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Frank Lampard right to blast media for negative Wayne Rooney fixation handicapping England’s 2014 World Cup bid

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Just like David Beckham before him Wayne Rooney is an England hero who refuses to be written off by the British media.

The truth is that Roy Hodgson’s men have been affected by the negative comment targeted at their biggest star by the newspapers, radio and television back home.

Frank Lampard revealed the resentment within the England camp for the negative media attention  when he said: “There has been a fixation with one player in every World Cup I’ve been involved in.

“It’s frustrating when you’re in a team group and that happens. There is a fixation on one player and rather than a debate. It becomes an agenda so I think we need to drop the agenda and look at the team, whoever plays.

“Rooney is determined at every tournament. A lot of furore has been built up around him but I see the same Wayne. He wants to play well and give everything for the team.

“It’s about a team performance. We didn’t win the other night, but the minute you start trying to focus on individuals again and again and again it can be detrimental. Behind closed doors, we’re trying to win games.”

Rooney Facebook statement

No doubt Rooney will attract even more criticism for lashing out at the media abuse he has received from some so-called experts with a strongly worded statement on Facebook today that reads:
“Sometimes wonder what the press are getting at. I said from the start I want to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready for these World Cup games and as part of that I was doing extra training a week before the squad joined up. That’s exactly what I did yesterday, my own extra training because that’s what I wanted to do.”

The truth is that Rooney’s contribution in the narrow 2-1 defeat by Italy in their opening Group B match was a vital part of a performance Gary Neville has described as  “the best England have played for 16 years.”
In my view there  is absolutely zero chance of Hodgson not sticking with Rooney in the must not lose showdown with Uruguay on Thursday. How delicious will it be for the Manchester United star if he makes the critics eat their words when it really counts.

Group D

Peerless Pirlo king of the jungle

In England’s showdown with Italy it was another masterclass from the peerless Pirlo. The 35 year old the undisputed king of the jungle in the Amazon.

Italy 2-1 England
Raheem Sterling was England’s star man in a positive display by Roy’s boys.
And Daniel Sturridge gave the Three Lions hope with his first World Cup goal.
But Italy were good value for their 2-1 win.

England had their chances and this was a big improvement on previous displays.
Meantime the biggest surprise saw Costa Rica reverse a 1-nil half time deficit.
Costa Rica 3-1 Uruguay
Three goals in the second half stunned Uruguay.
And that makes Thursday’s England-Uruguay match a must not lose game for both sides.

On what we’ve seen so far England definitely have the quality to beat Uruguay.
So long as they don’t lose on Thursday England can still quality for the knockout stages.


FIFA World Cup | humiliation for England in Brazil – why Roy’s boys are good enough to make amends with Rooney on board

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England’s World Cup embarrassment in Brazil has already hit rock bottom   . . . but Roy Hodgson’s men have a golden opportunity to make amends for what happened 64 years ago when the side skippered by Billy Wright crashed to an infamous 1-0 defeat by the USA.

The truth is that for once the huge weight of expectation will be less of a burden for Team England, who arrived in Rio in 1950 with a reputation as the “Kings of Football”, writes JOHN GUBBA.

Ever since our solitary triumph in 1966 and heroic attempt to defend the trophy in 1970, expectations have invariably outweighed the strength of our challenge for the FIFA World Cup Trophy. This time around no one expects England to triumph. While Hodgson has assembled an England team with an exciting blend of youth and experience. 

Consequently, there is a glorious opportunity to restore lost pride. Not by winning the tournament, but by playing a style of football that will give us something to build on for the future.

This we can do if Hodgson has the strength of character to give youth a chance and make the right selections, starting with the opening match against Italy on Saturday.While the mass media play their predictable role of chipping away at morale, this time targeting Wayne Rooney for negative attention, Hodgson has shown his class by deflecting all the barbed comments and creating a team unity the likes of which we have not seen in the England camp for some years.

In Steven Gerrard the manager has  a skipper who has matured into the role he richly deserves and will inspire the outstanding kids around him as well as motivate the more senior players to do themselves justice.The media spotlight is on Rooney to deliver after his previous injury-hampered failures at the World Cup. And there are those who believe the hugely talented Ross Barkley is ready to push Wazza out of the starting line up. But the reality is that the rich seam of outstanding young talent will bring the best out of Rooney and the other established stars.

