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      26.06.2010 11:01
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      0-0 bore

      England V Germany at football is like England Australia in cricket. And it nearly was, if Australia could have got a third goal against Serbia and England one more against Slovenia. But it's the old enemy again, England's dithering in an easy group meaning qualification in second place and so we now have to beat Germany, Argentina, Spain and Brazil to be world champions. This Mexico 86 all over again. The fact we scored just two goals in the group suggest one is the most we can hope for against Germany. If we get one early we will have to go for the second and not sit back and concede like we always have in these big games. If they score early I can't see us getting two to win it. It looks like a nil - nil guys and you know what that means! I can't recall the Germans losing on penalties to anyone of late. They love em!

      0-0 is 6/1 (in 90 minutes) at Ladbrokes...
      1-1 is 5/1

      Germany knows how to prepare for a World Cup. A poor German team will make the Q/Fs, as they have for ten of the last eleven World Cups. A typical example is the saga of the now infamous 'Jubulani' ball. Made and sponsored by Adidas, the huge German sports wear company; the German FA thought it would be a good idea to use it in the 2009-10 Bundesliga, their domestic championship. After Germany demolished Australia 4-0 with some really good football in the opening game, there you can see that preparation in action. It is also interesting to note that more than half their team are from foreign parentage, Turks, Poles, a Brazilian and a Moroccan making up the heart of their team.

      I like the way the Germans play. England's back four seemed nervous under Capello in the first two games, looking to offload the ball the moment any of the opposition approach them, aimlessly launching it up to Heskey and Crouch. The German defenders pass the ball confidently across the line until they can move the ball into the midfield to set up an attack. They are patient too, waiting to hit the wings or through the middle, all the time drawing out the enemy. Like with Tim Henman losing his serve because its not quite big enough, so never winning a 'Slam' because he was always warn out chasing returns, England are always trying to win the ball back from aimless waste and possession. The Germans, like Mr Becker, have a big serve and win in straight sets against weaker opposition, their perfunctory dismissal of the Soccerroos an example.

      Serbia were next up to see how good this German side is, a win sure to put them into the next round, that clash with England beckoning even then. It was noticeable the vuvuzela was somewhat quieter for Germanys first games, the tattooed Germans fans less than sympathetic with the constant horns, one or two South Africans now trying to play them out of their ass!

      The Germans smashed 30 goals and went unbeaten in their easy 10 game qualifying group and look ready to win in South Africa. But Serbia proved to be a challenge, winning 1-0 from a first-half goal from Jancovic, Germany unhinged when Klose was sent off for his second yellow card on 32 minutes, dreadful refereeing and a missed penalty handing Serbia the game. With all four teams on three points in the group the deciding games were fascinating though.

      Match three was scintillating, the Gazelles of Ghana the challenge. A draw would see the athletic and pacey West Africans through, Serbia joining them if they beat Australia. But Ghana, their motto: "we know what we don't know", were here to play and represent Africa in the last 16 with exciting but often naïve football that their motto summed up. The Germans set out as per usual, fast tempo and lots of passing, the win the only thing that mattered to the Fatherland. So the Ghanaian's decided to do the same, playing with that lovely freedom on the tip of their toes, the ball racing from one end to the other, matching the gusto of the Germans, blow for blow. It was fabulous stuff and even though it lacked goals until Oezil smacked one in from twenty years on the hour you couldn't take your eyes of it. Ghana were not out though after that goal but if German doubled their lead or Serbia scored against Australia they would be. They had to keep attacking.

      On 67 minutes Tim Cahill really did Ghana a favour with one of his trademark headers against Serbia. Australia's second goal through Holman meant the end for Serbia. But if Aussie scored again Ghana were gone, the Socceroos heading for Soccer City. But Serbia scored late through Pantovich and ended the Aussies dream, double bad news for Australia on the night as they had just voted in a female Prime Minister and a confirmed feminist. It just can't get worse than that. Ghana went through and Germany won the group. It was England V Germany on Sunday.

      Honours wise through international football history they are the Northern Hemispheres only real success. Latin Teams have won the World Cup 80% of the time and only the Germans are able to stop that. In 1950 three German teams entered World Cup qualifying, that of the West, East and Saarland, a French annexe of the Motherland. England beat West Germany in 1966, of course, but little since, the memorable 1990 semi-final our last big chance.
      They have won the World Cup 3 times and made the final four times, appearing in seven straight Q/Fs since 1978 and featuring in four out of five finals between 1974 and 1990. They were third and second in the last two tournaments. They are very dangerous and my odds of 16/1 each way are looking good. In the European Championships it's the same deal, 6 finals in the last ten, and 3 wins.

      -Group D-

      Germany 6pts
      Ghana 4pts (L)
      Australia 4pts -3
      Serbia 3pts

      My last 16 predictions.
      Ghana 2 USA 2
      Uruguay 2 South Korea 0
      Argentina 2 Mexico 0
      Germany 0 England 0
      Holland 3 Slovakia 0
      Brazil 2 Chile 1
      Paraguay 1 Japan 1 ( Japn win pens)
      Spain 1 Portugal 1 (Port on pens)

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        31.03.2010 18:19
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        Will likely be one of the bigger stars in world football soon.

        When Slovakia begin their World Cup campaign in Rustenburg on the 15th of June against New Zealand, the Slovaks will be looking to Marek Hamsík to be the driving force of the team. Hamsík has been one of the more promising prospects in world football for a few years now - however he still remains a relatively unknown quantity outside of Italy and his native country.

        It is Italy where most of his footballing development has taken place. Save a solitary appearance (and a solitary goal) for Slovan Bratislava, it is Serie A that has been home to some breathtaking performances from the 22-year old. Hamsík considers Czech and Serie A legend Pavel Nedved his footballing icon, and while there are some similarities in their technical prowess. Nedved was a player who often cut inside from the wings, whereas Hamsík mainly deploys as an old fashioned box to box midfielder.

        Important goals also seem to be an important knack that Hamsík is getting to grips with both for club and country. Ironically one of the more noteworthy goals for his club SSC Napoli came against Juventus - Nedvěd's home when he was named Ballon d'OR winner in 2003 . Hamsík's most important goal for Slovakia came during their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign with a crucial game against Czech Republic - who else? This goal was decisive in helping Slovakia secure top spot in Group 3 ahead of Slovenia and Czech Republic.

        Chelsea, Inter Milan and Manchester United are all known admirers of the Slovakian, and there is a likely chance a pricey bidding war could take place this summer. Jose Mourinho went on record upon taking the Inter job in 2008 that Hamsík' should be one of his first signings. Obviously this wasn't to be, although 'The Special One' interest remains strong - if he is to remain as Inter's head coach at the conclusion of the season is another matter all together. It's clear that all three interested parties could do with a little more dynamism is the centre of midfield. United clearly need something new in the middle of the park. While Darren Fletcher has had an excellent season - doubts linger over Owen Hargreaves long term fitness. Anderson has failed to settle after so much early promise and Michael Carrick still fails to take a stranglehold of games on a consistent basis.

