Tag Archives: trevor

Sir Trevor Brooking criticises young English players

Too much, too young: Brooking insists England kids lack hunger, desire and enthusiasm because of big contracts

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

09:45 GMT, 17 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:13 GMT, 17 January 2013

Critical: Brooking

Critical: Brooking

Sir Trevor Brooking has hit out at the money culture that surrounds some of England's top young footballers.

The former England international and current FA director of football argued that the size of the contracts being handed to some teenagers results in a lack of 'hunger, desire and enthusiasm'.

Speaking as the FA launched its 150th anniversary celebrations in London on Wednesday, Brooking used the example of the England Under-17 side which won the European Championships in 2010 to illustrate his point.

'Players get lots of money too young,' he said. 'It’s a big challenge for the clubs to work out how to deal with that.

'If you’re getting paid 20,000 a week at 18 years old it will affect your hunger, desire and enthusiasm.

'We had an Under-17 team that won the European Championship back in 2010 where they beat Spain and France and passed the ball as well as any other young side. We had hoped that one or two of them might come through into the main national side.

'A couple of them have got big contracts and, to be honest, have not kicked on as we were hoping.'

Slow progress: Connor Wickham starred for England Under-17s in 2010 but has scored just twice for Sunderland since an 8m move in July 2011

Slow progress: Connor Wickham starred for England Under-17s in 2010 but has scored just twice for Sunderland since an 8m move in July 2011

The likes of Chelsea's Josh McEachran and Sunderland's Connor Wickham both featured in that side but have failed to hold down regular first-team places at their clubs despite signing long-term deals.

Later, Brooking reiterated his point on talkSPORT, comparing today's climate to the one in which he broke through in back in the late 1960s.

'When I first started you got a basic wage when you broke into the first team, but a lot of the rest of my wages were made up with appearance fees and win bonuses, whereas now they try to lock in massive basics straight away,' he said.

All smiles: Brooking chats with former England boss Fabio Capello on Wednesday

All smiles: Brooking chats with former England boss Fabio Capello on Wednesday

'If you’re getting a basic wage for sitting on the bench or not performing then your club will be thinking, “I’ve signed this guy up for four years and he’s not playing well”. They’re getting too much, too soon.

'It’s one of the biggest problems, especially if you’re a young English player.

'We haven’t got as many of them as we should do and then clubs have to abide by this home-grown player rule within their squads.

'Sometimes an English youngster is included in the squad and you’ll end up paying a bit over the top to get X number of home-grown players whereas, in reality, they’re not worth the money that they’re paid.'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic"s mental agility was the real skill – Martin Samuel

Mental agility was the real skill as Ibrahimovic stunned England with that fourth goal

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UPDATED:

22:55 GMT, 15 November 2012

It isn’t the kick. It’s the thought that precedes it. That is what makes Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s incredible fourth goal against England a thing of beauty.

Anyone can make the shot. Well, not anyone, obviously. There are several billion people who would end up in traction if they even thought about it too hard, but for a professional footballer, certainly one of elite standard, the most fantastically ambitious manoeuvres do occasionally come off.

Trevor Sinclair scored a goal for QPR against Barnsley in the FA Cup in 1997 that he can probably still dine out on today. Think Nayim from the halfway line. It happens.

Beauty: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

Beauty: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

So a player with Ibrahimovic’s breathtaking technical range — and there is probably no better striker of a ball on the volley — can be blessed with the perfect moment in which execution, instinct, timing and a helpful pinch of luck combine to produce something quite stunning.

What sets Ibrahimovic’s goal apart, however, is the intelligence that inspires it. His athleticism, his balance, his control, his skill, all would be meaningless if he had not worked out that England goalkeeper Joe Hart was about to make a big mistake. The assist is in Ibrahimovic’s mind.

/11/15/article-2233678-16082054000005DC-990_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Pure delight: Ibrahimovic led Sweden to victory over England ” class=”blkBorder” />

Pure delight: Ibrahimovic led Sweden to victory over England

Slowed down, the shot looks more precise than it could have been. We have seen similar attempts before. It could have gone in, it could have missed by inches, it could have come to rest on the roof, Ibrahimovic no more knew the outcome in that split second than you or I.

He waits until the ball is in the net before he starts celebrating because he has no clue where it will land when it leaves his foot (although his outstanding technique gives him a superior chance of pulling it off).

Good fortune plays no part in the build-up, however. That is about one man, in a split second, assessing a situation quicker than any player around him. It is, for that reason and quite a few more, a simply brilliant goal: spectacular in thought as much as in action.

Match of the Day first colour show – 43 years on

No more Match of the Grey: 43 years on from first colour broadcast, how the nation's favourite football show changed forever

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UPDATED:

15:48 GMT, 15 November 2012

We all remember the first time we were allowed to sit up late and watch Match of the Day.

It was a rite of passage into what seemed a grown-up world of men in suits and ties exchanging opinions on what had passed at grounds up and down the country that day.

But more excitingly, it guaranteed goals and action and the magic of seeing your heroes in your front room. And that wonderful feeling became even more vivid 43 years ago today.

For the first time, Match of the Day was broadcast in glorious Technicolor on November 15, 1969. What was once a soulless sludge of black and grey now exploded into all the hues of the rainbow as though the curtains had been drawn and the light let in.

