Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn Rovers slideshow

The Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Blackburn-based Hashim Travel had organised the trip
Saudi Arabia: four Britons killed after coach hits fuel tanker
The Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Blackburn-based Hashim Travel had organised the trip
A dog feared to cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears, but the vet did not realise until halfway through the operation. Eight-year-old St Bernard Maisy was taken for a CT scan after she was taken ill, which showed a mass on her spleen and an unusually full stomach, seemingly showing she had not digested her food properly. Her owner, Jane Dickinson, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, feared the worst as she took her pet to Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield. It would not be unusual for Maisy, an elderly dog, to have cancer at her advanced age. However, vet surgeon Nick Blackburn ruled out any fatal disease when he carried out the operation to remove Maisy’s spleen and found her stomach was full of soft toys. Maisy is now reportedly 'loving life' Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com He said : "It's fair to say this was not something we were expecting to find! We all know certain dogs enjoy chewing things they shouldn't but managing to devour four full teddy bears is quite a feat. "I know Jane was worried about Maisy as she is quite old for a St Bernard, so we were naturally delighted the operation was such a success and we were able to return a happy, healthy dog to the Dickinsons.” Her owner said she had never seen the gentle giant chewing or eating toys, but that now the operation has been completed Maisy is “loving life”. An x-ray showing the teddy bears within the stomach. Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com Ms Dickinson explained: "When Maisy went in I did think 'is she coming out?' but she is loving life now - it's like she's got her youth back. "The toys weren't even hers! She will steal the chihuahuas' toys and play with them but I've never seen her trying to chew them. Her eating habits had been completely normal. "I didn't even recognise one of the toys - my brother also keeps chihuahuas and it turns out it belonged to his dog." Maisy has since made a full recovery from her operation and a histology report has shown no signs of cancer.
Dog feared to have cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears... but vet didn't realise until midway through operation
A dog feared to cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears, but the vet did not realise until halfway through the operation. Eight-year-old St Bernard Maisy was taken for a CT scan after she was taken ill, which showed a mass on her spleen and an unusually full stomach, seemingly showing she had not digested her food properly. Her owner, Jane Dickinson, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, feared the worst as she took her pet to Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield. It would not be unusual for Maisy, an elderly dog, to have cancer at her advanced age. However, vet surgeon Nick Blackburn ruled out any fatal disease when he carried out the operation to remove Maisy’s spleen and found her stomach was full of soft toys. Maisy is now reportedly 'loving life' Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com He said : "It's fair to say this was not something we were expecting to find! We all know certain dogs enjoy chewing things they shouldn't but managing to devour four full teddy bears is quite a feat. "I know Jane was worried about Maisy as she is quite old for a St Bernard, so we were naturally delighted the operation was such a success and we were able to return a happy, healthy dog to the Dickinsons.” Her owner said she had never seen the gentle giant chewing or eating toys, but that now the operation has been completed Maisy is “loving life”. An x-ray showing the teddy bears within the stomach. Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com Ms Dickinson explained: "When Maisy went in I did think 'is she coming out?' but she is loving life now - it's like she's got her youth back. "The toys weren't even hers! She will steal the chihuahuas' toys and play with them but I've never seen her trying to chew them. Her eating habits had been completely normal. "I didn't even recognise one of the toys - my brother also keeps chihuahuas and it turns out it belonged to his dog." Maisy has since made a full recovery from her operation and a histology report has shown no signs of cancer.
A dog feared to cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears, but the vet did not realise until halfway through the operation. Eight-year-old St Bernard Maisy was taken for a CT scan after she was taken ill, which showed a mass on her spleen and an unusually full stomach, seemingly showing she had not digested her food properly. Her owner, Jane Dickinson, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, feared the worst as she took her pet to Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield. It would not be unusual for Maisy, an elderly dog, to have cancer at her advanced age. However, vet surgeon Nick Blackburn ruled out any fatal disease when he carried out the operation to remove Maisy’s spleen and found her stomach was full of soft toys. Maisy is now reportedly 'loving life' Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com He said : "It's fair to say this was not something we were expecting to find! We all know certain dogs enjoy chewing things they shouldn't but managing to devour four full teddy bears is quite a feat. "I know Jane was worried about Maisy as she is quite old for a St Bernard, so we were naturally delighted the operation was such a success and we were able to return a happy, healthy dog to the Dickinsons.” Her owner said she had never seen the gentle giant chewing or eating toys, but that now the operation has been completed Maisy is “loving life”. An x-ray showing the teddy bears within the stomach. Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com Ms Dickinson explained: "When Maisy went in I did think 'is she coming out?' but she is loving life now - it's like she's got her youth back. "The toys weren't even hers! She will steal the chihuahuas' toys and play with them but I've never seen her trying to chew them. Her eating habits had been completely normal. "I didn't even recognise one of the toys - my brother also keeps chihuahuas and it turns out it belonged to his dog." Maisy has since made a full recovery from her operation and a histology report has shown no signs of cancer.
Dog feared to have cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears... but vet didn't realise until midway through operation
A dog feared to cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears, but the vet did not realise until halfway through the operation. Eight-year-old St Bernard Maisy was taken for a CT scan after she was taken ill, which showed a mass on her spleen and an unusually full stomach, seemingly showing she had not digested her food properly. Her owner, Jane Dickinson, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, feared the worst as she took her pet to Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield. It would not be unusual for Maisy, an elderly dog, to have cancer at her advanced age. However, vet surgeon Nick Blackburn ruled out any fatal disease when he carried out the operation to remove Maisy’s spleen and found her stomach was full of soft toys. Maisy is now reportedly 'loving life' Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com He said : "It's fair to say this was not something we were expecting to find! We all know certain dogs enjoy chewing things they shouldn't but managing to devour four full teddy bears is quite a feat. "I know Jane was worried about Maisy as she is quite old for a St Bernard, so we were naturally delighted the operation was such a success and we were able to return a happy, healthy dog to the Dickinsons.” Her owner said she had never seen the gentle giant chewing or eating toys, but that now the operation has been completed Maisy is “loving life”. An x-ray showing the teddy bears within the stomach. Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com Ms Dickinson explained: "When Maisy went in I did think 'is she coming out?' but she is loving life now - it's like she's got her youth back. "The toys weren't even hers! She will steal the chihuahuas' toys and play with them but I've never seen her trying to chew them. Her eating habits had been completely normal. "I didn't even recognise one of the toys - my brother also keeps chihuahuas and it turns out it belonged to his dog." Maisy has since made a full recovery from her operation and a histology report has shown no signs of cancer.
A dog feared to cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears, but the vet did not realise until halfway through the operation. Eight-year-old St Bernard Maisy was taken for a CT scan after she was taken ill, which showed a mass on her spleen and an unusually full stomach, seemingly showing she had not digested her food properly. Her owner, Jane Dickinson, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, feared the worst as she took her pet to Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield. It would not be unusual for Maisy, an elderly dog, to have cancer at her advanced age. However, vet surgeon Nick Blackburn ruled out any fatal disease when he carried out the operation to remove Maisy’s spleen and found her stomach was full of soft toys. Maisy is now reportedly 'loving life' Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com He said : "It's fair to say this was not something we were expecting to find! We all know certain dogs enjoy chewing things they shouldn't but managing to devour four full teddy bears is quite a feat. "I know Jane was worried about Maisy as she is quite old for a St Bernard, so we were naturally delighted the operation was such a success and we were able to return a happy, healthy dog to the Dickinsons.” Her owner said she had never seen the gentle giant chewing or eating toys, but that now the operation has been completed Maisy is “loving life”. An x-ray showing the teddy bears within the stomach. Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com Ms Dickinson explained: "When Maisy went in I did think 'is she coming out?' but she is loving life now - it's like she's got her youth back. "The toys weren't even hers! She will steal the chihuahuas' toys and play with them but I've never seen her trying to chew them. Her eating habits had been completely normal. "I didn't even recognise one of the toys - my brother also keeps chihuahuas and it turns out it belonged to his dog." Maisy has since made a full recovery from her operation and a histology report has shown no signs of cancer.