        Chelsea's ageing midfield is also in desperate need of some fresh blood. Deco, Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard are all the wrong side of thirty, and the likelyhood is one of Ballack or Deco will be let go at the end of the season. So where will Hamsík' end up? There is still a good chance that Napoli will try and hold on to Hamsík' for one more year. They desperately want to keep hold of their main assets such as Lavezzi, Santacroce and Quagliarella and mount a strong push for Champions League qualification next season if they fail to take fourth spot this season.

        Currently in fifth spot - Napoli are battling with Juventus, Palermo and Sampdoria for what is effectively the only Champions's League spot available with Inter, AS Roma and Milan all nine points or more ahead of the chasing pack. Walter Mazzarri's men have performed beyond all expectations this year, and the team's potential is there for all to see. Many of Napoli's players have a bright future ahead of them but it is the 2007-08 Serie A young player of the year - Hamsík who's star burns brightest. There is a fear in Naples that if Hamsík were to leave in the near future, all the progress Napoli have made in the last few years would be undone. Without their talisman, players like the Argentinian striker Ezequiel Lavezzi would suffer greatly and it is in fact Hamsík who provides the spark going forward.

        A good showing at this summer's World Cup by Marek Hamsík would likely allow Napoli to command an astronomical fee for the midfielder if they decided they wanted to cash in. It's possible that Slovakia could very well reach the second round with the Italians, New Zealand and Paraguay in their group. It will be the game against Paraguay that will likely decide who enters the last 16. With experienced journeymen Róbert Vittek and Miroslav Karhan in the team, as well as promising youngsters such as Man City's Vladimir Weiss and Chelsea's Miroslav Stoch and of course Liverpool's established centre-half Martin Skrtel at the heart of defence. The Slovakians will certainly not be pushovers, but it will be down to Hamsík to be the player providing the only real genuine quality they have in the squad. The next five months of Marek Hamsík career is going to very interesting to follow indeed.

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        09.06.2009 15:43
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        great player!

        Michael Essien was born on December 3rd 1982 in Accra,Ghana. He currently plays for Chelsea and the Ghana national football team. He is primarily a box to box midfielder who has great defensive qualities such as tackling and breaking up opposition atacks as well as being able to lend his hand in the attacking side of play. He also has a great energy level and great strength and power which has earned him the nickname of 'bison'. Jose Mourinho used the word 'multifunctional' due to his versatility and ability to play in a number of positions .The reported £24.4 million price tag which Chelsea paid Lyon for his services reflected this versatility. He is currently the most expensive African footballer in the world.

        Michael grew up Accra, capital of his homeland Ghana, and the city that also gave the world Marcel Desailly. Unlike the former Chelsea captain, Michael remained in Africa into adulthood, playing for his country at junior levels and beginning his club football at Liberty Professionals.

        His profile was raised by a third-place finish for Ghana in the Under 17s World Cup which led to a trial at Man United but he signed to play in the French league with Bastia.

        At first he was used to fill a variety of positions across the defence but could not hold down a regular place. Then injury left a vacancy in midfield and Michael cemented his place there. Bastia reached the French Cup Final in 2002 and the following summer he made the move to league champions Lyon for 7.8 million euros.

        He was voted Player of the Year in France while at the club and shone as Lyon became one the Champions League's most feared teams, but he made no secret of his desire to move to the Premier League. After his big money move, Michael's Chelsea debut came as a sub against Arsenal in August 2005, the start of an understated first season in London. In his first season Chelsea won the premier league giving them back to back league titles.

        An impressive World Cup in Germany followed, where he was Ghana's best player and unfortunate to be suspended for the defeat by Brazil. He won the FA Cup and Carling Cup with Chelsea in the 2006-07 season and was voted Chelsea fans player of the year (the first African to achieve this award at the club). He also received Chelsea's goal of the season award for his fabulous strike against Arsenal in the Premier League.

        He was nominated for the prestigious 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Award for the third consecutive year and was also nominated for the 2007 Ballon d'Or Award for the third consecutive year as well. He was voted 15th Best Player in the World at the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Awards. Essien was also nominated for the 2007 African Footballer of the Year a third consecutive time he had been nominated. He was Runner-up to that year's winner Frédéric Kanouté.

        Essien signed a new five-year deal with Chelsea in the summer of 2008, keeping him at the club until 2013. He suffered an Anterior cruciate ligament injury whilst on International duty with Ghana in September 2008 and it was feared he would miss the rest of the season. He did come back though in a game against Coventry City in the Fa Cup on March 7 2008. He returned in blistering form and scored some crucial goals helping Chelsea to the Champions league semi final. In the second leg tie against Barcelona he scored a stunning left foot volley which was later voted Chelsea's goal of the season despite Chelsea losing the tie in the end. He was part of the team that won the Fa Cup beating Everton in the final.

        Essien is a fantastic player. He is one of the most valuable players at Chelsea currently. It is no coincidence that Chelsea's form improved once he came back to the team after injury. He has great energy levels and helps to drive the team forward. John Terry and Frank Lampard are probably the most important players to Chelsea but this guy runs them close. He is probably one of the players that most teams would love to have in their team. He also has a tendency to score some cracking goals. He is currently in his prime at the age of 27 so should have some great years to come ahead of him.

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          13.12.2008 14:57
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          Introduction

          hi and welcome to my review about Brazil and ac Milan star kaka. he is the currant fifa world player of the year and vice captain of the Brazilian national team . in this review you will be told about lots of things including, how he was brought up, who he supported as a youngster, how he won the fifa world player of the year award ,his earlier career ,his professional career, some personal stats about him and a tragic accident since the he thanked god and much much more.
          Some personal facts about kaka

          Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (lets just say kaka since it is easier on the tongue)was born on the 22 April ,1982 (26 years of age)in the capital city of brazil ,Brasília .He towers at a staggering height of 1.86 m with is equivalent to 6 foot 1 inch. He plays as a second striker or an attacking midfielder and in my opinion one of the best midfielders in the world.
          Why is he called kaka?
          Well, His nickname Kaká came from his native Portuguese language. His name is pronounced as it's spelt, with everyone emphasising on the second syllable as the accent signifies. in brazil it is common that if a boy is called Ricardo then you can have a nickname like kaka .Kaká was given his nickname by his young brother, Rodrigo, because he couldn't pronounce Ricardo. When they were young, playing football in the streets or wherever they were, Rodrigo called his older brother Caca which was later changed to Kaká.

          the story of Ricardo kaka
          Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (kaka) was brought up by his mother and father called Simone Cristina dos Santos Leite and Bosco Izecson Pereira Leite in Sao Paulo. He has a young brother, Rodrigo Ifrano dos Santos Leite, known as Digão, who has followed Kaká's footsteps by playing football in Italy. He and his family moved to Sao Paulo at a tender age of 7 years.
          kaka's youth clubs

          Kaka started playing for the school team and totally outshone his friends. His efforts were soon rewarded because the school had arranged him in a local youth club called "Alphaville," surprisingly they went all the way to the final in the local tournament. Scouts from around Brazil were watching the final and Sao Paulo snapped him up and offered him an assignment. This is where kaka's career was underway.
          kaka's professional club career

          Kaka's professional career started at Sao Paulo fc at a very young age of eight. Kaka climbed through the youth ranks in Sao Paulo and was rewarded with a contract at the age of fifteen. he inspired his side to Copa de Juvenil glory with amazing skill, outstanding shooting and neat passing. His dazzling form and skill and strength was rewarded with his first team debut in 2001 .he proved to be the starlet of the squad scoring twelve goals in 27 appearances, in addition he lead São Paulo to its first and only Torneio rio- Sao Paulo championship .some clubs in Europe started keeping close tabs on kaka . The following season was followed up with even more amazing kaka skills and shots scoring ten in 22 matches. This time there was no denying that the big clubs like Manchester united, Barcelona, ac Milan, Inter Milan and arsenal were sniffing around looking for startling young Brazilian talent. After winning the first ever all-Italian champions league final ac Milan made a bid of around $8.5 million. Sao Paulo accepted that bid and was described as peanuts money by the president silvio Berlusconi. Kaka left on a high note from Sao Paulo making a total of 146 appearances for São Paulo, scoring 58 times.

