Tag Archives: englishmen

Jonny Wilkinson signs one-year contract extension to prolong career at Toulon

Wilkinson signs one-year contract extension to prolong career at Toulon

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

11:20 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:20 GMT, 30 March 2013

Jonny Wilkinson has revealed he canvassed the opinions of fellow fly-half stars Matt Giteau and Frederic Michalak before electing to extend his career for a further year.

The 33-year-old England World Cup winner spent the winter debating whether to continue his successful stint at wealthy French club Toulon or retire.

The pain of a long-standing groin problem was tipping the balance towards retirement, but following the success of a recent operation, he says another season is now in his sights.

On the up: Jonny Wilkinson has led Toulon into the Heineken Cup quarter finals this season

On the up: Jonny Wilkinson has led Toulon into the Heineken Cup quarter finals this season

St George: Wilkinson plays alongside Englishmen Andrew Sheridan, Simon Shaw and the Armitage brothers

St George: Wilkinson plays alongside Englishmen Andrew Sheridan, Simon Shaw and the Armitage brothers

Discussing his recent operation in The Times, Wilkinson said: 'I didn't know if it was going to work, but it has given me the ability to go out and work hard, to recover and go again.

'From November through to January, I was thinking: end of career.'

Wilkinson said the views of Toulon team-mates Giteau and Michalak were taken into account before he decided to play on.

'These are guys who play inside and outside me and both play in my position too, so there is no better position to have to see if they think I am doing a good job,' he said.

Crunch match: Toulon face an tough quarter final in the south of France when they host Leicester

Crunch match: Toulon face an tough quarter final in the south of France when they host Leicester

'I also wanted to know where they see their futures. Am I in the way of their future Am I helping their future Do they feel comfortable playing alongside me I was more than willing to hear.

'These are guys for whom I have such great respect, guys from whom you want to hear the negative stuff.

'But they were really honest and I got the impression that they wanted me there.'

Champagne moment: Wilkinson will always be remembered for his drop-goal to win the 2003 World Cup

Champagne moment: Wilkinson will always be remembered for his drop-goal to win the 2003 World Cup

Wilkinson stepped down from the international game just over a year ago following a stellar Test career, but his name continues to be linked with the British and Irish Lions squad to tour Australia.

While refusing to rule himself out of contention, he admits he has had no contact with head coach Warren Gatland and considers himself a left-field selection.

'The Lions is so exciting,' he said. 'I would certainly welcome the opportunity, though I'm not sure why my name would be mentioned.

'I'm not thinking, ''I'm in with a shout''.

'The young guys in international rugby are the ones taking the sport forward.'

Honoured: Wilkinson won an MBE for his exploits at the World Cup

Honoured: Wilkinson won an MBE for his exploits at the World Cup

Warren Gatland meets England squad

An awkward squad meeting! Lions coach Gatland sees England players just a day after saying he is reluctant to pick them

By
Joe Ridge

PUBLISHED:

12:38 GMT, 13 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:53 GMT, 13 February 2013

Warren Gatland has met with the England squad just a day after his comments regarding selection for the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia caused a storm.

The Lions and Wales head coach was with Stuart Lancaster's side at St George's Park for a pre-scheduled meeting on Wednesday just three months ahead of the trip to Australia.

Gatland, who has handed over the reins of the Wales side to his assistant Rob Howley for the ongoing RBS Six Nations Championship while he focuses on his Lions role, told the London Evening Standard on Tuesday that he was reluctant to pick too many Englishmen in his squad.

Causing a storm: Gatland said he is reluctant to pick too many Englishmen

Causing a storm: Gatland said he is reluctant to pick too many Englishmen

The New Zealander was at the National Football Centre in Burton to go through video footage of England's 12-6 win over Ireland on Sunday – a result which has left Lancaster's side top of the Six Nations table after two games.

‘England did well in the autumn,’ the Kiwi told the Standard. ‘And if they do well in the Six Nations, there will be a reasonable contingent of English players.

‘But that brings a certain element of – how do I say it – other pressures. We all know what happened with England at the World Cup and the circus that was created.

On a roll: England have won both of their Six Nations games so far

On a roll: England have won both of their Six Nations games so far

‘It becomes a much greater media focus for the English papers; potentially a negative focus for the Australian papers. And English players are targeted by other countries. They are not always the most popular with other countries because of the history. People like having a pop at them.

‘It’s just being aware of potential issues that may arise. I’ve got to be aware of the possibilities that, if there are a number of English players on the tour, the same sort of things could be instigated, through stings through the media or set-ups trying to create controversy.’

Gatland later insisted that his words were taken out of context.

Backtracking: The Kiwi later insisted his words had been taken out of context

Backtracking: The Kiwi later insisted his words had been taken out of context

‘I would happily pick 15 English players in the first Test at Brisbane if I though they were the best 15 players for the job,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

‘Hand on heart I would never be able to look myself in the mirror if we didn’t pick a player who deserved to go on Tour because he was English. I just couldn’t do that to any individual. Morally it is just wrong.’

Warren Gatland discusses Lions selection

It wouldn't bother me if I picked 15 English players, says Lions head coach Gatland

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 29 December 2012

Warren Gatland will travel to Australia from his New Zealand home this week as his quest to become the first British and Irish Lions head coach in 16 years to win a Test series begins in earnest.

The 49-year-old former All Black hooker and current Wales head coach, a man who helped Waikato to a 38-10 win over the Lions in 1993, plans to share a beer with fellow Kiwi and Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans when the Lions backroom staff conduct a reconnaissance trip Down Under before returning ahead of a Six Nations tournament that will define his squad selection.

There are so many questions to be answered, such as the make-up of the back row. ‘Can you pick it’ Gatland asks. ‘Because right now I haven’t got a clue.’

Fill the shirt: Head coach Warren Gatland is planning a recce Down Under before picking his Lions squad

Fill the shirt: Head coach Warren Gatland is planning a recce Down Under before picking his Lions squad

But in many areas the former Ireland coach, who also led Wasps to domestic and European success and twice guided Wales to Grand Slams, has made up his mind.

Take the composition of the squad. ‘I’d imagine there will be 35 players made up of a 19 to 16 split between forwards and backs, possibly 20 to 15,’ he reveals. ‘We’ll have three hookers, three 9s, three 10s and an extra prop. It means that in nearly all other positions there’ll be two players fighting it out for one spot.’

Gatland is adamant all four home nations will be represented in the squad, but all politics will go out of the window when it comes to the Test starting XV. ‘It wouldn’t bother me if I picked 15 Englishmen if I thought they were best equipped to beat Australia,’ he says. ‘I don’t think the make-up of the team is the main criteria for getting the job done, although I believe all four nations should have representations in the squad for the morale of the tour. That’s why I hope that Scotland enjoy a good Six Nations because I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn to say representation for the Scots is challenging.’

In deciding his best approach, Gatland has sought advice from two of his predecessors; Sir Ian McGeechan, his boss on the 2009 tour to South Africa that ended in narrow defeat, and fellow Kiwi Graham Henry, who was also Wales coach when he led an ultimately unsuccessful tour to Australia in 2001.

