Tag Archives: writer

LIVE: Watch England"s Player of the Year awards from St George"s Park

LIVE: Watch England's Player of the Year awards from St George's Park here


21:40 GMT, 3 February 2013



22:06 GMT, 3 February 2013

Sportsmail's finest awarded

Our very own Matt Lawton picked up the Brian Woolnough award for best England writer. Read about it HERE

Who will win England's Player of the Year award Follow the action live here with Sportsmail.

Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole Glen Johnson, Joe Hart and Danny Welbeck are the five men in with a chance of winning it.

Awards already issued tonight are England's Young Player of the year, U21 Player of the Year and Team of the Year. Find out who won below.

Here to watch: Leighton Baines, Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka

Here to watch: Leighton Baines, Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka

Brian Woolnough Writer's Award: Matt Lawton (Daily Mail)

Matt Lawton

England U21 Player of the Year: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

Jordan Henderson

2. Martin Kelly (Liverpool)

3. Wilfried Zaha (Manchester United)

England Men's Youth Player of the Year: Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea)

Nathaniel Chalobah

2. Will Hughes (Derby)

3. John Lundstram (Everton)

Club England Team of the Year: England Women

England Women

VIDEO: Backstage at the awards

Saturday debate: Who is best captain of current era?

Saturday debate: Who do you think is the best sporting captain of the current era


22:00 GMT, 7 December 2012



22:00 GMT, 7 December 2012

With Alastair Cook and Chris Robshaw guiding the England cricket and rugby teams to memorable victories in the last week or so, we ask our panel of experts which captain in the modern era they think is the most impressive…

PAUL NEWMAN Cricket Correspondent
I have to say Alastair Cook, don’t I To score three centuries in his first three Tests as permanent captain, together with the two he recorded deputising for Andrew Strauss in Bangladesh, is to make an extraordinary start to his reign and the records have just kept on tumbling in Kolkata. More tactical acumen will come. For now, Cook is the epitome of leading by example.

Flying start: Cook has made three centuries in three matches

Flying start: Cook has made three centuries in three matches

MIKE DICKSON Tennis Correspondent

It has to be a cricketer and the outstanding skipper of the past 10 years has been Graeme Smith: tactician, diplomat and leader by example. South Africa have never lost a Test when he has made a hundred, and since taking over aged 22 he has steered a skilful course through his country’s racial politics. Smith has had a personal hand in ending the reigns of three England captains, Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss, but may not be around to see off Alastair Cook.

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI Football writer

You don’t watch Barcelona for the centre halves, but it’s worth noting that five years had passed without a worthwhile gong when Carles Puyol took the armband eight years ago. Since then they have won five La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues, two Copa del Reys and have produced arguably the greatest club side in history. Michael Laudrup calls Puyol Barca’s ‘heartbeat’; Edgar Davids says he is ‘essential to the way they play and think’. Puyol has done all right since ignoring Louis van Gaal’s demands to get a haircut after his first Barca training session.

Hair we go: Puyol is a natural leader

Hair we go: Puyol is a natural leader

IAN LADYMAN Nothern Football Correspondent

One club, 15 years, 430 games, 3,000 points and endless bloody noses. Kevin Sinfield may not play one of the world’s most heralded sports and he could walk down the street in most towns without even being recognised. But in terms of what he has done for his club, Leeds Rhinos, and for his sport there are few who have contributed more. Nice chap, too, by all accounts.


Imposing and unyielding, Graeme Smith is the brutal embodiment of the South African cricket team. Averaging just a flick under 50, his obdurate brilliance as an opener goes hand in hand with a spirited leadership that has persisted for 96 Test matches over almost a decade. Three England captains have perished at his hands, the latest this summer with South Africa’s return to No 1 in the Test rankings.

The greatest Smith holds the world No 1 mace after drawing in Australia

The greatest Smith holds the world No 1 mace after drawing in Australia

Arsene Wenger face like thunder at Arsenal training ahead of Champions League

Glad to be back at work, Arsene With a face like thunder, Wenger looks like he's feeling the strain with his misfiring Gunners



13:54 GMT, 3 December 2012

Martin Samuel: Wenger used to solve Arsenal's problems… now he helps his rivals solve theirs
Arsene Wenger and Jack Wilshere

Arsenal are an exclusive, top of the range, elite clientele, bespoke selling club. Football’s history says that reality must catch up with a selling club eventually.

Click here to read Sportsmail's chief sports writer on the mess engulfing Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger returned to training with Arsenal on Monday morning still looking haunted by his side's embarrassing 2-0 home defeat by Swansea City on Saturday.