Dog feared to have cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears... but vet didn't realise until midway through operation
A dog feared to cancer had actually eaten four teddy bears, but the vet did not realise until halfway through the operation. Eight-year-old St Bernard Maisy was taken for a CT scan after she was taken ill, which showed a mass on her spleen and an unusually full stomach, seemingly showing she had not digested her food properly. Her owner, Jane Dickinson, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, feared the worst as she took her pet to Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield. It would not be unusual for Maisy, an elderly dog, to have cancer at her advanced age. However, vet surgeon Nick Blackburn ruled out any fatal disease when he carried out the operation to remove Maisy’s spleen and found her stomach was full of soft toys. Maisy is now reportedly 'loving life' Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com He said : "It's fair to say this was not something we were expecting to find! We all know certain dogs enjoy chewing things they shouldn't but managing to devour four full teddy bears is quite a feat. "I know Jane was worried about Maisy as she is quite old for a St Bernard, so we were naturally delighted the operation was such a success and we were able to return a happy, healthy dog to the Dickinsons.” Her owner said she had never seen the gentle giant chewing or eating toys, but that now the operation has been completed Maisy is “loving life”. An x-ray showing the teddy bears within the stomach. Credit: Paragon Vet Referrals / SWNS.com Ms Dickinson explained: "When Maisy went in I did think 'is she coming out?' but she is loving life now - it's like she's got her youth back. "The toys weren't even hers! She will steal the chihuahuas' toys and play with them but I've never seen her trying to chew them. Her eating habits had been completely normal. "I didn't even recognise one of the toys - my brother also keeps chihuahuas and it turns out it belonged to his dog." Maisy has since made a full recovery from her operation and a histology report has shown no signs of cancer.
Trump aims to give a boost to Blackburn in a red-state race Republicans cannot afford to lose in November.
Trump says he will campaign for Marsha Blackburn in Senate race — after Bob Corker says he won't
Trump aims to give a boost to Blackburn in a red-state race Republicans cannot afford to lose in November.
<p>Home-buyers looking for &#8216;bargains&#8217; could consider Bradford, Doncaster or Blackburn, Zoopla suggests.</p>
House-sellers slashing property prices, with average discount of £25,000

Home-buyers looking for ‘bargains’ could consider Bradford, Doncaster or Blackburn, Zoopla suggests.

<p>Home-buyers looking for &#8216;bargains&#8217; could consider Bradford, Doncaster or Blackburn, Zoopla suggests.</p>
House-sellers slashing property prices, with average discount of £25,000

Home-buyers looking for ‘bargains’ could consider Bradford, Doncaster or Blackburn, Zoopla suggests.

We&#39;re into the final month of the season across England&#39;s top four tiers, and there is still plenty to play for. The Premier League title is wrapped up, and the bottom three clubs are looking increasingly to be relegated, but lower down the footballing pyramid there is plenty still at stake. Here, we round-up who can still finish where in the Premier League and Football League. Premier League Every team has either four or five games remaining, but it wouldn&#39;t be all that surprising if everyone finished in exactly the position they currently find themselves - or at least in the positions that truly matter. Manchester City are champions, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are looking good to finish in the top four, barring a significant late collapse coupled with a Chelsea recovery. Arsenal and Burnley are battling it out for sixth place (though Arsenal can technically still finish in the top four), with the losers of that race to go into the Europa League at the second qualifying stage - which starts on July 26. Everyone from Leicester in eighth and below can - mathematically - still be relegated, but it would take something dramatic for any of the teams above West Ham to be pulled back in to the dogfight. Southampton, Stoke and West Brom, all at least five points adrift of safety, are in real trouble. Premier League | Who can still get what? Championship Wolves are all but secure of the Championship title, 12 points clear of Cardiff, who have four games left and a vastly inferior goal difference. Cardiff are battling it out with Fulham and Aston Villa for the second remaining automatic play-off spot, though the Welsh side are in the best position to secure promotion. Two of those sides will go into the play-offs, joined by two more of Middlesbrough, Millwall, Derby, Preston, Sheffield United, Brentford and Bristol City, though the final four of those sides face an uphill task to sneak in. At the other end of the table, Sunderland are on the brink of a second successive relegation and last position, rooted to the foot of the Championship. Burton and Barnsley currently make up the bottom three, though Barnsley have a game in hand on Birmingham and Bolton, two points above them, just outside the relegation zone. Every side up to Nottingham Forest can still technically go down, but everyone from Reading and up should survive. Championship | What can still happen? League One Wigan and Blackburn look like they have won the race for the two automatic promotion spots, though Shrewsbury could technically still catch either. Whichever of those teams does not get into the top two will go into the play-offs, and with many sides still having to play five more games, the race for the three remaining play-off places is very, very open. Every team between Rotherham in fourth and Southend in 15th (apart from Fleetwood, due to the combination of other teams&#39; games) can still make it into the play-offs, though realistically, it is unlikely that anyone below ninth will. At the bottom, Bury are down, while everyone up to Bradford in 10th could feasibly get sucked into the relegation battle. Given only eight points separate Rochdale in 21st and Doncaster in 12th, there is an awful lot still to play for. League One | What can still happen? League Two Accrington Stanley have sealed promotion to League One, and Luton will join them with one more win. Wycombe are in pole position to secure the third and final automatic promotion slot, but every side currently in the play-off places is still in contention. The play-off berths will be filled by four teams from those currently between second and 14th (apart from Crawley, who have too few games remaining to make it into seventh). Relegation from the Football League is looking perilously likely for both Chesterfield and Barnet, though everyone up to Crewe in 17th could still be dragged into the drop zone, however unlikely that actually is. League Two | What can still happen?
Premier League and Football League relegation, promotion and play-offs: who can still finish where?
We're into the final month of the season across England's top four tiers, and there is still plenty to play for. The Premier League title is wrapped up, and the bottom three clubs are looking increasingly to be relegated, but lower down the footballing pyramid there is plenty still at stake. Here, we round-up who can still finish where in the Premier League and Football League. Premier League Every team has either four or five games remaining, but it wouldn't be all that surprising if everyone finished in exactly the position they currently find themselves - or at least in the positions that truly matter. Manchester City are champions, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are looking good to finish in the top four, barring a significant late collapse coupled with a Chelsea recovery. Arsenal and Burnley are battling it out for sixth place (though Arsenal can technically still finish in the top four), with the losers of that race to go into the Europa League at the second qualifying stage - which starts on July 26. Everyone from Leicester in eighth and below can - mathematically - still be relegated, but it would take something dramatic for any of the teams above West Ham to be pulled back in to the dogfight. Southampton, Stoke and West Brom, all at least five points adrift of safety, are in real trouble. Premier League | Who can still get what? Championship Wolves are all but secure of the Championship title, 12 points clear of Cardiff, who have four games left and a vastly inferior goal difference. Cardiff are battling it out with Fulham and Aston Villa for the second remaining automatic play-off spot, though the Welsh side are in the best position to secure promotion. Two of those sides will go into the play-offs, joined by two more of Middlesbrough, Millwall, Derby, Preston, Sheffield United, Brentford and Bristol City, though the final four of those sides face an uphill task to sneak in. At the other end of the table, Sunderland are on the brink of a second successive relegation and last position, rooted to the foot of the Championship. Burton and Barnsley currently make up the bottom three, though Barnsley have a game in hand on Birmingham and Bolton, two points above them, just outside the relegation zone. Every side up to Nottingham Forest can still technically go down, but everyone from Reading and up should survive. Championship | What can still happen? League One Wigan and Blackburn look like they have won the race for the two automatic promotion spots, though Shrewsbury could technically still catch either. Whichever of those teams does not get into the top two will go into the play-offs, and with many sides still having to play five more games, the race for the three remaining play-off places is very, very open. Every team between Rotherham in fourth and Southend in 15th (apart from Fleetwood, due to the combination of other teams' games) can still make it into the play-offs, though realistically, it is unlikely that anyone below ninth will. At the bottom, Bury are down, while everyone up to Bradford in 10th could feasibly get sucked into the relegation battle. Given only eight points separate Rochdale in 21st and Doncaster in 12th, there is an awful lot still to play for. League One | What can still happen? League Two Accrington Stanley have sealed promotion to League One, and Luton will join them with one more win. Wycombe are in pole position to secure the third and final automatic promotion slot, but every side currently in the play-off places is still in contention. The play-off berths will be filled by four teams from those currently between second and 14th (apart from Crawley, who have too few games remaining to make it into seventh). Relegation from the Football League is looking perilously likely for both Chesterfield and Barnet, though everyone up to Crewe in 17th could still be dragged into the drop zone, however unlikely that actually is. League Two | What can still happen?
We would have appreciated more complete answers, says Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R-Tenn.), providing her thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg&#39;s testimony before Congress on the data breach scandal. People expect protection, says Rep. Blackburn weighing in on regul...
Rep. Blackburn: Zuckerberg 'unprepared' for questions
We would have appreciated more complete answers, says Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R-Tenn.), providing her thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress on the data breach scandal. People expect protection, says Rep. Blackburn weighing in on regul...
We would have appreciated more complete answers, says Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R-Tenn.), providing her thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg&#39;s testimony before Congress on the data breach scandal. People expect protection, says Rep. Blackburn weighing in on regul...
Rep. Blackburn: Zuckerberg 'unprepared' for questions
We would have appreciated more complete answers, says Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R-Tenn.), providing her thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress on the data breach scandal. People expect protection, says Rep. Blackburn weighing in on regul...
We would have appreciated more complete answers, says Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R-Tenn.), providing her thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg&#39;s testimony before Congress on the data breach scandal. People expect protection, says Rep. Blackburn weighing in on regul...