Lion's share: England will be represented in the starting XV

Lion's share: England will be represented in the starting XV

Lion's share: England will be represented in the starting XV

‘Graham told me that coaching the Lions gave him some of the most valuable lessons he ever learned, lessons that he put to good use when he won the World Cup last year for New Zealand,’ says Gatland. ‘He also boosted my confidence by saying how I’m miles more experienced than he was at this point. He was appointed Lions coach 18 months after taking over in Wales. I’ve been coaching in the Northern Hemisphere for the vast majority of the last 24 years.

‘New Zealand try to claim me as a Kiwi coach but, while I was a Kiwi player, I’m most definitely a Northern Hemisphere coach, and very proud to be so.’

The memories of four years ago when Gatland, as forwards coach under McGeechan, saw the Lions lose narrowly are still raw. ‘I’m still hurting from that,’ he says. ‘I recall the tiniest of details, like a lineout the ref deemed wasn’t straight to a Bryan Habana try. I’ll swear until my very last day it was straight.

‘And I’ll never know how Schalk Burger wasn’t sent off, or at the very least sent to the bin, for gouging in the second Test.

‘But I’m proud of what we achieved in 2009 when we put the pride back into the Lions jersey, and regained the respect from the rest of world rugby.’

Second coming: Gatland was part of the Lions coaching team in 2009

Second coming: Gatland was part of the Lions coaching team in 2009

This is in reference to the ill-fated tour of New Zealand in 2005 when Sir Clive Woodward split management and playing staff into midweek and Test groups, resulting in a 3-0 series whitewash.

Gatland, in the forefront of the modern game when it comes to coaching Wales, is more of a traditionalist with the Lions.

‘You have to be more old school for a scratch team who meet up the day after many have played in cup finals and who have been kicking lumps out of each other just a few weeks before,’ he says.

‘Every member of the squad will get to start one of the first three games. That way they won’t throw their toys out of the pram like they did in 2005. It will be good for squad morale.

‘Likewise, I’ll make sure we have a few beers. We’ll have to get the balance right – obviously what happened with England at the World Cup didn’t work out too well – but it’s important the boys enjoy each other’s company and bond.’

For now, Gatland has to choose the right players. He intends to see all four countries as much as possible during the Six Nations, starting with England against Scotland at Twickenham on February 2. He also plans to watch training, although he is wary of his ties with Wales.

Class of 2013: Gatland with his coaches (L-R) Graham Rowntree, Rob Howley and Andy Farrell

Class of 2013: Gatland with his coaches (L-R) Graham Rowntree, Rob Howley and Andy Farrell

‘Stuart Lancaster has offered to let me spend a day watching England train, as has Declan Kidney with Ireland,’ he says. ‘It’s important people feel comfortable and know me well enough to realise I’m not going to go running back to Wales with trade secrets. That would insult me and the coaches’ integrity. If anything, my problem is trying not to be too hard on the Welsh to prove I’m totally unbiased.

‘The coach’s input is vital. I know the players and I can see their stats but I’ll need help to choose the right personalities, an ingredient just as important on a Lions tour.’

He wants consistency from all contenders during the Six Nations, something which has been lacking.

‘If I’d picked the squad after the 2012 Six Nations then there would have been a lot of Welsh Grand Slam winners in it,’ he adds. ‘After the autumn this wouldn’t be the case. If I have the England win over New Zealand in mind then a lot of those guys put their hand up.

‘If we get it right on and off the field we will have a hell of a team, and if that’s the case then we’ll beat Australia. It’s my job now to make sure that happens.’

Steven Gerrard wins his 100th cap – his best moments for England

England's midfield lion: Sportsmail pays tribute as Gerrard becomes the sixth player to reach a century of caps

|

UPDATED:

08:04 GMT, 13 November 2012

When Steven Gerrard leads out England on Wednesday evening in their friendly against Sweden, he will join an exclusive club of Englishmen who have won a century of caps.

Gerrard will become the sixth player to achieve the feat after Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton and David Beckham.

And like these legends before him, no England fan can fault Gerrard’s commitment to the cause over these past 12 years.

History man: Steven Gerrard will win his 100th cap for England this Wednesday against Sweden - 12 years and six months after his first

History man: Steven Gerrard will win his 100th cap for England this Wednesday against Sweden – 12 years and six months after his first

GERRARD'S RECORD

Caps: 99 Won: 64 Drawn: 23 Lost: 12

Goals: 19 Yellow cards: 19 Red cards: 1

Since making his debut against Ukraine as a fresh-faced youngster a day after his 20th birthday in May 2000, the Liverpool man has produced regular Herculean performances right across the midfield.

He has contributed 19 goals for the cause, pinged hundreds of his trademark cross-field passes and ran the show against some of the finest midfielders in the world.

His manager, Roy Hodgson led the tributes this week: ‘He is an outstanding footballer and a very mature, thinking football man and I’m delighted I’m going to be the manager when he gets that 100th cap. I will regard that as an honour.’

In honour of Gerrard’s century, Sportsmail looks back at some of his finest performances for the Three Lions.

CAP ONE: May 31, 2000 – England 2 Ukraine 0

Having broken through at Liverpool, the 19-year-old Gerrard had caught the eye of England manager Kevin Keegan and was selected for the squad heading to Belgium and Holland for the European Championships.

At this point, he hadn’t been fully capped for England and Keegan left it until the last minute to test him out – alongside Paul Scholes in a pre-tournament Wembley warm-up with Ukraine.

And Gerrard produced the first of many impressive performances in a perfunctory 2-0 England win, secured through goals by Robbie Fowler and Tony Adams. His range of passing and bite in the tackle were really starting to develop as he entered his twenties.

If the cap fits... A youthful Gerrard is presented with his first full England cap by then manager Kevin Keegan at Bisham Abbey in May 2000

If the cap fits… A youthful Gerrard is presented with his first full England cap by then manager Kevin Keegan at Bisham Abbey in May 2000

On the rampage: Wearing an unfamiliar number two shirt, Gerrard made his England debut in a pre-Euro 2000 warm-up with Ukraine at Wembley

On the rampage: Wearing an unfamiliar number two shirt, Gerrard made his England debut in a pre-Euro 2000 warm-up with Ukraine at Wembley

CAP NINE: September
1, 2001 – Germany 1 England 5

The greatest night in the modern England era and one that bred optimism that Sven Goran Eriksson’s ‘Golden Generation’ could beat the very best in the world and, perhaps, end the silverware drought.

On a magical night in Munich, Gerrard ran the show, scoring his first goal in an England shirt to give the visitors the lead in first-half stoppage time and slipping Liverpool teammate Michael Owen away for the fourth.

Alas, as we now know, that glorious night proved to be something of a false dawn and 11 years further on, we are still waiting desperately for that taste of success.

Bound for the bottom corner: Gerrard (number four) scores from the edge of the penalty area to put England into a 2-1 lead against Germany in Munich

Bound for the bottom corner: Gerrard (number four) scores from the edge of the penalty area to put England into a 2-1 lead against Germany in Munich

Glorious night: ...And he celebrates accordingly. England went on to win the World Cup qualifier 5-1.

Glorious night: …And he celebrates accordingly. England went on to win the World Cup qualifier 5-1.

CAP 22: March 31, 2004 – Sweden 1 England 0

The last time England travelled to Sweden for a friendly was also a landmark occasion for Gerrard who, as a veteran of just 22 caps, was handed the captain’s armband for the first time by Eriksson.

Both sides had an eye on that summer’s European Championships, but also on the crucial club run-in, and so Gerrard only played an hour before handing the armband to Gareth Southgate.

