Tag Archives: kicker

Michel Platini: A summer World Cup in Qatar is not possible… it has to be staged during the winter

Platini: A summer World Cup in Qatar is
not possible… it HAS to be staged during
the winter

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

19:03 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:04 GMT, 20 March 2013

UEFA president Michel Platini has once again stressed his belief that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be held during the winter.

Platini echoed comments made by Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce yesterday that the searing heat in the Asian country will make playing football unbearable.

'In the summer, at 50 degrees, you can not possibly play football in Qatar,' Platini said in an interview with Germany's leading sports magazine Kicker.

Unconvinced: Michel Platini believes the 2022 World Cup cannot be played during the summer

Unconvinced: Michel Platini believes the 2022 World Cup cannot be played during the summer

This is not the first time the former France midfielder has stated his opposition to holding the Qatar tournament in the summer and he is supportive of a winter break for domestic championships.

Platini also responded to FIFA president Sepp Blatter's comments that the decision to stage Euro 2020 across the continent would rip the 'heart and soul' out of the tournament.

European football's governing body announced in December that it had taken the unprecedented step of hosting the event in several cities throughout Europe.

And Platini defended the decision, saying: 'The name European fits better than ever, as the Euros will be held for the first time in Europe.'

'Heart and soul': FIFA chief Sepp Blatter doesn't agree with Platini's plans for the Euros

'Heart and soul': FIFA chief Sepp Blatter doesn't agree with Platini's plans for the Euros

Sepp Blatter blasts UEFA on Euro 2020 that will lack "heart and soul"

Euro 2020 will lack heart and soul… we may as well not call it the Euros! Blatter blasts Platini over plan to host finals in 13 different countries

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

11:41 GMT, 14 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:52 GMT, 14 March 2013

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has denounced Michel Platini’s plans to stage the 2020 European Championship across the entire continent and called on UEFA to change the name of the tournament.

Euro 2020 will be held in 13 cities across the continent with the semi-finals and final being played in the same stadium, UEFA announced in January.

But Blatter isn’t impressed with the plans and believes one host country is the best way to deliver
the event.

Wrong: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised Michel Platini's plans to use more than one country for the 2020 European Championship

Wrong: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised Michel Platini's plans to use more than one country for the 2020 European Championship

Euro 2020 details so far

12 cities will host three group stage matches and one knockout round

One stadium will host the semi-finals and final

There will only be one venue per country

In the frame to host the final are Wembley, the Olympic Stadium in Istanbul and the Allianz Arena

He told Kicker magazine: ‘A tournament should be played in one country. That is how you create identity and euphoria.

‘They have fragmented the 2020 tournament. So it is not a European Championship any more. It has to have a different name.’

‘I do not know what name. Such a Euro lacks heart and soul.’

UEFA said that 12 cities would be
awarded a package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game,
either from the round-of-16 or quarter-finals.

A
special 13th package would be awarded, consisting of the two
semi-finals and final with UEFA eager to split the costs for the bigger
tournament and celebrate its 60th anniversary across Europe.

The Swiss sports administrator also said
he planned to end his stint at the top of the world soccer’s governing
body in 2015 if FIFA was strong and stable.

Coming home: Wembley is one of the favourites to host the final after the FA said they would bid

Coming home: Wembley is one of the favourites to host the final after the FA said they would bid

First class: The Allianz Arena in Munich hosted the Champions League final last season

First class: The Allianz Arena in Munich hosted the Champions League final last season

Close contest: The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is also thought to be in with a chance

Close contest: The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is also thought to be in with a chance

Blatter, who took over the FIFA presidency in 1998, added: ‘I want to push through the FIFA reforms at our congress in Mauritius in May, then we go to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and after that everything is open.

‘When it is secured that FIFA will
continue to be led like that, that it will remain global and the pyramid
will not collapse then I will gladly hand over the sceptre to a new
president.'

UEFA chief Michel Platini is seen as a possible successor to Blatter.

‘I do not know if he wants to,’ said Blatter. ‘He has an idea about the future of FIFA which he has to explain to the continents at some point. But he has not decided yet.’