Rep. Blackburn: Zuckerberg 'unprepared' for questions
We would have appreciated more complete answers, says Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R-Tenn.), providing her thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress on the data breach scandal. People expect protection, says Rep. Blackburn weighing in on regul...
In front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answers questions from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
Zuckerberg: We don't consider what we do 'censoring speec...
In front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answers questions from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
In front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answers questions from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
Zuckerberg: We don't consider what we do 'censoring speec...
In front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answers questions from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
In front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answers questions from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
Zuckerberg: We don't consider what we do 'censoring speec...
In front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answers questions from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
Early polls give Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen an edge over GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the race to fill Republican Bob Corker&#39;s Senate seat, but she has the clear edge when it comes to money.
Joe Biden swoops in to give Democrat Phil Bredesen a money boost in tight Tennessee Senate race
Early polls give Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen an edge over GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the race to fill Republican Bob Corker's Senate seat, but she has the clear edge when it comes to money.
Welcome to a new Friday morning feature in which we preview the forthcoming Premier League weekend through the lens of 11 players. The idea is to pick a team of individuals likely to play a pivotal role in the outcome of their match, their club&#39;s fortunes or feature in the big stories come Monday morning. All Premier League matches will be covered in some way, and the aim is not to predict a &#39;Team of the Weekend&#39; before a ball has been kicked. For reasons of simplicity and week-to-week consistency, the players will be arranged in a 4-4-2 &#39;formation&#39;. Apologies to those of you who were fond of Premier League Bingo, which has gone the same way as the dodo, Woolworth&#39;s and Australian sportsmanship. GK: Jack Butland (Stoke) Trying to pick England&#39;s World Cup No.1 is like throwing darts blindfolded, with the position up for grabs for whoever strings together a few eye-catching performances. Stoke&#39;s trip to Arsenal should afford Butland the chance to catch the attention of Gareth Southgate. Despite their reputation as Arsène Wenger&#39;s side&#39;s nemesis, Stoke have lost every Premier League visit to the Emirates. Arsenal&#39;s league games are inconsequential with top four out of reach, exactly the circumstances when they tend to relax and flow as an attacking force. Will Jack Butland stake a claim for England&#39;s No.1 jersey? Credit: Reuters Butland could be in for a busy afternoon, but that is the type of match goalkeepers typically relish. He should draw inspiration from Robert Green and Fraser Forster, who in past run-ins produced goalkeeping exhibitions in Emirates clean sheets. Green with West Ham in 2007, Forster with Southampton in 2016. RB: Ezequiel Schelotto (Brighton) We all knew Chris Hughton&#39;s Brighton would approach the Premier League with tight organisation and steely resolve, the doubt was whether they carried enough attacking potency and speed to turn competitive performances into wins. Brighton have a chance to win their fourth consecutive home league match against Leicester on Saturday, and an unlikely threat has come to the fore in that run. Ezequiel Schelotto was signed late in the summer window from Sporting Lisbon, but has made himself a fixture at right-back since the turn of the year. The Italian flies forward with boundless enthusiasm, and at nearly six foot two is on the tall side for a full-back. With his long hair trailing behind him as he embarks on another offensive, it is quite an arresting sight that gets fans on the edge of their seats. It will be a good battle between he and the work-hungry Marc Albrighton. CB: Michael Keane (Everton) Defenders look good in defensive teams, and there is a suspicion that Michael Keane&#39;s qualities were embellished by Sean Dyche&#39;s protective methods at Burnley. The Man Utd youth product has been exposed at Everton since his big-money summer move, not helped by Ashley Williams&#39; weekly derelictions. Sam Allardyce is expected to partner him with Phil Jagielka on Saturday, and there is not sterner test than Manchester City. In some ways however, a backs-against-the-wall scenario might suit Keane, with his full-backs tucked in close to him and two holding midfielders patrolling shorter distances in front. A place in the England squad looks to have passed Keane by but he needs to show Allardyce, or any prospective Everton manager, that they can count on him for next season. England&#39;s World Cup 2018 squad - ranked. Who&#39;s on the plane to Russia? CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) Christensen is undoubtedly Chelsea&#39;s defensive future, but the elegant centre-back has been through a rocky patch of form by his own admission. His misplaced pass led to Lionel Messi&#39;s crucial away goal at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. In their defeat at Man Utd in February, the Dane was drawn out of position for Romelu Lukaku&#39;s equaliser and lost Jesse Lingard in the penalty area who headed home the decisive goal. Christensen faces another big-game test against Tottenham on Sunday, even though the visitors could be deprived of Harry Kane. There is no doubt he is a fantastic prospect, but he and Chelsea could do with an error-free 90 minutes. LB: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) Left-back has been a problem position for years at Crystal Palace. Van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp are both closer to attacking wing-backs than full-backs, and Roy Hodgson looks to have settled on a compromise by playing both to sure-up Palace&#39;s troublesome left-flank. A home match against Liverpool is the last thing they need. Mohamed Salah is a master at exploiting that right &#39;half-space&#39;, the area between left-back and left-centre back, and van Aanholt will have to ignore his natural instincts and stay close to his centre back to block that channel. With Schlupp running back with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Palace could be forced to to defend in an auxiliary back-five for much of the game. With that in mind, Hodgson might drop either Schlupp or van Aanholt and pick an extra centre-back. RW: Tom Ince (Huddersfield) One point from home matches against Swansea and Newcastle leave Huddersfield precariously placed three points above the relegation zone. Only rock-bottom West Brom have scored fewer goals than David Wagner&#39;s side, but a trip to Newcastle could be a chance to put that right. Teams can pull themselves away from danger on the strength of one attacking player finding form: think Jon Stead at Blackburn, Hugo Rodallega at Wigan or Fabio Borini recalling what the goal was there for at Sunderland. Huddersfield need a hero to emerge. Fans are still waiting for the talented Ince to catch fire and the time is nigh. Has Jose Mourinho changed tactically since his early managerial days? CM: Paul Pogba (Man Utd) At home fixture against Swansea does not look like a test on which to judge Paul Pogba&#39;s quality, but the next few weeks could be crucial to his Man Utd future. &#39;Temporary disagreement&#39; could soon become &#39;irreconcilable difference&#39; should Jose Mourinho leave him on the bench or Pogba&#39;s form flat-line. Fresh from a sensational strike for France, this looks the perfect day for Pogba to find his rhythm and confidence again. That will probably attract &#39;flat-track bully&#39; accusations, and incredibly shallow criticism when you think about it. If you play for Manchester United, it is your job to be a flat-track bully. League titles are won by putting the dross away with painless regularity. CM: Mark Noble (West Ham) Southampton are embroiled in their own fight against relegation, with new manager Mark Hughes in the dug-out, but it is no slight on them to say West Ham are the story in this six-pointer. It is their first home game since fans invaded the pitch in their 3-0 loss against Burnley, with captain Mark Noble wrestling one to the ground - though he could be forgiven for acts of self-defence in the circumstances. Noble&#39;s legs have slowed, and West Ham should have replenished their central midfield long ago, but he is the last person at the club fans should direct their ire towards. Southampton are strong in this department with Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina, two players who could play for a top-half team, and it could be a testing 90 minutes for West Ham&#39;s captain. Not to mention more &#39;fronting up&#39; in his post-match interview. West Ham could be in for another chastening afternoon at the London Stadium Credit: Reuters LW: Johan Berg Gudmunds­son (Burnley) Burnley have a bizarrely dreadful record at the Hawthorns, losing their last six league visits. Manager Sean Dyche even had his leg broken there as a player. They could not ask for a more presentable chance to change that record than this weekend however, against Alan Pardew&#39;s doomed West Brom side. West Brom have to throw bodies forward in search of a win, and that could suit Burnley perfectly who will defend in numbers and then pick them off. Dyche has developed their attacking play up a level from last season&#39;s rudimentary approach, and Gudmundsson&#39;s trickery and crossing has been an vital component of that. CF: Troy Deeney (Watford) Watford&#39;s captain has been back in vogue under Javi Gracia, but had two unhappy games at Arsenal and Liverpool with a missed penalty and a 5-0 defeat. Strangely enough, Deeney did not offer his punditry services after those salutary outings. A home match against Bournemouth is a chance for him to set the record straight and see if their centre-backs &#39;fancy it&#39;. CF: Heung-min Son (Spurs) Let&#39;s get one thing straight. Heung-min Son is not the Premier League&#39;s most underrated player, because everyone agrees he is a superb player and vocalises that opinion regularly. Mauricio Pochettino is likely to hand Son the keys to Tottenham&#39;s attack in the probable absence of Kane, rather than the cumbersome Fernando Llorente. Spurs have been an excellent side for two years now, but one valid criticism has been their lack pace across their forward line. It would be horribly contrived to claim they are better off without Kane, but Son&#39;s presence up top does give Spurs the counter-attacking power you need in big away matches. The South Korean could be very difficult to handle, darting into the space behind Chelsea&#39;s wing-backs and opening up holes for Christian Eriksen to exploit.
