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MARTIN SAMUEL – THE DEBATE: Luis Suarez…just "wonderful", but could we have this man as the Footballer of the Year?

Luis Suarez… just 'wonderful', but could we have this man as the Footballer of the Year

/12/29/article-2254245-16A063BC000005DC-974_634x429.jpg” width=”634″ height=”429″ alt=”Kop idol: Suarez has the backing of the Liverpool supporters” class=”blkBorder” />

Kop idol: Suarez has the backing of the Liverpool supporters

Martin,
your colleague from the Times, Tony Evans, wrote a great piece last
season just after Suarez had deliberately ignored the handshake of
Patrice Evra at Old Trafford.

Evans,
a Liverpool scribe and fan, said of the Uruguayan: 'We are not talking
Ian Callaghan here. Suarez bites people. He handles the ball on the line
in World Cup Finals. He dives. He cheats. He verbally abuses opponents.
Luiz Suarez IS obnoxious.'

Enough said. Should Suarez be named Player of the year Should he hell as like.
Red Predictor, Manchester

I can completely understand this
point of view. Its existence was the crux of the piece. Yet we accept
human failings in art, and just look at the work, but expect footballers
to be morally upstanding.

Top bloke, Tony, by the way and a
true Liverpool man. I don’t actually disagree with a word he wrote
there, but would still ask whether an individual can overcome all of
those misgivings to cast a vote.

I said I would find it hard; but
you’ll notice I didn’t say for certain that I couldn’t. You have
stronger conviction on the issue, though, and I respect that.

Touch of class: Suarez took the ball on his chest before slotting home against Newcastle earlier this season

Touch of class: Suarez took the ball on his chest before slotting home against Newcastle earlier this season

Finished off: Suarez's goal against Newcastle was a perfect example of what he's capable of

Finished off: Suarez's goal against Newcastle was a perfect example of what he's capable of

Just goes to show it isn't really Footballer of the Year, it’s the nice person of the year. Ridiculous. Andypom, Wellington

No, it isn’t Andy, but some members of the Football Writers Association, young and old, do believe that being a role model is part of the package. It certainly was when the award was inaugurated and it could be argued that a positive image matters more than ever now, when there is so much dubious behaviour in the game. Not a view I subscribe to personally, but I recognise its sincerity.

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Suarez isn't good enough for the neutral to overlook all the bad things in his game. For every great goal there is an embarrassing dive. Liverpool fans forget that while they may be blinded and biased because he is scoring goals for them, all fans of other clubs see is an undoubtedly talented striker cheating and diving and screaming and stamping. Rinzler, Manchester

True, but the same could be said of many players. Club allegiances work like blinkers at times.

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I wonder who'd get ref of the year. Don’t you think it would be really
interesting to see the result of a ground-by-ground referendum on that
Jimboin, Preston

No.

Wind up: Suarez took a dive in front of Everton boss David Moyes to celebrate his goal in the Merseyside derby

Wind up: Suarez took a dive in front of Everton boss David Moyes to celebrate his goal in the Merseyside derby

Suarez is finally translating his goal scoring form from Holland to the Premier League but he needs to be able to sustain that form. A lot of players go through purple patches and later fade.
Musa, London

Absolutely. Before Suarez, I thought Juan Mata was going to be the outstanding player of the season and since the piece was written Robin Van Persie has come into his own. I was more interested in the idea that Suarez might sustain this form and how football might react to him then.

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Luis Suarez is NOT a racist. You can keep harping on about it all you like but the FA report said Suarez is not a racist; Patrice Evra said Suarez is not a racist. Yet you continue to act like he goes around with a white sheet over his head in his spare time. You are making yourself look ridiculous by continuing to portray him as the pantomime villain while your docile minions lap up every word. Simon, Swindon

Minions Minions I wish, mate. Simon, I’ve revisited the original piece and nowhere does it get into whether or not Suarez is actually racist.

It is, however, utterly disingenuous to pretend that having been banned for a substantial length of time for using racially charged language Suarez is not associated with the practice.