On the rocks: Blatter and Michel Platini have usually had an amicable relationship

On the rocks: Blatter and Michel Platini have usually had an amicable relationship

Glasgow 8 Ulster 19: Chris Henry helps Ulstermen to victory

Glasgow 8 Ulster 19: Henry helps Ulstermen fight off Warriors

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UPDATED:

22:53 GMT, 19 October 2012

Ulster flanker Chris Henry made some sustained second-half pressure count as last season's Heineken Cup runners-up secured their second win of this season's tournament and condemned Glasgow to another loss.

Henry touched down as Ulster drove over after dominating the early stages of the second half in front of a sell-out crowd at Scotstoun.

Peter Horne gave Glasgow the lead in a tight opening half, but Paddy Jackson proved the more competent kicker throughout the contest and Glasgow replacement Niko Matawalu's late try proved only a consolation.

Battle: The Ulstermen came out on top

Battle: The Ulstermen came out on top

The sides had contrasting opening games with Glasgow 15-0 up at Northampton before falling to a 24-15 defeat, although they were not helped by injuries to Ruaridh Jackson, Stuart Hogg and Sean Lamont.

Only Lamont, with a facial injury, missed out but fellow winger Tommy Seymour was handed a one-week suspension for a tip tackle.

Ulster fielded their influential South African scrum-half Ruan Pienaar with back-row forward Nick Williams also returning after last week's bonus point win against Castres.

The 6,194 fans, including a large away contingent, were welcomed by torrential rain and the conditions contributed to a scrappy opening with neither side able to get much momentum.

Ulster had two early chances with penalties from inside their own half but Jackson and half-back partner Pienaar were narrowly wide and just short respectively.

Warriors, who have won their last four
RaboDirect Pro12 games after losing to Ulster in the opening week, got
two chances of their own from around 35 metres after scrum offences and
Horne opened the scores with his second effort.

Jackson
soon levelled with a 20-metre penalty after Glasgow were penalised for
holding on. Some slack play in their own 22 saw Glasgow remain under
pressure and Jackson put the visitors ahead just before the half-hour
mark with another penalty from a similar distance.

Charge: Ulster forward Dan Tuohy runs at the Glasgow defence

Charge: Ulster forward Dan Tuohy runs at the Glasgow defence

Glasgow were forced into two substitutions before the break with flanker Chris Fusaro and winger /10/19/article-2220411-1596541D000005DC-27_634x457.jpg” width=”634″ height=”457″ alt=”On the move: Ryan Grant” class=”blkBorder” />

On the move: Ryan Grant

Some desperate defending repelled them but the respite was brief and Ulster were back in the danger zone when Tommy Bowe bundled Hogg into touch, but some poor handling by the winger soon let Glasgow off the hook.

Barclay again replaced Fusaro, who had reappeared for the second half, and Rob Harley returned from a knee injury as Glasgow tried to ease the pressure.

They could only do so briefly and Pienaar was just short with a penalty from near the halfway line.

Ulster's Jackson soon decided to kick for touch with another penalty closer in but near the touchline, an award which left the home side confused, and the visitors soon drove over after the lineout with flanker Henry touching down amid a plethora of bodies in the maul.

Jackson converted and soon extended the lead to 13 points with 18 minutes to play with another penalty following a rare scrum offence from the hosts.

Wight's kick put the visitors on the back foot, but Jackson's attempted kick through Ulster's back line was intercepted and the visiting Jackson kicked another penalty in his last act.

Glasgow rallied in the final stages and Matawalu touched down after Wight's crossfield kick after an enterprising run by Ryan Wilson was halted near the try line.

Chelsea pain will spur us on, says Bayern defender Holger Badstuber

Chelsea pain will spur us on, says Bayern defender Badstuber

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UPDATED:

13:31 GMT, 18 September 2012

Bayern Munich will begin their Champions
League campaign against Valencia on Wednesday full of confidence after their best start to a season in 12 years – when they went on to win the
European title against the Spanish team.

Bayern's dramatic loss on penalties
to Chelsea in the Champions League final May prompted the German giants to embark on a spending spree.

Back with a bang: Bayern Munich have made an impressive start to season

Back with a bang: Bayern Munich have made an impressive start to season

Bayern has won their first five
competitive matches of the season with a club record 12 goals from its
opening three Bundesliga games.

'It was a game that you never forget, it stays with you a lifetime,' Bayern defender Holger Badstuber said of the match against Chelsea. 'It was a heavy blow but we've coped with it. Every player took his own conclusions from it. It should spur us on and not hamper us. It's a new season now. We have new targets to aim for.'