It was a characteristically industrious performance from Gerrard but, despite England having the best chances, Sweden won through Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal just after half-time.

Captain fantastic: Gerrard wore the England armband for the first time in March 2004, but he couldn't prevent the side losing 1-0 to Sweden

Captain fantastic: Gerrard wore the England armband for the first time in March 2004, but he couldn't prevent the side losing 1-0 to Sweden

Cap 76: September 9th, 2009 – England 5 Croatia 1

One of the finest England displays of the Fabio Capello era, the team secured their place at the World Cup finals in South Africa in resounding fashion.

And Gerrard was outstanding even in a team of excellent performers, putting in arguably his best 90 minutes for his country. He put England two-up after 18 minutes, sprinting in unnoticed at the back post with a header from Aaron Lennon’s deep cross. Gerrard had supplied Lennon in the first place.

His second and England’s fourth, on 68 minutes, was the culmination of a great team move involving Gareth Barry and Wayne Rooney – Gerrard scored with another header from Rooney’s cross.

Rising high: With an incredible leap, Gerrard converts Wayne Rooney's cross to put England 4-0 up against Croatia at Wembley

Rising high: With an incredible leap, Gerrard converts Wayne Rooney's cross to put England 4-0 up against Croatia at Wembley

First class: Gerrard's double helped secure England's place in the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa

First class: Gerrard's double helped secure England's place in the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa

Cap 81: June 12th, 2010 – England 1 United States 1

Having breezed through qualifying, Capello’s England entered the World Cup finals in South Africa in a hopeful frame of mind – something only enhanced when Gerrard gave them the lead after just four minutes of the tournament opener with the USA.

But such early promise wasn’t sustained and England surrendered the initiative when Robert Green fumbled the ball for the equaliser. In a largely listless showing, captain Gerrard was the only player who was lion-hearted.

Ultimately, it would just be another tournament to underline England's frailties on the world stage.

Perfect start: Just four minutes into the World Cup opener with the United States and Gerrard fired England into the lead

Perfect start: Just four minutes into the World Cup opener with the United States and Gerrard fired England into the lead

Cap 85 – August 11, 2010 England 2 Hungary 1

A year on from the high of thrashing Croatia and faith in English football has come full circle following the World Cup debacle. Capello lumbers on in charge and, in the first match back, England are heading to a miserable defeat at home to Hungary.

Enter skipper Gerrard to change the mood. Two great goals in the space of four minutes silence the boo-boys and prove life can go on. His first is a peach from 30 yards following a typically bustling run and his second sees him outwit three defenders inside the box before poking home.

Sure-footed: Gerrard manoeuvres round three Hungarian defenders for his second goal, before toe-poking home

Sure-footed: Gerrard manoeuvres round three Hungarian defenders for his second goal, before toe-poking home

Life goes on: Gerrard's double in this friendly gave England cause for optimism after their abysmal World Cup

Life goes on: Gerrard's double in this friendly gave England cause for optimism after their abysmal World Cup

Cap 95: June 19, 2012 – Ukraine 0 England 1

Not England’s finest performance by any means, but by some miracle, Hodgson’s side had made it into the last eight of Euro 2012 – and as group winners.

Rooney acknowledged afterwards that this was Gerrard’s finest England performance and the two combined for the winning goal against host nation Ukraine. Gerrard found room for a cross from the right, which took a couple of fortuitous deflections and fell to Rooney to head in at the far post.

With Gerrard tireless in midfield, England preserved their slender advantage and set up a quarter-final with Italy.

We're through! Gerrard celebrates after England beat Ukraine to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012

We're through! Gerrard celebrates after England beat Ukraine to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012

WHO'S NEXT: CAN GERRARD CATCH UP WITH THESE GREATS

Number of caps – Name, Years played for England (clubs)

125 – Peter Shilton 1970-1990 (Leicester City, Stoke City, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Derby County)
115 – David Beckham 1996-2009 (Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan)
108 – Bobby Moore 1962-1973 (West Ham United)
106 – Bobby Charlton 1958-1970 (Manchester United)
105 – Billy Wright 1946-1959 (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

GERRARD'S ENGLAND CAREER IN FULL

Age 20
1. May 31, 2000 – England 2 Ukraine 0 (Friendly; Wembley)
2. June 17, 2000 – England 1 Germany 0 (UEFA European Championships, Group stage; Charleroi)
3. March 24, 2001 – England 2 Finland 1 (World Cup qualifier, Anfield)
4. May 25, 2001 – England 4 Mexico 0 (Friendly, Pride Park)

You're going nowhere: Gerrard gets shirty with Finland on his third England appearance, a World Cup qualifier at Anfield in March 2001

You're going nowhere: Gerrard gets shirty with Finland on his third England appearance, a World Cup qualifier at Anfield in March 2001

Age 21
5. June 6, 2001 – Greece 0 England 2 (World Cup qualifier; Athens)
6. September 1, 2001 – Germany 1 England 5 (World Cup qualifier; Munich) One goal
7. September 5, 2001 – England 2 Albania 0 (World Cup qualifier; St James' Park)
8. October 6, 2001 – England 2 Greece 2 (World Cup qualifier; Old Trafford)
9. February 13, 2002 – Netherlands 1 England 1 (Friendly; Amsterdam)
10.April 17, 2002 – England 4 Paraguay 0 (Friendly; Anfield)

Age 22
11. September 7, 2002 – England 1 Portugal 1 (Friendly; Villa Park)
12. October 12, 2002 – Slovakia 1 England 2 (European Championships qualifier; Bratislava)
13. October 16, 2002 – England 2 Macedonia 2 (European Championships qualifier; St Mary's) One goal
14. March 29, 2003 – Liechtenstein 0 England 2 (European Championships qualifier; Vaduz)
15. April 2, 2003 – England 2 Turkey 0 (European Championship qualifier; Stadium of Light)
16. May 22, 2003 – South Africa 1 England 2 (Friendly; Durban)

Technique: Gerrard finds the net through a crowd of Macedonian defenders in the Euro 2004 qualifier at Southampton

Technique: Gerrard finds the net through a crowd of Macedonian defenders in the Euro 2004 qualifier at Southampton

Age 23
17. June 3, 2003 – England 2 Serbia and Montenegro 1 (Friendly; Walkers Stadium) One goal
18. June 11, 2003 – England 2 Slovakia 1 (European Championships qualifier; Riverside Stadium)
19. August 20, 2003 – England 3 Croatia 1 (Friendly; Portman Road)
20. September 10, 2003 – England 2 Liechtenstein 0 (European Championships qualifier; Old Trafford)
21. October 11, 2003 – Turkey 0 England 0 (European Championships qualifier; Istanbul)
22. March 31, 2004 – Sweden 1 England 0 (Friendly; Gothenburg) First game as captain