My point was that Suarez does have this pantomime villain status, making it hard to get the credit he deserves.

And by the way, I don’t want docility, just people who understand the argument and enjoy discussing or arguing it in a civilised way. Which I hope we’re doing here.

Spot of bother: Suarez was the World Cup villain in 2010 as he saw red for handball in the quarter-final with Ghana - but the Africans missed the penalty and the striker was a hero in Urugauy as they progressed (below)

Spot of bother: Suarez was the World Cup villain in 2010 as he saw red for handball in the quarter-final with Ghana – but the Africans missed the penalty and the striker was a hero in Urugauy as they progressed (below)

So let me get this straight Martin, you wouldn't vote for the best player in the league to pick up the best player award Metro El, Liverpool

Never said that. Read the piece. Could I vote for him, I asked, and replied: 'It would be very, very hard.'

That’s not the same as saying I couldn’t. The whole tone of the column suggested that, using my feelings towards art as a measure, I’d bite the bullet and go with the finest footballer, regardless.

Cheeky: Suarez celebrated after Uruguay dumped Ghana out of the World Cup in South Africa

Maybe the best behaved could have their own award, or perhaps even let them win Sports Personality of the Year. Izzie, Aldershot

Right, because Bradley Wiggins got that just for being a goody two-shoes.

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Society is influenced by the media. Newspapers thrive off the controversy of the characters they depict. Suarez is classed as the player people love to hate, and the bad press he is subjected to week in week out is exaggerated and biased. Palm, Kidderminster

I wouldn’t disagree there. I think each season develops a narrative which drives the news agenda and once a player is cast as a certain character it is difficult to shake off his role in the story.

I think referees are influenced by this narrative, too, as Gareth Bale is now discovering. This means the same behaviour from different individuals will then be treated differently.

Some dives are forgotten, others attract headlines. I’m not justifying or condoning that but I would also argue that good journalists try to resist this trap.

I think Suarez gets a raw deal from referees, and the press, because he has been cast as one of the bad guys.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t contributed greatly to his own dismal reputation..

No goody two-shoes: SIR Bradley Wiggins has done alright for himself in terms of picking up honours

No goody two-shoes: SIR Bradley Wiggins has done alright for himself in terms of picking up honours

Every man commenting on here, regardless of colour, has called another man of a different skin tone a racist name at some time. Whether or not it was to the face, behind the back, in the school playground or driving the car, we have all done it. Move on. New York DJ, London

Speak for yourself mate. I’ve always thought racial language was either part of your vocabulary or not. I’m not being holier than thou, but I just don’t see how somebody is a temporary racist. You either see black men as n*****s, or you don’t.

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There is a flaw in your argument: why will Gary Glitter never be seen receiving a music award
Jimbo, Lincolnshire

Because he wasn’t any good, Jim. Come on. Look, I’ve got Rock and Roll Part 2 on my I-Pod but that’s basically a Glitter Band track with a killer riff and a bit of chanting. There’s a lot of Ike Turner on there, too. One for the ladies, as my wife always says whenever he comes on.

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If there is a black breakaway players' union in response to this, would Suarez, who is one quarter black, not be able to join; or would you have to be 100 per cent black

Would it exclude Rio Ferdinand as he's only 50 per cent black And isn't the idea of forming an exclusive union based on the lines of race in response to another player winning an award based on ability, racist Donga, York

To be fair the idea of a Footballer of the Year Award for Suarez precipitating a breakaway black union was my extrapolation of the controversy such a vote would cause, rather than any proposed event.

Your point about levels of blackness is well made though, and comes back to the Gil Scott-Heron quote about competitions among black people to be blackest.

Anything that divides is ultimately unhelpful and to split black and white players seems a backward step.