Bayern last won the Champions League in 2001, when Mauricio Pellegrino – now Valencia coach – missed the decisive spot kick in the final to give the Germans their fourth title.

'It was a huge disappointment from a sporting point of view, absolutely,' the 40-year-old Pellegrino told Kicker magazine..

'But it's also a good memory, because I was there for one of Valencia's biggest nights.'

French side Lille hosts Belarusian champions BATE Borisov in Group F's other match. Bayern defeated Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup to end their two-year trophy drought in August, and then enjoyed a 4-0 win over Jahn Regensburg in the German Cup before getting their league campaign off to a perfect start.

'It can go on like that. It should go on like that,' Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said.

High hopes: Bayern's head coach Jupp Heynckes

High hopes: Bayern's head coach Jupp Heynckes

Bayern's last – and only – loss at home to a Spanish team in the competition came 10 years ago, when Deportivo La Coruna recorded a 3-2 win. The Bavarian team has 13 wins to show from 19 home games with Spanish sides.

Valencia has only won once in 11 games in Germany, five years ago against Schalke.

But no Bayern player is underestimating Valencia.

'They're a very good team, not Madrid or Barcelona, but not very far off,' said Arjen Robben, who is doubtful for the game with a back injury.

Franck Ribery, who also missed Bayern's 3-1 Bundesliga win over Mainz on Saturday, is more likely to play after overcoming muscular problems.

However, Mario Gomez, who last season scored 13 Champions League goals, is still out after undergoing surgery on his left angle. Defenders David Alaba, Rafinha and Diego Contento are also ruled out.

Offseason signing Mario Mandzukic is proving himself an able deputy for Gomez, contributing six goals in the five games while the Germany striker is absent. Peru striker Claudio Pizarro can also step up.

Hot shots: Bayern Munich have scored 12 goals in three games

Hot shots: Bayern Munich have scored 12 goals in three games

Bastian Schweinsteiger played his second successive league game on Saturday and seems to have put his injury worries behind him, while record-signing Javi Martinez came on with 15 minutes remaining against Mainz to set up Bayern's third goal.

Pellegrino also has injury worries with defender David Albelda, midfielder Fernando Gago and winger Pablo Piatti all out.

After drawing at Real Madrid in their opening game, Valencia earned a much-needed first victory in the Spanish league on Saturday when they beat promoted Celta Vigo 2-1.

'The team arrives in good form to Wednesday's game in Munich,' Pellegrino said. 'We have to take the smallest chances up front and stay fully concentrated at the back. Above all, we have to pace ourselves for the whole game.'

Lille and BATE Borisov are meeting for the first time and the French side hopes to it can improve their defence after a lacklustre start to the league.

Little drew 1-1 at newly promoted Troyes on Saturday after conceding a sloppy equalizer with two minutes remaining in a match they had dominated.

'We've conceded at least one goal per game since the league started,' Lille coach Rudi Garcia said. 'But in terms of commitment and team spirit I have nothing to reproach the players for. We just need to try and push forward more, we need to be more consistent.'

Lille's record at home in the Champions League in impressive, with just one defeat in 12 games.

Daily Mail RBS Under 15 Cup: Grammar School at Leeds win

Pure class: Leeds get a winning habit from Lancaster to clinch Under 15 Cup

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 4 April 2012

England head coach Stuart Lancaster watched from the President’s Suite at Twickenham on Wednesday as Grammar School at Leeds lifted their first Daily Mail RBS Under 15 Cup.

The 17-12 victory over RGS High Wycombe sealed a historic double for players who won their second trophy in four days, having collected the Yorkshire Cup for Lancaster’s beloved West Park on Sunday.

Six of the starting XV are also in the Leeds Carnegie Academy that Lancaster set up a decade ago, and while the England senior side were preparing for the Six Nations in Yorkshire earlier this year their coach found time to give an ‘inspirational’ talk down the road to the boys of Grammar School at Leeds.

Up for the cup: Leeds captain Sam Ward lifts the trophy at Twickenham

Up for the cup: Leeds captain Sam Ward lifts the trophy at Twickenham

Enlarge

Rugby schools winners

‘I heard Lancaster was coming,’ said Sam Ward, the captain, kicker and hooker who led the fightback after his side had conceded a fourth-minute try that put them behind for the first time this season. ‘He came to give us a talk while he was training with England at West Park,’ added Ward. ‘It was pretty inspirational. To think he was watching. What can I say England head coach. You can’t get much better than that.