First game in colour: Even if photography hadn't quite caught up, Liverpool vs. West Ham United on November 15, 1969 was the first Match of the Day game in colour. In this snapshot, Ron Greenwood (right) checks on the fitness of Billy Bonds

First game in colour: Even if photography hadn't quite caught up, Liverpool vs. West Ham United on November 15, 1969 was the first Match of the Day game in colour. In this snapshot, Ron Greenwood (right) checks on the fitness of Billy Bonds

Commentating in Colour: Kenneth Wolstenholme is still in black and white in this photograph, but Match of the Day was in colour by this time

Commentating in Colour: Kenneth Wolstenholme is still in black and white in this photograph, but Match of the Day was in colour by this time

MATCH FACTS

Liverpool 2 West Ham United 0
Saturday November 15, 1969 at Anfield
Attendance: 39,668

Liverpool: Tommy Lawrence; Chris Lawler, Tommy Smith, Emlyn Hughes, Ron Yeats; Ian Callaghan, Peter Thompson, Ian St John, Steve Peplow (Roger Hunt); Bobby Graham, Geoff Strong

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson; Bobby Moore, Alan Stephenson, Bobby Howe, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard; Ronnie Boyce, Trevor Brooking, Harry Redknapp; Clyde Best, Geoff Hurst

Goalscorers: Lawler 27, Graham 60

For the first time, viewers could enjoy the fresh green of the pitch, their favourite side’s colours, the tint of the star striker’s hair and the glorious sight of a sea of scarves, banners and rosettes being waved on a swaying terrace.

We take it for granted nowadays – in fact, many of us won’t settle for watching Match of the Day unless it’s in pixel-popping High Definition or even 3D – but we shouldn’t underestimate just what a revolution this was in 1969.

It was in 1966 that the BBC unveiled plans to start broadcasting television programmes in colour. Initially, colour output would be limited to just four hours a week on BBC Two, which had launched in 1964. This would then be gradually cranked up depending on how people reacted.

After all, making the leap into colour wouldn’t be cheap. /11/15/article-2233369-1328A836000005DC-658_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Colour picture of Bobby Moore from 1967″ class=”blkBorder” />

Colour pic of Liverpool's Ian St John from 1967

Much better: Match of the Day's switch to colour meant football fans could see heroes like Bobby Moore (left) and Ian St John (right) in full colour for the first time

The match ticked all the boxes – Bill Shankly was slowly but surely moulding Liverpool into the pre-eminent force in English and European football, while West Ham still carried the Spirit of ’66 with Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters in their side, not to mention Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard Sr and Harry Redknapp.

Plus, as MOTD producer Alec Weeks pointed out, Anfield was the kind of noisy and colourful venue you wanted for such an occasion. Indeed, it had been a game between Liverpool and Arsenal on the ground on August 22, 1964 that first launched the programme.

The first Match of the Day in 1964

‘We chose Liverpool for the first colour transmission because we wanted a colourful place,’ Weeks told the Liverpool Echo on the day of the match.

‘There’s nowhere as colourful as Anfield, both literally and in character, with the Kop and their comments.

‘Football in colour is fantastic. Tonight the red and light blue on the green will stand out. Identification of the players is much easier – you can see the colour of their hair, even the blushes if someone is being bawled out!’

Just as there had been a nationwide scramble for black and white television sets and aerials when Match of the Day started out in 1964, the excitement generated by such comments left Merseyside electrical retailers besieged. Everyone wanted to watch the Reds – and everyone else – in full colour.

Enlarge

Liverpool team photo 1969-1970

Better in Technicolour: Liverpool's squad for the 1969-1970 season – Back Row (left to right) Geoff Strong, Gerry /11/15/article-2233369-017AB035000004B0-971_634x725.jpg” width=”634″ height=”725″ alt=”Cutting edge: A customer takes a closer look at a new colour television at the 1967 Ideal Home Exhibition” class=”blkBorder” />

Cutting edge: A customer takes a closer look at a new colour television at the 1967 Ideal Home Exhibition

Viewers saw 35 minutes of colour highlights from Liverpool’s 2-0 win over the Hammers. This was well before clubs were equipped for TV crews and so the Anfield boardroom had to be converted into a makeshift studio. ‘It was a mammoth task,’ said Liverpool secretary Peter Robinson. ‘Extra lighting had to be installed in the boardroom.’

Goals from Chris Lawler and Bobby Graham won the game for Liverpool in a torrid weekend for West Ham. Peters had been forced to return to London on the eve of the match to deal with an urgent family matter and manager Ron Greenwood had call young Scouse trainee Bobby Sutton into the squad.

Sutton was only there for the experience and to see his mum, who worked in the Anfield canteen! He didn’t take part in the game however.

Liverpool finished fifth that season, while West Ham languished in 17th.

West Ham in colour action at Manchester United later in 1969-1970

But football coverage had been transformed forever. There was no turning back for Match of the Day, with every week from then on seeing extensive match highlights in colour.

Gradually, cameras were sent to more and more grounds and other advances such as instant replays added, as more and more people made the switch to colour sets in order to watch this English institution.

A NATIONAL TREASURE: TIMELINE OF MATCH OF THE DAY

1958: BBC screens its first live football match, the FA Cup semi-final between Fulham and Manchester United.

August 22, 1964: First edition of Match of the Day, screened on BBC Two at 6.30pm. Showed highlights of just one match, Liverpool vs. Arsenal at Anfield. The estimated audience was a mere 20,000 because BBC Two was only available in London at the time.

The Original Anfield Cat: The Match of the Day cameras picked up this moggy, who ran the whole length of the Anfield pitch at the first broadcast game between Liverpool and Arsenal in 1964

The Original Anfield Cat: The Match of the Day cameras picked up this moggy, who ran the whole length of the Anfield pitch at the first broadcast game between Liverpool and Arsenal in 1964

1965: Match of the Day switches to BBC One to reflect its growing availability and popularity. Several clubs try to block its broadcast, fearing a decline in attendances. A compromise is made when the BBC agreed not to reveal which match would be shown until after the day’s play was concluded.