One to Eleven: The Premier League weekend analysed through XI players
Welcome to a new Friday morning feature in which we preview the forthcoming Premier League weekend through the lens of 11 players. The idea is to pick a team of individuals likely to play a pivotal role in the outcome of their match, their club's fortunes or feature in the big stories come Monday morning. All Premier League matches will be covered in some way, and the aim is not to predict a 'Team of the Weekend' before a ball has been kicked. For reasons of simplicity and week-to-week consistency, the players will be arranged in a 4-4-2 'formation'. Apologies to those of you who were fond of Premier League Bingo, which has gone the same way as the dodo, Woolworth's and Australian sportsmanship. GK: Jack Butland (Stoke) Trying to pick England's World Cup No.1 is like throwing darts blindfolded, with the position up for grabs for whoever strings together a few eye-catching performances. Stoke's trip to Arsenal should afford Butland the chance to catch the attention of Gareth Southgate. Despite their reputation as Arsène Wenger's side's nemesis, Stoke have lost every Premier League visit to the Emirates. Arsenal's league games are inconsequential with top four out of reach, exactly the circumstances when they tend to relax and flow as an attacking force. Will Jack Butland stake a claim for England's No.1 jersey? Credit: Reuters Butland could be in for a busy afternoon, but that is the type of match goalkeepers typically relish. He should draw inspiration from Robert Green and Fraser Forster, who in past run-ins produced goalkeeping exhibitions in Emirates clean sheets. Green with West Ham in 2007, Forster with Southampton in 2016. RB: Ezequiel Schelotto (Brighton) We all knew Chris Hughton's Brighton would approach the Premier League with tight organisation and steely resolve, the doubt was whether they carried enough attacking potency and speed to turn competitive performances into wins. Brighton have a chance to win their fourth consecutive home league match against Leicester on Saturday, and an unlikely threat has come to the fore in that run. Ezequiel Schelotto was signed late in the summer window from Sporting Lisbon, but has made himself a fixture at right-back since the turn of the year. The Italian flies forward with boundless enthusiasm, and at nearly six foot two is on the tall side for a full-back. With his long hair trailing behind him as he embarks on another offensive, it is quite an arresting sight that gets fans on the edge of their seats. It will be a good battle between he and the work-hungry Marc Albrighton. CB: Michael Keane (Everton) Defenders look good in defensive teams, and there is a suspicion that Michael Keane's qualities were embellished by Sean Dyche's protective methods at Burnley. The Man Utd youth product has been exposed at Everton since his big-money summer move, not helped by Ashley Williams' weekly derelictions. Sam Allardyce is expected to partner him with Phil Jagielka on Saturday, and there is not sterner test than Manchester City. In some ways however, a backs-against-the-wall scenario might suit Keane, with his full-backs tucked in close to him and two holding midfielders patrolling shorter distances in front. A place in the England squad looks to have passed Keane by but he needs to show Allardyce, or any prospective Everton manager, that they can count on him for next season. England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked. Who's on the plane to Russia? CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) Christensen is undoubtedly Chelsea's defensive future, but the elegant centre-back has been through a rocky patch of form by his own admission. His misplaced pass led to Lionel Messi's crucial away goal at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. In their defeat at Man Utd in February, the Dane was drawn out of position for Romelu Lukaku's equaliser and lost Jesse Lingard in the penalty area who headed home the decisive goal. Christensen faces another big-game test against Tottenham on Sunday, even though the visitors could be deprived of Harry Kane. There is no doubt he is a fantastic prospect, but he and Chelsea could do with an error-free 90 minutes. LB: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) Left-back has been a problem position for years at Crystal Palace. Van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp are both closer to attacking wing-backs than full-backs, and Roy Hodgson looks to have settled on a compromise by playing both to sure-up Palace's troublesome left-flank. A home match against Liverpool is the last thing they need. Mohamed Salah is a master at exploiting that right 'half-space', the area between left-back and left-centre back, and van Aanholt will have to ignore his natural instincts and stay close to his centre back to block that channel. With Schlupp running back with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Palace could be forced to to defend in an auxiliary back-five for much of the game. With that in mind, Hodgson might drop either Schlupp or van Aanholt and pick an extra centre-back. RW: Tom Ince (Huddersfield) One point from home matches against Swansea and Newcastle leave Huddersfield precariously placed three points above the relegation zone. Only rock-bottom West Brom have scored fewer goals than David Wagner's side, but a trip to Newcastle could be a chance to put that right. Teams can pull themselves away from danger on the strength of one attacking player finding form: think Jon Stead at Blackburn, Hugo Rodallega at Wigan or Fabio Borini recalling what the goal was there for at Sunderland. Huddersfield need a hero to emerge. Fans are still waiting for the talented Ince to catch fire and the time is nigh. Has Jose Mourinho changed tactically since his early managerial days? CM: Paul Pogba (Man Utd) At home fixture against Swansea does not look like a test on which to judge Paul Pogba's quality, but the next few weeks could be crucial to his Man Utd future. 'Temporary disagreement' could soon become 'irreconcilable difference' should Jose Mourinho leave him on the bench or Pogba's form flat-line. Fresh from a sensational strike for France, this looks the perfect day for Pogba to find his rhythm and confidence again. That will probably attract 'flat-track bully' accusations, and incredibly shallow criticism when you think about it. If you play for Manchester United, it is your job to be a flat-track bully. League titles are won by putting the dross away with painless regularity. CM: Mark Noble (West Ham) Southampton are embroiled in their own fight against relegation, with new manager Mark Hughes in the dug-out, but it is no slight on them to say West Ham are the story in this six-pointer. It is their first home game since fans invaded the pitch in their 3-0 loss against Burnley, with captain Mark Noble wrestling one to the ground - though he could be forgiven for acts of self-defence in the circumstances. Noble's legs have slowed, and West Ham should have replenished their central midfield long ago, but he is the last person at the club fans should direct their ire towards. Southampton are strong in this department with Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina, two players who could play for a top-half team, and it could be a testing 90 minutes for West Ham's captain. Not to mention more 'fronting up' in his post-match interview. West Ham could be in for another chastening afternoon at the London Stadium Credit: Reuters LW: Johan Berg Gudmunds­son (Burnley) Burnley have a bizarrely dreadful record at the Hawthorns, losing their last six league visits. Manager Sean Dyche even had his leg broken there as a player. They could not ask for a more presentable chance to change that record than this weekend however, against Alan Pardew's doomed West Brom side. West Brom have to throw bodies forward in search of a win, and that could suit Burnley perfectly who will defend in numbers and then pick them off. Dyche has developed their attacking play up a level from last season's rudimentary approach, and Gudmundsson's trickery and crossing has been an vital component of that. CF: Troy Deeney (Watford) Watford's captain has been back in vogue under Javi Gracia, but had two unhappy games at Arsenal and Liverpool with a missed penalty and a 5-0 defeat. Strangely enough, Deeney did not offer his punditry services after those salutary outings. A home match against Bournemouth is a chance for him to set the record straight and see if their centre-backs 'fancy it'. CF: Heung-min Son (Spurs) Let's get one thing straight. Heung-min Son is not the Premier League's most underrated player, because everyone agrees he is a superb player and vocalises that opinion regularly. Mauricio Pochettino is likely to hand Son the keys to Tottenham's attack in the probable absence of Kane, rather than the cumbersome Fernando Llorente. Spurs have been an excellent side for two years now, but one valid criticism has been their lack pace across their forward line. It would be horribly contrived to claim they are better off without Kane, but Son's presence up top does give Spurs the counter-attacking power you need in big away matches. The South Korean could be very difficult to handle, darting into the space behind Chelsea's wing-backs and opening up holes for Christian Eriksen to exploit.