‘Our school has never been to the Twickenham final before so to win it is something special. A lot of the school came to support — they had to get up at five o’clock in the morning to make it.’

GS at Leeds have had 21 different try scorers this season, which says everything about their attacking play. But coach Owen Edwards said it was the defence that won the day, absorbing wave after wave of attack from RGS High Wycombe in the second half.

‘We couldn’t really show off our attack today, but that’s credit to RGS,’ he said. ‘Our defence has been good all season, the boys work exceptionally hard and this is a group that will never let you down.

Forward thinking: Chris Bridge from from Leeds sets up an attack

Forward thinking: Chris Bridge from from Leeds sets up an attack

‘It’s been a great year in a super competition with tough games all the way through, from Stockport to St Peter’s. Every game up to this point was a final in itself.’

The Under 18 Vase was won by The Leys, who managed to hold off an enthralling second-half fightback from Ravens Wood and hang on for a 16-8 win, a try from Oliver Webber proving the difference.

In the Under 15 Vase, Dauntsey’s School recovered from a nervous start to bully their way to a 17-5 victory over Sir Thomas Rich’s School. In a side boasting three sets of twins — the Brittons, the Tomlins and the Duckworths — it was openside Toby Small who had the defence seeing double, with powerful runs and two tries.

He was yet another young player who must have impressed the man in the stands with a keen eye for English talent.

Six Nations 2012: Leigh Halfpenny admits Jonny Wilkinson is his hero

Proud Welshman Halfpenny admits England's Wilkinson is his idol

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UPDATED:

22:51 GMT, 13 March 2012

If Leigh Halfpenny kicks the Grand Slam winning penalty against France on Saturday, a euphoric Welsh nation will have an old English enemy to thank.

Jonny Wilkinson may be a surprising figure to inspire a fiercely proud Welshman, but it was Twickenham's favourite fly-half who motivated the 11-year-old Halfpenny to walk to the pitches of Gorseinon with his grandfather Malcolm after school every day to practise his kicking.

It sparked a love affair with the precious skill that has seen him replace fly-half Rhys Priestland as the frontline kicker in the side this season.

Points made: Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny helped Wales beat Italy

Points made: Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny helped Wales beat Italy

'Growing up, I always looked up to Jonny Wilkinson because he was the best and the most professional,' Halfpenny said. 'I bought his books and his DVDs about his technique, how he went out training on Christmas day, all that stuff.

'There are parts of my kicking routine I copied from him, even my tee is the same height. I remember playing against him in the Amlin Challenge final against Toulon in Marseille. It was weird we were both warming up and I was wondering if he's watching me thinking: “Hey, that's my technique!”'

Even the militant, meticulous practice routine is straight from the Wilkinson school of painstaking perfection.

Hero: Halfpenny admitted that England's Jonny Wilkinson is his idol

Hero: Halfpenny admitted that England's Jonny Wilkinson is his idol

'There's a routine I go through and areas on the pitch I have to kick from. If I miss, I'll kick it from that position again. If I miss three I have to move on and come back to it. There's a system.

'You have more control in the shorter ranges, while with the longer ones you're putting everything into it, all your power, all your momentum. You can run up too quick and then you don't get as good a contact.

'There's been times where I've been battered and bruised and I've gone out and practised my kicking on my day off as well. I trained on Christmas Day this year.'

It seems to be working. The 23-year-old full back is the top scorer in the tournament with 55 points and the most accurate kicker, making 85 per cent of his shots. He is currently on a hot streak of nine successive conversions — the next best is Morgan Parra's run of three.

Plenty of those kicks have been in high-pressure close encounters, but it has not affected him because his brain is elsewhere, miles from the carnage of a Test match and usually picturing a sunny day at home.

Getting stuck in: Halfpenny fights off Leonardo Ghiraldini

Getting stuck in: Halfpenny fights off Leonardo Ghiraldini

'People ask me how I cope with the pressure and the noise in the stadiums but I just block it out,' he said. 'I just picture myself on the peaceful training pitch when there is nobody else around, just me the ball and the set of posts.'

Five months ago he watched his last-minute penalty against France in the World Cup semi-final sail only inches below the posts.

It was not a bad kick on a greasy surface but he was crestfallen afterwards and openly blamed himself for the team's failure.

