Tag Archive: England


Time for divers to be banned?

Once again, the Premier League weekend was subject to a little controversy as a number of players were accused of diving to try and win their side a penalty, or get an opposing player sent off.

One of the big examples of this was Luis Suarez for Liverpool against Stoke City on Sunday as the Uruguayan went down far too easily in the second half of the a football result   that ended goalless draw between the two sides at Anfield.

This made Stoke boss Tony Pulis come out and ask for Suarez to be banned, suggesting that too many players get away with doing it and that if they were suspended for diving, it would cut it out of the game.

These days it is almost impossible for a referee to give a penalty as there is always the doubt that a player has tried to con the officials or whether there was enough contact. Someone like Suarez is constantly in the headlines for playacting and it has led to him getting a lot less spot-kicks.

However, he seems to keep on doing it and maybe a ban would be a big statement of intent from the Football Association that they want to get diving out of the game and it would make a player think twice about doing that.

The FA could use video evidence after the match, and if someone has clearly dived to try and win a penalty of having a member of the opposition sent off, then it is them that face the ban.

No one likes to see a player cheating – there is a big difference between winning a penalty and looking for one. If you feel contact in the box, then you have every right to go down, but if you go into the area knowing you are going to fall to the ground – you deserve to be punished.

This is not just a pick on Suarez either, there are players all round England that are guilty of it. When you are successful in trying to con the referee it can have a massive impact on a team’s season – which is really not fair.

It is clear that England have a shortage of top class strikers at the moment. With Wayne Rooney constantly struggling to re-produce his club form for the national team, and the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck lacking experience on the international stage; there is an opening for forwards to stake a claim to be a fixture in Roy Hodgson’s future squads.

The Likes of Grant Holt, anyone who follows Premier League news  will have seen that he bagged 15 League goals in his debut Premier League season last year for Norwich City, and Danny Graham at Swansea City have consistently been overlooked for a place in the Three Lions squad despite performing superbly for their Club sides.

But another man who has not as yet been given a look in is Gary Hooper at Celtic. The Harlow born front man has been nothing short of a goal machine for the Bhoys after making a £2.4 million move from Scunthorpe United back in 2010.

Since then, Hooper has netted over half a century goals for the Hoops and his manager, Neil Lennon, has urged England to give him a chance.  His blistering form has led to both Scotland and Wales making enquires over whether the 24 year old could be eligible to play for them, but such a turnover of goals should have caught the attention of Roy Hodgson.

Many sceptics will point to the fact that Hooper has been plying his trade at a relatively poor standard in the SPL,  but the ball still needs putting in the back of the net; no matter what level you play – and Hooper does that better than most.

What’s more, he has dealt with the pressure of playing for one of Britain’s biggest club’s in the shape of Celtic and thrived on the atmosphere. The prospect of playing for his country in front of big crowds is something that is unlikely to faze him and natural born goal scorers will always have that ability to create something out of nothing.

If you like a football bet , you will see that Hooper is the favourite to be the leading scorer in the SPL this campaign.

It would be great to see players rewarded for their league form, no matter who they play for, with international friendlies offering the perfect chance to try out new faces. In the shape of Hooper, England may have a predatory forward on their hands; but they will never know unless they give him a chance to prove his worth.

By Andrew Ward

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After a truly great summer of sport dominated our attention, it almost feels like the new football season has snuck up on without anyone realising.

But it’s easy to forget after the past few weeks of witnessing our Olympic heroes inspire a nation that last season’s Premier League campaign will be etched into the memory of every football fan for many years to come.

A title race that came down to the last kick of the season (literally) a battle for the Champions League places that had more twists and turns than a Carlos Tevez transfer saga, and a relegation battle that had supporters of several clubs biting their nails for several months on end.

Now, the new season gets underway today with either plenty of change or plenty of uncertainty dominating the thoughts of clubs ready for the next long journey ahead.     Continue reading

Michael Carrick’s noble statement that he would definitely “consider” an England call up, this season, yet again exposes the problems footballers have with being a reserve.

The Manchester United star withdrew his name from selection in January, after a dissatisfying 2010 World Cup campaign.

Being withdrawn, he was not selected for Roy Hodgson’s side for this summer’s Euro 2012 tournament, and he recently admitted to Betfair.com that he would have rejected a call-up, even if it were formally made.

Carrick outlined the situation at the World Cup as the reasons for his decision to focus on club football. Having made the squad, he trained and camped with his teammates but did not get a minute of play in South Africa, a predicament he foresaw should he join the Euro 2012 set-up.

But, when Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry pulled out of the campaign injured, the perfect replacement in the centre of the park was back at home. Instead of Carrick partnering Steven Gerrard in midfield, responsibility was handed to the inexperienced Jordan Henderson, who was largely ineffectual in Ukraine.

Carrick’s presence may well have bolstered England’s midfield during their quarter-final defeat to Italy, where Andrea Pirlo ran the show in the centre of the pitch. In deciding not to represent his country – even simply as a substitute – Carrick has surely rejected any chance of getting back into the side.

For why should a man dissatisfied with life on the subs bench be awarded a starting role?

Jamie Carragher, Liverpool’s rock in defence for the past decade, retired from international football as he was not getting a game. His appearance in South Africa, therefore, was disheartening to say the least, as he had not earned the right from playing England qualifiers.