Too many times on the biggest stage England’s finest have frozen, overwhelmed by the fear of failure. But this time Gerrard and Rooney will revel in the spotlight because they are surrounded by an exciting crop of confident kids who will shine in the heat of Brazil.

In Hodgson we have the first English born manager since World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey, one of the players on the receiving end of that 1950 humiliation by USA, who has relevant tournament experience at international level.

The former manager of Switzerland was not the people’s choice when he landed the top job ahead of Harry Redknapp. But there has never been any doubt in my mind that Hodgson will restore pride in Team England and there is a tangible sense of togetherness about the squad that arrived in Brazil.

To restore lost pride will be just as important as winning matches in Brazil because we have become a second tier nation accustomed to humiliation and under achievement.

by John GubbaSimply getting out of a group that includes Uruguay, Costa Rica and an opening match against Italy would be an outstanding result.Even if we fail to qualify for the latter stages, how satisfying will it be to see hugely talented youngsters like Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Barclay scare the living daylights out of Italy? The odds are that England will again fail to beat the Italians when the two sides meet in the Amazonian jungle on Saturday night. But give the kids a chance and play to our full potential and the nation will thank Hodgson for doing the right thing.

Mark my words, if Gerrard, Rooney and the kids kick off  their Italian job with a victory then World Cup fever will sweep through England like wildfire and the shame of 1950 in Belo Horizonte will be well and truly buried in the sands of time. 

Football has come home for Brazil with stunning demolition of World Champions Spain

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Brazil’s emphatic 3-0 thrashing of Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup will force many experts to change their predictions for next year’s World Cup.

From the way the home fans electrified the atmosphere at the Maracana with an awesome rendition of the national anthem to the impressive manner Brazil outfought and outplayed the reigning world champions, this was a humbling experience for the Spaniards.

Neymar eclipsed his new Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta as the player of the tournament and crowned his spectacular display with the goal of the match inbetween decisive strikes by Fred.

But it was the way Brazil dominated from the start and reasserted their belief that they are the best team on the planet that will send shock waves around Europe and the rest of the world.

Home advantage is clearly going to be a huge boost next year and there is every sign that Felipe Scolari is creating a formidable new force that will be even stronger in 12 months time.

Spain have not become a bad side overnight and key moments that could have turned out differently on another night perhaps flattered Brazil. A remarkable goal-line clearance by David Luiz from Pedro and the penalty kick blazed wide by Ramos were both pivotal outcomes that could easily have painted a different story.

But make no mistake the Boys from Brazil are back in business and they will take some stopping when they host the big one in 2014.


July 1st, 2013 at 1:24 am

Captain Rooney, Goldenballs on bench and Rio at the back spells a winning formula for Wenger’s United England

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Let’s be honest. It is hard to tackle Gary Lineker’s defeatist attitude when he declares: “England do not have an earthly of winning the World Cup.”

So how about thinking outside the box and doing something radical. Cue the professor of football, Frenchman Arsene Wenger, who champions the idea of building the national team around the country’s most successful team. Add the influence of England’s most loyal servant David Beckham, the leadership and vision of Wayne Rooney, the panache and style of the world’s best footballing defender Rio Ferdinand and the new crop of kids from Old Trafford.

The professor earned the respect of United fans and players when he saw red at Old Trafford

Respect – Professor won hearts of United fans when he saw red at OT

In other words let’s build the next England team around Manchester United – past and present – and put Wenger in charge to see if he can turn his vision into reality with the help of players who still know how to win trophies. No.2 Gary Neville will make sure the Frenchman does not neglect his defence – and Roy Hodgson can be the player liaison officer. During matches he can sit with the suits. Just don’t ask him to make any team talks because his Plan B is the same as his Plan A

Much that I admire Steven Gerrard, his leadership in Montenegro was undermined by a performance littered with sloppy mistakes. Like Frank Lampard his best days are behind him. But these golden oldies have an important supporting role to play on the bench along with Mr Golden Balls himself David Beckham.