In the guts of Eden Park, battered and emotionally bruised, he was barely able to speak about it, avoiding all eye contact and choking on his words.

'Since that moment against France I've said to myself that if I ever get a moment like that I'm going nail it,' he said. 'There wasn't one single day that went by where I didn't think about that kick, I would have done anything for it to go over. Anything. But now it's gone.'

Gone but not forgotten. Will that haunting memory bring extra pressure this time around

High jump: Halfpenny and Sergio Parisse compete for the ball

High jump: Halfpenny and Sergio Parisse compete for the ball

'They are all high-pressure kicks at this stage of the competition. I enjoy the pressures and the occasion. That's what you want.

The winning kick against Ireland (in Wales' first game of the Six Nations) was the best feeling of my career. For me it was better than scoring a try because I know how much hard work and sacrifice I've put in to my kicking.'

Should Halfpenny kick the dramatic final points at the Millennium Stadium, he will become enshrined in Gorseinon rugby folklore in very good company.

The famous Lewis Jones won his first Grand Slam aged 18 and the local clubhouse is named after him. Halfpenny joked that he did not deserve a clubhouse just yet, but a winning kick might just warrant a suite.

And if he does land that goal, grandad has already been told he will be given the boots.

Six Nations 2012: Rhys Priestland v Owen Farrell

Priestland v Farrell: Let battle begin to decide who is lord of the flys

Wales coach Neil Jenkins believes the
battle of the fly-halves at Twickenham may be the first chapter in a
long-standing rivalry between Rhys Priestland and Owen Farrell.

The former fly-half, who played 87
times for Wales in the famous No 10 shirt, is better placed than most to
pass judgment on the personal duel that could define tomorrow's Triple
Crown showdown.

 Owen Farrell

Rhys Priestland

Head to head: Rhys Priestland and Owen Farrell

Jenkins said: 'These two guys are certainly going to have a few head-to-heads in the next couple of years. They're two outstanding players with bright futures ahead of them. It will be a good battle.'

It was at Twickenham in the summer where Priestland was suddenly promoted from relative unknown to World Cup fly-half after Stephen Jones had injured himself in the warm-up.

He proved well capable of dealing with the occasion, and Jenkins expects Farrell to be similarly coolheaded in the line of fire.

'Farrell is a tremendously talented player and they are letting him have a crack at the No 10 jersey,' he said.

'He reminds me a lot of Jonny Wilkinson in his younger days. He's a very good kicker of the ball, defensively he's very quick and he's a good distributor. He's going to be a huge challenge for us.'

Switching positions before his first game for England at Twickenham will not faze the 20-year-old – who is five years younger than his opposite number with only two caps to his name.

'Playing in the centre and then moving into the No 10 slot is something he will do very comfortably,' Jenkins said.

He also acknowledges that the return of Manu Tuilagi at centre gives England more firepower in the midfield.

He said: 'He's a huge threat. We will have to watch him very closely.'

James Hook has failed to recover from chickenpox in time for the game tomorrow so Jones comes into Wales's match-day 22 and will sit on the substitutes' bench.

Italy 15 England 19: Now raise your game

Now raise your game! England must improve after scraping past Italy

When the RFU start sifting through the applications for the England head coach job on Wednesday they will find Stuart Lancaster’s c.v. minus one detail – Test coaching record: played two, won two.

The man in temporary charge of the national team formally submitted his application before this RBS Six Nations began. ‘Hopefully they are watching,’ said Lancaster in the aftermath of his side’s second straight victory, on Saturday in the snow-swept Stadio Olimpico.

Of course they will be watching closely, but it might be better if they just checked the final score or flicked through the highlights. For the devil truly does lie in the detail.

High-flyer: Tom Palmer gets the jump on Alessandro Zanni at the lineout

High-flyer: Tom Palmer gets the jump on Alessandro Zanni at the lineout

Securing back-to-back victories away from home is a major feat for a team short of Test caps and time together. Their results point to strong character and fighting spirit, a decent platform. But the RFU hierarchy will share Lancaster’s belief in placing events in context, which is where the picture becomes clouded.

They will be aware that England have scraped past the two weakest teams in the Six Nations courtesy of a hefty dose of good fortune. That is not just a cynic’s interpretation – captain Chris Robshaw admitted on Friday his side had been ‘lucky’ to beat Scotland and, if that was an indisputable truth, it was to an even greater extent true in this disjointed scrap in Rome.

