At times I had to remind myself that it was a Friday today. For a change it was quiet on the phones, but this did not ease the burden of the work load. When I logged onto the computer in the morning, eventually I get around to opening Fire Fox (having full admin rights on a computer is great!) with my homepage set (as it is at home) to BBC News. To my surprise within the next couple of ours, the draw for the 2008 European Championships was to take place. Football draws have suddenly become a minor occasion in the office. We will temporarily fix our web browsers on the draw, constantly hitting the refresh button as the draw takes place live. The previous draw, took place in semi-silence, as the accountant (an avid Liverpool fan) was in a meeting with a colleague and therefore unaware of the Reds next opponents. Quietly I noted down the draw, wanting to in reality punch my arms up into the air with excitement. Chelsea had drawn Barcelona, Liverpool had the mediocre task of Benefica, while Arsenal (as I had predicted earlier that morning) had Real Madrid. Scribbling everything down on a Post-It, I slipped it to him, as you would a note around the back of the classroom, while in secondary school. He appreciated the sentiment, if not the execution (which even by my high standards) could have been smoother. In any case, here were were, another draw imminent. There was heated discussion among all the football fans (we number four in my area of the office) and Chris recommended we watch the draw via ESPN Soccer Net rather than the BBC which is always slow and dull. I even considered listening to live coverage on BBC Radio Five Live, but instead they were discussion British troops in Afghanistan. The ESPN web site had a great layout with the country flags and codes, all listed in their respective pots (1 to 7) and the eventual groups underneath and as if my magic from a few minutes past 11am, the qualification process began. For a change the balls were drawn from the weaker nations first, so building up to a climax when the big guns are added and you discover if you have a truly realistic chance of winning or at least coming second in the group. Over the course of the next few minutes, we decided that England should avoid both group A and B and watched with glee as Wales and the Republic of Ireland were drawn in the same group as Germany and the Czech Republic. England meanwhile have a lucky draw (once again) and should qualify as group winners with Russia runners up. Although I am sure Croatia will have something to say about that! However, let us not get carried away. Many things can happy in two years, and the next stop is Germany, not Austria or Switzerland.
Well I suppose having discussed the national scene, I have to at least pass a critical eye on the club game, and my own team. Watching the great cup tie on Tuesday night, I seriously considered that we could (based on partly the first half and our recent form) score twice and hold of Wigan. Of course, I was hoping we could do this over ninety minutes, but with extra time looming, I still favoured our chances (even on penalties). When Henry went off for Van Persie, I was convinced he would score. Then, the Sky Sports commentator gave the kiss of death, when Reyes won a free kick just outside the box. Chris Kamara knew the Dutchman would score, and he did. A goal worthy to take any team to a final. For the next few minutes, I was dreaming of another dream down to South Wales and a great day out. Yet, while I was in dreamland, Wigan Athletic were playing out of their skins, even with Arsenal playing some keep ball, to the cheers of the crowds. The long ball over the top caught us yet again and neither Sol or Philippe dealt with the threat and Roberts was there to sink our dreams and perhaps epitomized our season. However, there were several positives. Hopefully the lessons have been learnt for the up coming FA Cup tie at Bolton tomorrow. It is not going to be an easy game, but an opportunity for some of the younger players to come up to the plate and be counted. For once I believe Lawro is off the mark with his predictions. If you remember three years ago, we meet Manchester United with Henry on the bench The game was famous for Giggs missing an open goal and then in the aftermath, DB getting a boot to the face and cut above the eye. David would remain at Old Trafford for only a further four months. While I agree at times Arsenal seem a team far too reliant on the French striker, Arsene has bought young players to blood into his plans for the future and world domination.
My manager (for some strange reason) was the first to point out this new series to be screened on Channel 4. He sent an e-mail out with a link to the whole of the helpdesk and mentioned in passing the IT Crowd to any of the developers that would care to listen. While the comedy series does not hit the television screens the first episode is viewable to watch via stream on the Channel 4 micro site. Both my colleagues, used thirty minutes of their lunch hour to watch the comedy, while I prefer to wait until the 3rd. They approved, pointing out that I had some scary resemblance to Moss. We shall see. What I find most interesting is that it has taken so long for a comedy about IT people and their strange geekiness to be made. Sure the Office (which I adored) focused more on the inadequacies of middle management, there has not been a show which really reflects life in technical support. If you know of any shiny examples, please let me know. All I can think of is small piece in Thin Blue Line from over ten years ago, when Detective Inspector Grim is trying to work a computer, only to be told by one of his colleagues his PC is not plugged in at the socket!