Becks is back in the frontline with Champions League quarter-finalists Paris St-Germain. He’s the only English player still in the competition. And Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear he still thinks Beckham can deliver at the highest level by offering him another season’s contract that will take him up to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Let’s remind Stuart Pearce what an idiot he was by leaving the former Manchester United star out of his Team GB squad for London 2012 and make him Wenger’s assistant player-manager. We all know that Wenger loves Becks and he struck up a friendship with the Essex boy when he invited him to train with Arsenal.

Becks is an admirer of England’s great Arsenal protege Jack Wilshere having watched him at close quarters in training. He knows the boy will be magical supporting frontmen Rooney and Danny Welbeck, in a midfield surrounded by Ashley Young, Tom Cleverly and Michael Carrick, the most consistent performer at Old Trafford this season.

Everyone can see that Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are the future rocks at the back for England and even Roy Hodgson admits he got it wrong backing John Terry instead of Ferdinand. So how about Ferdinand and Smalling as centre backs with Jones pushing forward from the rightback berth. That leaves a space for Ashley Cole on the left. I am sure he can kiss and make up with his old pal Rio. Even the Chelsea man must have seen the tongue-in-cheek humour of that choc ice twitter jibe.

The goalkeeper has to be Joe Hart- an advocate of a United Manchester and good friends with Ferdinand and other players at Old Trafford – so there is no reason he will not fit into a United England. Former Reds keeper Ben Foster, meanwhile, is an outstanding deputy for the No.1 shirt.

So who will the captain be? I thought that was obvious. Rooney will revel in the role. Judging by the way he is starting to find his form again for England and the confidence boost he will receive from such a vote of confidence will bring out the best of a player yet to fulfil his true potential on the world stage.

It may be April Fool’s Day, but am I really joking here? Think about this formation and you tell me . . .

ENGLAND (4:1:3:1:1) – Hart; Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, A.Cole; Carrick; Cleverly, Wilshere, Young; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs: Foster, Baines, Cahill, Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard, Defoe. Manager: Wenger. Assistant: Neville

Sack Fabio Capello – and appoint English-born manager to ditch John Terry and re-call Paul Scholes: FA’s chance to unite nation

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The men in suits forever ridiculed by critics as the ‘jokers’ who run the game but ‘don’t know what they’re doing’ have a unique opportunity to make all the doubters eat their words.

There is a lot of absolute rubbish being written and said by so-called experts who have defended Fabio Capello’s ill-advised decision to take on the Football Association over their decision to strip John Terry of the captains armband.

The reality is the FA’s only mistake was not taking this action months ago when the crown prosecution charged Terry with racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

Forget innocent until proven guilty. That is irrelevant. Terry will get the chance to clear his name in July. But it is inconceivable that England can go into a major tournament led by a skipper charged with being a racist.

Not only to protect England, but – whether he likes it or not -this is in the best interests of Terry. Can you imagine the controversy that would have engulfed England at Euro 2012 with Terry facing the world’s media and constantly being reminded about his racism charge.

The FA have been world leaders in their campaign to kick racism out of football. But the possibility that their skipper could become a convicted racist within days of the tournament ending would have made England a laughing stock.

Fabio Capello told Italian TV: “I completely disagree with the FA about the John Terry decision. I have told that to the chairman.”

Fabio Capello told Italian TV: “I completely disagree with the FA about the John Terry decision. I have told that to the chairman.”

In any other walk of life anyone in Terry’s position would be suspended and removed from the firing line until after their court case.

For Capello to gamble his career by taking on his employers and so publicly supporting Terry is a shockingly poor decision for so many reasons. It is such a bad call one suspects the Italian secretly wants to be fired so he can walk away from an England job he has never mastered.

The reality is that Capello has made his position as manager untenable. Not just by challenging the FA’s authority but by inexcusably creating problems in the England dressing room

By making it public knowledge that his captain will no longer be his first choice undermines what already appears to be a fragile relationship with his players – who already know he is walking away when his contract expires in the summer.

By quickly ruling himself out of being re-instated as captain, Rio Ferdinand confirmed his lack of respect for Capello. And I am absolutely certain he is not the only one doubting the Italian’s ability to learn from his mistakes during and since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Imagine how the atmosphere would change if the FA have the balls to sack Capello and give the fans what they really want . . . an English-born manager.

