All posts by Sam Jewell

Terry Stripped Of England Captaincy, Does The Team Need Him Anyway?

Unsurprisingly today the FA decided to strip John Terry of the England captaincy. Some may say that decision has been made several months too late, some may say it didn’t need to made it all.

One thing is for certain. Today the FA have made a stand and one that for now they have to stick to, for the good of their organization, the national team and their image both at home and abroad.

In an ideal world, Terry’s race-row case with Anton Ferdinand would have been sorted out months ago. But that hasn’t happened and it was clear that the FA were going to be forced into stripping the Chelsea defender of the captaincy after a backlash of public outcry at the news the case would be adjourned until after the upcoming European Championships were over.

After all England and the FA could ill-afford to have Terry lead the side in Poland and Ukraine amid the backdrop of his race-row case. Imagine what the rest of Europe would think looking on if England under Terry were to have won the competition with the skipper’s face all over the news only to come back to England after the tournament to be found guilty.

Terry and some fans will not like the decision, but it’s the only decision the FA could make. Some may say that it’s a lose-lose situation made and that the FA would have been criticised if they had kept Terry on and that because of the decision they have made today that it again shows poor leadership and puts more pressure on Fabio Capello and the team to put on a good showing at the finals.

Terry it’s believed according to several journalists and individuals who know him well like Ray Wilkins could very well resign from International football before Capello names his squad for England’s next friendly, coming up against Holland, in the fixture that was originally postponed due to the London riots, this month at Wembley.

Whether you like Terry as an individual or as a footballer, he does carry a lot of experience on his shoulders and whilst it’s understandable that fans and pundits do want to see younger players on-board, losing someone of his experience would hurt any squad ahead of a major tournament.

However after the maligned World Cup campaign in South Africa there has been a ‘changing of the guard’ in the England team with younger and inexperienced players at International level coming through and being given a chance.

Terry it may be said needs and wants to play for England. But with centre-back’s like Chris Smalling, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones and Joeleon Lescott now regulars in the squad along with the uncapped Ryan Shawcross and Micah Richards (who for some strange reason Capello refuses to pick) around, England just simply do not need Terry and have the resources to move on as and when they wish to do so.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87

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Is Hernandez Suffering Second Season Syndrome?

On the 28th of May last year at Wembley, Javier Hernandez was one of the first names on Sir Alex Ferguson’s team sheet for the biggest club game in the world against Barcelona in the Champions League Final.

Hernandez made an instant and unforgettable impact in his first season following his move to Manchester United in 2010. His goals were a contributing factor in United winning a record 19th league title, but did he peak too early in his Old Trafford career?

Or is he suffering the dreaded ‘Second Season Syndrome’ which has affected countless players down the years?

In the defence of Hernandez, you could argue he has had an injury setback this season that has resulted in the Mexican being denied a run of games, But I actually think you can look into this deeper and it is not second season syndrome that he is suffering from, it’s his style of play that is affecting his place in the United starting eleven.

Hernandez is an out and out goal scorer, there is no doubting that he knows where the net is, he is your old fashioned centre forward, the “fox in the box”, who can be anonymous for 89 minutes of a match and pop up to score the winning goal.

Today’s game has changed dramatically, teams no longer have a place in their team for a player who only offers goals, I know that sounds stupid, but Hernandez currently finds himself fourth choice striker out of five, and the player under him is the injury prone Michael Owen.

So the players ahead of him in the striking department queue are?

Well Wayne Rooney in the team is a not really a debate or argument when fully fit, so that leaves Danny Welbeck and Dimitar Berbatov ahead of Hernandez when it comes to being picked in the starting eleven at this present moment of the season, and it’s easy to see why.

Welbeck has been in sensational form recently, and it’s his all-round game that is so impressive and making him almost impossible to leave out of the team at the moment. Sir Alex can also call on Bebatov who will offer him a better all-round game, so it seems it is Hernandez’s game and style of play that is letting him down. 

If you wanted to be highly critical of the Mexican, you would say that Hernandez does not have the greatest first touch, does not yet know how to time his runs properly is not great with his hold up play and offers no effective defensive work when tracking back into his own half.

Teams now require players who have the full package and have variety to their play, and this is something that Hernandez is falling short on.

In his first season, it was said that Hernandez had a very similar game to that of Old Trafford legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and if this is the case then the Mexican will find himself watching the majority of United’s game from the comfort of the dugout, assessing games and waiting to be called on when United need something out of a match, or to offer a rest for Rooney, Welbeck or Berbatov.

It’s Hernandez’s all-round game that is letting him down, and the future partnership seems to be Rooney and Welbeck, but there is no doubting that when called on, Hernandez will offer the team something different and maybe a goal out of nothing when United need it most, he will be our impact player.

By Kevin Ashford @KevinAshford7

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Can Morrison Turn His Life And Career Around At West Ham?

Losing talented players is never an easy thing for football clubs to do with. Over the years of course Manchester United and all the top clubs in Europe have been used to bringing in talented youngsters who seemingly have bright futures in the game.

