O90 – Dele Alli shines for England, as West Ham await.

Wayne Rooney led out, as captain, the youngest England team since 1959 to face a France side wracked with an acute sense of sorrow. The attacks in Paris had, so we thought, meant the end for this friendly match, but a decision to stage the tie was made amid the mourning, as a showing of […]

Arsenal 4 – 0 Aston Villa – FA Cup Final Player Ratings

Well, that was very un-Arsenal. Even last season, when Arsene Wenger’s band of merry tip-toers won the FA Cup, they did so after going 2-0 down after 20 minutes. And this year’s… a 4-0 victory? Yes, very unlike them indeed. Satisfyingly so, for all those involved wearing red and white. So, who were the star […]

Mark for England: Arguing for a Noble cause

When Adam Lallana had to withdraw from England duty, a handful of players who had been initially overlooked were suddenly given a burst of hope. Maybe they would be the lucky one to replace the injured Liverpool midfielder. Maybe, just maybe, they would be the man chosen to slide into this newly minted, perfectly notched […]

The Secret Philosophy of Michael Owen

Michael Owen. One of the most naturally gifted goal scorers English football has produced in the last 20 years. Also one of the most looked-to examples of what can happen when a young footballer, soft, malleable and, by-and-large, dim, is thrust into the searing limelight at the tail-end of his adolescence. The breathless, flushed beginnings […]

Heard it through the great Vine!

Indeed, with the numbing, gnawing, endless ennui of the international break still plaguing our footballing lives, the only thing we can really do to relieve ourselves is watch an equally endless amount of 7 second football Vines. Today’s highlights include: Wayne Rooney’s winner, Diego Costa’s maiden goal (and inexplicable miss) for Spain, and Toni Duggan’s […]

Burley’s argument against Euro expansion is a nonsense

Standing as we are in the middle of the desperate doldrums of the international break, in a bid to fight the stifling ennui, the talking heads of the football media have begun to shoutily express their disdain for the expanded Euro 2016 competition. Europe’s premier international tournament is set to grow from 16 to 24 […]

Wayne Rooney: Oh captain, our captain?

Already, just a few weeks after Wayne Rooney was made captain of his club and country, the dissenting rumblings are growing louder. After an anaemic, sluggish performance against Norway, England’s new order, with the captain Rooney, ironically, the only remaining member of the old order, has started with a sigh. Even more troubling than Roy […]

Jose’s Tidy Business

Luke Shaw’s wages would have “killed Chelsea” exclaims Jose Mourinho. That’s right, the manager of the club that are still paying ex-striker Fernando Torres’s wages, that signed ageing mercenary Samuel Eto’o for a season-long sojourn, that just got a king’s ransom for professional silly-man David Luiz, is saying that Roman Abramovich’s personal money-shredder would have […]

Like Looking into a Crystal Football

More than a few eyebrows rose when news came through that Roy Hodgson was starting Raheem Sterling at the Number 10 spot against Italy. Not because people doubted that the young Liverpool forward would excel there, which he subsequently did, more because that would mean that Wayne Rooney, the man actually wearing the number 10 […]

The Great Leap Backward

A few months ago I wrote an article that looked at Liverpool’s remarkable improvement this season, which I paralleled with Southampton’s progress this term that, though less dramatic, was nonetheless impressive. It was titled “The Great Leap Forward”. In it, I also postulated whether Southampton, building on the solid, mid-table foundation they established this season, […]