1967: First competition as ITV starts to show regional highlights of matches on a Sunday afternoon.

1969: Attracting audiences of nearly ten million. First colour broadcast on November 15 of Liverpool vs. West Ham at Anfield. Number of matches increased from one to two per episode.

1970: Goal of the Month competition is introduced, as is the iconic theme tune.

1971: Introduction of slow motion replays.

Capturing the action: The Match of the Day cameras at Portman Road for Ipswich Town vs. Liverpool in 1974

Capturing the action: The Match of the Day cameras at Portman Road for Ipswich Town vs. Liverpool in 1974

Front man: Jimmy Hill introduces an episode of Match of the Day in 1981

Front man: Jimmy Hill introduces an episode of Match of the Day in 1981

1979: BBC forced to share highlights rights with ITV’s Big Match. Match of the Day is moved to a Sunday in 1980-1981 and 1982-1983 as a result, but the number of games goes up to three. Coverage is shared between the two channels through the eighties.

1992: BBC regains exclusive rights for highlights with the launch of the Premier League, which is to be screened live by Sky. It retains the coverage since, except for 2001-2004 when it moved to ITV.

Trophy trio: The Match of the Day line-up in 1999 - Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson

Trophy trio: The Match of the Day line-up in 1999 – Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson

2004: Match of the Day 2 is launched on a Sunday night.

2012: Match of the Day still draws in one in every four television viewers on a Saturday night.

Anniversary of the first colour transmission of Match of the Day

'You can see the colour of their hair!' A look back at the first colour transmission of Match of the Day 43 years ago today

|

UPDATED:

13:37 GMT, 15 November 2012

We all remember the first time we were allowed to sit up late and watch Match of the Day.

It was a rite of passage into what seemed a grown-up world of men in suits and ties exchanging opinions on what had passed at grounds up and down the country that day.

But more excitingly, it guaranteed goals and action and the magic of seeing your heroes in your front room. And that wonderful feeling became even more vivid 43 years ago today.

For the first time, Match of the Day was broadcast in glorious Technicolor on November 15, 1969. What was once a soulless sludge of black and grey now exploded into all the hues of the rainbow as though the curtains had been drawn and the light let in.

First game in colour: A snapshot from Liverpool vs. West Ham United on November 15, 1969 - the first Match of the Day game in colour. Ron Greenwood (right) checks on the fitness of Billy Bonds

First game in colour: A snapshot from Liverpool vs. West Ham United on November 15, 1969 – the first Match of the Day game in colour. Ron Greenwood (right) checks on the fitness of Billy Bonds

Commentating in Colour: Kenneth Wolstenholme on Match of the Day duty. The programme's first colour broadcast was on November 15, 1969

Commentating in Colour: Kenneth Wolstenholme on Match of the Day duty. The programme's first colour broadcast was on November 15, 1969

MATCH FACTS

Liverpool 2 West Ham United 0
Saturday November 15, 1969 at Anfield
Attendance: 39,668

Liverpool: Tommy Lawrence; Chris Lawler, Tommy Smith, Emlyn Hughes, Ron Yeats; Ian Callaghan, Peter Thompson, Ian St John, Steve Peplow (Roger Hunt); Bobby Graham, Geoff Strong

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson; Bobby Moore, Alan Stephenson, Bobby Howe, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard; Ronnie Boyce, Trevor Brooking, Harry Redknapp; Clyde Best, Geoff Hurst

Goalscorers: Lawler 27, Graham 60

For the first time, viewers could enjoy the fresh green of the pitch, their favourite side’s colours, the tint of the star striker’s hair and the glorious sight of a sea of scarves, banners and rosettes being waved on a swaying terrace.

We take it for granted nowadays – in fact, many of us won’t settle for watching Match of the Day unless it’s in pixel-popping High Definition or even 3D – but we shouldn’t underestimate just what a revolution this was in 1969.

It was in 1966 that the BBC unveiled plans to start broadcasting television programmes in colour. Initially, colour output would be limited to just four hours a week on BBC Two, which had launched in 1964. This would then be gradually cranked up depending on how people reacted.

After all, making the leap into colour wouldn’t be cheap. /11/15/article-2233369-1328A836000005DC-658_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Colour picture of Bobby Moore from 1967″ class=”blkBorder” />

Colour pic of Liverpool's Ian St John from 1967

Much better: Match of the Day's switch to colour meant football fans could see heroes like Bobby Moore (left) and Ian St John (right) in full colour for the first time

The match ticked all the boxes – Bill Shankly was slowly but surely moulding Liverpool into the pre-eminent force in English and European football, while West Ham still carried the Spirit of ’66 with Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters in their side, not to mention Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard Sr and Harry Redknapp.

Plus, as MOTD producer Alec Weeks pointed out, Anfield was the kind of noisy and colourful venue you wanted for such an occasion. Indeed, it had been a game between Liverpool and Arsenal on the ground on August 22, 1964 that first launched the programme.

The first Match of the Day in 1964

‘We chose Liverpool for the first colour transmission because we wanted a colourful place,’ Weeks told the Liverpool Echo on the day of the match.

‘There’s nowhere as colourful as Anfield, both literally and in character, with the Kop and their comments.

‘Football in colour is fantastic. Tonight the red and light blue on the green will stand out. Identification of the players is much easier – you can see the colour of their hair, even the blushes if someone is being bawled out!’