Not guilty: Suarez was accused by Wigan of stamping on David Jones this season but he escaped punishment

Not guilty: Suarez was accused by Wigan of stamping on David Jones this season but he escaped punishment

I thought sledding was a massive part of sport. Expatmac, Perth, Australia

No, sledding is a massive part of Polar exploration, like huskies and frostbite. Sledging is perceived to a part of sport, but it doesn’t have to be. And what Suarez was accused of wasn’t sledging anyway.

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Who cares who journalists make Footballer of the Year It's never mattered to anyone except the media, certainly not real football fans anyway. If Suarez finishes as top scorer there's nothing anyone can do to take that award off him. How funny it would be to see his big toothy grin receiving that trophy on the pages of your newspapers. Dobbelina, Camden

Well, the players who win the FWA award seem to care and the list of previous winners is pretty good company, too.

What you fail to understand is journalists are real football fans, too. They supported teams and paid to watch matches until work got in the way. That is why, like fans, they debate the issues, including the criteria of this award.

Now, Dobbelina, would you quit/you really make sick/with your fraudulent behaviour.

Ha ha, you’ve got to know your old school rap to get that one, which by the sounds of his alias, our friend from Camden does. So no offence taken, I hope.

Altogether now: Mistadobalina, MistaBobdobalina, Mistadobalina, MistaBobdobalina… And on that note, as we doff our caps to Del Tha Funky Homosapien (enjoy the clip), let’s try to clear a few things up.

Here is the introduction from Eric Cantona's winners’ entry on the Football Writers Association website, following his award in 1996.

'Controversial, yes, but never boring, Eric Cantona’s personality, presence, goals and achievements should be remembered more than any disciplinary excesses or references to sardines.'

Guess you didn't vote for him then, Martin. Smoke5screen, Liverpool

No, I don’t think I did. Actually, I don’t vote most years because I believe the decision is made too early when the season isn’t decided and I wouldn’t wish to commit to a view I might later contradict in a column. And, by the way, FWA members don’t vote en bloc. It’s not like the Labour leadership contest.

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Well this is a new one, comparing Suarez to an anti-Semite. Alex, Angola

No, I compared our attitude to unpalatable behaviour in the world of art to our attitudes towards sportsmen who transgress in a way that society finds unacceptable. Nowhere does it link Suarez as an individual to anti-Semitism.

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I don't know if they voted for Poet of the Year in Larkin's day but if they did he probably wouldn't win it anyway when up against poetry’s equivalent of Robin van Persie, who has been so sublime and superior to him. Nick, Sarlat

Now, look Nick, I don’t mind you voting Van Persie over Suarez, but if you’re going to come on here dissing Philip Larkin, we may have words.

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The question you should ask is: is there a better player than him No. Zanydave, Wirral

Maybe.

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If John Terry can be England captain then Luis Suarez can be player of the year.
Mooroondu, Brisbane

Terry isn’t England captain. Keep up.

Iconic: Suarez, like Kenny Dalglish during his playing days at Anfield, was handed the No 7 jersey

Iconic: Suarez, like Kenny Dalglish during his playing days at Anfield, was handed the No 7 jersey

So you're saying John Terry, a proud Englishman unlike that cheating Uruguayan, will end up winning John, Minneapolis

No. Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. Terry is not even mentioned in the piece. Nothing to do with him at all. Sometimes it helps to read the piece rather than have your interpretation handed down by some twerp on Twitter.

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Too moralist, the British. Fabio Capello was right, they think everybody is wrong and they are right. Leaf27, Montreal

Yes, mate, that’s what’s holding the planet back: morality.

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Suarez is overrated, like Fernando Torres at Liverpool, a big fish in a little pond. He wouldn't last a season at a top club and needs more chances than Andy Cole. Wilson, Fleetwood

Seriously harsh this. I will admit that when a team is ordinary, as Liverpool are, one player can have a disproportionate influence and his ability becomes exaggerated because he is of such worth to that team.

Yet I think it is to Suarez’s credit that he is shouldering such a burden at Anfield.

As far as his chance-to-goal ratio, yes it could improve, but he is not meant to be the main goalscorer in the team. Liverpool messed up in the summer and left him marooned.

