We've come to the end of our seasonal Top Tens, with the strikers bringing up the rear. Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane are the predictable top three...
When Newcastle needed a hero, they found one to complete the ultimate comeback. Plus why "world-class" players aren't enough, and has Walcott earned his new deal?
We love this tournament. Can we keep it? On the field, every one of the ten games has had at least something going for it, and there have been half-a-dozen excellent matches. It's nice to see the hooliganism being done by non-English fans. No side is out of the competition at the time of writing, either mathematically or in terms of being obviously out of their depth. Even - or perhaps because of this - the punditry has been more bearable than previous tournaments. As we come to the end of the first week, some thoughts.
Has someone had a word with Alan Shearer?
Obviously it's the difference between lying in a deckchair, sipping a fruit-based drink and occasionally dozing off versus lying in a deckchair, sipping a fruit-based drink and vaguely considering reading a bit of a novel, before dozing off. But we reckon Big Al is putting in a bit of an effort.
Firstly, there he was pitch-side with Jake Humphreys grinning and laughing and looking like the cat that got the cream, clearly having a bloody good time. Fair play. Showing pleasure, joy even, at being paid to go see great football is not something to be anything other than happy about. The usual Big Al drone was gone. There have also been several recorded instances of carefully pronouncing players' names correctly too, and one or two outbreaks of analysis regarding technique. We like this Al much better.
We'd also forgotten how good Gary Lineker is doing live TV as opposed to the over-thought, clumsily scripted stuff. The live scenario seems to free him up to be more relaxed and engaging with the guests. His has been superior stuff. Once again, hats should be raised to Clarence Seedorf for his Buddha-like cool and to Lee Dixon for proper analysis. We especially liked how he dissected the failure of the Czech Republic's full backs to do their jobs against Russia.
Our only real BBC gripe (apart from employing Harry to look sleepy and say basic stuff as though it was great wisdom) is Lawro. Jaysus, the man is miserable. His performance in the Germany v Portugal game, a match which was fascinatingly tight, was as though he was watching a nil-nil-er 'twixt Darlington v Halifax while on Mogadon. He simply doesn't put in enough effort in contrast to Chris Waddle on 5live whose passion for the game burns brightly. Lawro man, you're harshing our Euro buzz.
ITV's introduction is cool
We really like the little Claymation figures (though we do wonder on what basis they were selected), and strongly urge the Tottenham board to consider a small plasticine figurine as a cheap replacement to Harry Redknapp. We'll have more about Adrian and the boys next week.
Relatively little barking about England
The attention of White Van Man hadn't really been captured before the tournament. England are so palpably a limited football side trying to do limited things. The result: a first week that has been relatively free from TV tub-thumping about the mighty England. This has made us all happier, has it not?
That said, normal service was resumed during the Ukraine v Sweden game when Alan Shearer lamented what will happen to the quality when the tournament expands to 24 teams, the implication being that both Ukraine nor Sweden were a bit of an unwanted, unwashed gatecrasher. Gary Lineker joined in with the assessment that neither Ukraine or Sweden should give England many problems. No doubt when Zlatan/Sheva smashes one home on Friday or Tuesday the pundits will be saying something completely different. Shame that they so default so quickly to such thoughtless and unempirical insistences.
Back at home, how about that bubble, boy?
Since Sky invented football in the early 1990s, we have heard each and every year that the "bubble is about to burst". Now that an even more eye-watering wodge of money is being forked over - three billion in three years from 2013/14 to 2015/16 - the bubble seems likely to stay afloat for a little while yet. Not for smaller clubs obviously, but then that's their fault for being small, right?
John Nicholson and Alan Tyers
Alan's book is called 'Gin And Juice: The Victorian Guide To Parenting' and you can check it out here.
And read John's book, 'The Meat Fix.'