Alex Chick

  • How Fabio wrecked England v Ghana

    England play Ghana tonight, but the match has been marred by the decision to release five senior players.

    You see, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and Michael Dawson are on Champions League duty next midweek, and have been sent home to rest their weary limbs.

    Press pack big man on campus Henry Winter described it as part of club versus country politics, and hoped clubs would remember the gesture.

    Here are five reasons why it was a stupid idea.

    1- It won't work

    The next time Rooney has a loose toenail going into an international break, is Fergie going to think to himself:

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  • The trouble with Arsene

    You don't get any prizes for suggesting Arsenal could
    do with an upgrade at the back.

    So obvious and long-standing has been their deficiency in goal
    and central defence that pointing it out has passed from opinion into a bald
    statement of fact.

    And for the sixth season in a row, their defensive frailties
    look set to leave them trophyless.

    The phrase 'Arsene knows' used to symbolise Gooners' total
    faith in their manager, Arsene Wenger.

    Now it seems everybody in the world knows except Arsene.

    It is a minor modern tragedy. Wenger is so brilliant a
    spotter of talent, a purveyor of such thrilling

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  • Little brother’s big chance

    a) Bobby
    Charlton, Andy Murray, John Terry

    b) Anton Ferdinand, Ralf Schumacher, Bradley Allen

    Members of the foreign media have grown fond of describing Arsenal as 'Barcelona's little brother'.

    By 10 o'clock tonight, we will know whether this little brother has more in
    common with the members of Group A or Group B.

    The sibling rivalry stems from their mutual commitment to attractive football -
    one should result in a fourth
    terrific game between these two in the space of a year.

    That's not all they have in
    common. Less appealingly, Barcelona are just as convinced as Arsenal
    that their football

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  • Stop protecting immature stars

    I recently had a relatively
    big birthday, and was determined not to let it change me.

    Like the numbers
    clicking over on your car's dashboard, it was neat but ultimately meaningless. It is only a numerical fluke that makes it
    significant, I said. If we operated in base seven, I would be 42, not 30, so
    who cares?

    And yet here I am, a few
    short weeks later, about to launch into a sustained attack on the feckless, stupid,
    disrespectful youth of today. Welcome to middle age.

    Obviously, the simply
    mind-boggling Ashley Cole air rifle incident lit the blue touchpaper of my
    curmudgeonly fury.

    As many

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  • Football captains don’t matter

    Frank Lampard will captain England in their friendly
    international against Denmark. Nice for him, irrelevant for everyone else.

    Lampard dutifully trotted out the usual clichés about it
    being 'the ultimate honour', but aside from making one player's family
    proud, the captain's armband is a thing of utter insignificance.

    Last year, the country went mad when John Terry was stripped
    of the captaincy, an event given the full hysterical treatment by media and public
    alike. Some countries impeach heads of state with less fuss.

    While Fabio Capello was probably right to punish Terry, what
    exactly were

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  • Hughton not the man for a dogfight

    **Friday morning postscript** - Roy Hodgson has just been installed as the new favourite for the job. Oops. Although I said Hughton wasn't the man for a  relegation scrap and it turns out he isn't...

    - - -

    On January 31, I spoke to Roberto Di Matteo in what turned out
    to be one of his last in-depth interviews before he was sacked by West Bromwich

    He did not have the air of a man whose head was on the
    block. He was polite, confident and thoughtful, and despite the Baggies' bad
    run seemed a man at ease with his situation.

    All apart from one moment.

    Talking about the forthcoming game

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  • Aggro irrelevant – if you win

    day, another Manchester City bust-up.

    Yaya Toure scuffled with James Milner, then Carlos Tevez scuffled with Roberto
    Mancini, then Mario Balotelli, then Kolo Toure scuffled with Emmanuel Adebayor.

    know the drill by now. City will use the ruckus as evidence of their intense
    will to win. The first three incidents this provoked the following responses:

    "It says we're very hungry
    to win." (Milner)

    "Now and then a good
    shake-up is healthy." (Mancini)

    "The incident is a
    reflection of the competitive edge the players apply in training."

    This time a spokesman dismissed

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  • One-nil to football

    What a relief.

    Spain might have gone through the knock-out stages entirely in binary scorelines, but their World Cup triumph was a beautiful result for the Beautiful Game as they overcame a Dutch side that took Total Football and kicked it in the solar plexus for 120 gruesome minutes.

    The match was a mess, but Spanish quality eventually told as Andres Iniesta bashed the ball gleefully into the bottom-left corner.

    Holland weren't kidding when they said they were prepared to win ugly. They chopped, tripped, niggled and argued their way through the first half, preying on referee Howard Webb's

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  • Does hiring and firing work?

    I've gone all geeky this week and done some number
    crunching, hoping to discover whether managerial changes have a generally
    positive or negative effect.

    I'll tell you now, the results are deeply inconclusive, but
    hey ho, I've done the work, so here you are:

    Since summer 2007, there have been 24 mid-season managerial
    changes and only nine during the close season.

    In any other business, executives would wait until the end
    of a natural cycle, analyse the manager's performance and decide whether a
    change was necessary.

    Not so in football. Of the 33 changes in the last three and
    a half years, less

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  • ‘Lino-gate’ getting out of hand

    Day two of Lino-gate, as nobody is calling it, and as with all manufactured scandals
    we have entered the phase of 'pressure intensifying' on Richard Keys and Andy Gray.

    The latest revelation is that Gray discussed with touchline
    reporter Andy Burton whether or not lineswoman Sian Massey is "a bit of a
    - for which Burton has now been suspended.

    Which seems a bit harsh, since Burton was merely going on the
    say-so of 'Steve the cameraman'. What action is being taken against him?

    As the media seeks to whip up a storm of public outrage, and
    turn Keys and Gray into this decade's Ross and

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