Alex Chick

  • Are Holland the new Germany?

    Neutrals have always loved the Dutch because of their swagger, their flair and their self-destructive tendencies.

    There was something unbearably romantic about a team of lavishly-skilled but fatally-flawed mavericks breezing to the latter stages before falling victim to those twin foes: in-fighting and penalties.

    Now Bert van Marwijk has taken a well-organised and effective team to the final, everyone seems to have gone off them.

    Barely a minute passed during their 3-2 win over Uruguay without Clive Tyldesley mentioning their new-found pragmatism. 

    The fact five goals were scored seemed to be

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  • Rooney wants out: chat transcript

    Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed every Manchester United fan's worst fears: Wayne Rooney wants to leave the club.

    In a frank and emotional statement, Ferguson said Rooney's agent informed United of his decision in August, and the club have no idea why he wants out.

    So what now? Is there any way back? Where will he go? How much will he cost? What does it mean for United?

    Join the Armchair Pundit to ask questions and have your say on the big issue.

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  • Finally, an England game worth watching

    have already qualified for Euro 2012. Put it in the books. Two games in, and
    it's job done.

    Wins against our two biggest rivals, including the toughest
    match of the whole shebang in Switzerland,
    and we are surely on our way to Poland
    and/or Ukraine
    in two summers' time. Where we will obviously suffer an early exit at the hands
    of technically superior opposition.

    A win on Tuesday against Montenegro (the only other team in
    the group with any points) and it really will be a done deal.

    With a couple of honourable exceptions, England are usually very efficient
    qualifiers. Unlike in Euro

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  • Five World Cup rule changes

    Here are five changes I would make to improve the World Cup. Three of them are alterations to the laws of the game, two are World Cup-specific.

    Challenge system

    Following Frank Lampard's non-goal against Germany, FIFA will look into goalline technology again, and this time it has every chance of being introduced.

    Good, but it will only cover a small percentage of the errors made by officials. Instead, I would introduce a challenge system similar to that used in the NFL.

    Each coach has two challenges, which he can use to review any call during the game. A goal, an offside, a handball, it

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  • Premier League predictions: 13th-16th

    Time for part two of the Armchair Pundit Premier League prediction extravaganza. (Read Part One here)

    Getting the mid-table clubs in order proved a very tough ask. There is a large group of sides who have little to choose between them - the difference between ninth and 16th could be fairly tiny.

    And last season, everyone from ninth (Birmingham) down lost more games than they won. You could call it a vast sea of mediocrity, if you were particularly grumpy.

    Anyway, with that flimsy excuse out of the way, here we go with some startlingly inaccurate forecasts for places 13 to 16.

    Note: Predicted

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  • In defence of Rafa Benitez

    As Liverpool lurch from one crisis to another. It is tempting to blame the club's woes on Rafa Benitez, whose six-year reign ended in an acrimonious shambles.

    Tempting, but wrong. It's time to debunk the ever-growing stockpile of myths about Benitez - a man who won the Champions League with the fifth best team in the Premier League, and came closer to winning the title than any Liverpool boss in two decades.

    Myth one: He won the Champions League with Gerard Houllier's team

    The argument here is that Benitez's crowning achievement, at the end of his first season, actually belonged to Houllier.

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day nine

    If you don't want to spend a second longer thinking about last night's England performance, that's understandable. But here's today at the World Cup anyway.

    Friday's action

    Germany 0-1 Serbia
    In its way, an even bigger shock than Spain's defeat to Switzerland. I mean, you just don't expect Germany to slip up. They certainly weren't helped by referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco, who harshly sent off striker Miroslav Klose and showed nine yellow cards in a deeply officious display. Milan Jovanovic opened the scoring shortly after Klose's dismissal, but Germany were handed a penalty after a Nemanja

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  • Where did it all go wrong?

    On the bright side, a depressing loss is marginally better than a heartbreaking loss.

    And at least England's atrocious defending lessened the significance of Frank Lampard's absurdly disallowed goal - fingers crossed it will not get as many replays as the Hand of God, Gazza's tears or David Seaman watching a Ronaldinho lob sail over his head.

    But England's 4-1 capitulation against Germany provides more questions than answers. Let's try and make sense of it all.

    Why can't our players perform at the World Cup like they do in the Premier League?
    This was the question posed repeatedly by BBC

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  • Rooney not England’s biggest concern

    Since news broke of Wayne Rooney's alleged "sordid romps with a vice girl", sports journalists (including this one) have sought ways to talk about the scandal without appearing to pander to the lowest common denominator.

    Plainly, this scandal is about a regulation piece of celebrity love rattery, not sport. But we need an excuse to mention it because it's HUGE. Everyone's talking about it, so why can't we?

    We needed to shoehorn a football angle into a sorry tale that ought to be between a man, his wife and a £1,200-a-night prostitute. The thought process was as transparent as it was cynical.

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  • And the winner is…

    Predictions are a mug's game, which is why I have steered clear of all but the most obvious - like 'England will not win the World Cup'.

    But with four teams and four games remaining, it's time to stick my neck on the line and try to pick a winner.


    For all the late drama, Uruguay were the better side against Ghana in their quarter-final and on the balance of play probably deserved to go through.

    Their coach Oscar Tabarez will have two priorities - firstly to stop Arjen Robben, as Brazil largely did simply by double-teaming him every time he threatened to cut inside from the right onto

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