Just as there had been a nationwide scramble for black and white television sets and aerials when Match of the Day started out in 1964, the excitement generated by such comments left Merseyside electrical retailers besieged. Everyone wanted to watch the Reds – and everyone else – in full colour.

Enlarge

Liverpool team photo 1969-1970

Better in Technicolour: Liverpool's squad for the 1969-1970 season – Back Row (left to right) Geoff Strong, Gerry /11/15/article-2233369-017AB035000004B0-971_634x725.jpg” width=”634″ height=”725″ alt=”Cutting edge: A customer takes a closer look at a new colour television at the 1967 Ideal Home Exhibition” class=”blkBorder” />

Cutting edge: A customer takes a closer look at a new colour television at the 1967 Ideal Home Exhibition

Viewers saw 35 minutes of colour highlights from Liverpool’s 2-0 win over the Hammers. This was well before clubs were equipped for TV crews and so the Anfield boardroom had to be converted into a makeshift studio. ‘It was a mammoth task,’ said Liverpool secretary Peter Robinson. ‘Extra lighting had to be installed in the boardroom.’

Goals from Chris Lawler and Bobby Graham won the game for Liverpool in a torrid weekend for West Ham. Peters had been forced to return to London on the eve of the match to deal with an urgent family matter and manager Ron Greenwood had call young Scouse trainee Bobby Sutton into the squad.

Sutton was only there for the experience and to see his mum, who worked in the Anfield canteen! He didn’t take part in the game however.

Liverpool finished fifth that season, while West Ham languished in 17th.

West Ham in colour action at Manchester United later in 1969-1970

But football coverage had been transformed forever. There was no turning back for Match of the Day, with every week from then on seeing extensive match highlights in colour.

Gradually, cameras were sent to more and more grounds and other advances such as instant replays added, as more and more people made the switch to colour sets in order to watch this English institution.

A NATIONAL TREASURE: TIMELINE OF MATCH OF THE DAY

1958: BBC screens its first live football match, the FA Cup semi-final between Fulham and Manchester United.

August 22, 1964: First edition of Match of the Day, screened on BBC Two at 6.30pm. Showed highlights of just one match, Liverpool vs. Arsenal at Anfield. The estimated audience was a mere 20,000 because BBC Two was only available in London at the time.

The Original Anfield Cat: The Match of the Day cameras picked up this moggy, who ran the whole length of the Anfield pitch at the first broadcast game between Liverpool and Arsenal in 1964

The Original Anfield Cat: The Match of the Day cameras picked up this moggy, who ran the whole length of the Anfield pitch at the first broadcast game between Liverpool and Arsenal in 1964

1965: Match of the Day switches to BBC One to reflect its growing availability and popularity. Several clubs try to block its broadcast, fearing a decline in attendances. A compromise is made when the BBC agreed not to reveal which match would be shown until after the day’s play was concluded.

1967: First competition as ITV starts to show regional highlights of matches on a Sunday afternoon.

1969: Attracting audiences of nearly ten million. First colour broadcast on November 15 of Liverpool vs. West Ham at Anfield. Number of matches increased from one to two per episode.

1970: Goal of the Month competition is introduced, as is the iconic theme tune.

1971: Introduction of slow motion replays.

Capturing the action: The Match of the Day cameras at Portman Road for Ipswich Town vs. Liverpool in 1974

Capturing the action: The Match of the Day cameras at Portman Road for Ipswich Town vs. Liverpool in 1974

Front man: Jimmy Hill introduces an episode of Match of the Day in 1981

Front man: Jimmy Hill introduces an episode of Match of the Day in 1981

1979: BBC forced to share highlights rights with ITV’s Big Match. Match of the Day is moved to a Sunday in 1980-1981 and 1982-1983 as a result, but the number of games goes up to three. Coverage is shared between the two channels through the eighties.

1992: BBC regains exclusive rights for highlights with the launch of the Premier League, which is to be screened live by Sky. It retains the coverage since, except for 2001-2004 when it moved to ITV.

Trophy trio: The Match of the Day line-up in 1999 - Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson

Trophy trio: The Match of the Day line-up in 1999 – Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson

2004: Match of the Day 2 is launched on a Sunday night.

2012: Match of the Day still draws in one in every four television viewers on a Saturday night.

Nathan Redmond puts Liverpool on alert as Birmingham contract talks stall

Liverpool target teenager Redmond as talks over new Birmingham deal stall

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UPDATED:

09:22 GMT, 19 October 2012


On alert: Liverpool are keen on Birmingham youngster Redmond

On alert: Liverpool are keen on Birmingham youngster Redmond

Nathan Redmond has put Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on red alert ahead of the January transfer window after talks over a new contract at Birmingham broke down.

The 18-year-old is increasingly frustrated by the Championship club's refusal to offer him his desired terms and is ready to walk out when the transfer window re-opens for business in the New Year.

Liverpool head the queue of Barclays Premier League side's interested in the England youth international, who has just 18 months remaining on his current deal – which is his first professional contract.

According to the Telegraph, Redmond was due to negotiate new terms last September but upheaval behind the scenes at St Andrews' appears to have proved prohibitive.

It is understood Anfield boss Rodgers will now keep tabs over Redmond's ongoing situation.

Manchester City and Tottenham are also admirers of the rapid winger while West Ham were linked with a move for him earlier this summer.

Redmond has made 12 appearances for Lee Clark's outfit so far this season and is the club's second youngest player behind Trevor Francis after making his debut in the League Cup two years ago.