Welcome to a new Friday morning feature in which we preview the forthcoming Premier League weekend through the lens of 11 players. The idea is to pick a team of individuals likely to play a pivotal role in the outcome of their match, their club&#39;s fortunes or feature in the big stories come Monday morning. All Premier League matches will be covered in some way, and the aim is not to predict a &#39;Team of the Weekend&#39; before a ball has been kicked. For reasons of simplicity and week-to-week consistency, the players will be arranged in a 4-4-2 &#39;formation&#39;. Apologies to those of you who were fond of Premier League Bingo, which has gone the same way as the dodo, Woolworth&#39;s and Australian sportsmanship. GK: Jack Butland (Stoke) Trying to pick England&#39;s World Cup No.1 is like throwing darts blindfolded, with the position up for grabs for whoever strings together a few eye-catching performances. Stoke&#39;s trip to Arsenal should afford Butland the chance to catch the attention of Gareth Southgate. Despite their reputation as Arsène Wenger&#39;s side&#39;s nemesis, Stoke have lost every Premier League visit to the Emirates. Arsenal&#39;s league games are inconsequential with top four out of reach, exactly the circumstances when they tend to relax and flow as an attacking force. Will Jack Butland stake a claim for England&#39;s No.1 jersey? Credit: Reuters Butland could be in for a busy afternoon, but that is the type of match goalkeepers typically relish. He should draw inspiration from Robert Green and Fraser Forster, who in past run-ins produced goalkeeping exhibitions in Emirates clean sheets. Green with West Ham in 2007, Forster with Southampton in 2016. RB: Ezequiel Schelotto (Brighton) We all knew Chris Hughton&#39;s Brighton would approach the Premier League with tight organisation and steely resolve, the doubt was whether they carried enough attacking potency and speed to turn competitive performances into wins. Brighton have a chance to win their fourth consecutive home league match against Leicester on Saturday, and an unlikely threat has come to the fore in that run. Ezequiel Schelotto was signed late in the summer window from Sporting Lisbon, but has made himself a fixture at right-back since the turn of the year. The Italian flies forward with boundless enthusiasm, and at nearly six foot two is on the tall side for a full-back. With his long hair trailing behind him as he embarks on another offensive, it is quite an arresting sight that gets fans on the edge of their seats. It will be a good battle between he and the work-hungry Marc Albrighton. CB: Michael Keane (Everton) Defenders look good in defensive teams, and there is a suspicion that Michael Keane&#39;s qualities were embellished by Sean Dyche&#39;s protective methods at Burnley. The Man Utd youth product has been exposed at Everton since his big-money summer move, not helped by Ashley Williams&#39; weekly derelictions. Sam Allardyce is expected to partner him with Phil Jagielka on Saturday, and there is not sterner test than Manchester City. In some ways however, a backs-against-the-wall scenario might suit Keane, with his full-backs tucked in close to him and two holding midfielders patrolling shorter distances in front. A place in the England squad looks to have passed Keane by but he needs to show Allardyce, or any prospective Everton manager, that they can count on him for next season. England&#39;s World Cup 2018 squad - ranked. Who&#39;s on the plane to Russia? CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) Christensen is undoubtedly Chelsea&#39;s defensive future, but the elegant centre-back has been through a rocky patch of form by his own admission. His misplaced pass led to Lionel Messi&#39;s crucial away goal at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. In their defeat at Man Utd in February, the Dane was drawn out of position for Romelu Lukaku&#39;s equaliser and lost Jesse Lingard in the penalty area who headed home the decisive goal. Christensen faces another big-game test against Tottenham on Sunday, even though the visitors could be deprived of Harry Kane. There is no doubt he is a fantastic prospect, but he and Chelsea could do with an error-free 90 minutes. LB: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) Left-back has been a problem position for years at Crystal Palace. Van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp are both closer to attacking wing-backs than full-backs, and Roy Hodgson looks to have settled on a compromise by playing both to sure-up Palace&#39;s troublesome left-flank. A home match against Liverpool is the last thing they need. Mohamed Salah is a master at exploiting that right &#39;half-space&#39;, the area between left-back and left-centre back, and van Aanholt will have to ignore his natural instincts and stay close to his centre back to block that channel. With Schlupp running back with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Palace could be forced to to defend in an auxiliary back-five for much of the game. With that in mind, Hodgson might drop either Schlupp or van Aanholt and pick an extra centre-back. RW: Tom Ince (Huddersfield) One point from home matches against Swansea and Newcastle leave Huddersfield precariously placed three points above the relegation zone. Only rock-bottom West Brom have scored fewer goals than David Wagner&#39;s side, but a trip to Newcastle could be a chance to put that right. Teams can pull themselves away from danger on the strength of one attacking player finding form: think Jon Stead at Blackburn, Hugo Rodallega at Wigan or Fabio Borini recalling what the goal was there for at Sunderland. Huddersfield need a hero to emerge. Fans are still waiting for the talented Ince to catch fire and the time is nigh. Has Jose Mourinho changed tactically since his early managerial days? CM: Paul Pogba (Man Utd) At home fixture against Swansea does not look like a test on which to judge Paul Pogba&#39;s quality, but the next few weeks could be crucial to his Man Utd future. &#39;Temporary disagreement&#39; could soon become &#39;irreconcilable difference&#39; should Jose Mourinho leave him on the bench or Pogba&#39;s form flat-line. Fresh from a sensational strike for France, this looks the perfect day for Pogba to find his rhythm and confidence again. That will probably attract &#39;flat-track bully&#39; accusations, and incredibly shallow criticism when you think about it. If you play for Manchester United, it is your job to be a flat-track bully. League titles are won by putting the dross away with painless regularity. CM: Mark Noble (West Ham) Southampton are embroiled in their own fight against relegation, with new manager Mark Hughes in the dug-out, but it is no slight on them to say West Ham are the story in this six-pointer. It is their first home game since fans invaded the pitch in their 3-0 loss against Burnley, with captain Mark Noble wrestling one to the ground - though he could be forgiven for acts of self-defence in the circumstances. Noble&#39;s legs have slowed, and West Ham should have replenished their central midfield long ago, but he is the last person at the club fans should direct their ire towards. Southampton are strong in this department with Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina, two players who could play for a top-half team, and it could be a testing 90 minutes for West Ham&#39;s captain. Not to mention more &#39;fronting up&#39; in his post-match interview. West Ham could be in for another chastening afternoon at the London Stadium Credit: Reuters LW: Johan Berg Gudmunds­son (Burnley) Burnley have a bizarrely dreadful record at the Hawthorns, losing their last six league visits. Manager Sean Dyche even had his leg broken there as a player. They could not ask for a more presentable chance to change that record than this weekend however, against Alan Pardew&#39;s doomed West Brom side. West Brom have to throw bodies forward in search of a win, and that could suit Burnley perfectly who will defend in numbers and then pick them off. Dyche has developed their attacking play up a level from last season&#39;s rudimentary approach, and Gudmundsson&#39;s trickery and crossing has been an vital component of that. CF: Troy Deeney (Watford) Watford&#39;s captain has been back in vogue under Javi Gracia, but had two unhappy games at Arsenal and Liverpool with a missed penalty and a 5-0 defeat. Strangely enough, Deeney did not offer his punditry services after those salutary outings. A home match against Bournemouth is a chance for him to set the record straight and see if their centre-backs &#39;fancy it&#39;. CF: Heung-min Son (Spurs) Let&#39;s get one thing straight. Heung-min Son is not the Premier League&#39;s most underrated player, because everyone agrees he is a superb player and vocalises that opinion regularly. Mauricio Pochettino is likely to hand Son the keys to Tottenham&#39;s attack in the probable absence of Kane, rather than the cumbersome Fernando Llorente. Spurs have been an excellent side for two years now, but one valid criticism has been their lack pace across their forward line. It would be horribly contrived to claim they are better off without Kane, but Son&#39;s presence up top does give Spurs the counter-attacking power you need in big away matches. The South Korean could be very difficult to handle, darting into the space behind Chelsea&#39;s wing-backs and opening up holes for Christian Eriksen to exploit.