Age 24
23. June 1, 2004 – England 1 Japan 1 (Friendly; City of Manchester Stadium)
24. June 5, 2004 – England 6 Iceland 1 (Friendly; City of Manchester Stadium)
25. June 13, 2004 – France 2 England 1 (UEFA European Championships, group stage; Lisbon)
26. June 17, 2004 – England 3 Switzerland 0 (UEFA European Championships, group stage; Coimbra) One goal
27. June 21, 2004 – England 4 Croatia 2 (UEFA European Championships, group stage; Lisbon)
28. June 24, 2004 – Portugal 2 England 2 (UEFA European Championships, quarter-final; Lisbon)
29. August 18, 2004 – England 3 Ukraine 0 (Friendly; St James' Park)
30. September 4, 2004 – Austria 2 England 2 (World Cup qualifier; Vienna) One goal
31. September 8, 2004 – Poland 1 England 2 (World Cup qualifier; Chorzow)
32. February 9, 2005 – England 0 Netherlands 0 (Friendly; Villa Park)
33. March 25, 2005 – England 4 Northern Ireland 0 (World Cup qualifier; Old Trafford)
34. March 30, 2005 – England 2 Azerbaijan (World Cup qualifier; St James' Park) One goal

Heading for victory: Gerrard makes it England 3 Switzerland 0 at Euro 2004

Heading for victory: Gerrard makes it England 3 Switzerland 0 at Euro 2004

Age 25
35. August 17, 2005 – Denmark 4 England 1 (Friendly; Copenhagen)
36. September 3, 2005 – Wales 0 England 1 (World Cup qualifier; Cardiff)
37. September 7, 2005 – Northern Ireland 1 England 0 (World Cup qualifier; Belfast)
38. October 8, 2005 – England 1 Austria 0 (World Cup qualifier; Old Trafford)
39. November 12, 2005 – Argentina 2 England 3 (Friendly; Geneva)
40. March 1, 2006 – England 2 Uruguay 1 (Friendly; Old Trafford)

Age 26
41. May 30, 2006 – England 3 Hungary 1 (Friendly; Old Trafford) One goal
42. June 3, 2006 – England 6 Jamaica 0 (Friendly; Old Trafford)
43. June 10, 2006 – England 1 Paraguay 0 (FIFA World Cup, group stage; Frankfurt)
44. June 15, 2006 – England 2 Trinidad and Tobago 0 (FIFA World Cup, group stage; Nuremburg) One goal
45. June 20, 2006 – Sweden 2 England 2 (FIFA World Cup, group stage; Cologne) One goal
46. June 25, 2006 – England 1 Ecuador 0 (FIFA World Cup, second round; Stuttgart)
47. July 1, 2006 – England 0 Portugal 0 (FIFA World Cup, quarter-finals; Gelsenkirchen) Had penalty saved in shoot-out
48. August 16, 2006 – England 4 Greece 0 (Friendly; Old Trafford)
49. September 2, 2006 – England 5 Andorra 0 (European Championships qualifier; Old Trafford) One goal
50. September 6, 2006 – Macedonia 0 England 1 (European Championships qualifier; Skopje)
51. October 7, 2006 – England 0 Macedonia 0 (European Championships qualifier; Old Trafford)
52. November 15, 2006 – Netherlands 1 England 1 (Friendly; Amsterdam)
53. February 7, 2007 – England 0 Spain 1 (Friendly; Old Trafford)
54. March 24, 2007 – Israel 0 England 0 (European Championships qualifier; Tel Aviv)
55. March 28, 2007 – Andorra 0 England 3 (European Championships qualifier; Barcelona) Two goals

Agony: Ricardo, the Portugal goalkeeper, gets a hand to Gerrard's spot-kick as England crash out at the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup

Agony: Ricardo, the Portugal goalkeeper, gets a hand to Gerrard's spot-kick as England crash out at the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup

Age 27
56. June 1, 2007 – England 1 Brazil 1 (Friendly; Wembley)
57. June 6, 2007 – Estonia 0 England 3 (European Championships qualifier; Tallinn)
58. September 8, 2007 – England 3 Israel 0 (European Championships qualifier; Wembley)
59. September 12, 2007 – England 3 Russia 0 (European Championships qualifier; Wembley)
60. October 13, 2007 – England 3 Estonia 0 (European Championships qualifier; Wembley)
61. October 17, 2007 – Russia 2 England 1 (European Championships qualifier; Moscow)
62. November 16, 2007 – Austria 0 England 1 (Friendly; Vienna)
63. November 21, 2007 – England 2 Croatia 3 (European Championships qualifier; Wembley)
64. February 6, 2008 – England 2 Switzerland 1 (Friendly; Wembley)
65. March 26, 2008 – France 1 England 0 (Friendly; Paris)
66. May 28, 2008 – England 2 United States 0 (Friendly; Wembley) One goal

Age 28
67. June 1, 2008 – Trinidad and Tobago 0 England 3 (Friendly; Port of Spain)
68. August 20, 2008 – England 2 Czech Republic 2 (Friendly; Wembley)
69. October 11, 2008 – England 5 Kazakhstan 1 (World Cup qualifier; Wembley)
70. October 15, 2008 – Belarus 1 England 3 (World Cup qualifier; Minsk) One goal
71. March 28, 2009 – England 4 Slovakia 0 (Friendly; Wembley)
72. April 1, 2009 – England 2 Ukraine 1 (Friendly; Wembley)

Get in! Gerrard with his arms aloft after opening the scoring against Belarus in a World Cup qualifier

Get in! Gerrard with his arms aloft after opening the scoring against Belarus in a World Cup qualifier

Age 29
73. June 6, 2009 – Kazakhstan 0 England 4 (World Cup qualifier; Almaty)
74. June 10, 2009 – England 6 Andorra 0 (World Cup qualifier; Wembley)
75. September 5, 2009 – England 2 Slovenia 1 (Friendly; Wembley)
76. September 9, 2009 – England 5 Croatia 1 (World Cup qualifier; Wembley) Two goals
77. October 10, 2009 – Ukraine 1 England 0 (World Cup qualifier; Dnepropetrovsk)
78. March 3, 2010 – England 3 Egypt 1 (Friendly; Wembley)
79. May 24, 2010 – England 3 Mexico 1 (Friendly; Wembley)

Age 30
80. May 30, 2010 – Japan 1 England 2 (Friendly; Graz)
81. June 12, 2010 – England 1 United States 1 (FIFA World Cup, group stage; Rustenburg) One goal
82. June 18, 2010 – Algeria 0 England 0 (FIFA World Cup, group stage; Kaapstad)
83. June 23, 2010 – Slovenia 0 England 1 (FIFA World Cup, group stage; Ibhayl)
84. June 27, 2010 – Germany 4 England 1 (FIFA World Cup, second round; Bloemfontein)
85. August 11, 2010 – England 2 Hungary 1 (Friendly; Wembley) Two goals
86. September 3, 2010 – England 4 Bulgaria 0 (European Championships qualifier; Wembley)
87. September 7, 2010 – Switzerland 1 England 3 (European Championships qualifier; Basel)
88. October 12, 2010 – England 0 Montenegro 0 (European Championships qualifier; Wembley)
89. November 17, 2010 – England 1 France 2 (Friendly; Wembley)

The lows: Gerrard's face is a picture of despair after England are ripped apart by Germany in the World Cup second round in 2010

The lows: Gerrard's face is a picture of despair after England are ripped apart by Germany in the World Cup second round in 2010

Age 31
90. February 29, 2012 – England 2 Netherlands 3 (Friendly; Wembley)
91. May 26, 2012 – Norway 0 England 1 (Friendly; Oslo)

Age 32
92. June 2, 2012 – England 1 Belgium 0 (Friendly; Wembley)
93. June 11, 2012 – France 1 England 1 (UEFA European Championships, group stage; Donetsk)
94. June 15, 2012 – Sweden 2 England 3 (UEFA European Championships, group stage; kyiv)
95. June 19, 2012 – England 1 Ukraine 0 (UEFA European Championships, group stage; Donetsk)
96. June 24, 2012 – England 0 Italy 0 (UEFA European Championships, quarter-finals; Kyiv) Scored in penalty shoot-out
97. September 7, 2012 – Moldova 0 England 5 (World Cup qualifier; Chisinau)
98. September 11, 2012 – England 1 Ukraine 1 (World Cup qualifier; Wembley) Sent off
99. October 16, 2012 – Poland 1 England 1 (World Cup qualifier; Warsaw)

Brendan Rodgers hits back as Liverpool selection policy is questioned

Don't disrespect my players! Liverpool boss Rodgers hits back after selection policy is questioned

|

UPDATED:

10:08 GMT, 9 November 2012

Brendan Rodgers has defended his decision to leave several key men at home for Liverpool's Europa League group stage defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow on Thursday night.