Wenger has admitted that he may consider his future at the end of the season after his misfiring team slumped to another defeat and he had to endure a torrent of abuse from unhappy Gunners fans.

The Frenchman is enduring his worst start to a Premier League season since taking the reins at the club in 1996. Arsenal are 10th in the Barclays Premier League table and have collected just 21 points from 15 games. Their only worse start since the Premier League began came in the 1994-95 season.

Face like thunder: Arsene Wenger during Arsenal's training session at London Colney on Monday morning

Face like thunder: Arsene Wenger during Arsenal's training session at London Colney on Monday morning

Wenger puts his squad through its paces on Monday at London Colney

Wenger took to the training field again on Monday to prepare his charges for the Champions League Group B clash against Olympiacos on Tuesday.

The good news for Wenger is that the Gunners have already qualified for the knockout stages, no matter what their result against the Greek champions.

But Wenger still wore a face like thunder as he ordered his players around at London Colney. He is sure to be targeting a win in Piraeus to give his side the best chance of overhauling Schalke at the top of their group and landing an easier draw in the last 16, which begins in February.

50 shades of grey: Wenger was in a visibly grumpy mood on Monday, as these pictures show

50 shades of grey: Wenger was in a visibly grumpy mood on Monday, as these pictures show

Wenger, criticised in some quarters for Arsenal's seven years and counting without a major trophy, has never hinted that he might be close to quitting the club he loves.

But after the defeat to Swansea, asked whether it was crossing his mind to resign, Wenger replied: 'You make your assessment at the end of the season. I know we've got unrest everywhere. It's a good opportunity to stick together and show we're a strong club.'

Asked if it hurt that a once-glorious club were languishing in 10th place, Wenger said: 'Of course. But I'm not as worried about the places. We need to get the quality of our game back.'

The defeat by Swansea was preceded by an angry protest by fans against what they claimed was the 'greed' of the Arsenal board.

Around 1,000 angry fans called for the removal of what they claimed were Arsenal's 'greedy' board of directors and complained that profit had been put before trophies.

Got his work cut out: Wenger faces up to the hard task at hand after another dismal weekend for Arsenal

Got his work cut out: Wenger faces up to the hard task at hand after another dismal weekend for Arsenal

Let it all out: The Frenchman blares out instructions to his players on the training pitch

Let it all out: The Frenchman blares out instructions to his players on the training pitch

Keep out of his way, lads! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) and Tomas Rosicky (right) flank Wenger in training

Keep out of his way, lads! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) and Tomas Rosicky (right) flank Wenger in training

Dressing-room blast: Wenger's assistant Steve Bould

Dressing-room blast: Arsenal assistant Steve Bould

The protest was directed at the board
not Wenger. But he was not entirely spared criticism and Wenger
admitted: 'I can understand that.'

Wenger added: 'The quality of our game wasn't there. But I'm in this job to turn it round and I'm confident we will.'

if he needed new players, Wenger said: 'It's difficult to comment
straight after a defeat like that but I can't say No. I believe the
board are there for us to spend the money if we can find the players.'

Sportsmail revealed today that Arsenal assistant manager Steve Bould accused the current crop of stars of letting themselves and the club down in a dressing room tirade on Saturday.

The Arsenal stalwart was left seething by his side’s poor display and, according to sources, Bould ripped into the club’s under-performing players during a post mortem, claiming the performance was a let-down.

The 50-year-old is also said to have blasted players for not taking responsibility against Michael Laudrup’s side.

It is also understood Arsenal players were given the chance to air views in front of their team-mates.Certain players are believed to have complained that the club’s busy fixture list has left them leg weary in recent weeks.

Pleased to Michu: The striker helped Swansea put Arsenal to the sword at the Emirates on Saturday

Pleased to Michu: The striker helped Swansea put Arsenal to the sword at the Emirates on Saturday

Restless natives: Arsenal fans march before the game in protest over the way the club is being run

Restless natives: Arsenal fans march before the game in protest over the way the club is being run

Bould was promoted to Arsene Wenger’s assistant in the summer after 11 years working in the Arsenal youth set-up.

He won seven major honours, including three league titles, at Highbury and made 372 appearances. With the pressure building on Wenger, his right-hand man decided it was time for some home truths.

The players who complained of tiredness are likely to get a rest in Europe this week.

Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski will not fly to Greece on Monday afternoon for the Champions League tie against Olympiacos and Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta could also be rested. There was no sign of any of them in training on Monday.