          It didn't take kaka long to become a major hit Within a month, he cracked the starting lineup, and his serie A debut was in a 2-0 win over A.C Ancona . he soon dazzled the Milanese and Italian faithful by scoring ten goals in thirty appearances that season, as Milan won the sudducto and the European super cup rounding up a superb first season(03/04 season) as an ac Milan player.


          In his second season (04-05 season) Kaká was a part of the instrumental five-man midfield in the 2004-2005 season, usually playing in a deep role behind star striker Andriy Shevchenko. All over In that season he scored seven goals in 36 Italian league appearances as A.C Milan finished second in the Scudetto race. in spite of Milan losing the 2004-05 Champions League final(in Istanbul turkey)to Liverpool F.C (the worst club in the big 4 and possibly the top 6) on penalties after they were beaten by a miraculous comeback by Liverpool 3-0 down at half-time to 3-3 .Goals from Vladimir Smicer Steven gerrard , and a xabi Alonso rebound from his saved penalty ensured a penalty shoot out was on the cards for the second time in champions league history .in spite of this, he was voted the best midfielder of the tournament.

          In his 3rdseason, the 05-06 season, he scored his first ever hat tricks in Milan colours both in the champions league and in the serie a. On April 9, 2006, he scored his first Milanese hat trick against Chievo Verona (who I think are one of the worst teams in Italy). All three goals that were shipped in by kaka were scored in the second half past the helpless goalie. Seven months later, Ricardo kaka scored his first ever Champions League hat trick in a 4-1 group stage win over RSC Anderlecht. Kaka finished that season on a high as he was voted the clubs player of the year. Suddenly the world was woken up by the fact that kaka was starting to play like a superstar and many tipped him for the FIFA world player of the year and the ballon d'or awards for 05-06(he won the award the year later)


          In his 4th season, the 06-07 season he was A.C Milan's focal point in attack as he played the role of playmaker ,running back to midfield and attacking with the Rossoneri as Andriy Shevchenko's swapped the red and black stripes of Milan to the dark blue of Chelsea fc . as a result he finished as the top scorer for A.C Milan and for the whole 2006-07 Champions League campaign with ten cracking goals. One of them helped the Rossoneri eliminate Scottish champions Celtic FC in the quarterfinals on a 1-0 aggregate win and three other cracking goals (even though I am a Manchester united fan myself I have to admit A.C Milan outplayed us in the second leg) proved fatal for my favourite team Manchester United in the semi-finals they were 3-2 behind after Rooney secured the points for Manchester as they lost 5-3 on aggregate and despite Milan losing the first leg. Following the credible 3-0 second-leg defeat at the San Siro on May 2 that knocked out the English champions, and in my opinion the best club in the world, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson acknowledged that Kaká was one of the two best players in the world, alongside his accusation Cristiano Ronaldo. Kaká also won the Champions League title for A.C Milan (another trophy for kaka and it was the first time he won it) when A.C Milan defeated Liverpool fc(well done A.C Milan!) as a revenge after that phenomenal victory in Istanbul On May 23, 2007 in the champions, league final in Athens, Greece. Despite the fact that he didn't score, he won a free kick that led to the first of Filippo Inzaghi's two goals, and abounding the assist for the second. For his outstanding play throughout the competition, he was voted first of the Vodafone Fans' Player of the Season list which consisted of players like Rooney ronaldo and messi and in a poll of over 100,000 UEFA.com visitors; he was voted the player of the tournament. On August 30 2007, Kaká was named by UEFA as both the best forward of the 2006-07 Champions league season and in addition was named as the Club Footballer of the Year.

          In his 5th season, the 07-08 season, He played his 200th career match for A.C Milan in an unsatisfactory 1-1 home draw with Catania on September 30 but kaka continued to shine and terrorise the Catania defence in that match with exquisite skills, pin point passing and thunderbolt shots. On the 5th October 2007, he was presented the FIFPro World Player of the Year 2006-07 ahead of the likes of cristiano ronaldo and Lionel messi. On December 2nd, 2007, Kaká became the eighth ever A.C Milan player to win the prestigious French magazine award the Ballon D'or amazingly he finished with a staggering 444 votes, long way in front of second place Cristiano Ronaldo. He signed a contract extension all the way to 2013 with A.C Milan on 29th February 2008.


          So far in his 6th ,season the 08-09 season, he has scored 5 goals,1 against Catania with a bullet of a header ,a goal from the penalty spot against Chievo Verona although it was a controversial one, another penalty goal against Siena, one against atalanta with a side footed effort after Borriello assisted him and a stunner against Lazio.
          kaka's international career
          Kaká made his debut for Brazil in January 2002 against Bolivia. He was called up after some overwhelming playing for Sao Paulo. He had played dexterously in that match. As a result, He was called up 2002 FIFA World Cup- Brazilian winning squad, but he merely played, he was only fielded for 25 minutes by Scolari. The 25 minutes were played in the first round match against Caribbean side Costa Rica. At some stage within the final against Germany, Brazil Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was on the brink of sending Kaká on as a substitute, but he, under no circumstances, played the game, as the referee did not become aware of him waving on the sidelines to come on the pitch.


          In 2003, Kaká was named the captain for the Brazilian national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, where Brazil finished second as he scored three goals. Brazil
          able to reach the final but could not win it. Kaká scored his second best lot of

          He finished in joint tenth place in the selection for the 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year award, and in 2005 he finished two spots higher. On June 29th, 2005, he scored in a 4-1 annihilation of Argentina in the 2005 confederations cup final.


          Kaká became an international star and also started in his first 2006 FIFA World Cup finals in Germany, scoring his first and only goal in the world cup in a comprehensive 1-0 victory over Croatia in Brazil's opening match. He was powerless to keep up his star status or help Brazil for the remainder of the tournament, as Brazil was eliminated by France in the quarterfinals.

          On 3rd September, in a match against Argentina ,he received the ball off a deflection from an Argentinean corner kick and started sprinting going past 5 players (I think) taking the ball down three quarters of the field and rounded off his own work by scoring.