The 1-0 loss saw the Russian side leapfrog the Reds to gain top spot in Group A, leaving Rodgers' side with work to do in their final group games against Udinese and Young Boys if they are to qualify for the knockout stages.

Rodgers opted to leave the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez at home as he selected a side containing nine Englishmen with an average age of just 24, but he says he was impressed with the performance despite the result.

Pointless: Liverpool came away from Russia with nothing on Thursday night

Pointless: Liverpool came away from Russia with nothing on Thursday night

Pointless: Liverpool came away from Russia with nothing on Thursday night

Pointless: Liverpool came away from Russia with nothing on Thursday night

Defiant: Rodgers (left) defended his decision to leave the likes of Gerrard and Suarez at home

'Not at all. I think that is a little disrespectful to the players who are here,' the Northern Irishman told the Liverpool Echo when asked if bringing Gerrard and the others would have made a difference.

'They have been magnificent and I thought they did really well and we just got punished for a mistake. That led to us losing the game but I don’t think it was anything to do with Suarez, Gerrard, Joe Allen, Martin Skrtel or Daniel Agger not being here.

'It was just one of those things. We will take it as a team, we are disappointed but there are so many positives from tonight.'

Giant striker Lacina Traore netted the only goal of the game just before half-time in a match in which Liverpool dominated possession, and Rodgers felt his side were unlucky not to head home with at least a point.

Winner: Lacina Traore is mobbed after scoring the only goal of the game just before half-time

Winner: Lacina Traore is mobbed after scoring the only goal of the game just before half-time

'We are disappointed with the result. I thought the players put everything into the game,' he added.

'Tactically our concentration was very good. We controlled the game for 44 minutes and 50 seconds of the first half

'We made a bad mistake and got punished and that is the level.

'It was more of the same second half.

'We had chances and there is real disappointment in the changing room and I felt for the players.

'We were up against a good side with top players and we held our own. Some of the young players were terrific and we are disappointed not to have got something from it.

Home grown: Rodgers started with nine Englishmen

Home grown: Rodgers started with nine Englishmen

Home grown: Rodgers started with nine Englishmen

'It was a mistake late on in the half. We just have to do that better at defending it once he (Traore) has turned.

'That is something the players involved know themselves so it is nothing they need to be told.

'I thought the performance level was good on a difficult pitch but I thought the players played the system tactically very well.

'We just find ourselves unfortunate not to get something from a very difficult place.'

Anzhi 1 Liverpool 0: Match report

Anzhi 1 Liverpool 0: Traore lob enough for mega-rich Russians to leave Reds with fight to qualify

|

UPDATED:

19:23 GMT, 8 November 2012

Liverpool conceded top spot in Group A to Europa League opponents Anzhi Makhachkala after defeat in Moscow.

Giant striker Lacina Traore scored a brilliant individual goal as the visitors switched off seconds before half-time.

The result, the Reds' first-ever away defeat in the group stage and only their third loss in 22 European matches, allowed the Russian club to assume pole position.

Chipping in: Anzhi Makhachkala's Lacina Traore scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half time

Chipping in: Anzhi Makhachkala's Lacina Traore scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half time

MATCH FACTS

Anzhi Makhachkala: Vladimir Gabulov, Logashov, Samba, Joao Carlos, Tagirbekov, Ahmedov (Carcela-Gonzalez 19) (Lakhiyalov 90), Jucilei, Zhirkov, Eto'o, Boussoufa, Traore (Smolov 80).

Subs not used: Pomazan, Gadzhibekov, Agalarov, Burmistrov

Goal: Traore 45

Liverpool: Jones, Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Flanagan, Henderson, Coady (Fernandez Saez 35), Cole (Assaidi 77), Shelvey, Downing, Morgan (Pacheco 61).

Subs not used: Gulacsi, Wilson, Sama, Robinson

Booked: Flanagan, Shelvey

Attendance: 15,000

Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan (Spain)

Anzhi may play 1,000 miles away from their home in Dagestan because of security issues but they remain strong on Russian turf and made it five successive European home wins.
It was always going to be a tough assignment for Liverpool as manager Brendan Rodgers, with Sunday's trip to Chelsea in mind and unperturbed by a weakened team's Capital One Cup exit against Swansea last week, opted to leave his big-name stars at home.

As a result he selected nine Englishmen, in a starting XI with an average age of just under 24, in a 3-5-2 formation.

It meant Conor Coady, who captained England Under-17s to their first European Championships title in 2010, made his debut in an icy-cold Lokomotiv Stadium.

The Liverpool-born 19-year-old has progressed through the club's academy and was given his chance having been an unused first-team substitute three times.

Striker Adam Morgan, 18, was making only his second start but, having been prolific throughout youth level Rodgers remains hopeful he will eventually make the step up and he was given the difficult job of leading the line.

At the other end of the scale Joe Cole, on his 31st birthday, struggled to make an impact again after a woeful 45 minutes against the Swans.

Lacina Traore

Lacina Traore 1

Watching it all the way: Lacina Traore scores for Anzhi on the stroke of half time and claimed the three points

Celebration time: Traore is mobbed by team-mates after his goal

Celebration time: Traore is mobbed by team-mates after his goal

The first half was a typically cagey European affair with chances at a premium.

All of which made it all the more
remarkable that when presented with a shooting opportunity Jordan
Henderson declined in the 23rd minute.

The 22-year-old spoke before the
match about wanting to prove he has a future at Anfield but he will need
to improve his decision making if that is to be the case.

Morgan showed good strength to hold
off Odil Ahmedov and thread a pass through but from a 45-degree angle he
opted to cut the ball back to the striker.

At full stretch: Anzhi Makhachkala's player Joao Carlos vies for the ball with Liverpool's Adam Morgan

At full stretch: Anzhi Makhachkala's player Joao Carlos vies for the ball with Liverpool's Adam Morgan

Hitting the deck: Joe Cole goes to ground under a challenge

Hitting the deck: Joe Cole goes to ground under a challenge

It probably showed a lack of confidence but chances in Europe do not come around that frequently and it was a waste.

Contrast that with former Barcelona
forward Samuel Eto'o, Anzhi's 330,000-a-week marquee signing, who
forced Brad Jones into a good save from Yuri Zhirkov's cross after the
ex-Chelsea player had robbed Andre Wisdom near Liverpool's right
touchline.