Brian Granville says England side among worst ever

One of biggest voices in football puts England line-up among worst EVER fielded after limp Poland showing



12:37 GMT, 21 October 2012

One of football’s most influential writers has placed the England team which drew 1-1 in a lacklustre display against Poland on Tuesday among the worst the national side have ever fielded.

Brian Glanville, who went to his first England game in 1942, slated Roy Hodgson’s outfit after they left Warsaw fortunate to have earned a point.

Writing in The Sunday Times, the 81-year-old veteran writer placed the England team sixth on his list of the worst ever fielded.

Worst ever England drew 1-1 in Warsaw after a lacklustre display against Poland

Worst ever England drew 1-1 in Warsaw after a lacklustre display against Poland


1. ENGLAND 0 USA 1 (Belo Horizonte) June 29, 1950, Walter Winterbottom's XI

2. ENGLAND 3 HUNGARY 6 (Wembley) November 25, 1953, Walter Winterbottom's XI

3. NORWAY 2 ENGLAND 0 (Oslo) June 2, 1993, Graham Taylor's XI

4. NORTHERN IRELAND 1 ENGLAND 0 (Belfast) September 7, 2005, Sven-Goran Eriksson's XI

5. ISRAEL 0 ENGLAND 0 (Tel Aviv) March 24, 2007, Steve McLaren's XI

6. POLAND 1 ENGLAND 1 (Warsaw) October 17, 2012, Roy Hodgson's XI

Although the travelling Lions boasted a spine of Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, Glanville slammed the dozy performance.

‘Whether or not the England players were suffering from the effect of sleeping pills, this was a flaccid performance, hardly helped by Roy Hodgson’s puzzling selection,’ he wrote as he tore into the side.

Rooney had put England ahead in the first half against the run of play after the ball bounced off his shoulde – rather than his head – and past the stranded Przemyslaw Tyton.

But the raucous atmosphere in Warsaw gave the home team some solace, as they grew into the game, creating a number of chances as time went on.

It seemed an inevitability by the time Kamil Glik got the hop on a sluggish Lescott and a flapping Hart to head home a much deserved equaliser in the 70th minute.

What now Joe Hart (left) and Joleon Lescott (right) look dejected after the England goalkeeper's mistake led to a Poland equaliser

What now Joe Hart (left) and Joleon Lescott (right) look dejected after the England goalkeeper's mistake led to a Poland equaliser

Not good enough: David Beckham played when Sven-Goran Eriksson's England slumped to a 1-0 defeat in Belfast in 2005

Not good enough: David Beckham played when Sven-Goran Eriksson's England slumped to a 1-0 defeat in Belfast in 2005


Should we be worried about England's recent form
England lead Group H by one point from Montenegro, who have a game in hand, after Wayne Rooney's 32nd goal for his country was cancelled out in Poland.

Roy Hodgson


Glanville took issue with many of Hodgson’s tactical decisions, in particular starting the laboured Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield, forcing Manchester United team-mate Tom Cleverley to the left – and out of his comfort zone.

He said: ‘In midfield, a role went to the predictable, ineffective Michael Carrick.

‘Neither was the decision to start up front with Jermain Defoe easily explicable when Danny Welbeck had been in such bright form in the previous two internationals.

‘And what now of the lauded Joe Hart’

Sure enough, the performance wasn’t England’s finest hour, but Glanville has lumped the side fielded against Poland in with Walter Winterbottom’s team who lost 1-0 to the USA in 1950 – which the sports writer believes is the worst ever line-up.

Familiar sight: Brian Glanville described Wayne Rooney and England as 'all at sea' after they drew 0-0 in Tel Aviv against Israel in 2007

Familiar sight: Brian Glanville described Wayne Rooney and England as 'all at sea' after they drew 0-0 in Tel Aviv against Israel in 2007

Oi! Rooney was in a confrontational mood as he launched a tirade at Israeli Tal Ben Haim

Oi! Rooney was in a confrontational mood as he launched a tirade at Israeli Tal Ben Haim

Another Winterbottom side comes in second place too. England were taken by surprise and hammered 6-3 by Hungary at Wembley in 1953, as striker Nandor Hidegkuti ripped through Winterbottom’s back line on his way to scoring a hat-trick.

Graham Taylor earned his spot in the list after Glanville witnessed his England team fall to a 2-0 defeat in Oslo at the hands of Norway in 1993.

Sven-Goran Eriksson and his successor Steve McLaren also made held an unenviable position on Glanville's condemning list.

