Bringing you the art and times of Twisted & Tainted.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On? I hope not.

Pele once said Joe Cole would be the only player able to get into the Brazil team, and after days like today, you can see why.

England were uninspired. They did a lot of running around with nothing to show for it. I have seen pundits speculate about the reasons why England were so terrible today, claiming the formation is wrong, the players might be feeling the pressure, and even hinting at a problem with Capello. These are all short-sighted glitches for what is a long term problem.

The problem lies with our football culture and what values we instil in our young players coming through. Players are brought up to be powerful runners, disciplined at the back and hard in the tackle (in both senses, judging by our tabloids). It is not surprising when we come up against similarly well drilled teams like Algeria, we stumble.

Obviously, we have players like Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney to give the graft some sparkle. However, these players are surrounded by foreign talent at their respective clubs; talented players who have been brought up with different values, such as an emphasis on technique, movement off the ball, and a temperament enriched by their often harsh life experiences.

These values don’t seem to be imparted onto the majority of English players, with many following an orthodox route into the game in this modern era.

This is why managers like Wenger look elsewhere for talented young players; he has his values and he does not see these values being cultivated in English football. Everybody praises the technical ability of players like Fabregas, Messi, and Ronaldo, and it is no secret why: they make things happen without fear.

Nothing happened tonight and it wasn’t because of wrong tactics. For years we build up for these “nearly moments” when power isn’t enough. We need guile and creativity, and for our players to embrace these characteristics, our coaches must engender them and reprioritise the taught skill set.

English fans are taken by the fancy displays they see in the Champions League and the English Premier League, with teams like Barcelona stringing fifty passes together before a perfect and lethal shot on goal. These kinds of displays, and those made by other less recognised teams in South America for example, are a symptom of their culture and coaching style.

I hesitate to criticise the England team because they are essentially expected to play in a collective style uncharacteristic to them by their spoilt fans. English players are almost always based in England throughout their career, which adds to the linear training and exposure they receive in the major learning period of their career. Sometimes that works, as seen with Italy, but one cant praise the Italians for their fearlessness and flair.

Some thinking outside of the box (excuse the pun) is needed if our presumed game plan of winning 1-0 isn’t enough.

This isn’t going to happen overnight, but its time English fans, coaches, players and ex-players were honest with what is going on and realise the English team is doing OK for what it is – a solid team with no surprises.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Unknown Enemy, Unknown Friends.

Here is the completed sketch, finally. And yes, I am aware the little guy looks like he has sausages coming out of his face. I assure you its just an elaborately braided beard.

Unknown Enemy, Unknown Friends

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The eagle has left the nest.

I have been massively lax regarding this blog. The genuine reason is I’m doing a lot of travelling and have neglected a lot of my life-giving creative outlets in the last couple of months. It hasn’t made me feel good about myself. Anyway, I am leaving today for Chicago. When I come back, expect fire.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Heroes 1

Apologies for the inactivity; I’ve been laid low with the flu and sinusitis.

That aside, I have begun work on a series of sketches revolving around one of my favourites themes: heroes. This is a sketch of three heroes facing an unknown enemy. I am using a traditional “one-of-each” approach to the party (human, elf, dwarf), and have the skeleton pretty much drawn out. The dwarf was always going to take the lead; little man syndrome and all. And no, his beard isn’t made of sausages. Just wait!

UEUF - In Prog A (100)

Friday, October 16, 2009

M-52: Chelsea and Manchester

Chelsea, Manchester

Two very different places on only one route; taking it requires the gleeful purchasing of all manner of merchandise and a suitably comfortable armchair from which you can yell obscenities at Andy Gray’s dissatisfactory analysis while texting your friends in smug triumph as you watch Lampard’s deflected winner in the 98th minute from every angle conceivable thanks to Murdoch Sports.

During your travels, you will buy players for immeasurable sums of money due to bank loans and handouts from Russian and American owners respectively, all the while getting away with murder on the pitch as referees are found blowing whistles with the appropriate club badge on them. Above all else, this route can only be undertaken once you have forsaken your own soul (as it is a toll road). This is the route to Chelsea and Manchester, with traffic at a stand still inbound towards the end of the season.

Picture courtesy of Waleeta en route to Canada.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A “much smaller presence” requires some pretty big answers.

Sitting in a Commons committee room yesterday with the Director General of Policy and Research for our Department For International Development (DFID), Dr Andrew Steer, I could not help feel angry at his dismissive attitude regarding our affairs in Iraq.

After he had finished his piece on the global recession and its effect on the UK’s international development funds, I asked a question regarding our development activity in Iraq. British troops have been officially recalled and the next intuitive step would be to invest in the necessary infrastructure and institutions in order to make Iraq’s resurgence as a sovereign state a lasting and democratic one.

In short, my question was “how, given our official military withdrawal from Iraq, are funds and investments being distributed now to ensure the most vulnerable minorities are being looked after in this time of transition?” What I received in response was a puzzled look and a furrowing of the eyebrows.

Dr Steer brought up the usual doctrine of not interfering with Iraqi sovereignty – which is in line with the current policy of non-interference regarding Iraqi affairs (as if we just took their training wheels off). He claimed that there is little his department could do on a microeconomic level regarding the most vulnerable people within Iraq – something which couldn’t sound more bureaucratic if it tried.

To make matters even more silly, Dr Steer gave me this response in light of the background picture painted previously of an evolving department, second only to the generous Scandinavian states, where old-school bureaucracy was being replaced by fresh-faced efficiency. This “considerably smaller presence” in Iraq, on a development front, cannot be justified given our recent occupation and our historical ties to the state we manufactured and raised since its infancy.

So it is my turn to furrow my eyebrows. Packing up and leaving after our military operations stands out as baffling and irresponsible. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have a budget for special projects undertaken by organisations based in fragile states like Iraq called Quick Response Funds (QRF’s). These help with supplies and services for vulnerable people, such as (but not limited to) proper irrigation, sanitation, rule of law, food distribution, local governance and repair of civic and cultural facilities.

More specifically, in the United States this year, Congressman Mark Kirk (R–IL) helped secure “$20 million for humanitarian and development assistance for religious minorities in Iraq” (here) – something us British lamentably scoff at. All things considered, Dr Steer’s dismissive comments about USAID and his attempt to portray Britain as a shining light in the West were not persuasive, especially from my perspective as an Assyrian.

Regardless, our special responsibility as Britons compels us to fulfil our duty to the indigenous minorities of Iraq as they try and find their place in a fragmented country. Afghanistan will always be the priority for the coalition forces but Iraq cannot be forgotten. As tension between the Kurdish north and the Arab south escalates ahead of the January general election, it is precisely the development of infrastructure, a reliable and diverse police force and proper monitoring bodies that will help the Iraqi people realise a peace they have never known before.

Worryingly, this will all elude them if the issue of Kirkuk and its oil fields is not resolved. We can all turn a blind eye to this, but at our peril.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stick World

Here we have something I drew in pencil and inverted to create a chalkboard effect. Alas, it is an old scan (I don’t have the original anymore) so forgive the shady bottom half that looks like the inside of a bar before the smoking ban.

Stick World