I know your post was made in November, and clairvoyance cannot be expected, but look at his performance against Queens Park Rangers on December 30, which was quite exceptional. Not just the stunning turn and straight run for the first goal, how about his contribution to the second

Steven Gerrard plays a long ball out of defence but slips as he strikes it, so it flies aimlessly into huge space on Rangers defensive left. Suarez then chases that lost cause, panicking the Rangers player who makes a hurried clearance, conceding possession.

From that, Liverpool hoof a long ball forward, Suarez wins the header and finds Stewart Downing, whose first touch is poor, but nobody has closed him down so gets another chance and plays Suarez in.

Suarez then drives into the penalty area, hits an excellent low cross which is blocked, the ball returns to him and he scores.

In that entire passage of play, the only quality contributions from either side are made by Suarez. Wonderful.

Race row: Suarez was banned for eight matches after being found guilty of abusing Patrice Evra in 2011

Race row: Suarez was banned for eight matches after being found guilty of abusing Patrice Evra in 2011

No issue in voting for Suarez. I have never seen him as a diver. I recall only one clear dive where he was getting kicked all about the pitch by some very innocent thug-like defenders. I put going over easy on an equally negative level with shirt pulling and elbows in the back of the head. HM, Dublin

Same here. Don’t necessarily agree about just a single dive from the man but I am inclined to side with a creative player over the negative one when exchanging vices.

Not helping: Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand when the pair met for the first time following the race row

Not helping: Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand when the pair met for the first time following the race row

He has
been associated with too much of football’s dark side, as you state,
because it is all journalists ever talk about. There is never any
mention of him being a loyal, decent family man, the amount of spare
time he has spent in South Africa and his charity work. Chris, Fife

This is Chris Rock’s argument about people wanting credit for stuff they
are supposed to do. Loyal family man Millionaire that gives to
charity What do you want, a cookie

Would Marouane Fellaini at Everton not be up there He dominates every time he is on the pitch. Hard-working, honest midfielder who seems to run games for fun. Barto7, Liverpool

Yes he would. Yet after the performance against Stoke City before Christmas and his ban, would some now say he should be excluded This is one of my points: nobody’s perfect.

Demolition derby: Everton defender Sylvain Distin was raging with Suarez for this challenge

Demolition derby: Everton defender Sylvain Distin was raging with Suarez for this challenge

Translation: the football writers’ Footballer of the Year is a popularity contest and therefore worthless. Gray, Liverpool

Translation: you find it hard to grasp some pretty simple concepts and may need to concentrate more. Thank heavens for our next poster.

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Treason is only a matter of timing, as
the saying goes. If Larkin and Pound were about today, producing their
works while espousing their views, it would take a huge effort to see
past the man and into the written word. Society would rightly condemn
them and probably, for the most part, ignore their work.

They've
benefited from the passing of time, and a society whose condemnations
are tempered, rightly or wrongly, by a sense of 'that's what it was like
back then'.

You don't have to be a role model to win Footballer of the
Year, but you do have to avoid being the kind of player Suarez is. He
might be good at football, but can you really brush the racist comment,
the very obvious diving and the catalogue of video evidence which shows
him being reckless in the challenge, under the carpet

His antics make
it too hard to separate the player from the man. Fats, London

Very hard to take issue with any of that, Fats. You are probably right
that modern sensibilities have changed thought processes and a
right-wing extremist in the arts would be marginalised.

I’m thinking of
the controversy that surrounded Morrissey when he toyed with nationalist
imagery a few years ago, or the reaction to the anti-gay lyrics of
reggae dancehall tracks like Boom /12/29/article-2254245-16AE5851000005DC-397_634x388.jpg” width=”634″ height=”388″ alt=”Tasty A Dutch paper branded Suarez the 'Cannibal of Ajax' after he bit PSV's Otman Bakkal during a game” class=”blkBorder” />

Tasty A Dutch paper branded Suarez the 'Cannibal of Ajax' after he bit PSV's Otman Bakkal during a game

The writer isn't saying Suarez shouldn't win it, he's saying that he won't – not because he thinks that he shouldn't, but because others think that he shouldn't. Tommy, Belfast

Thanks, Tommy, and I mean that. Would you be interested in providing a weekly translation service for the column It would really help some people: I’m particularly thinking Piers Morgan. And this next bloke.