However they very rarely let such talent go which they have nurtured and have hoped to mould into a superstar of tomorrow. For reasons which have been well documented United have let the enigmatic enigma who is Ravel Morrison go.

Whether or not Morrison will emerge from his dark clouds that hanged over him which he had in Manchester and mature as a person and as a footballer at West Ham, only time can tell, but it may not sound a bad move for him.

Sam Allardyce has worked wonders with players who have had bad reputations as being trouble-makers. You may not like him, but he has to be respected. Here is a man who got the best out of that wonderful chap named El-Hadji Diouf twice at both Bolton and at Blackburn

Allardyce has a knack of working with tainted players and you can bet that Sir Alex Ferguson would not have sold one of his good friends a damaged egg, so to speak in Morrison if he didn’t think it was in his friend’s best interests.

Morrison has certainly created a bad perception and the move to London and the Championship will give him a chance to lie low and get back to playing football, which right now given all the negative press he’s been getting will be the best thing for him.

Whether or not he will fall back into the same dark circles again or not, is something only time will be able to tell us. It’s now up to him to prove Sir Alex wrong, becoming the player and person that everyone at Old Trafford wanted him to be.  If he does that, it will be some story to say the least.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87

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No Need To Get Desperate

“Maybe they’ll try and integrate him back into Manchester City. They could have done with him tonight.”

This was Martin Keown’s sign off from Match Of The Day last night as the BBC’s best and brightest discussed Carlos Tevez’ possible return to Manchester City.

Lets all hope that Roberto Mancini wasn’t watching at home or, if he was, he didn’t take Martin’s comments on board.

 Mancini’s crowning moment of the season so far was when the footballing world came out to support the Italian manager’s actions against the petulant one after that altercation in Munich.

But over the Christmas period, as things became a little tougher then September and August, Mancini has seen his image fall from king of the castle, to card waving moaner.

His interview after the loss to Everton, on what proved to be a very quite deadly e day by City’s standards, was a far cry from the powerful, proud, professional a few months ago. 

Slumped with his head bowed, Mancini told reporters that he was under prepared for the night’s fixture and that he had underestimated his opponents on an embarrassing evening for Manchester’s Blue half. 

The problem with City’s play isn’t in the lack of talent on the pitch. It seems to be in the attitude of his squad, who have appeared to have gone into auto pilot over Christmas.  It’s bred complacency and it needs to be kicked out as soon as possible.

It needs to be kicked out by Mancini, and we need to see him back in the same fiery ruthless attitude that saw City average over three goals a game for the first three months of a season.

City need Mancini back, and he needs City back, or Carlos Tevez could be waltzing back into Manchester and back onto a football field. If that happens, most of the respect Mancini gained will be heading the other way.


Oliver Wilson

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How to tediously link Arsenal players into a fake game of Poker

The Flop

First up taking their seat in my fake game of tedious Poker  is my flop. It could be one of any number of ex-Arsenal superstars, including the African flamboyance of Kaba Diawara, the calamitous egg-head, Pascal Cygan, or maybe a centre-half duo of Grimandi and Stepanovs, but my ‘flop’ stoolis well and truly reserved for one-cap-wonder, Francis Jeffers. Bought from Everton for a massive £8m, the King of Goodison soon became the Joker of Highbury after three seasons of woefulness.

The Pair

It has to be Wenger and Rice. I am not sure what Wenger’s socialising skills are like. In his press calls he resembles something of a grumpy old man – an ideal Poker face I hear you call – so I grant that he could be dark horse for my duff kitty. Speaking of kittys, have you ever seen a quieter man than Pat Rice? The twosome are so blind they cannot see each other in a BHS lift, therefore working out their rack is gonna be a toughy.

Three of a Kind

Petit, Vieria and Flamini… three French holding midfield players… well, Petit was arguably the pioneer of the defensive midfield role (step aside Claude!), and I reckon his craft and guile could sit well around the Poker table. Vieria, however, was notably handy when it came to cards… just ask Roy. Flamini did well for his purse, leaving on a free transfer and copping a tidy signing-on fee from AC Milan, so he knows how to play the game… all in (boom-boom).

The Flush

Here’s something that you maybe didn’t know. Rami Shaaban, former Arsenal goalkeeper, supposedly is addicted to drinking coffee – I suppose it is cold on the sidelines; wheyyy! The Egyptian-cum-Swede’s obsession with coffee sees this Poker player granted access to my pretentious game. Rami, favourably, can keep the team stocked up with Kenco while in between games, and thus defining the various tedious link to ‘the flush’ – if you know what I mean.

The Bluff

Arguably the biggest bluff in Premier League history was Robert Pires’ feeble attempt to square a penalty; therefore the bearded Frenchman takes his spot at my Poker table. While Pires gets himself comfortable, though, it would be rude not to invite his French counterpart from that infamous cocked-up showboat, Monsieur Henry. Take a seat Thierry…

The Joker

Let’s face it; Paul Merson knows the most popular poker sites out there, so if there’s a loose game of Snap filtering through the team bus, then Merse is in on it! The former England international was reputed to have gambled his £300,000 home at one point during his illustrious career, a little excessive one might admit, but thankfully following years of rehab, today you’re more likely see Merse walking away from the pot… ahmm…

The Raise

Sol Campbell > Spurs to Arsenal > £15,000 to £30,000 > mid-table to Champions League > Small team in North London to Big team in North London > 6’1” to 6’3” > Ok… so I may not be accurate with Sol’s contract terms and I may be exaggerating a little in suggesting Sol grew two inches upon signing for Arsenal, but you get the gist and the link ties him nicely into my nonsensical Arsenal related Poker game.