Imagine if that man was Harry Redknapp after he successfully defends his Court case and kicks into touch those charges of alleged tax evasion.

And imagine if the new English manager leaves Terry out of his Euro 2012 squad altogether and successfully persuades this nation’s best midfielder Paul Scholes to make a sensational comeback.

There is no doubt in my mind Scholes will accept the challenge if he his given the respect he deserves and gets the call from a manager who wants his team to play a passing game.

The ginger haired genius has already publicly stated he wishes he had played at the last World Cup and Scholes is universally recognised as the best England player of his generation.

There is also no doubt that Redknapp will come to England’s rescue if he gets the call. But even if that is not possible there are several other Englishmen who could do better than Capello.

My message to FA chairman David Bernstein is simple. Step up and become the leader the English game needs by giving Capello the boot, ditch Terry altogether and appoint an English manager who will build his Euro 2012 team around Scholes.


How pathetic for Craig Brown to brand Team GB players ‘selfish”

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Craig Brown

Craig Brown


Forget the politics – it is time for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to join forces and get behind Team GB’s bid for glory at London 2012

Stuart Pearce – the Englishman appointed manager – is absolutely right when he says Britain’s top young stars will all want to take their shot at Olympic Gold.

The Olympics is a unique platform for the world’s finest under 23 players to shine. Remember it was the stage that launched Lionel Messi on the way to becoming the best player on the planet. And Messi was so determined to take part he was happy for Argentinia to take Barcelona to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the argument over whether or not he could play at the Games.

That’s why the likes of Welshman Gareth Bale are expected to ignore pleas by the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FAs not to take part for fear of losing their national status with FIFA.

Let’s face it does anyone really believe that England, Scotland, Wakes and Northern Ireland will be forced to compete as Great Britain at the FIFA World Cup.

For former Scotland manager Craig Brown to say players who take part will be “selfish” is just pathetic.

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01 August 2011:  England storm to a 2-0 series lead and now look odds on to win the four Test series by the minimum 2-match margin that will take India’s crown as the world’s No.1 cricket team.

Ian Bell re-instated after 'run out'

Ian Bell reprieved after controversial 'run out'


It is rare in the modern world that great sportsmanship prevails at the highest level – and one can only admire India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his gracious reprieve for England’s batting hero Ian Bell at such a pivotal moment in the Second Test.

Bell had played one of his finest innings for England, scoring 137 when he was given “run out” after the last delivery before the tea interval – and then reinstated in the most bizarre circumstances.

Eoin Morgan had played the ball down to long leg and Praveen Kumar made a diving attempt to stop the ball, which bounced off his leg as he fell over the boundary. Kumar, clearly under the impression that the ball had gone for four, returned it to MS Dhoni. And when the skipper gave it to his short-leg fielder Abhinav Mukund, who broke the wicket, Bell was run out. By this time Bell and Morgan, who appeared to think the umpire had called “over”, were on their way back to the pavilion for their cup of tea.

Following Indian appeals for the run out, Bell was given out after replays had shown that the ball had not gone for four and the umpires were booed as they took the field after the interval. But the boos turned to cheers when Bell resumed his innings, Dhoni withdrawing the appeal over tea.

Bell went on to reach 159 as England re-asserted their supremacy with an extraordinary 417 runs on the third day, reaching 441-6 to lead by 374. There is every chance Dhoni’s sporting gesture will cost India not only defeat to England, but ultimately their status as the world’s No.1 cricket team.

The whole episode was summed up succinctly by Bell – who was guilty of not playing to the whistle, when he said: “I was a bit naive to walk off for tea not attempting a run. But in the spirit of the game the right decision was made.”

Whatever the outcome of this Test, Dhoni’s sportsmanship will go down in history as the day India upheld the spirit of the game. There are not many sportsmen who would have done the same.

The day Thierry Henry grotesquely handled the ‘goal’ that sent France to the 2008 FIFA World Cup at the expense of Ireland stands out like a beacon as the occasion when one of football’s most gifted players was branded a cheat because his side refused to invoke the purist principles of good sportsmanship.