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You say Suarez is the best player in the Premier League by a mile, yet you won't vote for him. That says more about you than it does about him. You're not voting for Footballer of the Year, your vote is going to someone you'd like to be mates with. Where is the merit in that
Rocky Soul, United Kingdom

Where does it say I wouldn’t vote for Suarez I said I’d find it hard, that’s all. As for being mates, is that how you think it works I voted for you, please be my friend. I’ve got friends. Nice friends. I didn’t get them by pressing a red button.

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Do you think Suarez would care about being Footballer of the Year, especially one voted for by the Fleet Street hacks who plague Twitter spreading their lies and bile Doubt it. He is a team player and all about Liverpool. He can be an idiot at times, but show me a top player who hasn’t been these days. Fowler1070, Liverpool

Oh, come on, I’m not having that. It doesn’t go with the territory that to succeed in football, or sport, ethical behaviour must go out of the window. Lionel Messi seems to do all right, or Juan Mata.

As for Twitter, I’m not on it mate. Never will be. With a name like Fowler1070, it sounds as if you are though. Apologies if I’m wrong.

At his best: Suarez scored a hat-trick against Norwich earlier this season

At his best: Suarez scored a hat-trick against Norwich earlier this season

The award is for best footballer, not best person. If Suarez was English the author would have a different view. Andrew, Bridgend

That’s not true, Andrew. If John Terry was a contender for Footballer of the Year I would have written exactly the same piece. But he’s not.

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So let's sum up the cons against Suarez. He once called Patrice Evra something inoffensive in Spanish-speaking countries, a year ago, and the Daily Mail claims diving is eliminated from football whenever Suarez is not on the pitch. You guys have built a silly hype around him and robbed yourselves of watching this fantastic talent due to a witch hunt. Reality Check, London

Get real. Without revisiting old ground what Suarez said is not inoffensive in Spanish-speaking countries; it depends on the context. And nobody is deprived of watching Suarez.

The whole article was in praise of him as a footballer, which suggests I take great pleasure in his ability. Indeed, to even flag up his potential to be Footballer of the Year is a tribute.

I think Suarez is a wonderful player. I couldn’t really have made that clearer. For the alternate view, however…

Goals galore: Suarez has been finding the net this season

One unsavory incident should exclude a player from receiving this award. To win Footballer of the Year, a player should have shown exemplary character aligned with superb footballing intellect. He should be technically superior to his peers, able to show discipline on the pitch and be an example to young players. Robbie G, Dunbar

Wow, let’s hope Mother Theresa has a left foot because if Robbie gets his way, she’ll be the only candidate next year.

Tough standards from our man from Dunbar and we’ll have to leave it there, I’m afraid.

Thank you to all who contributed, even though you didn’t know what you were contributing to at the time.

No doubt the views of Mr G will find favour with some inside the Football Writers’ Association, but if Suarez continues to play as he did at Loftus Road, this one will run and run.

London 28 Widnes 24: Antonio Kaufusi"s late try won it for Broncos

London 28 Widnes 24: Bucking Broncos throw Vikings with late show

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UPDATED:

16:24 GMT, 9 June 2012

Antonio Kaufusi grabbed a last-gasp try as London snatched a dramatic victory over Widnes in the Stobart Super League basement battle at the Stoop.

Kaufusi burst over from close range as the hooter sounded to haul the Broncos off the foot of the table – at Widnes' expense.

It was a cruel blow for the visitors, who looked set to claim the two points after try braces from Cameron Phelps and Frank Winterstein.