The day England wore yellow against Poland

It wasn't like watching Brazil… the day England lost to Poland wearing yellow

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UPDATED:

21:13 GMT, 14 October 2012

Perhaps the FA thought it would bring them as much success as the golden era of Brazil when they introduced a yellow kit in 1973.

The Brazilians had won their third World Cup in 12 years three years earlier. Or maybe they were trying to replicate the Arsenal side who won a league and FA Cup double in 1971.

England’s brief affair with yellow that summer was swiftly ended after two defeats and a draw.

Not going to plan: Bobby Moore and England lost 2-0 to Poland in 1974 when they wore yellow

Not going to plan: Bobby Moore and England lost 2-0 to Poland in 1974 when they wore yellow

The only competitive match they played in the strip was a 2-0 loss to Poland in a 1974 World Cup qualifier, with Alan Ball getting sent off and Bobby Moore looking lost. England failed to qualify for the tournament in West Germany.

Their third kit was first tried in a 1-1 draw with Czechoslovakia — that needed an 89th-minute Allan Clarke goal.

Golden strike: Jairzinho celebrates after his goal in Brazils 4-1 victory over Italy in the Mexico 70 World Cup final

Golden strike: Jairzinho celebrates after his goal in Brazils 4-1 victory over Italy in the Mexico 70 World Cup final

A 2-0 friendly loss to Italy was the final nail in the coffin. The yellow kit made a one-game return in an unofficial friendly against Team America in 1976 — England won, thanks to two goals from Kevin Keegan and one from Trevor Francis. They have not worn it since.

Why did we send in the Marines for fourth-form disco?

Why did we send in the Marines for fourth-form disco

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 13 October 2012

A World Cup evening at Wembley and the questions came crowding in. Why did the FA declare the match a sell-out when there were empty seats all over the stadium What was the point of that

And why was kick-off delayed so that a Royal Marine could abseil from the roof with the match ball What was that all about Year upon year, we become a little more like the Americans in our obsession with the military. With the greatest respect to the armed forces, there are times when Wembley feels like the Royal Tournament.

Obsession: A Royal Marine hands the ball to referee Gediminas Mazeika

Obsession: A Royal Marine hands the ball to referee Gediminas Mazeika

And why did they hire that match announcer, the DJ from the fourth-form disco 'Gooooal, Waaaayne Roooneeeyyy! … Englaaaaaand!' Shouldn't a World Cup qualifier be above that kind of naffness And another thing: why do they continue to admit that unspeakable band The tuneless rabble from Sheffield who slaughter The Great Escape and Rule Britannia at depressingly frequent intervals. The Ukrainians got it right at the Euros when they confiscated their instruments in Donetsk. Why can't the FA follow this civilised example

So much to discover, so many questions; we're bound to leave something out. Ah yes, the match. England v San Marino. The kindest thing to say is that it is easily forgotten. I have been shuffling along to Wembley for a good many years, and I cannot recall another game which left me convinced that the England coaching staff could have beaten the opposition.

True, at the age of 56, Ray Lewington has lost some of his mobility, and while Sir Trevor Brooking may be 64, he didn't have too much pace to lose. But with young Gary Neville (37) doing most of their running, you would still back them to overcome the San Marinese. And, since the opposition was selected from a population of just 32,000, their impotence was inevitable.

England could not be criticised, since the circumstances were so unnatural. San Marino's defence was 11-strong, and relied upon bodies, bodies and more bodies. The strategy might have won an approving nod from Field Marshal Douglas Haig, but it seemed oddly out of place in modern international competition.

Premier League players expect opponents to react predictably to certain situations. San Marino did not oblige, they spoke a different language, marched to a different drum, did their very best to get in the way, and hoped the time would quickly pass. They resembled those 'opponents' that promoters import to face the latest British boxing hope; awkward, unorthodox, totally devoid of ambition yet capable, from time to time, of making the golden boy look foolish.

This they managed for 34 minutes and 24 seconds, when Waaaayne Roooneeeyyy scored his penalty. Events then took their course. England scored five goals, and departed feeling that they'd had a fairly indifferent night.

San Marino conceded five and proceeded to order a grand parade and an open-top bus. And, with glorious disregard for the mood, the fourth-form DJ played 'Football's Coming Home'.

Funny old night. Funny old game.

Martin Samuel: St George"s opens so England will win World Cup? Er, think again

St George's opens so England will win World Cup Er, think again

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UPDATED:

21:52 GMT, 9 October 2012

Some grand claims will be made for St George’s Park in the coming years. David Sheepshanks, who has overseen the project, gave a categorical affirmative when asked if the complex could help England win the World Cup. He set 2020 as the earliest date at which its effects could be felt.

Last month, Sir Trevor Brooking, the Football Association’s director of football development, was bemoaning the dearth of world class England strikers. Presumably one aids the production of the other. Not necessarily.

Green and pleasant land: It may be some time before the benefits of the 100m complex are felt at the top

Green and pleasant land: It may be some time before the benefits of the 100m complex are felt at the top

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Among the motivating factors in the
building of the National Football Centre was France’s academy at
Clairefontaine, established in 1988. It was widely credited with victory
at the 1998 World Cup. So how many wonderful strikers did France have
that year None.

France’s squad forwards were
Christophe Dugarry, understudied by Stephane Guivarc’h, neither of whom
will go down among the greats.

There were two promising 20-year-olds
in Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, plus Youri Djorkaeff linking
attack and midfield, but France are best remembered under Aime Jacquet
for playing without a top-class front line, after Dugarry’s early
injury.

The architect of their success was Zinedine Zidane, who did not attend the academy at Clairefontaine.

