Manchester City suffered their second top-flight defeat of the season at West Ham as Eliaquim Mangala's struggles continued. Will Demichelis return for the Manchester derby?
Tim Stannard looks at six storylines that could unfold in Saturday's clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Will Messi break Zarra's La Liga record?
Matt Stanger Will Love This Email
On the subject of 'Snoreyway' - if Daniel Storey does a boring piece, do people call him Daniel Snorey?
Rob (I'll get my coat)
He Is Welsh
One name in there did catch my eye when Philip R was talking about Roy's potential replacements: Tony Pulis. Why not?
Are England that far away from Crystal Palace in international terms? Pulis, in spite of him having the appearance of the 'dad looking after his son's 11-a-side team', is tactically astute (see also The Secret Footballer book); he has a clear idea of what he wants from his teams - how he wants them to set up - and seems to be able to get this across; he seems able to identify and target weaknesses in opposition teams (anyone think Roy does?); it also seems like he'd be a good person to tap into the good old Engerlish blood and thunder passion (pride in the shirt is something not seen in years). He's also available, and would doubtless jump at the chance.
A few years ago, the thought would have repulsed me. This may be a fairly snap judgement based on six good months at Palace, but he showed that he can offer more than Stoke RFC. Seriously, why not? I'm not sure it could get any worse than what we've seen over the past couple of years.
Alex G, THFC
...See. Told You
You keep your goddamn English hands off Tony Pulis.
Martinez For England
I think that a perfect candidate for the England job would be Roberto Martinez- allow me to explain. The main criticisms regarding Capello's tenure seemed to be his problems communicating with the players and his lack of understanding of 'the English game'. No problems there - Bobby speaks English better than me and knows football in this country inside out, through his playing days and managerial spells at Swansea and Wigan. One of the main problems with the England squad at the moment seems to be a real lack of talent coming through , is Fabian Delph really our best defensive midfielder ? Has it really come down to Jordan Henderson pulling the strings in midfield ?? No Roy...Jack Colback is definitely NOT the ginger pirlo!!!
Martinez's best quality is he gets the best out of his players. Stephen Naismith is a great example. A guy who was fantastic last year and has had a great start to the new season scoring 3 times already but - does anyone actually think that he is any good ? Is there any other manager in the premier league that would have him playing to such a high level. It's like Gabi.... If it wasn't for Diego Simeone does anyone think he would be capable of this.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6k-6MHL_w0
Finally I think Martinez over the years has adapted his footballing philosophy to suit the English game. Yes he plays the Spanish way of possession football but his teams also play with high tempo and are strong and powerful, a style of play we all we would like to see England play . One of the main problems with this England side is that it seems there isn't anyone in the team with any testicles. Particularly Jack Wilshere ....can anybody tell me what he does ?? I can't for the life of me figure out why people rate him so highly.
Some Wonderful Optimism
Forty thousand people travelling to Wembley to watch England v Norway in a friendly. 2nd biggest crowd across Europe that evening (only beaten by a WC Final replay).
And on the day every kid in England goes back to school. 40,000 is a great attendance. Oh and a victory with our Captain and talisman scoring a goal. Someone please tell me why so much negativity?
Chris the optimist.
Skill > Technique
Technique is performing an action, for example a driven long pass. If the pass is accurate, using the laces, not lobbed etc then you may call this good technique.
Skill is being able to perform this technique under pressure (mainly we mean in a competitive situation, with a defender bearing down on you - however at an elite level this would also then include relevant psychological pressures). Therefore being a highly skilled player is being able to perform a technique accurately, consistently and well under pressure.
Therefore I would argue England's players, and indeed the majority of footballers in comparison to the very best, do not possess high levels of skill. In this regard I would really look into how young players 'skill' is honed. Do we put too much pressure on very young players to win games? Yes. Do they have quality facilities (pitches) in which to perfect their technique and skill? No. Do we as a country have enough quality coaches to develop technique and then skill in the right way and the right environment? No. Do we have a heavy bias in favour of the physical aspects of the game when choosing players? Yes. Does this then negate the need to develop highly skilled players? Yes.
In a nutshell, we have a lot of proficient technical players. We have a lack of skilled players.
Tonight we are coming home! Fan-Tas-Tic
Play Up Sky Blues
Adam, Cov Fan, Coventry
More On The Rabble
Since Richard, NCFC, Suburbia was so good enough to write such nice things about Dulwich Hamlet and Non League Day in the last mailbox. I just wanted to add that this Saturday it is indeed Pay What You Want at Dulwich Hamlet FC, located at Chamption Hill (near Dulwich / Peckham / Brixton).
Please come! We are hoping to set a new Dulwich Hamlet attendance record, at our current ground, which is currently 1,835; when we hosted Southport in the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, back in 1998.
Dulwich Hamlet have also been chosen as an ambassador club for the national footballing anti-racism & discrimination 'Kick It Out' organisation, one of only four non-league clubs to be nominated to carry their message on the day.
Michael (Big Phil Wilson fan!)
A Non-League Tale Of Violence And Pain
A few years ago (actually 8 now that I come to think of it, oh god...) I saw FC United come to play Newcastle Under-Lyme. I was at Uni at Keele and one of my mates had gotten into the whole FC United thing.
To this very day, this was the best £5 I have ever spent.
The match itself was a fiercely contested game which was won by FC United 2-3 with a last minute thunderbas*trd. We commented at the time that every type of goal had been scored in the match (a header, volley, free kick, corner etc) and that level of play was actually pretty good.
What truly made the day was the sheer amount of drama that unfolded around it though, all of it had a particularly non-league feel to it as well.
I saw one of the most disgusting things that day, a father holding two pints telling his son to throw beer cans at a Newcastle ball boy. This got the back up of several people who confronted the man and put him in his place, you often don't get to see justice served but this day it was.
Following the intense match and unexpected amounts of chanting from both fans, a lot of Stoke fans turned up from the Britannia for a ruck with the FC United fans. The adjacent rugby field saw two banks of supporters about a hundred deep line up with about a hundred feet between them. What followed has to be the closet example of Braveheart that I've ever seen. Police were called, ambulances arrived and everyone dispersed. Then the ambulance got stuck on the pitch, so the local Rugby team who had been watching all came over and pushed it out.
Oh and for no reason at all the announcer said "Watch balls travelling at head height" which got a rapturous laugh from the crowd and then two minutes later a young lad got a half volley straight in the mush.
So I say, support your local team - it'll be a laugh at the very least.
Choose Whoever Picks Who Jay Thinks Is In Form
Nothing against Uncle Roy, but I've seen various debates and suggestions about who might/should be the next England manager should things go belly up.
So here's my pick for next England manager: anyone who is willing to pick the most in form player in each position, regardless of reputation.
Unfortunately, such a manager apparently hasn't been available since 1998 (the last ballsy decision I can remember by an England manager was Hoddle leaving Gascoigne at home - by far the most talented England player at that time, but not focussed enough).
I would happily take anyone with any sort of relevant experience if they are willing to meet this one criteria. I live in hope...
Long time reader first time writer.
Not noticing that Man U are not in the Champions League has got to be the funniest thing ever written.
This has cheered me up no end on a tough Friday at work, so thank you. Truly priceless.