Triumph: London Broncos hauled themselves off the bottom of the league

Triumph: London Broncos hauled themselves off the bottom of the league

The hosts welcomed back both Jason Golden and Julien Rinaldi after lengthy spells out with injury, although both Michael Witt and Chris Melling were forced to miss out.

Widnes were able to restore Jon Clarke at stand-off, although Joe Mellor sat out the clash following his suspension for a dangerous tackle against Huddersfield last week.

Having beaten the Londoners 38-30 on their own patch earlier this season, and buoyed by last weekend's defeat of the Giants, Widnes approached the game in confident mood.

The visitors made the brighter start, Phelps racing clear to touch down after a delayed pass from Clarke with barely three minutes on the clock.

But a succession of penalties soon put Widnes on the back foot, and the Londoners profited when Craig Gower charged over from close range to bring the teams level.

Paul McShane came close to giving the Vikings the lead again on 17 minutes, only for some strong London defence to hold him up as he attempted to wrestle over the line.

The hosts themselves were growing into the game, but handling errors from both sides were stopping them gaining any momentum.

The Broncos were showing a severe lack of creativity though, and that was allowing the Vikings to stay on level terms despite the hosts bossing possession and territory.

Tug back: Jamie O'Callaghan of London Broncos has his shirt pulled by Paddy Flynn

Tug back: Jamie O'Callaghan of London Broncos has his shirt pulled by Paddy Flynn

Gower thought he had struck again on 30 minutes, only for referee Rob Hicks to adjudge him short of the line.

But London did take the lead shortly after, wing Omari Caro crossing in the corner after some neat hands from Dan Sarginson and David Howell.

As has so often been the case this season though, the Broncos were unable to take that lead into half-time, Winterstein muscling over to bring the sides level right on the hooter.

And things got even better for the away side moments after the interval when Phelps took advantage of Gower's slip to race through for his second try and push Widnes back into a six-point lead.

Collection: Julien Rinaldi

Collection: Julien Rinaldi

London were quick to answer that though, Tony Clubb bulldozing through to level things up on 48 minutes.

It was the Broncos who were on top, but they were unable to take the game by the scruff of the neck as Widnes held firm.

But as the chances went begging the Vikings rallied themselves, and then showed London how it should be done when Winterstein crashed over for his second and Patrick Ah Van maintained his 100% record with the boot this afternoon with the conversion attempt to push the visitors 24-18 ahead.

Back came the Broncos, Sarginson setting up a grandstand finish when he wriggled over with seven minutes to play, only for Shane Rodney, who had added the extras to the previous three tries, to hit the post with his conversion attempt.

The game looked up but Kaufusi changed all that, with Kieran Dixon adding the extras to seal a narrow win.

Stewart Downing not good enough for Liverpool

Comment: Downing and out after another day of very poor wing play

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 15 April 2012

I admit I’m spoiled. I got hooked on Liverpool when I started watching Ian Callaghan and Peter Thompson. Then came Steve Heighway.

What wingers they were. Speed, ball control, the ability to take on the full back, they could cross the ball and score goals. The complete package.

Now Liverpool have Stewart Downing. For the life of me I just can’t see why the club paid 20million for him. As a fan I don’t understand what he brings to a team let alone be good enough to earn 33 England caps.

Wide of the mark: Downing had another poor day for Liverpool at Wembley

Wide of the mark: Downing had another poor day for Liverpool at Wembley

His performance on Saturday for me summed up how ineffective he has been for Liverpool.

In the first half he gave the ball away so easily, never looked threatening, never supplied a decent cross for Andy Carroll. When he’s on the right wing he’s far too predictable, taking the ball down the line before checking back so he can use his trusted left foot to either cross the ball or lay off a simple pass.

Even when he swapped with Jordan Henderson his contribution was minimal, the danger he posed to Everton too limited. Leighton Baines and Phil Neville hardly broke into a sweat against him.