One to Eleven: The Premier League weekend analysed through XI players
Welcome to a new Friday morning feature in which we preview the forthcoming Premier League weekend through the lens of 11 players. The idea is to pick a team of individuals likely to play a pivotal role in the outcome of their match, their club's fortunes or feature in the big stories come Monday morning. All Premier League matches will be covered in some way, and the aim is not to predict a 'Team of the Weekend' before a ball has been kicked. For reasons of simplicity and week-to-week consistency, the players will be arranged in a 4-4-2 'formation'. Apologies to those of you who were fond of Premier League Bingo, which has gone the same way as the dodo, Woolworth's and Australian sportsmanship. GK: Jack Butland (Stoke) Trying to pick England's World Cup No.1 is like throwing darts blindfolded, with the position up for grabs for whoever strings together a few eye-catching performances. Stoke's trip to Arsenal should afford Butland the chance to catch the attention of Gareth Southgate. Despite their reputation as Arsène Wenger's side's nemesis, Stoke have lost every Premier League visit to the Emirates. Arsenal's league games are inconsequential with top four out of reach, exactly the circumstances when they tend to relax and flow as an attacking force. Will Jack Butland stake a claim for England's No.1 jersey? Credit: Reuters Butland could be in for a busy afternoon, but that is the type of match goalkeepers typically relish. He should draw inspiration from Robert Green and Fraser Forster, who in past run-ins produced goalkeeping exhibitions in Emirates clean sheets. Green with West Ham in 2007, Forster with Southampton in 2016. RB: Ezequiel Schelotto (Brighton) We all knew Chris Hughton's Brighton would approach the Premier League with tight organisation and steely resolve, the doubt was whether they carried enough attacking potency and speed to turn competitive performances into wins. Brighton have a chance to win their fourth consecutive home league match against Leicester on Saturday, and an unlikely threat has come to the fore in that run. Ezequiel Schelotto was signed late in the summer window from Sporting Lisbon, but has made himself a fixture at right-back since the turn of the year. The Italian flies forward with boundless enthusiasm, and at nearly six foot two is on the tall side for a full-back. With his long hair trailing behind him as he embarks on another offensive, it is quite an arresting sight that gets fans on the edge of their seats. It will be a good battle between he and the work-hungry Marc Albrighton. CB: Michael Keane (Everton) Defenders look good in defensive teams, and there is a suspicion that Michael Keane's qualities were embellished by Sean Dyche's protective methods at Burnley. The Man Utd youth product has been exposed at Everton since his big-money summer move, not helped by Ashley Williams' weekly derelictions. Sam Allardyce is expected to partner him with Phil Jagielka on Saturday, and there is not sterner test than Manchester City. In some ways however, a backs-against-the-wall scenario might suit Keane, with his full-backs tucked in close to him and two holding midfielders patrolling shorter distances in front. A place in the England squad looks to have passed Keane by but he needs to show Allardyce, or any prospective Everton manager, that they can count on him for next season. England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked. Who's on the plane to Russia? CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) Christensen is undoubtedly Chelsea's defensive future, but the elegant centre-back has been through a rocky patch of form by his own admission. His misplaced pass led to Lionel Messi's crucial away goal at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. In their defeat at Man Utd in February, the Dane was drawn out of position for Romelu Lukaku's equaliser and lost Jesse Lingard in the penalty area who headed home the decisive goal. Christensen faces another big-game test against Tottenham on Sunday, even though the visitors could be deprived of Harry Kane. There is no doubt he is a fantastic prospect, but he and Chelsea could do with an error-free 90 minutes. LB: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) Left-back has been a problem position for years at Crystal Palace. Van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp are both closer to attacking wing-backs than full-backs, and Roy Hodgson looks to have settled on a compromise by playing both to sure-up Palace's troublesome left-flank. A home match against Liverpool is the last thing they need. Mohamed Salah is a master at exploiting that right 'half-space', the area between left-back and left-centre back, and van Aanholt will have to ignore his natural instincts and stay close to his centre back to block that channel. With Schlupp running back with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Palace could be forced to to defend in an auxiliary back-five for much of the game. With that in mind, Hodgson might drop either Schlupp or van Aanholt and pick an extra centre-back. RW: Tom Ince (Huddersfield) One point from home matches against Swansea and Newcastle leave Huddersfield precariously placed three points above the relegation zone. Only rock-bottom West Brom have scored fewer goals than David Wagner's side, but a trip to Newcastle could be a chance to put that right. Teams can pull themselves away from danger on the strength of one attacking player finding form: think Jon Stead at Blackburn, Hugo Rodallega at Wigan or Fabio Borini recalling what the goal was there for at Sunderland. Huddersfield need a hero to emerge. Fans are still waiting for the talented Ince to catch fire and the time is nigh. Has Jose Mourinho changed tactically since his early managerial days? CM: Paul Pogba (Man Utd) At home fixture against Swansea does not look like a test on which to judge Paul Pogba's quality, but the next few weeks could be crucial to his Man Utd future. 'Temporary disagreement' could soon become 'irreconcilable difference' should Jose Mourinho leave him on the bench or Pogba's form flat-line. Fresh from a sensational strike for France, this looks the perfect day for Pogba to find his rhythm and confidence again. That will probably attract 'flat-track bully' accusations, and incredibly shallow criticism when you think about it. If you play for Manchester United, it is your job to be a flat-track bully. League titles are won by putting the dross away with painless regularity. CM: Mark Noble (West Ham) Southampton are embroiled in their own fight against relegation, with new manager Mark Hughes in the dug-out, but it is no slight on them to say West Ham are the story in this six-pointer. It is their first home game since fans invaded the pitch in their 3-0 loss against Burnley, with captain Mark Noble wrestling one to the ground - though he could be forgiven for acts of self-defence in the circumstances. Noble's legs have slowed, and West Ham should have replenished their central midfield long ago, but he is the last person at the club fans should direct their ire towards. Southampton are strong in this department with Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina, two players who could play for a top-half team, and it could be a testing 90 minutes for West Ham's captain. Not to mention more 'fronting up' in his post-match interview. West Ham could be in for another chastening afternoon at the London Stadium Credit: Reuters LW: Johan Berg Gudmunds­son (Burnley) Burnley have a bizarrely dreadful record at the Hawthorns, losing their last six league visits. Manager Sean Dyche even had his leg broken there as a player. They could not ask for a more presentable chance to change that record than this weekend however, against Alan Pardew's doomed West Brom side. West Brom have to throw bodies forward in search of a win, and that could suit Burnley perfectly who will defend in numbers and then pick them off. Dyche has developed their attacking play up a level from last season's rudimentary approach, and Gudmundsson's trickery and crossing has been an vital component of that. CF: Troy Deeney (Watford) Watford's captain has been back in vogue under Javi Gracia, but had two unhappy games at Arsenal and Liverpool with a missed penalty and a 5-0 defeat. Strangely enough, Deeney did not offer his punditry services after those salutary outings. A home match against Bournemouth is a chance for him to set the record straight and see if their centre-backs 'fancy it'. CF: Heung-min Son (Spurs) Let's get one thing straight. Heung-min Son is not the Premier League's most underrated player, because everyone agrees he is a superb player and vocalises that opinion regularly. Mauricio Pochettino is likely to hand Son the keys to Tottenham's attack in the probable absence of Kane, rather than the cumbersome Fernando Llorente. Spurs have been an excellent side for two years now, but one valid criticism has been their lack pace across their forward line. It would be horribly contrived to claim they are better off without Kane, but Son's presence up top does give Spurs the counter-attacking power you need in big away matches. The South Korean could be very difficult to handle, darting into the space behind Chelsea's wing-backs and opening up holes for Christian Eriksen to exploit.
Welcome to a new Friday morning feature in which we preview the forthcoming Premier League weekend through the lens of 11 players. The idea is to pick a team of individuals likely to play a pivotal role in the outcome of their match, their club&#39;s fortunes or feature in the big stories come Monday morning. All Premier League matches will be covered in some way, and the aim is not to predict a &#39;Team of the Weekend&#39; before a ball has been kicked. For reasons of simplicity and week-to-week consistency, the players will be arranged in a 4-4-2 &#39;formation&#39;. Apologies to those of you who were fond of Premier League Bingo, which has gone the same way as the dodo, Woolworth&#39;s and Australian sportsmanship. GK: Jack Butland (Stoke) Trying to pick England&#39;s World Cup No.1 is like throwing darts blindfolded, with the position up for grabs for whoever strings together a few eye-catching performances. Stoke&#39;s trip to Arsenal should afford Butland the chance to catch the attention of Gareth Southgate. Despite their reputation as Arsène Wenger&#39;s side&#39;s nemesis, Stoke have lost every Premier League visit to the Emirates. Arsenal&#39;s league games are inconsequential with top four out of reach, exactly the circumstances when they tend to relax and flow as an attacking force. Will Jack Butland stake a claim for England&#39;s No.1 jersey? Credit: Reuters Butland could be in for a busy afternoon, but that is the type of match goalkeepers typically relish. He should draw inspiration from Robert Green and Fraser Forster, who in past run-ins produced goalkeeping exhibitions in Emirates clean sheets. Green with West Ham in 2007, Forster with Southampton in 2016. RB: Ezequiel Schelotto (Brighton) We all knew Chris Hughton&#39;s Brighton would approach the Premier League with tight organisation and steely resolve, the doubt was