Hopeless: Tom Finney (centre) was unable to prevent England losing to the USA in 1950, Glanville's worst ever line-up

Hopeless: Tom Finney (centre) was unable to prevent England losing to the USA in 1950, Glanville's worst ever line-up

Sven’s side lost 1-0 in Belfast to Northern Ireland in 2005 after the Swede insisted on keeping David Beckham in the role of playmaker.

McLaren’s team were unable to do better than a 0-0 draw in Tel Aviv against Israel two years later to take the fifth spot, with one of the game's only highlights being a heated exchange between a confrontational Rooney and Tal Ben Haim

It isn’t quite all doom and gloom though for this crop of players.

England's limp draw may have blown the World Cup qualifying group wide open, but at least they still sit at the top with a tricky away tie against a well-organised, dogged Poland side out of the way.

Montenegro are, however, more than likely to at least temporarily usurp Hodgson's men at the top of the group, having played a game less with a clash against Group H whipping boys San Marino next in line.

Onslaught: Hungary travelled to Wembley in 1953 and brushed aside another Winterbottom side, beating them 6-3

Onslaught: Hungary travelled to Wembley in 1953 and brushed aside another Winterbottom side, beating them 6-3


Brian Glanville spent 30 years as a football correspondent for The Sunday Times and continues to contribute to the paper today.

The veteran football writer also contributes to World Soccer magazine, and has done for 15 years.

Glanville spent much of his long, illustrious career based in Italy, and has become a leading authority on Italian football after lengthy stints in Florence and Rome, and contributed regularly to the Corriere Dello Sport.

As well as being a hugely successful and respected journalist and football writer, Glanville has written a number of novels, short stories and plays.

Between the Sixties and the Eighties, Glanville even ran his own amateur football team, the Chelsea Casuals – who were in part made up of a collection of actors, newspaper journalists and artists.

Brian Woolnough tribute by Steve Curry

Farewell, Wooly: Steve Curry pays tribute to a giant of sports journalism



14:21 GMT, 18 September 2012

Legend: Brian Woolnough

Legend: Brian Woolnough

It was one of those wine-fuelled pre-season lunches that retired Sky Sports boss Vic Wakeling used the hold for chief football writers in a private dining room at Shepherd's restaurant in Westminster.

Owner Richard Shepherd popped in, told a few jokes and departed around 7pm. The only people left were Vic, Brian Woolnough and myself enjoying a few glasses.

As always, the debate was about football.

Wooly was presenting reasons why
Graham Taylor should still be given the benefit of the doubt as England
manger. Mine was the contrary view.

became quite heated and Vic, puffing on a cigarette in those
pre-no-smoking-days, was sitting back enjoying the debate. We retired to
the pub next door for a game of pool but the cut and thrust continued
between shots.

Vic said suddenly. 'This kind of debate goes on in every pub every
night. You guys work in the game. Why don't we get a few of you round a
table, forget the cameras are there, moderate the language and we have a
TV show.'

Thus began Hold The Back Page, the Friday night show that captivated fans across the country. Brian was chosen to chair the programme. That was in 1994 and, 18 years on, the concept still draws an audience. And Brian has always been there, like a captain at the wheel.

But Wooly will no longer select the subject matter, to guide the participants on the subjects for discussion, to tease comments from his guests, to combine humour and significance, and to steer all around the table into fascinating conversation.

I had met Brian as a young reporter on The Sun, a serious news gatherer. As a chief football writer on a rival paper, I dreaded the late night call from my own boss to say Wooly had got another exclusive.

Farewell: Wooly (centre) pictured with Danny Fullbrook and Steve McClaren

Farewell: Wooly (centre) pictured with Danny Fullbrook and Steve McClaren

We travelled the world and he was excellent company. A man with strident views on sport, he was as a younger man, a formidable fast bowler. He was always ready with a view but prepared to hear the counter-argument.

Fiercely ambitious, he climbed to the top of his profession without, as far I can recall, ever losing his temper. A fierce inquisitor at press conferences, he had a way of asking the difficult questions without giving offence. And he always delivered them from the front row where he could look the manager concerned in the eye. He was up front.

I remember seeing Wooly in hospital after the very first operation. As ever he was cheerful. He stayed so to the end. When his much younger Daily Star colleague Danny Fullbrook also had cancer, he counselled him warmly and sympathetically even though he knew his own battle was far from over.

We were colleagues on the Barclays Manager and Player of the Month panel and though he knew he was ill, he attended the lunches with as much enthusiasm as he ever did.

In the last few years as a Chief Sports Writer at the Star, his views were expressed stridently and without extravagant language. It was the voice of the terrace fan.