Henderson flicked on a tame near-post
header from Downing's cross and Cole nodded Downing's inswinging
free-kick wide before, in added time, Liverpool lapsed.

Eyes on the prize: Cole, right, fights for the ball against Anzhi's Christopher Samba

Eyes on the prize: Cole, right, fights for the ball against Anzhi's Christopher Samba

Eyes wide shut: Jonjo Shelvey and Anzhi's Rasim Tagirbekov contest a header

Eyes wide shut: Jonjo Shelvey and Anzhi's Rasim Tagirbekov contest a header

Traore brilliant spun Sebastian
Coates with a left-footed touch and then lobbed Jones with his right for
his fourth goal in six matches.

Cole at least made it out for the
second half, which was more than he did last week, and set up Morgan to
fire into the side-netting soon after the restart.

Eto'o replied with a curling shot
which Jones claimed comfortably diving to his left while Traore and
Rasim Tagirbekov flashed shots just past the post as the game began to
open up.

Substitutes Suso and Dani Pacheco, on
for Morgan and Coady, gave the forward line some more youthful impetus
but it was the hosts who remained the more threatening with Jones making
another good save from Traore's powerful header.

Battle for the ball: Anzhi Makhachkala's Yuri Zhirkov fights for the ball with Liverpool's Andre Wisdom

Battle for the ball: Anzhi Makhachkala's Yuri Zhirkov fights for the ball with Liverpool's Andre Wisdom

Cole's last contribution before being
replaced by Oussama Assaidi was to force a close-range save from
Vladimir Gabulov after he had fumbled Suso's shot.

But Traore should have finished off Liverpool when put clean through by Eto'o but he rolled his effort wide of the upright.

Henderson had a late chance to equalise but ballooned his shot well over.

Poland v England: Roy Hodgson acid test: MATT LAWTON

Acid test: Minnows were devoured, now Roy's boys have bigger fish to fry

|

UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 15 October 2012

The lights went out on Sir Alf Ramsey’s reign as England manager after playing Poland and on Monday night here the lights went out briefly on Roy Hodgson.

It was an electrical fault rather than the fault of England’s footballers, the interview room inside the national stadium suddenly descending into darkness. But it did add, briefly, to the sense of drama ahead of a hugely important World Cup qualifier and it also led neatly into a question about England’s past and those dark days in 1973.

All smiles: Hodgson and Gerrard share a joke at the pre-match press conference on Monday

All smiles: Roy Hodgson and Steven Gerrard share a joke at the pre-match press conference on Monday

After demonstrating his ‘anorak’
knowledge and rattling off a few Polish names involved in those two
matches 39 years ago, Hodgson gave a rather nice response.

‘A knowledge of history might give you a sense of perspective but it doesn’t help you win a football match,’ he said.

He’s right, of course, because here
he needs help of a different kind. On Tuesday he needs the players he
selects to help him firmly establish himself as England manager by
securing a victory that will enable him to seize control of a
potentially problematic qualification group.

This is Hodgson’s 11th match in
charge, and the time has arrived for him to prove that he can organise
11 Englishmen to win a match of this significance.

A match that could propel England
that much closer to the World Cup in Brazil and send the manager into
next year optimistic about the future.

Judging by training here on Monday
night, he is leaning towards more experienced players even if he did
talk of ‘a balance between youth and experience’. He does seem to have
changes in mind, and not just the obvious ones like Ashley Cole and
Joleon Lescott.

Warming up: Steven Gerrard leads the England squad in training at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Monday

Warming up: Gerrard leads the England squad in training at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Monday

Warming up: The England squad in training at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Monday

THREE KEY CLASHES

MARCIN WASILEWSKI v WAYNE ROONEY
Few players are as strong as Rooney but Poland’s giant, heavily tattooed centre half will be out to impose his physical presence on the Manchester United star. It will be a major test of whether Rooney really has learned to control his temper.

GRZEGORZ KRYCHOWIAK v STEVEN GERRARD
The surging runs of England’s captain will be a key weapon but first he’s got to shake off the attention of Stade de Reims star Krychowiak. The 22-year-old is building a reputation at his French club as a tough and industrious midfielder. He has also shone at centre half when needed.

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI v PHIL JAGIELKA
Everton’s centre half has waited a long time to be more than a bit-part player for England — but couldn’t have a tougher chance to prove himself. Polish hopes rest on the Dortmund striker and Bundesliga player of the year last season. Jagielka faces a step up in class to deal with his pace and movement.

Matt Barlow

If the small-sided games they were
playing on Monday night point to what Hodgson has in mind for the Poles,
the fact that Jermain Defoe spent more time than Danny Welbeck
alongside Wayne Rooney, and Michael Carrick played a more central role
than Tom Cleverley, would suggest England’s manager is taking a fairly
pragmatic approach to the game.

It will be harsh on Welbeck if he is
dropped but what Hodgson has created is a system that works for these
England players and the fact Rooney remains in that supporting role to
the main striker is a plus, whatever Gary Neville might feel about the
26-year-old’s career.

Hodgson said he was satisfied with
the progress the team has made under his guidance and as a result felt
confident they were equipped for the challenge that this evening
represents.

‘We’re trying to get there,’ he said.
‘We’re on our way. Since the Euros, the Italy game was quite positive,
Moldova was a good performance.

That has been put into perspective by
the draw at home to Ukraine. But I’m pretty satisfied that we’re trying
to sing off the same hymn sheet.

But after 10 or 11 games, it would be
foolish to suggest we’re the finished article. Of course we’re not.
We’re working. Every time we get to work together, I get the feeling
we’re getting stronger.’

Who's playing England manager Roy Hodgson talks as Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck look on

Who's playing England manager Hodgson talks as Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck look on

Guess who: Wayne Rooney is set to find out his playing partner up front against Poland on Tuesday night

Guess who: Wayne Rooney is set to find out his playing partner up front against Poland on Tuesday night

CARROLL IS A BUM NOTE

Andy Carroll arrived in Warsaw to be cut down to size by Polish legend Zbigniew Boniek, who said his eight-year-old grandson was more mobile than England’s most expensive footballer.

‘My grandson Mateo moves better on the pitch than Carroll,’ said Boniek. ‘He has better co-ordination and he is very good at golf and tennis.’

Hodgson was less happy to accept that
this match is some kind of judgement day; a ‘must-win game’; a
‘watershed moment’. ‘It seems every match as an international manager is
a watershed moment,’ he said a little dismissively.

‘I don’t really know what that is.
It’s an important moment. But it’s a game of football, a game we’ve
worked hard to prepare for and a game, if we win, can give us a very
good start to our qualifying campaign.

‘But after 36 years the words “must
win” leave me rather cold. Most teams go on the field wanting to win. I
don’t know how you achieve a “must win” other than going out to try and
play.

‘People judge you when they want.
People will always have opinions about how the team have played, or the
way you’ve set it out.

'I’m more than happy with the
response I’ve had from the players so far. They’ve committed 100 per
cent to what we’re trying to do. It’s for others to decide whether
that’s good enough. But I’m fully aware that, when the defeats come, the
criticism will be levelled against me and the team.’