whether they carried enough attacking potency and speed to turn competitive performances into wins. Brighton have a chance to win their fourth consecutive home league match against Leicester on Saturday, and an unlikely threat has come to the fore in that run. Ezequiel Schelotto was signed late in the summer window from Sporting Lisbon, but has made himself a fixture at right-back since the turn of the year. The Italian flies forward with boundless enthusiasm, and at nearly six foot two is on the tall side for a full-back. With his long hair trailing behind him as he embarks on another offensive, it is quite an arresting sight that gets fans on the edge of their seats. It will be a good battle between he and the work-hungry Marc Albrighton. CB: Michael Keane (Everton) Defenders look good in defensive teams, and there is a suspicion that Michael Keane&#39;s qualities were embellished by Sean Dyche&#39;s protective methods at Burnley. The Man Utd youth product has been exposed at Everton since his big-money summer move, not helped by Ashley Williams&#39; weekly derelictions. Sam Allardyce is expected to partner him with Phil Jagielka on Saturday, and there is not sterner test than Manchester City. In some ways however, a backs-against-the-wall scenario might suit Keane, with his full-backs tucked in close to him and two holding midfielders patrolling shorter distances in front. A place in the England squad looks to have passed Keane by but he needs to show Allardyce, or any prospective Everton manager, that they can count on him for next season. England&#39;s World Cup 2018 squad - ranked. Who&#39;s on the plane to Russia? CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) Christensen is undoubtedly Chelsea&#39;s defensive future, but the elegant centre-back has been through a rocky patch of form by his own admission. His misplaced pass led to Lionel Messi&#39;s crucial away goal at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. In their defeat at Man Utd in February, the Dane was drawn out of position for Romelu Lukaku&#39;s equaliser and lost Jesse Lingard in the penalty area who headed home the decisive goal. Christensen faces another big-game test against Tottenham on Sunday, even though the visitors could be deprived of Harry Kane. There is no doubt he is a fantastic prospect, but he and Chelsea could do with an error-free 90 minutes. LB: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) Left-back has been a problem position for years at Crystal Palace. Van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp are both closer to attacking wing-backs than full-backs, and Roy Hodgson looks to have settled on a compromise by playing both to sure-up Palace&#39;s troublesome left-flank. A home match against Liverpool is the last thing they need. Mohamed Salah is a master at exploiting that right &#39;half-space&#39;, the area between left-back and left-centre back, and van Aanholt will have to ignore his natural instincts and stay close to his centre back to block that channel. With Schlupp running back with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Palace could be forced to to defend in an auxiliary back-five for much of the game. With that in mind, Hodgson might drop either Schlupp or van Aanholt and pick an extra centre-back. RW: Tom Ince (Huddersfield) One point from home matches against Swansea and Newcastle leave Huddersfield precariously placed three points above the relegation zone. Only rock-bottom West Brom have scored fewer goals than David Wagner&#39;s side, but a trip to Newcastle could be a chance to put that right. Teams can pull themselves away from danger on the strength of one attacking player finding form: think Jon Stead at Blackburn, Hugo Rodallega at Wigan or Fabio Borini recalling what the goal was there for at Sunderland. Huddersfield need a hero to emerge. Fans are still waiting for the talented Ince to catch fire and the time is nigh. Has Jose Mourinho changed tactically since his early managerial days? CM: Paul Pogba (Man Utd) At home fixture against Swansea does not look like a test on which to judge Paul Pogba&#39;s quality, but the next few weeks could be crucial to his Man Utd future. &#39;Temporary disagreement&#39; could soon become &#39;irreconcilable difference&#39; should Jose Mourinho leave him on the bench or Pogba&#39;s form flat-line. Fresh from a sensational strike for France, this looks the perfect day for Pogba to find his rhythm and confidence again. That will probably attract &#39;flat-track bully&#39; accusations, and incredibly shallow criticism when you think about it. If you play for Manchester United, it is your job to be a flat-track bully. League titles are won by putting the dross away with painless regularity. CM: Mark Noble (West Ham) Southampton are embroiled in their own fight against relegation, with new manager Mark Hughes in the dug-out, but it is no slight on them to say West Ham are the story in this six-pointer. It is their first home game since fans invaded the pitch in their 3-0 loss against Burnley, with captain Mark Noble wrestling one to the ground - though he could be forgiven for acts of self-defence in the circumstances. Noble&#39;s legs have slowed, and West Ham should have replenished their central midfield long ago, but he is the last person at the club fans should direct their ire towards. Southampton are strong in this department with Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina, two players who could play for a top-half team, and it could be a testing 90 minutes for West Ham&#39;s captain. Not to mention more &#39;fronting up&#39; in his post-match interview. West Ham could be in for another chastening afternoon at the London Stadium Credit: Reuters LW: Johan Berg Gudmunds­son (Burnley) Burnley have a bizarrely dreadful record at the Hawthorns, losing their last six league visits. Manager Sean Dyche even had his leg broken there as a player. They could not ask for a more presentable chance to change that record than this weekend however, against Alan Pardew&#39;s doomed West Brom side. West Brom have to throw bodies forward in search of a win, and that could suit Burnley perfectly who will defend in numbers and then pick them off. Dyche has developed their attacking play up a level from last season&#39;s rudimentary approach, and Gudmundsson&#39;s trickery and crossing has been an vital component of that. CF: Troy Deeney (Watford) Watford&#39;s captain has been back in vogue under Javi Gracia, but had two unhappy games at Arsenal and Liverpool with a missed penalty and a 5-0 defeat. Strangely enough, Deeney did not offer his punditry services after those salutary outings. A home match against Bournemouth is a chance for him to set the record straight and see if their centre-backs &#39;fancy it&#39;. CF: Heung-min Son (Spurs) Let&#39;s get one thing straight. Heung-min Son is not the Premier League&#39;s most underrated player, because everyone agrees he is a superb player and vocalises that opinion regularly. Mauricio Pochettino is likely to hand Son the keys to Tottenham&#39;s attack in the probable absence of Kane, rather than the cumbersome Fernando Llorente. Spurs have been an excellent side for two years now, but one valid criticism has been their lack pace across their forward line. It would be horribly contrived to claim they are better off without Kane, but Son&#39;s presence up top does give Spurs the counter-attacking power you need in big away matches. The South Korean could be very difficult to handle, darting into the space behind Chelsea&#39;s wing-backs and opening up holes for Christian Eriksen to exploit.
One to Eleven: The Premier League weekend analysed through XI players
Welcome to a new Friday morning feature in which we preview the forthcoming Premier League weekend through the lens of 11 players. The idea is to pick a team of individuals likely to play a pivotal role in the outcome of their match, their club's fortunes or feature in the big stories come Monday morning. All Premier League matches will be covered in some way, and the aim is not to predict a 'Team of the Weekend' before a ball has been kicked. For reasons of simplicity and week-to-week consistency, the players will be arranged in a 4-4-2 'formation'. Apologies to those of you who were fond of Premier League Bingo, which has gone the same way as the dodo, Woolworth's and Australian sportsmanship. GK: Jack Butland (Stoke) Trying to pick England's World Cup No.1 is like throwing darts blindfolded, with the position up for grabs for whoever strings together a few eye-catching performances. Stoke's trip to Arsenal should afford Butland the chance to catch the attention of Gareth Southgate. Despite their reputation as Arsène Wenger's side's nemesis, Stoke have lost every Premier League visit to the Emirates. Arsenal's league games are inconsequential with top four out of reach, exactly the circumstances when they tend to relax and flow as an attacking force. Will Jack Butland stake a claim for England's No.1 jersey? Credit: Reuters Butland could be in for a busy afternoon, but that is the type of match goalkeepers typically relish. He should draw inspiration from Robert Green and Fraser Forster, who in past run-ins produced goalkeeping exhibitions in Emirates clean sheets. Green with West Ham in 2007, Forster with Southampton in 2016. RB: Ezequiel Schelotto (Brighton) We all knew Chris Hughton's Brighton would approach the Premier League with tight organisation and steely resolve, the doubt was whether they carried enough attacking potency and speed to turn competitive performances into wins. Brighton have a chance to win their fourth consecutive home league match against Leicester on Saturday, and an unlikely threat has come to the fore in that run. Ezequiel Schelotto was signed late in the summer window from Sporting Lisbon, but has made himself a fixture at right-back since the turn of the year. The Italian flies forward with boundless enthusiasm, and at nearly six foot two is on the tall side for a full-back. With his long hair trailing behind him as he embarks on another offensive, it is quite an arresting sight that gets fans on the edge of their seats. It will be a good battle between he and the work-hungry Marc Albrighton. CB: Michael Keane (Everton) Defenders look good in defensive teams, and there is a suspicion that Michael Keane's qualities were embellished by Sean Dyche's protective methods at Burnley. The Man Utd youth product has been exposed at Everton since his big-money summer move, not helped by Ashley Williams' weekly derelictions. Sam Allardyce is expected to partner him with Phil Jagielka on Saturday, and there is not sterner test than Manchester City. In some ways however, a backs-against-the-wall scenario might suit Keane, with his full-backs tucked in close to him and two holding midfielders patrolling shorter distances in front. A place in the England squad looks to have passed Keane by but he needs to show Allardyce, or any prospective Everton manager, that they can count on him for next season. England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked. Who's on the plane to Russia? CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) Christensen is undoubtedly Chelsea's defensive