          On 12th May 2007, subsequent to an exhausting schedule in Serie A and Champions League with A.C Milan in addition to playing for the national team, Kaká withdrew from the 2007 Copa América Brazilian squad. But unfortunately for him he missed out on the silverware as Brazil won the Copa América .He received a massive reception when he returned to the Brazilian line-up to play 70 minutes of Brazil's 1-1 friendly draw with England on 1st June even some English fans were cheering but I think those are Brazilian fans in disguise.
          The next time he appeared in the yellow of Brazil he only played 30 minutes in a goalless draw with Turkey on 5th June. He has since then played in Brazil's qualifying campaign but the team has been playing really bad so far.
          Kaka's career threatening accident
          At a tender age of eighteen, Kaká suffered a career-threatening and possibly paralysis-inducing spinal fracture all because of a swimming pool accident (this means we could have never seen kaka in action after the age of eighteen, but astonishingly he made a full recovery. He dedicates his recovery to God and has since then he went to his local church

          My opinion
          You may agree or disagree but I think kaka is AMAZING. Say what you like but he has got amazing skill, his pace is like lightning, his shots are like rockets and he has got pin point passes .he has only three disadvantages
          1. He plays with A.C Milan .if he played with a bigger club like inter Milan, Chelsea, Manchester united, real Madrid or Barcelona he might have become an even better star than he is.

          2.he dives sometimes, big time players like him usually dive like cristiano ronaldo,torres and totti
          3.He is too injury prone, if he stays uninjured until the end of the season it would be a miracle. if he is not injured he could become better than messi and ronaldo.

          Conclusion
          I would rate kaka 8.5 out of 10 his only down fall is that he is too injury prone. You may agree or disagree but I think that we are going to see more of kaka as he is nearing his prime.
          Thanks for reading my review........and merry Christmas
          Also posted on Dooyoo under babesmagnet
          Babesmagnet.............december.......... 2008

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            07.06.2006 15:22
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            Will he play? Won't he play? Are we fed up of hearing about it yet?

            Weirdly, Dooyoo’s “sports personalities” section doesn’t seem to have a category for the boy Rooney (maybe because he doesn’t have a discernible personality?), so I’ve had to slot my insights on the subject into the “Other” section. Apologies if there is in fact a category and I have in my infinite stupidity managed to overlook it. (There was a temptation to use the “Shrek” category, but fortunately I managed to resist.)

            So, as a nation (apparently) awaits the result of the boy wonder’s scan, the question remains: How much do England need Rooney? Judging by the media reaction, you may well think the England football team consists of only one player. (Those who can remember as far back as four years ago may recall the exact same hoo-hah over David Beckham’s foot – fans being urged to focus their “healing energies” on the injured metatarsal, and all that cobblers - and much good that did.)

            I should point out at this juncture that, with mixed Scottish and English loyalties (yes, World Cups are a difficult time for me), I’m not a fanatical England supporter, although I shall certainly be following their fortunes with interest and would like to see them do well. The trouble is, much as one hopes to see the team do well, it’s hard to summon up much enthusiasm for the (mainly) arrogant, overpaid idiots who comprise it. Rooney is undoubtedly a phenomenally talented player, but question marks remain over his "fiery" temperament. Who could forget the occasion when, upset at being substituted in an England match following his persistent fouling, Rooney threw to the ground the black armband worn as a mark of respect following the death of Emlyn Hughes, and stormed off the pitch? The excuse that he’s “just a young lad” can’t stand up for ever – he’s 20 years old now (19 then) and if he’s old enough to play for his country, he’s old enough to behave with a bit more self-control than that.

            (Incidentally, though, you have to laugh at Alex Ferguson’s reaction to the whole black-armband carry-on. “What 19-year-old has maturity? What were you like at 19, what was I like? Jesus Christ, I was trying to start a workers' revolution in Glasgow. My mother thought I was a communist. She was down on her knees praying every night. Then I got the ultimate threat - my granny spoke to me. She said, “Mammy thinks you're a bloody communist.”)

            Admittedly that was a while ago and many people perceive Rooney to have calmed down since then. There have been criticisms, though, that the bad example set by him and other players (swearing at referees, etc) is detrimental to young people and contributes to the erosion of general standards of discipline. I do have some sympathy with this view as, like it or not, footballers are role models to many and their behaviour does affect what is seen to be acceptable. (Anyone who has watched primary school football matches will be aware of how children copy what they have seen players doing on TV, not always in positive ways!)

            Whether or not Rooney is given the go-ahead to play in the World Cup, there is a valid question as to whether he actually should do so. Although Beckham did play in 2002, he never really lived up to expectations, and another injury to Rooney sustained during the World Cup if he is not 100% recovered could be potentially career-threatening.

            There’s no doubt that Wayne Rooney is a player who can turn games around and has the potential, if fully fit, to be one of the stars of the tournament. But despite the media idolatry, he is not the only player with the ability to do a job for England. Even the much-maligned Peter Crouch (“he’s big, he’s red, his feet stick out the bed”) has recently demonstrated his goal-scoring (and penalty-missing, and robot-dancing, but the less said about that the better) abilities. Players like Lampard, Gerrard and even Michael Owen if he’s on form can all make a major difference. Maybe even new boy wonder Theo Walcott could spring a surprise, who knows?

            The mass panic over the possible absence of Rooney has been overstated. England still has a better squad than it did four years ago, when Beckham and Owen were unfit and Neville and Gerrard were ruled out with injuries. Rooney is just 20 years old, and there will be other World Cups for him. If there’s any doubt about his fitness to play, it just isn’t worth the risk.

            So will England go “all the way”, in tabloid parlance, with or without Rooney? Personally I doubt it, but you never know…..


            * No offence intended to Liverpudlians.

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              28.11.2004 21:30
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              Nobody has written a review on our dear Gilo yet so I thought I should have a crack. I will try to give an accurate review of his career and his position in the England team. He is slow left-armer by trade, so he's not a pure spin bowler. As he dlivers the ball, he tends to brush the ball just as he releases it.


              Ashley Giles made his debut for England in July 1998. It was the third test against South Africa at Old Trafford, Manchester. He has gone on to represent his country 35 times at home and abroad. He has experienced many triumphs in his time in the team but hasn't himself been largely responsible for the sides recent success, notably victories against the West Indies and Pakistan a few years ago.


              TEST CAREER STATS
              Bowling ------>
              Deliveries: 8170
              Maidens: 295
              Runs Conceeded: 3718
              Wickets: 90
              Average: 41.31
              Strike Rate: 90.78
              Wickets per Match: 2.57
              Runs per Over: 2.73
              Best Figures: 5-67 (v India at Ahmedabed, Dec 2001)
              Best Match Figures: 8-113
              5 Wickets Hauls: 3
              10 Wicket Matches: 0

              Batting ------->
              Matches (Innings): 35 (48)
              Runs: 748
              Average: 17.81
              High Score: 52
              50s: 2
              100s: 0
              Not Outs: 6
              Ducks: 5


              As you can see, his bowling average is very poor for an international bowler. At over 40, his average is worse than most current international spin bowlers. For those who don't know what an average is, it is the amount of runs conceeded by the bowler to take 1 wicket. This is simply not good enough for a first choice spinner at international level. Muttiah Muralitharan, the leading wicketer in cricket, averages in the 20's. To be considered a good player, Giles will have to bring his average down to around the 30 mark.