Brian so much wanted to end his career on a high. He has done that in the esteem of his colleagues. And he will be pleased with that.

Favorite one-club players: Sportsmail"s verdict

The Saturday debate: Who are the greatest one-club players



22:18 GMT, 14 September 2012

With Paul Scholes about to clock up 700 games for Manchester United, Sportsmail asked a selection of its writers for their favourite one-club player.

Derek Lawrenson

Golf Correspondent

STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool, 1998- )

Gerrard has played all his career for one club during an era where money rules and nearly all the best players gravitate to the few clubs with the wherewithal to win the Premier League. Given all his gifts and all the offers to move, his is a singular act of loyalty.

Leader: Steven Gerrard has been at Liverpool his whole carrer

Leader: Steven Gerrard has been at Liverpool his whole carrer

Laura Williamson

Football Writer

JOHN McDERMOTT (Grimsby Town, 1987-2007)

'Macca' spent 21 seasons at right back, playing 754 games. Through the highs of two Wembley wins in 1998 and the lows of tumbling down the divisions he seemed like the one constant: nippy, keen to get forward and dependable. I just enjoyed watching him.

Ian Ladyman

Northern Football Correspondent

CARLES PUYOL (Barcelona, 1999- )

If your daughter brought him home for tea your instinct might be to throw him out. Puyol looks like trouble. If he played for your team, though, you would fall in love with him. Versatile, ruthless and loyal, the 34-year-old defender has played more than 500 times for Barca over the last 13 years.

Barca boy: Carles Puyol has been at Barcelona through their recent glory period

Barca boy: Carles Puyol has been at Barcelona through their recent glory period


Football Writer

TONY ADAMS (Arsenal, 1983-2002)

The big, imposing centre half was at the heart of football’s meanest defence under George Graham, when ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ was a Highbury anthem. He later blossomed into a footballing centre half under Arsene Wenger’s influence.

Chris Wheeler

Football Writer

MATT LE TISSIER (Southampton, 1986-2002)

Mercurial forward Le Tissier stayed loyal for 16 barren years when he could have picked up trophies, more money and more caps by moving. Chelsea and Tottenham both tried to sign him but ‘Le God’, as Southampton’s fans call him, kept faith with the Saints.

True Saint: Matt Le Tissier stayed loyal to Southampton

True Saint: Matt Le Tissier stayed loyal to Southampton

Colin Young

Football Writer

FRANCO BARESI (AC Milan, 1977-97)

Quite simply, Baresi was one of the greatest defenders ever. He glided round the pitch, made the brutal work of a defender look like art and was one of the coolest footballers ever. He played in some very good Milan and Italy teams and won the lot.

Charles Sale: Website race row caps Liverpool"s week

Website race row caps turbulent week for Liverpool



23:16 GMT, 18 May 2012

Sign greeting fans on arrival at Anfield

The baffling way Fenway Sports Group are running Liverpool is further demonstrated by a website writer – hired by the American owners – claiming to be a supporter of the British National Party.

Merseysider Alan Kayll, who writes about Liverpool for FSG's New England Sports Network and has had close contact with chairman Tom Werner, proclaimed his backing for the BNP on online fans forum The Liverpool Way.

Kayll, who signs in as atk, stated: 'I have voted BNP for the past three years. I could not care less if people call me a racist.'

Kayll's connections with the BNP will cause acute embarrassment to the club, especially in the wake of the Luis Suarez racism debacle.

And Liverpool director of communications Jen Chang scored a PR own goal before starting in the job with his tweet last December that Patrice Evra, the victim of Suarez's racist abuse, should have been charged by the FA as well.

It is understood Kayll has already been told to stop using Twitter after criticising Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre. Kayll also had his racist remarks removed from The Liverpool Way, but responses to his views were kept on the site.

On being informed last night of Kayll's BNP leaning, Liverpool terminated their association with him and were taking all articles with his byline off the NESN website.

The club said he was an unpaid contributor, although given a seat in the Anfield press box.

Cook back in favour
Garry Cook

Garry Cook (right) may have departed Manchester City last September in disgrace following the cover-up over the email he inadvertently sent to Nedum Onuoha's mother mocking her fight against cancer. But former CEO Cook's role in City's title-winning achievement has led to his reputation being restored at the Etihad Stadium – to the extent he was given a standing ovation when a guest of honour at the former City players' association dinner on Thursday night.

Blues in rights place

CHELSEA have stolen a march on the Premier League's runaway commercial leaders Manchester United with their joint marketing tie-up with Formula One team Sauber. The latter will be well represented at tonight's Champions League final. Five multinational companies are in discussions to take advantage of the year-round advertising opportunities in the two biggest global TV sports markets offered by the F1 and PL combination.