So nothing is guaranteed. St George’s
Park helps, because good coaching helps, and choice helps and at the
moment there is a dearth of both in England. We need to produce more,
and better, coaches, and the England manager needs greater options when
selecting his squad.

Yet that, alone, will not ensure
triumph. English football had plenty of homegrown coaches and a league
stuffed with local players four decades ago and between 1970 and 1982
failed to qualify for the World Cup.

The investment of 104million still
needs a leg up from old fashioned luck. All of France’s fine intentions
would be without a crowning glory, were it not for one genius player,
schooled at AS Cannes.

Clairefontaine has enjoyed plenty of successes, not least the mighty Henry, and it is to be hoped St George’s will, too.

Yet do not think it will bring to an
end the days when we look out at the Wembley pitch and wonder where all
the strikers, or goalkeepers, or central defenders have gone.

All we can hope is that, like France, we produce enough players with the wit to work around our shortcomings.

French fancy: Les Bleus produced a World Cup-winning team from their world-famous Clairefontaine facility

French fancy: Les Bleus produced a World Cup-winning team from their world-famous Clairefontaine facility

Pick your moment

Plenty think the Football Association weak for not making an example
of Ashley Cole. Allowing him to remain in the England squad, while on a
disciplinary charge for referring to the FA in an abusive manner, has
placed them in an awkward position. It is, however, a crisis of their
making.

The moment the FA took the issue of the England captaincy away from
manager Fabio Capello it set a precedent. Team affairs should always be
the preserve of the manager, with appropriate consultation if a matter
is exceptionally controversial.

Instead, FA chairman David Bernstein ploughed ahead in removing the
captaincy from John Terry, with Capello out of the loop. Now, every time
there is a storm around an England player, moralists will expect the FA
to take a hard line, and inaction will disappoint.

Who's call: Roy Hodgson was happy to see Ashley Cole link up with his England team-mates on Tuesday

Who's call: Roy Hodgson was happy to see Ashley Cole link up with his England team-mates on Tuesday

Bernstein, desperate to persuade the FA had the upper hand, made a
big show of announcing Cole’s personal apology yesterday, but images of
the player laughing and joking in training and in light-hearted
conversation with Prince William, will have done little to appease
hard-liners.

The FA, having wanted to play tough over Terry, now look feeble. Just once it would be nice if they thought this stuff through.

'Expert'

How much longer do we have to put up with the BBC football expert
Garth Crooks At the weekend, Crooks predicted England manager Roy
Hodgson would soon be taking an interest in West Bromwich Albion’s
attacking midfield player James Morrison. Indeed he might, were it not
for the fact that Morrison has already played 23 times for Scotland,
making his debut more than four years ago.

This means Crooks has failed to pay attention to all of those games,
plus the controversy surrounding Morrison’s switch in the first place –
he had previously represented England at every level.

Pundits make mistakes, but Crooks, who earlier this year announced
Brazil’s Olympic team were using a 4-2-1-3-1 formation, and said he had
not heard of Christian Benteke, a 7m signing for Aston Villa who had
played six times for Belgium, goes to that well more than most. And
never forget, you are subsidising his expertise.

It wouldn’t happen at Sky – but even if it did, that’s not your money going down the tubes.

Wonga, a political football

Much outrage about Wonga's proposed sponsorship of Newcastle United, not least from season ticket holder and Labour MP Ian Lavery who says he will not set foot in St James’ Park until the name is off the shirts.

Money where your mouth is: Wonga have announced a deal to join up with Newcastle

Money where your mouth is: Wonga have announced a deal to join up with Newcastle

Wonga is a short-term, pay day loan
company with an APR of up to 4,214 per cent. The acceptable face of loan
sharking, in other words.

Yet, once again, politicians want
sport to take a lead they are incapable of themselves. Remember when
England’s cricketers were under pressure to boycott Zimbabwe, yet the
government was happy for British industry to remain Robert Mugabe’s
second biggest trading partner

If Wonga’s business is morally
bankrupt it is up to politicians to pressure the government to
legislate, rather than wait for ethical guidance from Mike Ashley.

The price is right

When Arsenal played Chelsea recently there was great controversy over the cheapest admission price: 62.

On these occasions it is traditional to make reference to the wonderful system in Spain where fans are club members — socios — and are treated with reverence.

So, what was the cheapest ticket at Barcelona’s match with Real Madrid on Sunday 75. And for non-members 236.50. And you may feel it would be worth every penny.

Even so, not doing the fans any favours, are they

Don’t turn a blind eye to violence

Reacting to UEFA’s retrospective ban on Eduardo of Arsenal for diving in September 2009, what manager said this

‘The biggest mistake is not coming out at the start of the season and laying the ground, so that everybody understands what is going to happen if people dive. To do it part of the way through the season is ridiculous.’

Step forward, Tony Pulis, manager of Stoke City, who at the weekend called for retrospective action to be taken against Luis Suarez for diving.

So let’s just say there is a degree of self-interest in this. Pulis now wants Suarez banned, retrospectively, having previously opposed such a move. Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool, defends his player, although it is quite plain that he dived.

Rough ride: Luis Suarez bore the brunt of criticism this past weekend despite being stamped on

Rough ride: Luis Suarez bore the brunt of criticism this past weekend despite being stamped on

Pulis, meanwhile, is less forthcoming
on the subject of Robert Huth, who appeared to stamp on Suarez’s chest
when he could have easily avoided contact. If retrospective action was
permitted, it should not stop with Suarez in the dock.