              Ashley Giles does however fill a gap in the England team. There aren't really any young, or for that matter experienced, spin bowlers in England. The county game is failing to produce any spin bowlers who have the ability to perform at the highest level on the world stage. There are some young spinners, such as Middlebrook at Essex, are good but not quite international class. England have experimented in the past with Robert Croft, but since Ashley Giles has been in the team, no other spinners have been given a chance. Giles will remain in the team for the forseeable future until there is a quality player to take his place.


              Much of Ashley Giles success as a bowler has come in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The wickets in the Asian sub-continent much favour spin bowlers. These countries prouduce the best spinners in the world, Murilitharan and Kumble to name two. The groundsman prepare pitches that offer a lot of turn for spin bowlers. The pitches also tend to break up towards the end of the matches. All three of his 5-wicket hauls have come in these countries, once against each country. The wickets in England don't offer him much help. He has to bowl long spells of 30-40 overs at times without reward. Because he doesn't generate much turn, he has to be very clever and tactically aware. He will try to set batsmen up and then look to strike. He will set them a trap by his organisation of the field and in effect let the batsmen get himself out.


              At an average of around 17, Giles's batting performance hasn't been too bad. He is a respected batsmen and has had a large amount of success with his County Warwickshire. He has helped England out with a few anchor roles in support of higher-order batsmen as the opposition gets into the tail. If he could bump it up to around 23-27 he would be a valuable assest in the batting department. Giles made 50 in consecutive tests in 2003, the only two half centuries of his career.


              If he can massively improve his bowling and nudge up his batting performances, he will be regarded as a key member of the team. I do feel however, if he was going to make an improvement, he would have done so by now. For the time being he does the job, just about. Lets hope some young talent comes throught the county game in the coming years and start challenge for a place in the England side.



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                04.09.2002 04:25
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                Comes the Sunday after the Saturday football programme, and there is the endless analysis of the previous day's events, with the better Sunday papers carrying their deeper analysis and dissection of the meaning behind and implications of the day's events. This particular Sunday, the first day of September 2002, those awesome beasts have only one possible quarry in their minds' eyes-? the latest chapter in the turbulent and increasingly worrying footballing career of Roy Keane, captain and heartbeat of Manchester United and leader in exile of the Republic of Ireland. The Sunday Times was typical in its easily chosen front page headline - KEANE SEES RED, then tartily adding as a sub text 'United's best-selling author sent off'. It wasn't particularly clever, and the report on United's ill tempered battle at Sunderland contained no great insight, but inside they did add the well balanced and sympathetic feature written by David Walsh, which focused on Keane as family and father figure and his relationship with his family. The interview had been in the can for a couple of weeks, originating in the dark days following Manchester United's shock defeat in the first leg of the Champions League qualifying round tie against Zalaegerszeg, but the Irishman's red mist over the weekend had given the most perfect opportunity imaginable for the piece to be aired. For those of you who haven't got a clue what I am talking about, Sunderland's Irish international midfielder Jason McAteer was a member of the World Cup squad which had seen their former captain sent home 'in disgrace' for his shocking clash with manager Mick McCarthy. The affair had caused bad feeling on both sides and Keane has recently expressed his wish that McCarthy should "rot in Hell". The Irish squad who had been left behind had closed ranks against Keane in order to galvanise team spirit and the move had irked Kea
                ne. The build up to the Sunderland-United match was best summed up by the Sunday Times: "The potentially explosive confrontation between Keane and McAteer had been the subject of much pre-match speculation. McAteer was upset by some criticisms in Keane's book and, when asked recently for his appraisal, said: 'I would rather spend the price of the book on buying my three year old son a Bob the Builder tape.'" McAteer, himself a pretty ill disciplined combination of Scouser and Celt, had seen fit to wind up matters further by going in hard on Keane in the opening exchanges and then perform a pretty believable imitation of the United man at a book signing ceremony. But such petty issues should be things which Roy Keane should be able to rise above and ignore. He is the captain of one of the best sides in the country and still one of the best midfielder around. His United compatriot David Beckham had to endure season long barracking in 1998 after his infamous dismissal against Argentina in the World Cup finals and did so with a rare grace which resurrected his place in the eyes of the nation. Keane must have known that he would face such ill intentioned attacks and spite when he agreed to the publication of his autobiography, including the much criticised section on doing Alfie Haaland. Further, United are the most envied of Premiership club, and unscrupulous opponents will be ready to stoop to any means to throw them off their game and unbalance their title challenge. The Irishman has a responsibility to protect his team from such attacks and laugh off their pettiness. But unfortunately Keane has never been one to turn the other cheek and the simmering battle yesterday ended with him receiving the eleventh red card of his career. McAteer, unusually deployed in central midfield after the omission of his colleague Gavin McCann through injury and thus in direct opposition to Keane, had continued his spoiling
                tactics and picked away at the United skipper all afternoon. Both had been spoken to a fter a particularly ugly set to which had ended with David Beckham pulling Keane off McAteer. No bookings followed, but McAteer did get a yellow soon afterwards for a fierce challenge on Ryan Giggs. Keane had obviously had enough by now and with only seconds remaining and the game petering out into a 1-1 draw, he set about a petulant act of vengeance. The ball had long gone but chose to throw out an elbow which caught McAteer on the head. Referee Uriah Rennie had little hesitation in sending Keane from the pitch. Sunderland striker Niall Quinn, who was another Irishman who had earned bitterness from Keane after the antics of the summer, rushed to shake his hand as he left the field in a poorly motivated knife in the back, but was soon deterred by a bitter explosion from United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. Fergie was in characteristically uncompromising and defensive mood after the match: "He's disappointed by McAteer's part in this. He went down like he had been shot in the back of the head. Roy put his hand across the boy's face, but there's nothing in it. I will review it and see whether we should appeal. My gut feeling is that this was a very soft red card. He'll be crucified by the press, we expect that. But the earlier tackle on Roy was a bad one. I've seen it again on television and the referee should have acted then." It was pretty standard, one eyed stuff from Fergie, but he must be realising that Keane is his own worst enemy these days, and the poorly hidden Irish temper could yet be the undoing of United?s season. To the ongoing passion and fire, though, Keane's words, written and spoken, in recent weeks have added a cold and spiteful bitterness which fellow professionals have objected to, and understandably so. The Irish summer left Keane feeling betrayed by some of his more exper
                ienced team mates, and particularly Quinn and Aston Villa's Steve Staunton, and sent obvious warning signals for the season ahead by threatening: "So I will be looking forward to playing Aston Villa next season, and I hope Quinn carries on for another season at Sunderland. Some people are sheep and some are wolves. There are a lot of sheep over there and probably I am a wolf." Keane has already been guilty of resurrecting the violence of his premeditated assault on Haaland a couple of years ago with his autobiography, when things could have been left to lie and already awaits the probable charge of disrepute by the FA. He now faces a ban for his latest offence and is playing under the shadow of the need for a hip operation. This has not been a good season for Roy Keane. His supporters, and the interview with Walsh, laud his searing honesty and openness and deep desire to lay his soul bare and play with his heart on his sleeve, but unchannelled passion and anger can only lead to one end. Ferguson would be well advised to calm his star son down and counsel some caution. Whatever the truth of life behind the dressing room door at Old Trafford, Fergie protests too much the innocence of his charges, and all it does is give rise to the potential of more players seeking to provoke the sort of rage and lack of discipline which the weekend brought us.