Euro bonus
Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich

There is understood to be a 1million bonus from shirt sponsors Samsung and 1.5m from kit suppliers adidas if Chelsea win. But owner Roman Abramovich (right), in Munich after missing the semi-final leg in Barcelona and FA Cup final, will want a lot more than the current 11m-a-year if the Samsung deal, with one more season to run, is to be renewed.

The stadium of fight

The Allianz Arena has been a sponsorship battleground in the build-up to the Champions League final because of UEFA's desire not to upset their corporate partners. UEFA have attempted to remove or cover up all signs relating to German-based insurance giants Allianz, part-funders of the stadium as well as naming rights holders and shareholders in Bayern Munich, because financial services rivals UniCredit are tournament sponsors. Such are the lengths UEFA take to protect their sponsors, they put stickers over the maker's name on hand driers in the Wembley toilets last year. Allianz responded to UEFA's tactics, which include calling the ground the Football Stadium Munich, with a promotional campaign in London and Munich to highlight their title name on huge 3D artwork. Despite UEFA's efforts, Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo namechecked the Allianz Arena in his pre-match press conference.

Controversial choice

Davis Lampitt, former Portsmouth chief executive who presided over the club going into administration for a second time, will be a controversial choice as the next CEO of Supporters Direct. Previous SD boss Dave Boyle stepped down after sending obscene tweets when AFC Wimbledon won promotion to the Football League.

Young football journalist competition winner – Phil Leake

And the winner of our young football writer competition is…


15:55 GMT, 18 May 2012

After a long search to find Britain's best young football writer, Sportsmail is delighted to announce the winner.

Congratulations, Phil Leake!

Award: Phil Leake shows off his trophy after winning our competition

Award: Phil Leake shows off his trophy after winning our competition

After teaming up with Barclays, we received hundreds of entries when the competition was launched midway through the season. Entrants aged between 16 and 30 were asked to write a 500-word article on a subject involving the Barclays Premier League.

The quality was extremely high, leaving the judges – including MailOnline sports editor Mike Anstead – with some tough decisions over who should emerge as the winner.

Despite very strong competition, the panel opted for Phil, who penned a piece on the comeback of Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes. You can read the article below.

Phil, 20, wins the opportunity to join a top Football Writers' Association journalist at a top-flight match at champions Manchester City next season. He will also take part in a week's work experience at the MailOnline.

He said: 'I’ve always followed the Barclays Premier League and enjoy writing about football but I never expected to win the competition. I’m so shocked that my article beat all the other entries!

'Working at MailOnline is an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the top football writers in the country and I can’t wait to get started.'

Barclays Aspiring Football Writer

Phil Leake's winning entry (written midway through season!)

What an incredible Barclays Premier League season is unfolding, defined by vibrant, attacking football. Players have had us on the edge of our seats – whether it be the relentless Robin van Persie, the irrepressible Gareth Bale, or the seemingly ageless Ryan Giggs.

However, it is the rejuvenated Paul Scholes who could arguably make the difference in this year’s title race.

When Scholes decided to pull on the red shirt again in early January, he was expected to be a bit-part player, but he has been the cornerstone behind Manchester United’s recent good form.

Having called it a day last summer after collecting his tenth Premier League winners’ medal, Scholes was summoned by Sir Alex Ferguson following an injury crisis which had ravaged the United midfield.

With Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Tom Cleverley all facing lengthy layoffs; as well as the absence of several key defenders forcing Michael Carrick to play in central defence during the home defeat to Blackburn in late December; Ferguson felt the call to Scholes was a necessary one.

At the time, this was seen by many as a desperate measure from United as they fought a losing battle against their ‘noisy neighbours' Manchester City.

However, the little maestro has been a revelation. His performances have been at times exceptional, particularly in the home game with fierce rivals Liverpool where he gave a midfield master class in a match overshadowed by the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra affair.

Moreover, since Scholes’ return, United have negotiated a tricky run of fixtures to remain within two points of leaders City, who are the only side in the top seven that United still have to play.

Yet should we be surprised that Scholes has been so impressive despite six months out of the game He has always said that he is not interested in sitting on the sidelines.

To that end, he has adapted his game immeasurably since he came onto the scene as a fresh faced teenager. His entire career, up until the last five years or so, was defined by his late surging runs into the box and his thunderous long range shots which made him a goal scoring midfielder.