Leading by example: Gerrard is poised to captain England again after missing the San Marino game through suspension

Leading by example: Gerrard is poised to captain England again after missing the San Marino game through suspension

Hodgson has done OK so far. The
performance against Ukraine was disappointing and the quarter-final
encounter with Italy at Euro 2012 exposed the usual deficiencies in the
national team. But he does have a strategy and he does remain unbeaten
in 90 minutes in the 10 games he has contested.

The Polish will pose problems despite
Jakub Blaszczykowski’s absence with injury. As Hodgson was quick to
acknowledge, with players like Robert Lewandowski they could be a threat
to England’s World Cup ambitions.

Hodgson spoke of the ‘responsibility’
both he and his captain, Steven Gerrard, shoulder tonight. Gerrard
spoke of his pride in joining Ashley Cole in winning their 99th caps.

Focused: Ashley Cole in training following the revelation he has refused to sign a new deal at Chelsea

Focused: Ashley Cole in training following the revelation he has refused to sign a new deal at Chelsea

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Danny Welbeck

All white on the night: Oxlade-Chamberlain and Welbeck both scored in the win over San Marino on Friday night

At the back of the room, David
Bernstein, the FA chairman, listened intently. So did Adrian
Bevington, the managing director of Club England.

It all added to the sense of occasion, the sense of importance, and the sense that England need to improve.

The defensive frailties that were
apparent against Ukraine have to be eradicated. For that reason it could
be an important contest for Carrick, as well as the back four.

But there also has to be more fluency and finesse, and more of a killer finish in England’s forwards.

‘Historical moments don’t really
interest me,’ said Hodgson last night. ‘I don’t ever dismiss history,
but it’s about what we’re trying to build. It’s about working for today
and tomorrow.’

Today needs to go well so that tomorrow is not half as uncomfortable as it was for Ramsey. The smart money says it will do.

Poland v England - all you need to know

Ryder Cup 2012: Secret to great golf partnerships

So, what is the secret to making a great golf partnership

|

UPDATED:

21:36 GMT, 25 September 2012

It is the question that has kept every Ryder Cup captain awake. What makes for a successful pairing Answer that correctly and they can look forward to the history books bestowing a kind fate on their stewardship. Get it wrong and they are contemptuously dismissed as a cock-up.

As a perfect example, look at how the captains from the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills are remembered. Hal Sutton is recalled as a hopeless failure for pairing Tiger Woods with Phil Mickelson; Bernhard Langer an inspiration for bringing together Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie.

Here are a few things every captain considers – or should do – when deciding the pairings.

Unhappy couple: Mickelson (left) and Woods were paired together in 2004

Unhappy couple: Mickelson (left) and Woods were paired together in 2004

Nationality

In the case of the European team, they might be playing for their continent but the pride of representing their country draws players from the same nation together and has been utilised by virtually every skipper, when possible.

The finest Ryder Cup partnership of all was forged on Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal hailing from the same coastline. They lived just an hour’s drive from one another. They spoke the same language and shared the same passion.

Instinctively they knew what made the other tick. They were quickly labelled the ‘Spanish Armada’ when they sailed to Muirfield Village in 1987. When they proved invincible, the idea of drawing on the bonds of nationhood was afloat.

Since then we have seen other Spaniards play together,

Irishmen, Italians, Scots, Englishmen and Swedes, too. Drawing on the same principle, this time we will see Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy play together and England’s Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

Ulster's finest: McDowell (left) and McIlroy (right) were paired together in 2010

Ulster's finest: McDowell (left) and McIlroy (right) were paired together in 2010

Friendship

You do not have to be great buddies to play together. You do not even have to get along at all off the course, as Ian Woosnam and Sir Nick Faldo proved when putting their differences aside to form a brilliant partnership in 1987. But it has to help.

Rose and Poulter live walking distance from one another. They have been friends since a young Rose, struggling under the weight of a plethora of missed cuts, found strength when Poulter put a protective arm around his shoulder. It’s a natural pairing.

Big Brother

There's nothing to stop a captain putting two rookies together but most recognise it as a high-risk strategy that leaves you open to criticism if it backfires. Through the ages, the majority of skippers have favoured the route of appealing to the patriarchal instincts of an old hand to shepherd a nervous newcomer through his first experience. This was another area where Ballesteros was the master. Most people remember the way he helped an ashen Olazabal through the first day in 1987.

But he was an expert by then, having done the same thing with Paul Way in 1983. This time, it would be no surprise if Olazabal’s only rookie Nicolas Colsaerts pairs up with Paul Lawrie, the oldest player in Europe’s team.

Father figure: Ballesteros (left) helped Olazabal (right) through his early Ryder Cup experiences

Father figure: Ballesteros (left) helped Olazabal (right) through his early Ryder Cup experiences

Davis Love has more of a problem in this
regard, with four rookies. But he will solve at least one of his
conundrums by asking Phil Mickelson to show Keegan Bradley the ropes.

Personality

Putting together two similar types can work, as McDowell and Poulter showed at Valhalla in 2008. McDowell ended up with stiffness in his shoulder, he had been high-fiving his playing partner so much.

But some of the great Ryder Cup partnerships have been an ideal blend of a quiet man and an excitable sort, like Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia. ‘We’ve had occasions where Sergio has got me fired up and others where I’ve had to calm him down,’ says Donald of their chemistry.

Or an analytical mind and someone who plays off the cuff, like Gardner Dickinson and Arnold Palmer, America’s most successful partnership of all. Or Langer-Sandy Lyle and Faldo-Woosnam in 1987, or McDowell-McIlroy and Steve Stricker-Tiger Woods from more recent times.

The analyst draws comfort from playing with someone who can pull off shots he can only dream about. The flair merchant likes someone who can cover his back when his daring does not pay off.

Odd couple: Woosnam (left) and Faldo (right) back in 1987

Odd couple: Woosnam (left) and Faldo (right) back in 1987

Play To Strengths

At Valhalla, Europe’s captain Faldo was guilty of trying to reinvent the wheel. Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey are two wonderfully talented ball strikers with a flair for making birdies, but are also prone to bouts of wildness.

You never do what Faldo did then, and play them together in foursomes rather than fourballs.Foursomes is all about keeping the ball in play and seizing on the mistakes of your opponents. It appeals to the steady eddies, the Luke Donalds, the Frankie Molinaris and the Jim Furyks.

Fourballs is all about making things happen and favours the men who routinely make five birdies every round, like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and McIlroy. A great foursomes partnership is something like Woods and Stricker.

The former is a wonderful iron player who will put you 15ft from the flag all day, while Stricker the demon putter will roll in more than his share of putts.

At fourballs, Watson and Johnson could prove a potent pairing based on the principle that the odd bogey will be but a foothill when placed against their mountain of birdies.

Julio Cesar exclusive: I dream of winning Premier League with QPR

EXCLUSIVE: I dream of winning the Premier League title with QPR, says new boy Cesar

|

UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 29 August 2012

It was a good year for Queens Park Rangers, 1967. They won the Third Division title and beat First Division West Bromwich Albion 3-2 in the first League Cup final to be held at Wembley. Alec Stock was the manager, Peter Springett was in goal and Rodney Marsh was among 11 Englishmen in the starting team. It was their most successful season.

Standards are somewhat higher in 2012. On Wednesday, they completed the signing of Julio Cesar from Inter Milan. A player who has won five League titles, eight cups and one Champions League at his last club is entitled to have great expectations. And QPR's new goalkeeper is not afraid to feel optimistic.