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                  23.08.2002 22:21
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                  haha you Evertonians make me laff. Everytime we win something you lot are always moaning about your lack of success (as you should do). And why are you so bitter towards liverpool? I mean ok we are neighbours and we have the local rivalry but surely you guys should be more bothered about hating mid-table teams with whom you have a battle with year in year out. One genuine question though and i am not being insulting or anything, but can someone tell me when the last time you lot won the league because i don't know. Now onto Mr Wayne Rooney (a 16 yr old remember). Right he's just a kid you sad people, don't put him under so much pressure already. You have a very good youngster and no doubt about it he has a very good future, but you expect a 16yr old to solve all your problems. Ok he may be good but no one player alone is that good. Everton are pathetic when it comes to playing football as you can't even defend properly and your passing is route one to big Duncan Ferguson and Kevin Campbell. Yeh yeh we play route one too but at least we get trophies which shows we play that game better than you lot. How on earth can you say that Wayne is going to sort it all out? He's a kid and you lot have him in the first team already. Now this could prove detrimental as it could knock his confidence if he goes on a dip of form. And besides it's just a matter of time before we buy him off you as he is the only decent player you have! So Wayne will be a very good hit for you lot, just don't over play him as we all know what happens to young strikers who have been over played (eg Owen's hamstrings).

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                    08.08.2002 08:39
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                    Summer 2001, and Manchester United cough up £28.1 million for one of the most talented footballers in the world. He was the complete midfielder; he could pass the ball around with precision, make challenges and shoot from distances, which were surreal. What more did fergie want, for 28m bucks this man cannot possibly let you down, or could he? Veron is undoubtedly very talented, starting off at Boca Juniors, his reputation rapidly grew and Sven, who was then the manager of Sampdoria, spotted him. He immediately took him aboard. Plying well there he impressed bigger clubs, and as Sven moved to Lazio, Veron went to Parma for quite a large fee. There he was formidable and was then called to the Argentina squad, where he again played well and his reputation boomed. Sven liked what he saw and snapped him up for a second time, for Lazio. By then Veron was one of the best midfield players in the world, his performances were of the highest standard. After he won the Scudeto in Italy, things started to go horribly wrong, Sven was being increasingly pressured in his job as manager of Lazio. Sven agreed to leave, and inevitably Veron did also, going to Manchester United for a then record British transfer fee of 28.1million smackers. Veron settled well and his pre-season form was hot. It looked as if the transfer fee was a bargain, and Man United fans were happy at what they were seeing. The season got under way and Veron impressed right from the word go. Some memorable performances against Tottenham and Everton. Plus he was a treat to watch. This is where the story of Veron went horribly wrong. The rest of the season saw him play some of the poorest football of his career, his confidence had been lost. Mistakes vs Chelsea and Middlesborough saw his career go to an all time low, though his manager stuck up for him the fans were having non of it. The media taunted him and gave him a hard time. It actually got worse, his world cup was a tragedy, Argentina were c
                    rumbled by England and they exited in the first round. Not only did the team play very poor, captain Veron was abysmal. So much was expected from Veron but so little was produced. He has also revealed that he used to cry in the night, because of Argentina's poor performances. Veron 26, has now re-joined with united, and has been on good pre-season form, netting a fine goal against Ajax. The 2002/03 season looks ahead, and in a way it could be a fresh start for the Argentine prodigal son. I believe he will come back strong, and produce his highest abilities more consistently. He will be one of the best midfielders in the world again, he still has a lot to prove. United start off at Old Trafford against newly promoted West Brom, if Veron is selected i think he will come out and prove his critics wrongs. So watch out!

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                      30.01.2002 06:32
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                      GREAT,GREAT,GREAT,GREAT GREAT, DENNIS LAW In the 1960's Dennis Law was the King of Old Trafford. When it came to scoring goals, from long-range, from headers, overhead kicks, close in poachers, Law was a genius when it came to putting a ball in the back of the net. He was a player all the fans loved because he gave absolutely everything when on the pitch. This fierce Scotsman fought for everything and was afraid of nobody, few players could match this man's competitive instincts. Law's most important abilities were awareness and anticipation. He always seemed to see the action slightly ahead of everyone else and with his superb reflexes he knew how to use that to deadly advantage. he joined United with a new British record transfer fee of £115,000 in August 1962 from torino. He scored two goals on his debut in 1962 and after scoring in United's FA Cup Final win of 1963, a stream of goals followed. 160 of them in only 222 games over his first five seasons. Law won the European Footballer of the Year award in 1964 and captained the team on several occasions. He helped United win the league twice, 1965 and 1967, forming the legendary trio of Best, Law and Charlton. On the International scene he was a regular up front with Scotland.He played 393 times for united 6 as sub scoring 236 times,and his Scotland career he played 55 times scoring 30 times. BOBBY CHARLTON Sir Bobby Charlton is without doubt one of the most famous English players of all time.Charlton using his pace out of midfield and with a thunderous shot, scored some of the most spectacular goals English football has ever seen. Born in Ashington, Northumberland.Initially a striker, he switched to outside-left with England and finally became a deep-lying centre forward renowned for his powerful shooting. To say that Bobby Charlton could hit a ball is the understatement of the century. So
                      me of his famous long-range torpedoes have gone down as all time classic goals for both England and United. In the 1966 World Cup he fired in two long range belters that sunk Portugal in the semi-final. While his 106 caps were eventually surpassed his total of 49 goals for England still remains a record to this day and is unlikely ever to be topped. Bobby scored 199 goals in 606 League games for United and was a vital element in them winning the 1st Division Championship in 1957, 1965 and 1967. There was also the FA Cup in 1963 and famously the European Cup in 1968, in which he scored twice to sink Benfica at Wembley. The Sixties saw a glorious era when British football was in awe of Charlton, Law and Best, three world class players who together helped make Manchester United an integral part of popular culture in that decade.