However, age has meant that he has had to alter his approach to the game. He now sits at the base of the United midfield, where he receives the ball and sprays it to all areas of the field.

There are few more beautiful sights in world football than one of Scholes’ low-ranging cross field balls.

Barcelona’s very own pass-master Xavi has described Scholes as a ‘role model’, describing him as ‘a spectacular player who has everything’. In an era when players are prone to moving from club to club in pursuit of personal glory,

Scholes has been a vital cog in the Manchester United machine for almost two decades. It’s hard to believe that he once said that he would be happy to call himself ‘a half-decent player’!

David Haye v Dereck Chisora fight shows how shameful boxing has become: Patrick Collins

Finally, boxing shows how shameful it has become


00:06 GMT, 13 May 2012

Patrick Collins


00:08 GMT, 13 May 2012

Once upon a time, a sports writer interrupted the American boxing promoter Bob Arum when he was in full flow. ‘That’s what you’re telling us now, Bob’, he said. ‘But yesterday you said something quite different.’ Arum smiled, indulgently. ‘Yesterday, I was lying,’ he explained. They say that Arum himself now tells that tale with a theatrical chuckle, as if it were evidence of his lively sense of self-awareness.

Boxing has always been like that. People don’t really lie, they just do what they need to do to get through the day. Tomorrow, those needs may be different, so their story changes. Everybody understands, it’s the way their world works. Take, for instance, Frank Warren’s initial reaction to the squalid brawl in Munich involving Dereck Chisora and David Haye. He was asked if he would promote any potential bout between the two men. ‘I don’t feel I could do that,’ he said. ‘What happened … was barbaric and shouldn’t be allowed to happen.’

Three months later, and the promoter in all but name, he was trumpeting the prospect of a marginally more legitimate collision between the two barbarians: ‘I believe it will be a sell-out, a huge event,’ he said. ‘It is the biggest fight of the year.’

Preposterous spectacle: David Haye and Dereck Chisora announce their dust up at Upton Park

Preposterous spectacle: David Haye and Dereck Chisora announce their dust up at Upton Park

Warren’s own ‘official’ website makes a stirring case: ‘Clearly there is no love lost between the principals after “The Hayemaker” clubbed “Del Boy” with his bare fists at their infamous press conference dust-up … They are now accorded an opportunity to settle their score and, hopefully, showcase all that is great and noble about our sport, in an old fashioned dust-up with the mitts on.’

Risible claptrap, you may think. Tawdry opportunism cloaked in saccharine cliche. A couple of undisciplined thugs are not really profiting from their notoriety. No, they are being given their chance of redemption through ‘an old-fashioned dust-up’. It’s essentially an exercise in altruism.

Of course, we know it’s no such thing. For the old ways are dead. Over the past 20 years or so, boxing has become aware that it has no future as a serious sport. With one or two exceptions — a Mayweather here, a Pacquiao there — the well has run dry. And so, in the absence of genuine talent, it opts for a freak show. There are people out there — gormless, gullible and vaguely sadistic — who would pay good money to watch a witch burn or a bear baited. Why not treat them to a Saturday night score-settling scuffle between a couple of cobblestone brawlers The Sun can sponsor it and, if they’re asked nicely, then the porn barons who own West Ham will let it go on at Upton Park. Everybody earns.

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True, there are a few carping critics who
find the prospect grotesque and indefensible; lacking the subtlety of
pantomime or the sophistication of mud-wrestling. But their objections
go unheeded, as Haye promises to inflict a ‘slow, concussive beating’
upon the man who once promised variously to ‘shoot’ and ‘physically
burn’ him.

the exercise has acquired curious overtones of high camp. The press
conference gave us a seven-foot fence to keep the monsters apart and a
brooding chorus line of dark-clad bouncers, hired to ooze muscle and
menace. But the real naffness will be reserved for the big night when
the beautiful people will come out to preen. I’m imagining a ringside
adorned with thespians from The Only Way Is Essex,
a perma-tanned posse of football agents, a pulchritude of Page Three
stunners, and does anyone know what Jim Davidson’s up to these days
All, we may be sure, in the best possible taste.

poor old British Boxing Board of Control have, quite properly,
threatened to ban any of their licence-holders involved in the
proceedings. This may make it difficult to find a referee. I understand
that Jeremy Kyle has made himself available. Yet, as things stand, it
goes ahead. History is hilariously rewritten. Why, Haye’s manager Adam
Booth, a man of unbounded comic potential, has been criticising coverage
of the Munich fracas: ‘The way it was handled by the press was quite