Why do we have such a problem with
diving yet are relaxed about violent play Suarez’s actions were
reprehensible but no more than those of Huth, or Robin van Persie, who
treated Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United to a taste of his forearm
during Manchester United’s match at St James’ Park.

Ultimately, Suarez does get punished
for diving because blatant penalty offences against him are being waved
away; indeed at the weekend it is quite possible that Marc Wilson of
Stoke caught his trailing leg and his belated and preposterous fall was
only a desperate attempt to get this noticed.

Referees seem to have shorter memories of violence, however, with repeat offenders often ignored.

That does not appear to trouble Pulis, or many in football, as much; but it should.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT

You can spot them a mile off. When Imraan Ladak’s consortium took charge of Kettering Town in 2005, his first move was to appoint Paul Gascoigne as caretaker manager. That lasted 39 days.

Limited success and 13 managerial changes later, including three caretakers, Kettering are in dire straits.

The club failed to pay its wages last November and in December Ladak was banned from all football duties by the FA after ignoring a disciplinary fine and costs.

He remained owner but was replaced as chairman by George Rolls, who announced debts of 1.2million in May.

Following relegation from the Conference, a Company Voluntary Agreement involving demotion to the Southern League was accepted, at which point Rolls was suspended from football for five years for breach of FA betting rules while on the board at Cambridge United. Ladak is back in charge.

Town the pan: Kettering have slumped to an all-time low and Imraan Ladak is now banned from football

Town the pan: Kettering have slumped to an all-time low and Imraan Ladak is now banned from football

On October 2, Kettering attracted a
crowd of 34 for a Northants Hillier Senior Cup game against Peterborough
Northern Star and at the weekend lost 7-0 to Bashley, fielding only 10
players. A reserve goalkeeper, Ben Gathercole, was supposed to play
outfield but declined to attend as he is owed money by the club.

Many team-mates are similarly out of pocket and disenchanted and caretaker manager Alan Doyle left in tears.

He says he was given his role via text
message and has had one conversation with Ladak, six weeks ago. The
latest development at Nene Park – former home of Rushden and Diamonds,
another extinct Northamptonshire club – is that the electricity has been
cut off and the club could not name a squad for last night’s game at
Leamington.

It is said all great journeys begin
with a single step. The day Ladak appointed the damaged Gascoigne in a
blaze of publicity it was plain the sort of owner he was going to be. It
has taken seven years but he has got there in the end.

Removing the issue

It does not matter whether David Collier, the ECB chief executive, is correct in his statement that the South Africans were trying to wind up Kevin Pietersen this summer. The fact remains that if England were not so keen to stuff their team with South Africans, this vulnerability would not exist.

Gay torchbearer It doesn't matter

Rupert Everett, the actor, wondered why the sexuality of Olympic torch bearers was not discussed during the relay around the British Isles.

‘It went on a long time,’ he said, ‘but they never announced, “This is an openly homosexual person”. Sport and showbiz are still very homophobic and it’s strange that no-one has noticed.’

Carrying the torch: The sexual orientation of any of the Olympic torch bearers was irrelevant

Carrying the torch: The sexual orientation of any of the Olympic torch bearers was irrelevant

Yet it would be even stranger if we
brought sexuality into everything a person did. The public face of the
games was Clare Balding, who also carried the torch in Newbury. Is her
sexuality germane to either role No. Was she accepted for who she is,
without prejudice Yes.

What should the BBC do ‘And now we rejoin events at the London Aquatic Centre with noted lesbian Clare Balding…’

‘I’m here in Newbury with Clare Balding who has just carried the Olympic torch and prefers girls.’

When the St George’s Park facility
opened, Hope Powell was there, not as a lesbian, but as a
football coach. We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it, Gay Pride
marchers would shout. So everyone got used to it. And now it scarcely
matters. So why the fuss

It's just not rugby

It is the inclusion of Ashton Gate that is the giveaway. Bristol City’s ground, capacity 21,800. If the RFU had rejected Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road home as a 2015 World Cup venue because its 24,000 capacity was too small, it would make sense.

Game of two halves: Leicester City's King Power Stadium has been proposed as a Rugby World Cup venue

Game of two halves: Leicester City's King Power Stadium has been proposed as a Rugby World Cup venue

Yet Ashton Gate is smaller, as is
Kingsholm in Gloucester (the only selected stadium used exclusively for
rugby) and stadium:mk in Milton Keynes (where no doubt a rugby fever is
just waiting to happen). The King Power Stadium, home to Leicester City
Football Club, which is included, is not much bigger either, at just
32,500.

Clearly, the need to shift 2.9
million tickets from 48 matches means some football venues must be used.
Wembley, Old Trafford and St James’ Park all hold in excess of 50,000.

Yet, as much as possible, the Rugby
World Cup should take place where rugby feels loved. We cannot vouch for
the grounds, but the sport itself is certainly getting sold out.

Brendan Rodgers hoping to protect Raheem Sterling

Staying Sterling! Rodgers hoping to protect Liverpool starlet Raheem from overexposure

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 5 September 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Brendan Rodgers has held talks with the FA to ensure Liverpool’s exciting protg Raheem Sterling does not suffer overexposure.

The 17-year-old’s emergence over the past month has captured the imagination and England Under-21 head coach Stuart Pearce had given serious consideration to naming Sterling for the Euro 2013 double header against Azerbaijan and Norway.

Protection: Raheem Sterling has dazzled for Liverpool so far this season

Protection: Raheem Sterling has dazzled for Liverpool so far this season

However, after Rodgers spoke with Sir Trevor Brooking, it was decided Sterling would remain as part of the Under-19 squad that will play Germany in Hamburg tonight and the Liverpool manager is adamant the right decision has been made.