There is no escaping the fact that, if Italy had a kicker of Owen Farrell’s class, they would have claimed their first victory over England. Having led 15-6 after two tries just before half-time, the hosts saw their ambitions flounder on the failure of Tobias Botes to land two kickable late penalties which would have reflected their superiority in that period as the visitors sought to hang on to their advantage.

Sergio Parisse, the captain of the Azzurri and man of the match yet again, said it jarred to lose to a ‘poor’ England team and, while that comment lacked grace, he had personally done more than enough to be on the winning side.

New kid on the block: Owen Farrell's kicking display was faultless

New kid on the block: Owen Farrell's kicking display was faultless

Those who decide Lancaster’s fate will also note the gulf between talk of bold attacking intent and the largely stodgy fare served up. Granted, conditions were not suited to deft handling, quick ball and fancy footwork, but England were too quick to fall back on the option of launching an aerial onslaught and waiting for Italian errors.

There was a glimpse of cohesion, vision and good support play early on, but it wasn’t until after Charlie Hodgson’s second charge-down try in a week, in the 50th minute, that England really built a head of steam. The arrival of Ben Morgan and Lee Dickson delivered improvement. Scarlets No 8 Morgan showed his ball-carrying threat with a number of rampaging bursts and Dickson did what he does so well for Northampton, linking forwards and backs quickly and efficiently.

For the best part of 20 minutes, Lancaster’s side gave an impressive account of themselves with front-foot power and a willingness to go wide. During this purple patch they went ahead as Farrell, his head bandaged because of a cut, maintained his flawless kicking with two penalties to add to the two he had struck before half-time and his conversion of Hodgson’s try.

His perfection under pressure meant the visitors gained maximum return on their best efforts, which is just as well because they went back into their shells late on. With Italy swarming forward in search of a score to turn the game, England again resorted to the kick-and-hope routine. Had it not been for Hodgson’s intervention – charging down Andrea Masi’s kick and pouncing to score on the left, much as he had done at Murrayfield – Lancaster’s men may have been down and out.

Winning score: Charlie Hodgson crosses for England's only try

Winning score: Charlie Hodgson crosses for England's only try

Ben Foden was especially grateful to his fly-half. He and Ben Youngs had spilled a deflected kick in their 22, allowing Giovanbattista Venditti to touch down on the right, then the full back’s loose offload on halfway was intercepted by Tommaso Benvenuti, who scorched clear to go in under the posts. The latter try was converted by Kris Burton, whose penalty shortly after half-time put Italy 15-6 ahead.

The lapses by Foden were symptomatic of a lack of precision from England, again evident in their line-out, although the scrum mostly held up against a renowned pack. In that regard and in his carrying around the field, London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero gave his best Test performance so far.

There were also improvements from No 8 Phil Dowson and lock Tom Palmer, but Dowson is still in danger of losing his place, such was Morgan’s impact. Elsewhere, there are growing concerns about Youngs, who appeared to lose his temper after being replaced at scrum-half by Dickson.

The gifted Tiger is putting body and soul into his work but his box kicking has been wayward, his delivery mixed and he is wasting energy berating referees for perceived ruck offences rather than focusing on bringing urgency to England’s attacks.

Big impact: Ben Morgan impressed again off the bench

Big impact: Ben Morgan impressed again off the bench

WHAT THE STATS SAY…

UP FRONT
2 – scrums lost by England. Italy won all five of their feeds, while the visitors won just three from five. One
of those steals came late and left forwards guru Graham Rowntree growling.
VERDICT: ITALY WIN

BOOT BATTLE
5 – successful kicks from five attempts for Owen Farrell. Italian hopes were hit by Tobias Botes missing two late kicks – his last attempt especially dire – and Kris Burton one.
VERDICT: ENGLAND WIN

TACKLING
85 – tackles made by each side, reflecting the closely-fought nature of the match. Last week England had to make more than 200 in their narrow win over Scotland.
VERDICT: DRAW

OFFLOADS
7 – England managed five and Italy only two – but neither side can be happy with their efforts. The desperately low offload rate highlights the lack of flow and attack in the match. There is plenty of room for improvement for both teams in this department.
VERDICT: ENGLAND HOLLOW VICTORY

