. There was an atrocious foul by the Italian full-back when he smashed his elbow into the face of Luis Enrique, and if he had been sent off then things could have been substantially different.

    The ipso-facto suspension that was imposed subsequently was unfortunately absolutely irrelevant because the damage had been done. But if you look at the last World Cup, you really have to say it was down to the abysmal choice of the veteran goalkeeper Zubizaretta. But it is difficult to understand as a whole why they don't do much better.

    Tom Walker, Brit living in the USA

    Who will score the most goals in the 2002 World cup? My bet is on Trezequet.

    I think we'd all like to know that! Trezeguet? He might do. I don't think it will be Batistuta, who has somewhat lost his edge with all his injuries, and actually he is no longer guaranteed a place in the Argentine attack. Crespo has been playing, and of course there's Claudio Lopez as well. I think we're in the realms of uncertainty there!

    James Addis, France

    Just before the 1999 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich you wrote that Manchester United had only one world-class player, Ryan Giggs. How many do they have now, in your opinion?

    I suppose you might say that. I don't want to denigrate Beckham, he has risen from the ashes after his appalling petulance that got him sent off in St Etienne, but I don't see him as a world class player. Possibly Roy Keane.

    I was in Dublin and it was very obvious that he was troubled by his knee during the game. He probably shouldn't have played at all, and the next day we learn he might have to have an operation. I mean Alex Ferguson will be absolutely delighted!

    Everything's falling apart at Manchester United. He's let Stam go in this ridiculous way, and resurrected Laurent Blanc from the tomb. Silvestre is now being openly critical, and he'll probably go, and Scholes has been ludicrously badly handled. But Ferguson was quite generous to let Keane go at all and this is his reward.

    I think Man Utd are moving into crisis because Alex Ferguson has lost it - the fact of the matter is that he's made some dreadful mistakes this season. He talks about how it's getting harder and harder to manager his team. I just think it's getting harder and harder for him.

    Damon Main, Scotland

    Do you see yourself as an objective football writer or a fan with a typewriter?

    I can't really say that I'm a fan of any team. I suppose when England play I am to some extent a fan of England, and I still enjoy the game very much. Every journalist's attitude should be fundamentally adversarial, and as far as I'm concerned one should be as critical as possible.

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