‘I think with young players you have to be careful,’ said Rodgers. ‘They can be elevated above their station too quickly. That is a part of it in this country. They have one good game and they get elevated into superstar status.

‘You then see them at 23 and 24 and wonder why they are not superstars any more. I spoke to Trevor Booking on the thoughts of where the FA believes Raheem is at. I said, in my opinion, of course he has got the ability to be in the Under-21s.

‘But I believe in many ways it is right for him to go with the Under-19s. He was involved with us on Sunday.

Future team-mates: Sterling was pitted against Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on Sunday

Future team-mates: Sterling was pitted against Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on Sunday

'He has met up with England squad now and travelled to play in Germany. It then allows him to come back and recover well before our next game at Sunderland.’

Rodgers had considered sending Sterling out on loan in July but such has been the transformation in his form that the winger has started the last two Barclays Premier League games against Manchester City and Arsenal.

His performances have been a rare high point for Rodgers in a tough few weeks but that will not stop him from pulling Sterling out of the spotlight if he believes his long-term development is in danger of being damaged.

‘It is all about individual needs,’ Rodgers continued. ‘It might look great on the back pages that he is involved in the Under-21s but the reality is that this is a kid who has made great strides over the last few weeks; he was absolutely fantastic through pre-season.

‘You have seen his quality, courage and attitude in games – it has been fantastic. But, for the moment, let’s just stay calm.’

Hopeful: Brendan Rodgers is hoping to protect his prized youngster from overexposure

Hopeful: Brendan Rodgers is hoping to protect his prized youngster from overexposure

Saracens 40 London Irish 3: Charlie Hodgson scores 2,000th Premiership point

Saracens 40 London Irish 3: Hodgson boots his way to milestone

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UPDATED:

18:03 GMT, 1 September 2012

Milestone: Charlie Hodgson kicks a penalty

Milestone: Charlie Hodgson kicks a penalty

Charlie Hodgson became the first player to pass 2,000 points in the Premiership as Saracens comfortably overcame London Irish in the second London Double Header match at Twickenham.

The former England fly-half, who went into the match on 1,992 points, achieved the milestone with his third penalty in the 27th minute.

England winger Chris Ashton marked
his Saracens debut with two second-half tries – after being sin-binned
in the first half – with England centre Brad Barritt and replacement
Nils Mordt also touching down.

Hodgson finished with 20 points,
adding four conversions to his three early penalties, with full-back
Alex Goode also landing a penalty.

The only Irish reply was a penalty from full-back Tom Homer, last season's Premiership leading scorer with 278 points.

Going over: Brad Barritt of Saracens dives for a try

Going over: Brad Barritt of Saracens dives for a try

After Homer missed his first penalty shot in the second minute, Saracens skipper Steve Borthwick had a fourth-minute try ruled out.

Borthwick was denied by the new regulations which allow the referee to refer the build-up to a try to the television match official – instead of just seeking advice on the act of scoring.

Hodgson created the opening before man-of-the-match prop Mako Vunipola turned the ball inside to send Borthwick over between the posts but TMO Trevor Fisher ruled that the final pass was forward.

Touchdown: Chris Ashton goes over for a Saracens try

Touchdown: Chris Ashton goes over for a Saracens try

After releasing another pass, Hodgson had to survive a bone-shaking late challenge from Ofisa Treviranus which earned the Samoan flanker a 15th-minute yellow card.

While Hodgson recovered, Goode landed the resulting penalty. Saracens were also reduced to 14 men when Ashton, a summer capture from Northampton, was sin-binned by referee Wayne Barnes for a late barge on Irish fly-half Steve Shingler.

Homer, who had missed three early long-range penalties, finally succeeded at the fourth attempt, from just inside the Saracens' half, to open the Exiles' account with the resulting kick.

Hodgson was not to be denied, however, and he landed his second penalty, in off the post, in the 25th minute.

Missed me: Marland Yarde of London Irish jinks past Will Frasser

Missed me: Marland Yarde of London Irish jinks past Will Frasser

Two minutes later Hodgson, who scored most of his points for former club Sale Sharks, took his Premiership tally to 2,001 with his third penalty of the match to give his side a 12-3 lead, which they retained until the end of a feisty first half.

Ashton made amends for his earlier misdemeanour by scoring the first try of the match with the second half only two minutes old.

Hooker Schalk Brits, former Wigan Warriors rugby league star Joel Tomkins and USA international winger Chris Wyles were involved in a quality build-up which ended with Ashton, up in support and showing his best predatory instincts, supplying the finish despite a despairing attempt at a tackle from new Exiles skipper Bryn Evans.

Hodgson converted to stretch the Saracens' lead to 19-3.

Eight minutes later Hodgson was on target once more after Saracens struck again with a try from England centre Brad Barritt.

Pass master: Richard Wigglesworth of Saracens distributes the ball

Pass master: Richard Wigglesworth of Saracens distributes the ball

But Irish looked unfortunate not to have the score referred to the TMO for an apparent forward pass in the build-up before Ashton knocked the ball back, one-handed, for Barritt to pounce.

Saracens flanker Kelly Brown was the third player to be sin-binned, for killing the ball at the breakdown midway through the second half, but his 14 team-mates kept their line intact until he returned.

Back to full strength, Saracens had the final say with two more tries, both converted by Hodgson.

The fly-half passed out of the tackle to set up Ashton for his second try in the 73rd minute and Mordt secured the bonus point with their fourth three minutes from time.