'I have many dreams at QPR,' said the smiling Brazilian, sitting down with Sportsmail for an exclusive chat about his move.

Family guy: Julio Cesar is bringing his wife Susanna and their children Giulia and Cauet to London

Family guy: Julio Cesar is bringing his wife Susanna and their children
Giulia and Cauet to London

'To play well for the fans, the manager, the chairman and myself. And eventually finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League and then one day win the Premier League.

'It is possible. A few years ago nobody believed Manchester City would ever win the Premier League. So we have to dream. When you dream, things can happen. That's the reason I came here.'

He has been watching clips of QPR on YouTube and has seen a video of the 5-0 defeat to Swansea on the opening day of this season.

Brazilian blend: Goalkeeper Julio Cesar will add to the South American influence at Queens Park Rangers

Brazilian blend: Goalkeeper Julio Cesar will add to the South American influence at Queens Park Rangers

And he should know they have won only five trophies in their history, but he's here and he's ambitious. And he knows how to stop goals.

Cesar, 32 and Serie A goalkeeper of the year twice in the past four seasons, watched Tuesday's Capital One Cup win over Walsall and now he is nervously testing out his English which, by the way, is not bad at all for a beginner.

'I watched the game on Tuesday and it was good to see us win,' he says. 'We have a saying in Portuguese – pe quente. It literally means ''hot food'' but it's a saying that we use to mean a good omen. So I think I was that on Tuesday night.

'When I arrived at the ground there were lots of children all excited to see me. It was great. Loftus Road is of course a lot smaller than the San Siro but I walked around the ground and I liked it. I like that in England the fans are a lot closer to the pitch. The stadiums in England are much better than in Italy. The pitch at Loftus Road is perfect, it is unbelievable.'

Unbelievable is how many Rangers fans will view having a keeper of Cesar's calibre at the club. At Inter, under Jose Mourinho, Cesar was voted the third-best goalkeeper in the world (Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon were first and second) and a flick through his best clips on YouTube will tell you why. His reactions are lightning quick and he looks comfortable on crosses, a key in the Premier League.

'London is a big attraction,' he said. 'It is one of the two or three best cities to live in the whole world. It reminds me of New York. It's perfect for my future too. I can speak a bit of English now but coming here gives me the opportunity to learn it really well. I'm a little bit shy speaking English at the moment. I don't trust myself so I'll start studying next week and hopefully in six months to a year I will speak really, really well. I'm very, very happy. It's a new experience for me and my family. The opportunity to play in the Premier League, the best football in the world. I can't wait to train, I can't wait to play.'

He's Inter QPR: Cesar admitted he researched the Loftus Road club

He's Inter QPR: Cesar admitted he researched the Loftus Road club before his arrival

'I want us to reach the top four. It can happen, as it did for Man City'

Playing would not have happened much this season if he had stayed at Inter. Samir Handanovic was brought in during the summer, with the club needing to shed high earners after failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan and star defender Lucio are among the others to depart.

'Inter suggested that I reduce my salary, but no player in my situation would have done that. It became a tough situation for both parties. But I want to thank president Massimo Moratti for the seven wonderful years we have had together.

Competition: Green could lose the No 1 jersey after arriving only in the summer from West Ham

Competition: Green could lose the No 1 jersey after arriving only in the summer from West Ham

'I'll ask him to let me go on the pitch before the match between Inter and Roma this weekend so I can give a collective hug to all the fans. That would be a nice gesture.'

Once he knew he was going, unsurprisingly, there was no shortage of options. As well as a concrete offer this week from Roma, who made a last-ditch call on Tuesday to attempt to stop him joining QPR, Tottenham and Arsenal were also in the frame. Arsenal decided they were happy with Wojciech Szczesny while Andre Villas-Boas decided against bringing in a player so associated with his rival Mourinho.

Welcome to QPR: Fernandes greets Cesar

Welcome to QPR: Fernandes greets Cesar

'Two weeks ago I found out QPR were interested,' he says. 'I don't watch much football on TV but when I found out I could be coming to QPR, I went to Google and YouTube to read about the club, the players and to see how many Brazilians there are in the squad. There's Fabio, of course, and Jose Bosingwa speaks Portuguese too. Now I know a little bit about them. I didn't read too much because I'm a bit lazy with reading but I'll learn more each day.'

Cesar is under no illusion about the
task that lies ahead as Mark Hughes' No 1. Watching Rangers' opening day
thrashing by Swansea sorted that out.

'I saw the first game. Wow! It was terrible for them and they had some
problems but these things happen in football. When I met the coach I
asked him what happened in the first game. But they drew away in the
second game (1-1 at Norwich) and that's a good result.'

First
up for Cesar – assuming that he is fit and chosen ahead of Robert Green
– is Saturday's trip to champions Manchester City.

'I hope to be the No 1, but I have to work hard. I have the ability but
I know the Premier League is hard. My first game could be against my
first coach in Europe. Roberto Mancini brought me to Inter. They have
done well but we have to believe we can beat them.'

Rangers
almost did last season in the final-day nailbiter which saw City win
3-2 to seize the title but a result against Carlos Tevez – 'he is so
good' – and the rest of Mancini's superstars will not be easy.

'It's going to be a lot more physical here,' he admitted. 'The referees don't give fouls easily. In Italy, it's different. Here, if you fall down, you just have to stand right back up and get on with the game. I know (Tottenham's) Heurelho Gomes very well; we went to the World Cup together. So I'm going to speak to him about playing here.

'I've played against Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham. I like Wayne Rooney a lot. He is so good – up there with the best in the world.'

Cesar should know. He's been there.

Furyk claims early two-shot lead at WGC-Bridgestone

Furyk claims early two-shot lead at WGC-Bridgestone

|

UPDATED:

00:16 GMT, 3 August 2012

Jim Furyk held a two-shot lead over England's Lee Slattery after shooting an impressive opening-round 63 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Furyk, the 2003 US Open winner, carded an eagle, seven birdies and two bogeys to sit atop the first day's leaderboard at seven under par.

The American's nearest challenger was Slattery, who signed for a 65 following a remarkable run around the turn.

In the swing: Jim Furyk chips onto the ninth green

In the swing: Jim Furyk chips onto the ninth green

Like Furyk, Slattery started on the back nine and, after beginning with six consecutive pars, he then recorded six birdies and a bogey in seven successive holes to fly up the leaderboard before finishing his round with five more pars at the Firestone CC (South Course) in Ohio.

Slattery's fellow Englishmen Luke Donald and Simon Dyson were part of six-man group on four under par, along with Americans Bubba Watson and Ben Crane, Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello and John Senden of Australia.

World No 1 Donald made a blistering start with birdies on his first three holes before dropping shots at the 13th – his fourth – and 18th to slip back to one under.

Brit of all right: Luke Donald in action on Thursday in Ohio

Brit of all right: Luke Donald in action on Thursday in Ohio

He got back on track with four more birdies on the front nine before disappointingly dropping a shot on his penultimate hole.

Further down the field, Lee Westwood was on two under after a 68 while Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, No 2 and No 3 in the world respectively, were on level par after shooting 70s.

Woods, a seven-time champion at Firestone, had looked set for a much better start to the tournament after reaching three under after 11 but bogeys at the 13th, 16th and 18th saw him slip back.

Open champion Ernie Els, meanwhile, was three over after posting a 73.