Alex Chick

  • Good old Scholes: why the surprise?

    Is Paul Scholes turning into some sort of media star?

    The Manchester United midfielder normally speaks about as often as Harpo Marx, but he gave post-match interviews after the Community Shield and last night's 3-0 win against Newcastle.

    Is he planning a Beckham-style vault into celebrity? Will his goldenballs protrude from Armani billboards across the globe? Will he be the public face of England's 2022 World Cup bid after 2018 goes up in flames?

    It seems unlikely.

    In fact, Scholes was only fulfilling the contractual obligation that comes with being man of the match.

    Yes, the 35-year-old was

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: day five

    Get set for a world-class diva duel - Didier Drogba versus Cristiano Ronaldo as Ivory Coast take on Portugal. And Brazil prepare to make their entrance.

    - - -

    Monday's action

    Netherlands 2-0 Denmark - Group E - Soccer City

    A slightly flattering scoreline for Bert van Marwijk's Dutch side in the deafening sound of Soccer City - players from both sides complained the could not hear above the vuvuzela noise. With Arjen Robben still nursing a hamstring strain, Netherlands struggled in the first half but went in front less than a minute after the restart when an attempted clearing header by

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day six

    By 5pm tonight we will have seen all 32 teams in action, with favourites Spain making their debut against Switzerland.

    - - -

    Tuesday's action

    New Zealand 1-1 Slovakia - Group F - Rustenburg

    Fans who tuned in for one of the least glamorous games of the tournament were rewarded with a mercifully vuvuzela-free soundtrack and a thrilling finish. Robert Vittek headed a lacklustre Slovak side ahead five minutes after the break (he looked offside) but the All-Whites levelled in the last minute of second-half stoppage time with a Winston Reid header. Slovak coach Vladimir Weiss called it "a minor

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  • Devil in Kaka spoils Brazil’s night

    Look, it might be apocalypse out there. England might be knocking each other's blocks off in a crisis meeting as I type. The French have aired their dirty laundry all over southern Africa. And you can read about those two cesspools of misery here and here.

    But Brazil played football at the World Cup tonight. It happens a maximum of seven times every four years, so let's pay attention to some actual football.

    The BBC begin their coverage with a somewhat corny animated thing called: "A Brazilian history of time" trotting out the usual cliches about samba flair, joyous self-expression and

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  • Let Mascherano rot

    Roy Hodgson
    has done English football many services.

    He has
    restored the reputation of the nation's managers, proved that a small club
    playing attractive football can achieve staggering feats, and shown the world
    that some English people can speak foreign languages.

    But it
    would be his greatest achievement yet if he banished Javier Mascherano to the
    reserves and left him there for the rest of the season.

    The
    Argentine apparently refused to play for Liverpool at Manchester
    City as he tried to force through a
    move to Barcelona.

    Hodgson is
    playing hardball, and hauled Mascherano into training

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  • Was this a great World Cup?

    Like those who awarded Zinedine Zidane the Golden Ball before he nutted Marco Materazzi, I am running the risk of reviewing the World Cup before it has finished.

    Overall it has been a good tournament, if not a great one. But that's not much of a blog post. Let's go into more details in 10 categories below.

    GOALS

    Unlike the 2006 World Cup, the goal flow has increased throughout the tournament. The first week was, if we are honest, a bit tough going, and for a long time matches were averaging less than two goals a game. But Sami Khedira's header last night was the 144th goal - even if tonight's

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  • Premier League predictions: 9th-12th

    The mid-table slog continues on day three of Armchair Pundit's week-long festival of guesswork.

    It is probably no surprise to see which teams have been reserved for the top eight - but eyebrows may be raised by the prospect of a top-half finish for Newcastle and a much-improved season for West Ham.

    Note: Predicted teams are based on squads at time of writing.

    12th - BLACKBURN ROVERS (Last season: 10th)

    The fruitless search for a striker has dominated Blackburn's summer, but there is no need for panic at Ewood Park. Nikola Kalinic is an improving youngster with real potential, while the club's

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  • Premier League predictions: 5th-8th

    They all want a place in the top four. And they're all going to be disappointed. It's part four of the pre-season predictions game.

    It's largely a tale of stability among the European hopefuls. Three of the four clubs here will be featuring almost exactly the same side as last season. The other is Manchester City.

    Tottenham and City are both ranked a couple of places below where the bookies would have them. In Spurs' case, it's down to the juggling act between Premier and Champions Leagues. For City, I'm just not sure they have added much more than numbers to their squad.

    8th - TOTTENHAM

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  • Hughes taking on impossible job

    At first glance, Fulham looks like a terrific job for Mark Hughes.

    They are a stable club with a sensible chairman, appreciative fans and an atmospheric ground. There is a positive vibe about the place, and they go into the new season with much the same squad that reached last season's Europa League final.

    A far cry from the madness at Manchester City, who sacked Hughes last December when they were just a handful of points off the fourth place their owners craved - by the time the whistle blew in his final game, Roberto Mancini had already been given the key to the stationery cupboard.

    Hughes

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  • Europe 3, South America 0

    Last Sunday the Observer published a column by Paul Wilson describing South America's vast superiority over Europe at this World Cup.

    The piece, backed up by a raft of statistics, contained the following quotes:

    "The story of this World Cup is turning out to be that few teams, even central American ones, are capable of overcoming South American opponents."

    "Maradona looks born to the role (of Argentina coach)."

    "Some of the grandest names in Europe, Spain apart, are responsible for some of the most constipated football."

    "A South American team will win the World Cup by the end of next month."

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