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                        06.12.2001 06:50
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                        Man United have got some of the best midfielders in the world, as well as one of the best strikers in the world. The problem with them at the moment is their defence, although their keeper is simply brilliant. Below is my opinion of their best 11: Goalkeeper – Fabien Barthez Barthez is considered to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world and I agree. He is an excellent keeper and I admire the way he likes to try and take on the opposition with his dazzling skills. He is a great shot stopper and a player that practically every team in the world would want. He has recently made quite a few mistakes that have resulted in the team conceding goals and losing games, but he is still a quality goalkeeper. Right Back – Gary Neville Gary Neville is a really good defender and he has shown what he can do over the past few years. He is also a regular in the England side, which says a lot about him as a player. He is a good tackler and passer and likes to help Beckham out a lot when going forward. Centre Back – Laurent Blanc Laurent Blanc has played for quite a few games for Man United this season, since signing on a free transfer after the sale of Jaap Stam to Lazio for 16 million pounds. Blanc is a quality defender, although he is about 35 years old, nearly 36. His first impression was that he would be a good signing, but he has shown over the past month that he isn’t capable of lasting the full season in defence. He is a good player but he is quite old and I reckon that come the end of the season, Man United will be looking for another defender. Blanc has scored 2 goals so far, including his first at Old Trafford earlier against Boavista in the Champions League.. Centre Back – Wes Brown Wes Brown is the player I think should partner Blanc. He is young and talented and a really good tackler. He doesn’t go forward too much, but he is a player who is till learning and
                        improving and he can only get better playing alongside Blanc. Left Back – Mickael Silvestre Silvestre isn’t exactly the best left back in the premiership and he is a player who I would replace in order for Man United to prove they are one of the best in the world, but he is still a good player. He is a good tackler and passer and likes to get forward and makes runs with the ball. Right Midfielder – David Beckham What can I say about David Beckham? He is one of the best players in the world. He is probably the best free kick taker in the world and his passing abilities are amazing. He is also quite fast and one of the best crossers of the ball in the world too. He is a player that every team would want in their side. Centre Midfielder – Roy Keane Roy Keane is Man United’s captain and a great one at that. He is a great player, a great tackler and a great passer. He doesn’t score many goals, but he doesn’t really need to as United have got so many players who are capable of scoring at least 10 goals a season. Centre Midfielder – Juan Veron Juan Veron was signed in the summer for a record fee of 28 million pounds. He is one of the best players in the world and United signing him have made them an even better team. He is a great midfielder, as well as being a great passer and tackler. He can also score goals and I think he will score quite a few this season for United. Left Midfielder – Ryan Giggs Ryan Giggs is one of the most skilful players n the premiership. He is also one of the fastest and this makes him one of the best wingers in the premiership. He has got a lot of talent and if you watch him play, you will see what I mean. So many of his runs have ended in goals for the club and I think he will do the same again this season. He is currently injured and I think Man United are missing his amazing runs and skills that have l
                        ed to many goals for the club. Striker – Ruud Van Nistelrooy Ruud Van Nistelrooy was signed in the summer for 18 million pounds, after waiting about 18 months to join the club. He was going to join but then he was injured for a long period of time. Since joining them, he has shown what he can do and has already scored 11 goals this season. He is a great finisher and one of the best strikers in the world. He showed what he is capable of in a man of the match display earlier against Boavista in which he scored 2 galas. Striker – Paul Scholes Paul Scholes is a midfielder but he has been playing as a striker for the majority of the season so far. This is because since Veron has signed for the club, they are using Beckham, Giggs, Keane and Veron as their midfielders. But, Scholes is too good a player to leave out of the side and so United have started playing him along side Nistelrooy. I think once Scholes gets used to this position, he will score quite a lot, although he does prefer playing in midfield. Thanks for reading!

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                          03.12.2001 01:17
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                          Here's something interesting for you - take the first letter of each of the teams that have beaten Manchester United so far this season, and it spells out: B-L-A-N-C It may just be a spooky coincidence, but there can be little doubt that the relative demise of Manchester United this season has been as a direct result of United's defensive frailties more than any other factor. The hasty departure of Jaap Stam, who now faces a lengthy ban at his new club after testing positive for the banned substance Nandrolone, and the introduction of his direct replacement, French central defender Laurent Blanc, have definitely upset the balance in the United side. Sir Alex Ferguson has taken Manchester United to heights that their fans would never have imagined when he took over back in 1986. After a shaky first three or four years, United have gone from strength to strength under Ferguson's steady guidance and have totally dominated the English game during the last ten years. On the whole, Ferguson's recent signings have enabled him to strengthen the club. However, in his final season at the club some people, including the team's own supporters, are beginning to question his judgement. There can be no doubt that Laurent Blanc was a class player. Having won World Cup and European Championship winners medals with France his credentials were difficult to doubt. However, at the age of 36, Blanc is clearly not able the cut the mustard at this level and has been unable to adapt to the pace of the Premiership. Although he was a free transfer for United, Laurent Blanc appears to be a liability and the longer he plays on for United the greater the damage that will be done. Ferguson has already conceded the championship, saying that six defeats out of the thirty-eight games would be too many (United have already lost five out of just fourteen.) If United are to improve they must address their defensive problems, beginning wit
                          h the replacement of Blanc. Only time will tell if Alex Ferguson realises his mistake in time, or if United continue to struggle on as they have been doing to date this season. It is sad to see someone with a reputation like Blanc being cruelly exposed by the forward lines of opposing Premiership sides each week. However, reputations count for little when a player is reaching the end of their career. Perhaps he should make a switch to a level of football at which he is able to compete more effectively or retire gracefully before his reputation is sullied any further. {Another original Dooyoo opinion © Blackjane 2001} [PS: Remember to rate this opinion with your head rather than your heart Man Utd fans!]

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                            24.11.2001 23:07
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                            Poor old Besty, he’s as green and yellow as the Autumn foilage, and hanging on for dear life like those leaves in an unseasonably late December.Hes trudged around the country like the FA Cup with a bouncer and handler so the punters can touch, feel and poke the aging legend. I don’t remember him as a player, and have seen only the great goals he scored. That includes that wondrous lob chip over the gawping Tottenham defense some time in the seventies.I don’t think there are more than ten players ever that would have tried that. Cantona is as closest I have seen at Old Trafford as real class and ingenuity since, and Maradona internationally wise. Its weird how most of the best players ever to grace the big stage are around five seven. Little Michael Owen who is going the world class way is also a weenie. All to do with the bodies’ balance and pace/strength ratio, i suppose. Then again Cantona was six-foot or more, hell what do I know. I actually saw George Best quite recently at a footy function, just enough to see those dangerously twinkling blue eyes and cheeky smile. But he was painfully jaundice and I suspect he won’t be with us for much longer. What I like about his attitude towards the drink and drug abuse result, is that it’s his fault and he will deal with it. GEORGE BEST….R.I.P. Most greats fall demon to the pop and worse. Just think how much better Gazza would have been if he wasn’t a working class Geordie.That culture of going on the beer at every chance in the North East has taken a big chunk out of his best years. I don’t think the top league has seen a better player in Gascoigne since the days of the great seventies posers. Best is now ill abroad somewhere again after indulging once again. I feel sorry for the sad women that flock to the wounded hero, will this be the lucky one to cash in on the will, what’s left of it.
                            Still time left though for the Irishman to marry again!. How the mighty have fallen through the temptations of their fame. He’s nearly a pathetic site as the punch drunk Mohammed Ali whose still shaking like a shack in a San Francisco earthquake from those Foremen hammer blow punches to a more than sharp brain (for a boxer). A better lawyer would have got George a few grand by now from one of those injuries at work cowboy solicitors. Maybe all that heading of the ball from those spiraling goal kicks on a freezing January in Saturday.(Repetitive heading injury (RHI) could still make the statute book.But of course Besty never headed those suicidal five hundred pound bombs,way to smart for that. Is all this pain in later life part of genius. Do you have to let ones ego run wild to let your talent breathe. Perhaps only Pele and Cryuff managed to hold it all together in the later years. You certainly wouldn’t see the great European players of the past saying s**t and poo on the Wogan show. Wasn’t that the saddest and most cringing moment on TV, apart from Linda Green on BBC1 of course.