HOW THE SECOND TEST ENDED:  The previous day’s drama was eclipsed when Tim Bresnan scored 90 runs and took five wickets as England tore India apart to surge to one of their most impressive Test victories in recent times. After racking up 544 in a blistering batting display, England’s seamers skittled the tourists for 158 to complete a 319-run victory on the fourth day at Trent Bridge. Geoffrey Boycott summed up England’s superiority when he declared: “England are after a 4-0 series victory and will go number one in the world easily. They are all over India. They are not just beating them but demoralising them. There are moments where it’s touch and go, but like a boxer they wear them down before they knock them absolutely flat out.”





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Le Tissier - genius

Le Tissier - genius


Matt Le Tissier was a footballing genius and in my opinion it is criminal that his loyalty to Southampton probably cost him a place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.

In a B international prior to the final squad selection, Le Tissier scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory for England against Russia at Loftus Road. But he was controversially overlooked by manager Glenn Hoddle. It was ironic that given his reputation as a superb penalty taker, England exited the tournament after losing to Argentina in a penalty shoot out.




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As a professional film maker it never ceases to amaze me how content is king even when the video quality is shocking.  This montage was clearly produced by an amateur YouTuber and  is poor quality technically and 100% unofficial. But you will still enjoy the beauty of the action. That’s why it has had over 13 million views.

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Classic Goals from the Premier League

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Collect all 5 volumes of this great DVD collection

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Phil Jones - a future England captain

Phil Jones - a future England captain


The English Premier League may be the most exciting domestic football competition in the world. TV viewing figures certainly suggest that it is. And the global reach of the world’s biggest and most popular club Manchester United is second to none. But do not let this confuse you. English football needs a root and branch revolution because it is just not good enough.

Not only is England’s national team a poor relation on the world stage, with a zero chance of winning the next World Cup in Brazil in three years time. But we will always be no hopers unless drastic changes are made to the way we coach the game. Ironically, the upcoming regulations that are forcing our top clubs to develop home grown talent could be the best thing that has happened to the game in this country since 1966 so long as the elite do not fall into the trap of thinking money alone is the answer.

Jordan Henderson a popular choice with Liverpool fans

Jordan Henderson will be big hit at Liverpool

For Manchester United and Liverpool to lead the way recruiting England’s most promising youngsters is the inevitable reaction to UEFA’s upcoming requirement for nine homegrown players in a squad of 18. But forking out huge wads of cash – Phil Jones £20M, Ashley Young £20M, Jordan Henderson £20M, Andy Carrol £35M – does not tackle the underlying flaw in our national game.

When England miraculously escaped with a draw against Spain in their European Under-21 Championship opener on Sunday, it only served to confuse the issue. Just as Barcelona played football from a different planet in their Champions League Final triumph over Manchester United last month, the Spanish youngsters demonstrated how their skill and technique is light years ahead of the game in England.

It is not that our players lack the ability to match the Spaniards. It is a fundamental flaw in the way the game is being taught from grass roots upwards. We are blinded by the rigidity of out-dated formations and the fear of losing or making a mistake. We must go back to basics and teach our young players the fundamental skills of pass and move, keeping possession, dribbling, shooting and passing with both feet.

Ashley Young will provide extra width at Old Trafford

Ashley Young heading for Old Trafford

In essence it is time to learn how to play total football. The enduring success of Barcelona – Champions League winners twice in three years – and the Spanish national team, champions of both Europe and the World is not something that money can buy. It takes a sound footballing philosophy and a commitment to mastering the skills of The Beautiful Game.

At Barca Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Zavi have grown up together learning their skills and understanding. OK Catalonia’s adopted son Messi was born in Argentina and we are talking about a club side not a nation. But the point is that the Catalans have developed a purist style of football that can be taught. Take any of the Barca players and they are at home playing in just about any position on the pitch because they are comfortable on the ball. Until English footballers can express themselves with the same confidence they will forever be making up the numbers.    Sporting freeviews on VISIONSPORT.TV

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Andy Carroll cost Liverpool £35 million

Andy Carroll cost Liverpool £35 million