PENALTY COUNT
10 – penalties conceded by Italy – plus one free-kick. England kept their count to single figures, committing
only nine.
VERDICT: ENGLAND WIN

LINE BREAKS
1 – England only broke the line once – courtesy of Brad Barritt in the second half – and this remains the team’s biggest problem. Stuart Lancaster’s young side can defend but there is no sign of the cutting edge needed to beat top teams.
VERDICT: ENGLAND FAIL

PASSING
147 – passes made by England compared with Italy’s 118, yet all that smooth handling brought just one try for the visitors.
VERDICT: TOOTHLESS ENGLAND

Had Danny Care not been barred from the squad for drink-driving he would surely have started but, even so, Youngs may be usurped by Dickson for the Wales game at Twickenham on February 25. /02/12/article-2100122-11B37698000005DC-621_224x1497.jpg” width=”224″ height=”1497″ alt=”England Average Rating.jpg” class=”blkBorder” />

Italy Average Rating.jpg

Gareth Bale secrets of his fitness, yoga, pilates: Jamie Redknapp

Can he kick it Yes he can: How Bale stretches it to the limit

If someone had walked into a football
dressing room 15 years ago and explained the benefits of classes in
yoga or Pilates, they would have been laughed at and asked to leave. And
not so politely.

It was bad enough showing up with a
washbag — but stretching The misconception at the time was that it was
only for girls. Stretching was the warm-up bit that got in the way of
the ball coming out.

I heard Crystal Palace were one club
who encouraged aerobics under Alan Smith, although I’m not sure how
players such as Eric Young (he was nicknamed ‘Ninja’) would have taken
to that. Certainly, it wasn’t for the players at Liverpool.

High kicker: Bale takes Everton defender Distin by surprise with his very unorthodox goal attempt

High kicker: Bale takes Everton defender Distin by surprise with his very unorthodox goal attempt

High kicker: Bale takes Everton defender Distin by surprise with his very unorthodox goal attempt

But look at this picture of Gareth Bale and you see a quite stunning example of how football’s attitude has changed.

As well as making your eyes water slightly at the abnormal stretching of his hamstring, it shows Gareth to be a supreme athlete.

More from Jamie Redknapp…

Jamie Redknapp: It's great to see Scholes back but his return shows up the lack of young talent – and the dangers of inflated transfer fees
09/01/12

Jamie Redknapp: Gary Ablett was a cultured player and a pure gent
02/01/12

Jamie Redknapp's Weekend Watch: You can't kick RVP
01/01/12

Jamie Redknapp: On the ball – The new Bale, with a licence to thrill
27/12/11

Jamie Redknapp's Boxing Day watch: Frankly, Villas-Boas was wrong to take Lampard off
26/12/11

Jamie Redknapp: At 34, he can still do a top job… Arsenal need to re-sign Henry
25/12/11

Jamie Redknapp's Weekend Watch: Carrick must score more often
18/12/11

Jamie Redknapp: Super Sturridge is now in the big league
13/12/11

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With his wide shoulders and his powerful acceleration, he could have been a rugby player or a runner.

The kid is an incredible specimen; he
looks after himself, is beginning to realise how good he can be and
embraces the sort of medical advice available at all the top clubs.

Tottenham won’t be alone in using yoga or Pilates, an ice chamber to accelerate muscle recovery, hydrotherapy pools and nutritional advice on diet and dehydration.

A manager takes the credit — or gets the sack — depending on results, but he relies on a wide support team who make it all possible.

Ryan Giggs is the same. He’s been lucky, but he credits the extension of his career to Pilates and maybe that’s why he’s still playing at 38 and I’m enjoying life working for Sportsmail and Sky…

Incredible specimen: Bale glides past Tim Cahill and Landon Donovan

Incredible specimen: Bale glides past Tim Cahill and Landon Donovan

There was a time when the ‘magic sponge’ man splashed cold water on your face, regardless of the injury you had. Now football has highly-trained and very skilled medical and technical teams responsible for a multi- million-pound industry.

Manchester City have recently taken Tottenham’s head of fitness, Sam Erith. It used to be about poaching a rival centre forward, now it’s the technical staff. Everyone is looking to gain an advantage; the fine details can make a difference.

Martin Keown: Thierry Henry proved dreams come true

Dreams come true… Henry proved it with his goal against Leeds

When I saw Thierry Henry after the game on Monday night, he was stunned. It was more than an hour after the final whistle and he was still in his kit, looking around and trying to take in what he had just done.