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                              28.10.2001 01:24
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                              There has only ever been one football player that has made a huge impact on me. There’s been some great players, who I’ve loved, like Peter Schmeichel, Denis Irwin, Steve Bruce (I reckon he should be the Manchester United manager when Sir Alex leaves, y’know, if Fabio Cappello doesn’t get offered/take the job) and Roy Keane. But then there’s the one, who I really loved, who I really admired, and still admire, and I bet you there won’t be another (not even Juan Veron, I tell yers). Yup, you got it. Eric Cantona. I love Eric Cantona. Yes, really love him, and I always will. When he first arrived at Old Trafford, it was quite late into his career (he had already retired from the game once before, after being banned for three games for throwing a football at a referee, calling each member at the disciplinary hearing an ‘idiot’, and then having the ban increased for two months), he had already played for quite a few French clubs (Auxerre, Marseille, Montpellier and Nimes) and had had quite a few problems over there with his temper. He came out of retirement, made his way to England, joined Leeds United for £900,000 (after having trials with Sheffield Wednesday) and then of course, in 1992, he joined us, Manchester United, for the measly price of £1.2 million, undoubtedly one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best buys. Eric Cantona wasn’t just a player. He was a lot more. He was very influential: you know, he won us games. But he had a certain way about him. I think I’ve said it before, when I was in another Eric Cantona mood, but you’d see him on the television, and you’d feel so amazed every time he received the ball, you would know that he would be able to do something with it, he would be able to turn around the match, with one touch. And it would be the same when you saw him live, but to a greater extent. He was so wonderful. And on seeing his picture or him on an advert, you’
                              d get the same feeling about him, and even if he wasn’t playing football, you’d be thinking of him playing football. Every moment he played for Manchester United was a moment treasured. Cantona, whilst he was at Manchester United, was always the leader. When he was banned from the game in 1995 for that kung Fu style kick into the crowd at the Crystal Palace match, you could tell that the team were a bit of a shambles. For four years they had relied on Eric, especially the younger ‘fledglings’ who had broken through, and Eric was needed. That’s one of the only years I’ve really seen Manchester United not really at their best (though this season’s been a bit of a bad one so far) and also, when he came back and scored a penalty on the first of October the following season in the 2-2 draw against Liverpool, the pictures of Eric celebrating by jumping on the goalposts send shivers down my spine, because never ever, have I seen Roy Keane really look up at someone like that, and well, it makes me smile. We needed him, and we had him back. There were other goals, too. Really, really great ones. The time he scored two in the 1994 FA Cup Final, before the Crystal Palace Incident, the year he was voted PFA player of the year was wonderful, but the one that sticks in my mind most is from the year he won the Footballer Of The Year award. The goal he pounded in in the 96th minute of the 1996 FA Cup Final against Liverpool. Yeh, it wasn’t the most talented of goals, but it was still beautiful. The way I saw Ian Rush looking so disappointed, the way the whole Liverpool team looked so down (I do think, this was the match which really triggered off my hatred of Liverpool), knowing that they couldn’t win it back. It was Eric’s goal, and it was glorious. From the first time I saw Eric Cantona kick a football, I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be able to control a football with such skill and suc
                              h dignity; I wanted to be able to pass so accurately and I wanted to be able to read the game and control the game. I wanted to entertain like he did. He did have an affect on people, a marvellous affect. A turned up collar showed who he was, as did the number seven on his back. People built shrines for him (I did have a little one in the corner of my bedroom, but I’m not talking about that) and people loved him. As a Manchester United fan, you couldn’t not love him. You might think Eric never played strongly enough for Manchester United in Europe. To an extent, this is probably true – but we weren’t the strongest really in Europe at that time – it wasn’t until a few years later that we were. You do have to take into consideration that Eric had played some marvellous games for us in European Competitions – the Juventus one in his final season, for example. When he played well, he really, really played well. I think you also have to realise that without Cantona, especially in his last season, that we wouldn’t have been as good as we were – because he put so much into Manchester United when he was there, we wouldn’t have dominated the Premiership like we did - we really did need him. Despite being such a strong footballer, and despite doing so well at Old Trafford, he wasn’t such a big thing in the French National team – he found he couldn’t get a place, especially not with Zidane getting games. It was quite disappointing really, because I did think he could maintain how he played for Manchester United in International Games, but then it would have been quite hard to see him playing not on the same team that I supported, even if it sounds silly – I think I might have been quite upset to see him playing against some Manchester United players (because a lot of the England team was Manchester United) if the two International sides ever did meet. Obviously, many
                              people didn’t like him because of his temper. But well, I shouldn’t say it, but without his temper I don’t think he would have really been the same player, and I sort of liked it when he showed he got really angry. You would see him fuming – I’m sure he could breathe fire through his nostrils if he wanted to. He had a lot of trouble, particularly in France, various incidents like getting so annoyed he once punched his own goalkeeper and gave him a black eye during a match. He was clever though, in a footballing way. Very clever. He would do things that any other player might not dream of doing. It came as quite a shock when Eric retired, but then it was bound to. No-one wanted him to retire, but he did the right thing. I wouldn’t have been able to cope with him getting worse and worse, and because he left then, the respect I have for him has stayed, and it always will do. I’ve seen him play since in various testimonials and things, the latest one being Ryan Giggs’ and he still gets the biggest cheers from the supporters. He’s still around as well – playing beach soccer. I saw him play in London, and it was just amazing, seeing him again. Many people think Eric could have gone on. He probably could have done, you’ve seen him play now and he’s still just as grand despite his level of fitness and having a podgier tummy. I love him still so much, because of what he’s done and if ever something huge happens, I dunno, like he turns against Manchester United, I’ll still love him. Cantona was the second King (Mr. Law was the first, for you who don’t know) and now Veron’s here, already a man being called ‘another Cantona’. But you see, I feel wrong about comparing him to Eric, it doesn’t seem right. I don’t want someone else to be the King of Old Trafford, and I don’t want anyone to say that anyone is better than Eric. I hat
                              e that – because even though someone might be, for some reason I feel like I’m betraying him. Heehee, sounds silly, don’t it? Eric, despite him doing lots of other things now, acting (he does look wonderful in costume dramas), painting et al, is still at Old Trafford. His presence is still there, I reckon, and it always will be. Long Live the King, eh? [Not sure if this is the right category for Eric to go in, but there isn't anywhere else I can put it, and he's sort of an other player, isn't he?]

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                                28.10.2001 00:02
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                                Since arriving for a British record of £22.5 million, Juan Sebastian Veron has set the Premiership on fire. Few players have made such an immediate impact, and even in a team with such individual stars as Beckham and Giggs, he still stands out as one of the very best in the side. He has fought off fierce competition for his midfield role from several quality players such as Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt and successfully made the position his own. Even as a life-long Arsenal fan, I have to admit that his class is undeniable. His swift, precise passing equals that of Beckham, and his subtle touch is worthy of Zidane. Add to that an incredible shot from distance and a hardworking, committed attitude and you have the complete midfield player. It could be argued that he is let down by his pace and tackling abilities but I disagree. Despite the fact that he may be ‘average’ (by his standards) in these areas he still remains a world-class player. The bad news for myself and other non-Manchester United fans, is that the Argentinean international has said that he wants to stay at Old Trafford for the rest of his career. The Premiership better get used to the midfield quartet of Beckham, Keane, Veron, and Giggs, because they be around for some time yet!

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