Downing and out: The winger struggled to trouble Everton's fullbacks

Downing and out: The winger struggled to trouble Everton's fullbacks

The only time he threatened was early in the second half when he beat Baines on the outside and crossed – unbelievably – with his right foot. One meaningful contribution in 84 minutes. Big deal.

The biggest cheer in my household came when he was replaced by Craig Bellamy, who set up the winner.

I don’t know one Liverpool fan who thinks he’s good enough to wear the red shirt. In his 36 appearances to date, he hasn’t scored a League goal and has managed just two FA Cup goals. Tell me, what’s the point of Stewart Downing

Six Nations 2012: Ireland unchanged against France

Kidney names unchanged Ireland team for rearranged France clash in Paris

Coach Declan Kidney has kept faith with the same 22 that thrashed Italy 42-10 at Aviva Stadium last weekend and that was selected for the original visit to the French capital.

Scrum-half Conor Murray has held off the challenge of Eoin Reddan, who injected pace into the game after stepping off the bench in the second half at Lansdowne Road.

Lock Donncha O'Callaghan and openside Sean O'Brien also faced fierce competition to remain in the starting XV, but Kidney has retained both.

Same again: Paul O'Connell (left) will lead out an unchanged Ireland team

Same again: Paul O'Connell (left) will lead out an unchanged Ireland team

Ireland team to face France

R Kearney (Leinster), T Bowe (Ospreys),
K
Earls (Munster), G D'Arcy (Leinster),
A Trimble (Ulster), J Sexton
(Leinster),
C Murray (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M
Ross (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster, capt),
S
Ferris (Ulster), S O'Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster)

Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), T Court (Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), P
O'Mahony (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), F McFadden
(Leinster)

'We took a look at how we played against Italy. We have an eight-day turnaround which has given us more time to freshen up,' said Kidney.

'The errors that were made we can adjust and we'll be better for having that 80 minutes under the belt.

'The lads who came on against Italy did exceptionally well and made a hugely positive impact, but I had to weigh that up against the lads who did a lot of the unseen work earlier in the game.'

Ireland's record in Paris makes for grim reading having won in the French capital just once since 1972 and twice since 1952.

Their last victory came in 2000 in a match notable for the emergence of hat-trick hero Brian O'Driscoll, who misses this year's championship after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Perennial nemesis France have emerged triumphant from 11 of the last 12 meetings.

'We've all been to hostile environments with our provinces in the past. We must drawn on that experience,' said captain Paul O'Connell.

The match is being staged on the second of the Six Nations' break weekends after the original fixture on February 11 was postponed 10 minutes before kick-off due to a frozen pitch.

Six Nations 2012: Paul O"Connell says Ireland are ready for France

O'Connell says Ireland are ready for France after emphatic win over Italy

Paul O'Connnell believes Ireland’s chances of triumphing in Paris have improved after this victory.

The Irish return to the Stade de France a week today after the original fixture was postponed due to a frozen pitch.

Rather than face Les Bleus on the back of a dispiriting defeat by Wales, they meet the championship favourites having routed Italy five tries to one.

Going over: Ireland's Andrew Trimble scores a try against Italy

Going over: Ireland's Andrew Trimble scores a try against Italy

‘It’s great to get that result going
to Paris, so we’re probably in a better place than we were the last time
we went over,’ said O’Connell.

‘It’s a good scoreline, there’s no doubt about it. The guys are happy with that.

‘There’s feeling of frustration over
the first-half performance and a few of the things we didn’t execute.
But when we did get out of our half we were good and confident.

‘We took our chances well and kept going at them for 80 minutes, which we haven’t always done.’

On the up: Donncha O'Callaghan wins the lineout against Italy

On the up: Donncha O'Callaghan wins the lineout against Italy

Tommy Bowe crossed twice while Keith
Earls, Tom Court and Andrew Trimble also touched down in perfect
conditions as Ireland avoided a fourth successive home defeat.

But while the final scoreline was emphatic, the performance against a disappointing Italy side was far from perfect.