The noble Carrick, if he wants to be part of England again at a major tournament, must prove himself willing to work with the squad during their next qualification campaign.

Visit the Betfair Premiership website for the best odds, picks, and tips for the upcoming campaign, as well as the 2012/13 Champions League.

Englandare through to the quarter-finals of the Euros yes, but let’s not get carried away.

Their performances in Euro 2012 to date haven’t set the world alight, and have not fired the sort of signals to the rest ofEuropethat make the continent’s top players start quaking in their shiny, overly expensive football boots.

The one thing the Englandplayers have managed to do, though, is start believing in themselves, and each other, with positive football scores the inevitable consequence

England are never, ever, in a million years, going to be as good as Spain, and we don’t possess the ability that the Germans do, but we do seem to have the unity and togetherness that has previously helped lesser teams succeed against the odds.  

The Greeceteam of 2004 springs to mind as the best example of a relatively unskilled team being successful in a major tournament. The football betting at the outset suggested they would struggle to get out of their group, let alone win the whole thing. But their success inPortugal eight years ago has gone down as one of the greatest upsets in modern day football.

But before we all get excited, thisEnglandteam is very, very unlikely to repeat this feat.

If we can get close, though, this current side will be in a decent position to be viewed as a strong competitor at the next World Cup, and maybe (just maybe!) might be able to win a major tournament for the first time since 1966.

If Roy can create a scenario that allows this kind of belief to exist, he will have exceeded everything that was first expected of him, and will have bought himself precious time to prove those who doubt his ability as national team manager.

While there is plenty of time for everything to go wrong again for England, we can now at least have just a little more hope than we did before the start of the Euros!

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After 22 rounds of intense action, the cream of the crop in English rugby has emerged as Harlequins and Leicester Tigers prepare to battle it out in the Aviva Premiership final this Saturday.

Both teams emerged as the top two during the domestic season, and then came through tough tests in the semi-finals to reach the showpiece event at Twickenham.

Quins needed a late try from Joe Marler to edge out the Northampton Saints at the Stoop, while Leicester gained revenge over Saracens for their defeat at rugby HQ 12 months ago to reach their eighth consecutive final.

For Connor O’Shea’s side, while the trip across the road will not be of great distance, this match will represent a giant leap for a side that have fully overcome the trauma that ‘Bloodgate’ caused and stand just one win away from their first ever Premiership title.     Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez
Yesterday new England manager Roy Hodgson announced his first England squad, which is an important one as its also the squad that will represent England in this Summers European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine.
Shortly after his squad was announced at 1pm yesterday his decisions were met with much criticism from the general public as well as some of his decisions being questioned by Football pundits.

Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Sergio Aguero’s 95th-minute strike secured the most thrilling of Premier League titles for Manchester City as Roberto Mancini’s side earned the club’s first title in 44 years in truly dramatic fashion.

That 3-2 win over Queen’s Park Rangers served as heartbreak for their Manchester rivals United, as Sir Alex Ferguson‘s men had the title given to them and dashed from them all within a matter of minutes.

It was also a fitting end to a Premier League campaign that has thrown up endless twists and turns, and this in a week when the 2011/12 season was voted the greatest in the league’s history, with each club having their own intriguing story.

City will look upon their triumph as potentially the beginning of a new and successful era, with the incredible financial backing of Sheikh Mansour now reaping the rewards.

United will try and use this moment to inspire their younger players such as Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck to drive them on and continuing the consistent success that’s been in place over the past 20 years.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After 22 pulsating rounds, we now know which are the four teams that have earnt a crack at lifting the Aviva Premiership title and being crowned champions of England in 2012.

Harlequins, Leicester, Saracens and Northampton have emerged as the country’s elite over the past nine months, and this weekend’s semi-finals are finely poised as they battle for a place in the final at Twickenham on the 26th May.

The bookies are backing Leicester to emerge as champions; Richard Cockerill‘s side are looking to reach their eighth consecutive Premiership final, and are the form team going into the knockout stages having beaten the other three semi-finalists away from home in recent months.

But as this season has already shown, we could be set for more twists and turns as we prepare for two titanic tussles as England’s finest prepare to get a shot at the title.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

There was no doubt what the biggest story was in English football this week, as Roy Hodgson usurped heavy favourite Harry Redknapp and become the new England manager.

The West Brom boss has agreed a four-year deal which sees him take charge for the next three major tournaments through to the European Championships in France in 2016.

64 year-old Hodgson was the unanimous choice of the 4-man FA panel that consisted of Chairman David Bernstein, Director of football development Trevor Brooking, General Secretary Alex Horne and Club England managing Director Adrian Bevington.

While many will preside in persisting that Hodgson is the wrong choice and may not inspire enthusiasm amongst the public, the main fact now is that we have to get behing him and give the man a chance to succeed in a job where many before him which had that public support failed.

His appointment has been hailed as a long-term one by the FA to help the development of their National Football Centre, which is due to open in Burton later this year.

But for the forseeable future Hodgson’s sole focus will be on Euro 2012, and one of the biggest decisions that Hodgson faces ahead of the tournament is the dilemma of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.     Continue reading

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