Comical: Frank Warren (left) and Adam Booth share a moment at the Boleyn Ground

Comical: Frank Warren (left) and Adam Booth share a moment at the Boleyn Ground

No official
objections have been made on grounds of possible breaches of public
order. Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport, was apparently quite
shocked by the initial brawl. He described it as ‘a disgrace …
completely unacceptable,’ and added: ‘If there is any suggestion that
this is a commercial ploy to push up ratings and interest in a
subsequent fight, it only strengthens the argument for the BBBC to take
robust action’. Last week, Robertson was silent.

so, as the world arrives in London to celebrate the Olympic summer, it
will find David Haye and Dereck Chisora ‘showcasing all that is great
and noble about our sport’. Revulsion seems the only appropriate

Fergie still game for the fight

The old champion is trapped on the ropes, soaking up the punishment and fearing the final bell. His cause may be hopeless but still he finds the nerve to fling desperate blows. And so, on the eve of the final game of a frustrating season, Sir Alex Ferguson seeks to sow a few doubts.

‘City have got to win [at home to QPR] but it’s an enormous challenge for them because the disappointment of losing the game would be unbelievable. It’s untold at this moment in time what effect it could have on them,’ he says. Then, aware he could do better than that, he adds: ‘A nervous situation could arise if, with 10 or 15 minutes to go, City aren’t winning. The crowd could get a bit uneasy.’

A fight to the death: Sir Alex Ferguson will ensure City are not handed the title

A fight to the death: Sir Alex Ferguson will ensure City are not handed the title

Whatever your views about Ferguson, and he is not a man who attracts unconditional affection, you could never doubt his appetite for the battle. It is that implacable spirit which has sustained him through his turbulent career.

Manchester United may well lose their title today. But be sure that the old champ will go down fighting.

No prizes for guessing the real Premier winners
Heady mix: Richard Scudamore

Heady mix: Richard Scudamore

English football was invented in 1992. There were a few matches before then but they were monochrome affairs contested by paupers on muddy pitches. Then along came the Premier League and out came the sun.

It is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a series of awards. By the happiest coincidence, 2011-12 has been voted the best season ever. Why, the chief executive Richard Scudamore described it as ‘a wonderful cocktail’.

Most awards were conventional but the one which caught the eye is that for Best Goal Celebration.

This is the process by which professional footballers spend hours on the training field practising routines which would look gauche at a primary school disco. Nothing could be more Premier League. Yet surely there are alternatives Why not some recognition for the Richest Agent or the Dodgiest Transfer Deal (perhaps a joint award) Or the Owner with the Worst Human Rights Record (casting vote to Amnesty International) Or even the Owner with the Most Mysterious Fortune (former Portsmouth officials need not apply)

These prizes would reflect the complex nature of a beloved institution.

I must suggest them to Scudamore next time we meet for cocktails.


While Kenny Dalglish concludes a series of graceless press conferences with an insipid defence of his season’s stewardship, Liverpool part company with Ian Cotton, their head of communications.

I am reminded of an old BBC axiom: ‘This is a crisis! Deputy heads must roll!’

Young football journalist competition – shortlist unveiled

Our search for the next big football writer hots up as shortlist of contenders is unveiled


14:16 GMT, 13 April 2012


Greg Sykes (aged 29)
Archie Rhind-Tutt (19)
John Kallend (20)
Imran Marashli (16)
Casey O'Brien (20)
Chris Smith (24)
Ellie Swinton (22)
Will van de Wiel (30)
Louis Bollard (19)
Phillip Leake (20)

Click HERE to read the articles from each entrant

Earlier this season, Sportsmail started the search to find Britain's next big football writer.

We offered one lucky winner the chance to showcase their talents to the world with our brilliant competition.

In conjunction with Barclays and the Football Writers' Association, Sportsmail started the mission to discover the next star of the written word.

Inviting entrants aged between 16 and 30, we offered a superb chance to break into the world of sports journalism.

asked entrants you to write a feature or match report on the Barclays
Premier League that will now be judged by a panel of experts.

After receiving hundreds of entries, the extremely impressive range of candidates has been whittled down to a shortlist of 10, which can now be viewed on the official Barclays football writer blog

The panel – including MailOnline sports editor Mike Anstead – will judge the contenders before selecting on a winner to be announced later this month.

They will be given the chance to join a top FWA journalist at a
top-flight match at title-chasing Manchester City later this season.

And they will also be handed a week's work experience at the MailOnline for the chance to showcase their talent.

Three runners-up will win the chance to have a meeting with a leading FWA journalist.

Barclays Aspiring Football Writer