Head for heights: Paul O'Connell (L) challenges in the lineout

Head for heights: Paul O'Connell (L) challenges in the lineout

Italy coach Jacques Brunel admitted the Azzurri paid the price for a poor second-half display.

‘We had two different teams out there. In the first half we tried to play and kept the score close,’ said the Frenchman.

‘But in the second half it was completely different, we suffered beneath the Irish pressure and made many mistakes.’

Grin and bear it: Italy's Alberto Sgarbi on the run

Grin and bear it: Italy's Alberto Sgarbi on the run

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher fears the beginning of the end

Veteran Carragher fears the beginning of the end

Patient: Carragher knows he must take every chance he gets after losing his place through injury

Patient: Carragher knows he must take every chance he gets after losing his place through injury

Jamie Carragher returns from the cold
against Brighton on Sunday admitting it is 'right' he is no longer an
automatic first choice at the club.

Carragher has played 683 times since his Liverpool debut 15 years ago – a record bettered only by Ian Callaghan.

But starts have been rare this
season under Kenny Dalglish, who has made Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger
his top pairing in the centre of defence.

The 34-year-old Carragher has started
only one Premier League game in four months but refuses to throw a
hissy-fit, unlike many younger stars.

Instead, he views cup games like Sunday's visit of Brighton as an opportunity to stake his claim for a
more regular place – especially with Liverpool facing Cardiff in the
Carling Cup final at Wembley on Sunday week.

'Of course, every player wants to play. But I went out of the team through injury and other players have come in and played well. The manager has been fair to those players and rightly so,' said Carragher, who will captain Liverpool on Sunday if Steve Gerrard is rested.

'Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have been two of our best players. I've got to wait my turn, just as other players had to wait their turn when I'd been playing for so long.

'That's just the way football is, you have to respect the manager's decision, respect the other players and, as I say, just do the best for your club when you get a chance.'

Glory days: Steven Gerrard (right) and Carragher kiss the European Cup in 2005

Glory days: Steven Gerrard (right) and Carragher kiss the European Cup in 2005

Carragher has won every prize in club football bar the Premier League but he has never played in a major final at Wembley.

'I've played cup finals at Cardiff, which is great, but I don't think anything beats Wembley,' he told ESPN television in an interview to be broadcast on Saturday.

'It'd be great. When you think of Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool, you think of the FA Cup and League Cup at Wembley with the Everton finals and other games. It's something I've never been a part of.'

Although Carragher has played most of his Liverpool games under Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez, he points out that Dalglish is his first manager who knows what it takes to win the league title.

Big changes: Liverpool owner John Henry and manager Kenny Dalglish (right)

Big changes: Liverpool owner John Henry and manager Kenny Dalglish (right)

'There has been a lot happening on and off the pitch in recent times,' he said.

'Obviously we had the ownership situation, that got sorted out. Then Kenny came in, and we had massive upturn in form. Especially last season, we nearly got back into the top four and that is something we're aiming for this season.

'It's a long time since we won a trophy but we're in the Carling Cup final and still in the FA Cup.

'When you're at Liverpool as a player or a manager it's about winning trophies and we're very close this season and desperate to go all the way in the FA Cup.

'The top four is also a big ambition because, of course, the Champions League is a massive part of the game, and that is something we want to be a part of.

'The season's there for us, and if we can put a great run of form in between now and the end of the season we can achieve a lot.

'I've never had a manager before who's won the title. He [Dalglish] has obviously done that, so it's a great help to me and I've learned a lot off him.'

With Craig Bellamy possibly rested ahead of the Carling Cup final against his former club, Sunday might bring a chance for 35million striker Andy Carroll.

Big chance: Andy Carroll could feature against Brighton

Big chance: Andy Carroll could feature against Brighton

He was linked with a swap move with Carlos Tevez in January but Dalglish last night said: 'We're not looking to get anybody out. We'll be looking to bring people in that are going to enhance the squad.'

ESPN's season-long coverage of the FA Cup began with the first round and continues through to the final at Wembley. For more info, go to www.espn.co.uk