Former footballers often have dreams in which they are back playing for their favourite club again and it takes a while when you wake up to realise that it was just a dream.

Thierry told me he had those dreams, but against Leeds it was actually happening – he just couldn’t quite believe it. It was surreal and a long way from his first few days at the club in 1999.

King Henry: Thierry Henry returned to Arsenal with a bang against Leeds

King Henry: Thierry Henry returned to Arsenal with a bang against Leeds

Revealed… that phantom ball-kicker

PS… It was a former Spurs man who you may have seen hit me with the ball while I was on-air on Monday night. Alex Bruce tipped me off that his Leeds team-mate Michael Brown – the ex-Tottenham midfielder – was the culprit. At least he was apparently trying to aim at Robbie Savage, not me…

Back then he spoke very little English and I remember sitting with him in the stands at a testimonial game pointing out Ian Wright's excellent movement.

He was short of confidence after a tough spell in Italy at Juventus, but he watched that and learned from Wright, adopting those type of runs into his game because he knew it would help him succeed in the English game.

From the start, I deliberately made life hard for him in training. I was quite physical with him, which some people might have thought was harsh, but I loved the way he responded. He dealt with it.

Gunners greats: Martin Keown was privileged to play with Henry in his pomp

Gunners greats: Martin Keown was privileged to play with Henry in his pomp

I trained like I played and my philosophy was that new players were going to find out how tough it was in England, so they might as well find out from us first.

You wanted new signings to toughen up and he did that quickest. I could tell he was special straight away and he is still to this day the best athlete I have ever seen wear a pair of football boots.

He was 100 per cent focused in training the whole time. If he could embarrass you, he would. That didn’t mean trying nutmegs and clever tricks, because he didn’t need to do that. He would just knock it past you and be too quick. He did that plenty of times to me — though not as much as you might think!

When he joined, the club asked me if I would give up my No 14 shirt as Henry wanted it. It was fine with me because I wanted the No 5 that Steve Bould had recently vacated.

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Magic moment: Thierry Henry slots hope to send the Emirates into ecstasy

Magic moment: Henry slots hope to send the Emirates into ecstasy

When he scored his first Arsenal goal — at Southampton — I ran over to him and told him how glad I was that I could tell my kids that I was playing the day Thierry Henry scored his first goal. He said I was crazy afterwards, but I had seen a special player and I made sure he knew that.

He needed to know how good he was to restore his confidence. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger restored his confidence after Juventus and now, in some ways, he can do the same for Arsenal after years without a trophy. It’s a kind of role reversal.

Up for the cup: Henry was the star turn in Arsenal's 2002 title-winning side, and could have a similar galvanising effect this time around

Up for the cup: Henry was the star turn in Arsenal's 2002 title-winning side, and could have a similar galvanising effect this time around

Henry can help those around him.

It was great to see him sitting next to Theo Walcott on the bench, talking to him about what was happening in the game, no doubt telling him how he could learn from each situtation.

That guidance is invaluable. I was the same with Liam Brady when I was an apprentice.

I remember watching him training one Christmas and we all wanted to be there to see him in action. It was an inspiration and it was hard to take your eyes off him.

The players would have already learned plenty before Monday night, but it’s one thing to train with a champion, and watch how he behaves, it is another to see him in competition.

Helping hand: The likes of Theo Walcott can learn much from Henry

Helping hand: The likes of Theo Walcott can learn much from Henry

The Arsenal squad finally got the chance to see that on Monday night — how much he wants to win. In the few minutes after his goal, you could see the others respond to what Henry had done — they were lifted.

It's especially great for the younger players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Walcott. They can’t fail to be inspired by him.

Wenger is the leader but there is nothing quite like being able to copy someone. They can adopt his habits.

His movement from the second he came on was excellent and he was making things happen. You could see the players just wanted to give him the ball.

It brought out a fantastically warm reaction in Arsene Wenger too. He is such a kind man who has a special relationship with his players and their embrace after the goal showed a side of him most people don’t get to see very often.

He is so good with his former players and we should thank him for bringing Henry back.

At the age of 34, Thierry is not finished. He can still rekindle that brilliance if he wants to. He just needs the right challenge. He has that now for the next few weeks and we should just enjoy that.

The club shop might have to re-release the DVD of all his goals though!