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Fall from grace for Smith

At the age of 31, Newcastle United’s Alan Smith is by no means in the twilight of his career, but his loan move to MK Dons does signify that he may have already experienced the most successful parts of his footbaling life.

The man with 19 England caps under his belt has joined Karl Robinson’s men until the end of the season as they chase the League One play-offs.

Regardless of whether he is a success or not, it seems like a massive fall from grace for the once peroxide blonde starlet, who appeared to have the world at his feet, with everything in place for him to be a future England starter.

The mind boggles why the Yorkshire man isn’t plying his trade in at least the Championship, so this can only be seen as a significant capture for the Milton keynes outfit and one that might even propel them into the League One automatic promotion picture.


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Why The League’s Far More Important Than The FA Cup

Over the last few weeks I have been questioning the persistent attempts to give players out of form the chance to regain it. 

The players I’ve questioned have been Partice Evra, David De Gea and Wayne Rooney who have all been woefully out of form.

Sir Alex dropped De Gea but continued to play the other two until today, when Wayne Rooney was missing in a Dads Army team that saw De Gea restored to play against Andy Carroll. Bad call Sir Alex!

Frankly I don’t care much about the FA Cup and so wasn’t too disappointed that we exited the distraction from the main event and maybe Sir Alex felt the same. 

The 4-3-3 attacking formation and 4-5-1 defensive arrangement relied on penetration down the wings from Antonio Valencia and Park Ji-Sung, and that both tracked back. On the right this worked very well with Rafeal Da Silva playing a blinder and the continued excellent form of Valencia being very encouraging.

On the left however, it soon became clear that Evra’s man of the match display against Arsenal was more about the poverty Arsenal had at right back than the return to form of our French fullback. 

Park’s enthusiasm wasn’t enough to beat Martin Kelly and Evra struggled to add value in attack and continues to wander in defence. Sir Alex changed it and Giggs returned to his old job and did ok, but we missed Nani badly.

Because of this Danny Welbeck was one-sided and always trying to hit the left side of goal with his runs, and 3 centre backs for Liverpool can surely handle a one trick option. And they did. 

In defence we were lucky that Liverpool played Stewart Downing wide right and Jordan Henderson wide left, if Dalglish had swapped them I’m sure we would have had problems, but crosses were rare and so Dracula De Gea had few of them to worry about except from corners and boy did he hate them. 

Quite why his plan was to stare at Carroll like he was in fear of the school bully, pushing him like he didn’t mean it rather than attacking the ball, and falling like a drunk when the ball would have smacked him in the face if he stood still, is beyond me. 

He dropped a cross out for a corner, dropped another in front of Carroll and then stared when Carroll challenged. Every corner was a stressful affair, his confidence eroding in front of the Kop, it wasn’t pretty, he was the reason we were 1-0 down. 

Evra was the reason we lost it, dreaming of something else he failed to track Dirk Kuyt to a long punt, and blew it. Our out of form players putting us out of the FA Cup, just as they put us out of the Champions League, 

So what good came from this game?

Firstly we were the better team, at Anfield. Next we saw 75 minutes of Paul Scholes and he did ok. 

We learned Michael Carrick isn’t the answer to our attacking midfield problem, we also found that Jonny Evans can play solid, that Chris Smalling is excellent, that Rafael is the long term right back, that Giggs is incredible and that Park is better attacking the box than anyone else in midfield.

Lots of positives from a defeat that leaves us a straight run at the title. 

Much better than our last trip to Anfield, which ended in a draw back in October.

So despite the defeat I’m not downcast, if we had played Anders Lindergard and the other Da Silva we would have won, but as the FA Cup is for losers lets leave it to Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool because it’s all they have got.

Come on United, catch Manchester City before the African Cup of Nations ends because then they will be too strong for us.

By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve

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PSG: Chelsea circa 2010/11?

It now seems that Chelsea defender Alex has finally completed his long drawn out move to Paris St. Germain, which begs the question…is Carlo Ancelotti trying to re-create his title winning side from 2011?

With the Brazlian centre-back now in the French capital the new PSG manager’s attentions have turned to another one of his former players, Jose Bosingwa.

The Right-back has been heavily linked with the Ligue 1 side over the past few days, and not only him- Frank Lampard, John Terry, Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and John Obi Mikel have all shared headline space with the French outfit.

Of course not all of these are going to be making the move across the channel, but with the Qatari investor’s endless stream of cash and Andre Villas-Boas’s re-generation his Stamford Bridge side, don’t bet against at least 2 or 3 more Blues stars making the switch from capital to capital in the coming months.


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