future, but the elegant centre-back has been through a rocky patch of form by his own admission. His misplaced pass led to Lionel Messi's crucial away goal at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. In their defeat at Man Utd in February, the Dane was drawn out of position for Romelu Lukaku's equaliser and lost Jesse Lingard in the penalty area who headed home the decisive goal. Christensen faces another big-game test against Tottenham on Sunday, even though the visitors could be deprived of Harry Kane. There is no doubt he is a fantastic prospect, but he and Chelsea could do with an error-free 90 minutes. LB: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) Left-back has been a problem position for years at Crystal Palace. Van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp are both closer to attacking wing-backs than full-backs, and Roy Hodgson looks to have settled on a compromise by playing both to sure-up Palace's troublesome left-flank. A home match against Liverpool is the last thing they need. Mohamed Salah is a master at exploiting that right 'half-space', the area between left-back and left-centre back, and van Aanholt will have to ignore his natural instincts and stay close to his centre back to block that channel. With Schlupp running back with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Palace could be forced to to defend in an auxiliary back-five for much of the game. With that in mind, Hodgson might drop either Schlupp or van Aanholt and pick an extra centre-back. RW: Tom Ince (Huddersfield) One point from home matches against Swansea and Newcastle leave Huddersfield precariously placed three points above the relegation zone. Only rock-bottom West Brom have scored fewer goals than David Wagner's side, but a trip to Newcastle could be a chance to put that right. Teams can pull themselves away from danger on the strength of one attacking player finding form: think Jon Stead at Blackburn, Hugo Rodallega at Wigan or Fabio Borini recalling what the goal was there for at Sunderland. Huddersfield need a hero to emerge. Fans are still waiting for the talented Ince to catch fire and the time is nigh. Has Jose Mourinho changed tactically since his early managerial days? CM: Paul Pogba (Man Utd) At home fixture against Swansea does not look like a test on which to judge Paul Pogba's quality, but the next few weeks could be crucial to his Man Utd future. 'Temporary disagreement' could soon become 'irreconcilable difference' should Jose Mourinho leave him on the bench or Pogba's form flat-line. Fresh from a sensational strike for France, this looks the perfect day for Pogba to find his rhythm and confidence again. That will probably attract 'flat-track bully' accusations, and incredibly shallow criticism when you think about it. If you play for Manchester United, it is your job to be a flat-track bully. League titles are won by putting the dross away with painless regularity. CM: Mark Noble (West Ham) Southampton are embroiled in their own fight against relegation, with new manager Mark Hughes in the dug-out, but it is no slight on them to say West Ham are the story in this six-pointer. It is their first home game since fans invaded the pitch in their 3-0 loss against Burnley, with captain Mark Noble wrestling one to the ground - though he could be forgiven for acts of self-defence in the circumstances. Noble's legs have slowed, and West Ham should have replenished their central midfield long ago, but he is the last person at the club fans should direct their ire towards. Southampton are strong in this department with Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina, two players who could play for a top-half team, and it could be a testing 90 minutes for West Ham's captain. Not to mention more 'fronting up' in his post-match interview. West Ham could be in for another chastening afternoon at the London Stadium Credit: Reuters LW: Johan Berg Gudmunds­son (Burnley) Burnley have a bizarrely dreadful record at the Hawthorns, losing their last six league visits. Manager Sean Dyche even had his leg broken there as a player. They could not ask for a more presentable chance to change that record than this weekend however, against Alan Pardew's doomed West Brom side. West Brom have to throw bodies forward in search of a win, and that could suit Burnley perfectly who will defend in numbers and then pick them off. Dyche has developed their attacking play up a level from last season's rudimentary approach, and Gudmundsson's trickery and crossing has been an vital component of that. CF: Troy Deeney (Watford) Watford's captain has been back in vogue under Javi Gracia, but had two unhappy games at Arsenal and Liverpool with a missed penalty and a 5-0 defeat. Strangely enough, Deeney did not offer his punditry services after those salutary outings. A home match against Bournemouth is a chance for him to set the record straight and see if their centre-backs 'fancy it'. CF: Heung-min Son (Spurs) Let's get one thing straight. Heung-min Son is not the Premier League's most underrated player, because everyone agrees he is a superb player and vocalises that opinion regularly. Mauricio Pochettino is likely to hand Son the keys to Tottenham's attack in the probable absence of Kane, rather than the cumbersome Fernando Llorente. Spurs have been an excellent side for two years now, but one valid criticism has been their lack pace across their forward line. It would be horribly contrived to claim they are better off without Kane, but Son's presence up top does give Spurs the counter-attacking power you need in big away matches. The South Korean could be very difficult to handle, darting into the space behind Chelsea's wing-backs and opening up holes for Christian Eriksen to exploit.
Occurred on March 29, 2018 / Blackburn, Victoria, Australia Info from Licensor: "I was driving along Maroondah highway when I saw a car going against the flow of traffic. The car then went back and squeezed in between two cars, beat a red light, and hit a turning car before speeding off."
One Tight Squeeze
Occurred on March 29, 2018 / Blackburn, Victoria, Australia Info from Licensor: "I was driving along Maroondah highway when I saw a car going against the flow of traffic. The car then went back and squeezed in between two cars, beat a red light, and hit a turning car before speeding off."
Occurred on March 29, 2018 / Blackburn, Victoria, Australia Info from Licensor: "I was driving along Maroondah highway when I saw a car going against the flow of traffic. The car then went back and squeezed in between two cars, beat a red light, and hit a turning car before speeding off."
One Tight Squeeze
Occurred on March 29, 2018 / Blackburn, Victoria, Australia Info from Licensor: "I was driving along Maroondah highway when I saw a car going against the flow of traffic. The car then went back and squeezed in between two cars, beat a red light, and hit a turning car before speeding off."
Occurred on March 29, 2018 / Blackburn, Victoria, Australia Info from Licensor: "I was driving along Maroondah highway when I saw a car going against the flow of traffic. The car then went back and squeezed in between two cars, beat a red light, and hit a turning car before speeding off."
One Tight Squeeze
Occurred on March 29, 2018 / Blackburn, Victoria, Australia Info from Licensor: "I was driving along Maroondah highway when I saw a car going against the flow of traffic. The car then went back and squeezed in between two cars, beat a red light, and hit a turning car before speeding off."
Occurred on March 29, 2018 / Blackburn, Victoria, Australia Info from Licensor: "I was driving along Maroondah highway when I saw a car going against the flow of traffic. The car then went back and squeezed in between two cars, beat a red light, and hit a turning car before speeding off."
One Tight Squeeze
Occurred on March 29, 2018 / Blackburn, Victoria, Australia Info from Licensor: "I was driving along Maroondah highway when I saw a car going against the flow of traffic. The car then went back and squeezed in between two cars, beat a red light, and hit a turning car before speeding off."
Alex McLeish supervised the first victory of his second spell in charge of Scotland, thanks to a well-worked goal scored by Matt Phillips, four minutes into the second half of this friendly against Hungary in Budapest. The Hungarians are currently 19 places behind Scotland in 50th spot in the Fifa rankings and it showed in the rawness of their play. Nevertheless, they were capable of threat and Allan McGregor had to produce three decisive interventions to maintain a clean sheet. In contrast to the 1-0 defeat by Costa Rica at Hampden Park on Friday night, when Andrew Robertson was the outstanding performer amongst the home contingent, the Liverpool defender had a quiet evening and made way for Barry Douglas midway through the second half. Scott McKenna, though, extended his impressive form at Aberdeen with an authoritative display on the left of the Scots’ three-man back line and there were positive showings from John McGinn and Callum McGregor. McLeish produced a surprise with a team selection that contained only four players who had started against Costa Rica - Allan McGregor, McKenna, Mulgrew and Robertson. The manager had lamented a slow start against Costa Rica, with the Scots sluggish throughout a first half in which they conceded the only goal of the game to Marcos Urena. That failing was remedied in Budapest as Scotland took control of possession by a ratio of close to 2:1 but by the interval McLeish’s players had been thwarted by the familiar failing of inability to convert chances. Even a penalty kick, awarded fortuitously for a foul by Laszlo Kleinheisler on the margin of the box, could not conjure the breakthrough when taken by Mulgrew, normally a reliable striker of a dead ball. Instead, the Blackburn Rovers man attempted a finish that lacked conviction, power and direction, making it an easy block for Peter Gulacsi, the new first choice in goal for Hungary. Indeed, Allan McGregor had more to do at the other end of the field and he had to dive full length to divert a free kick from Balazs Dsudzsak which was heading for the top corner. Mulgrew came close to an even more ignominious moment in the second half when he dawdled on the ball and was ambushed by Adam Szalai but was rescued my McGregor’s reflexes as the goalkeeper came smartly off his line to block the shot. Between times, however, Scottish anxiety had been soothed somewhat when Phillips found the mark after a fluent attack prised open the Hungarian defence. Scotland clap the travelling support at the end of their win Credit: PA Fraser was the architect with a first-time cross low into the heart of the box, where Phillips made a side-footed contact to shoot across Gulacsi into the net. “I definitely enjoyed that,” said the West Brom winger afterwards. “We played some really good stuff. You can see the boys gelling. We&#39;re delighted to win the game because it&#39;s important for us to start winning games. It&#39;s a new group, it will take time but there are plenty of positives.” The Hungarians were stung by Phillips’ contribution and a dangerous free kick by Roland Varga was dipping below the crossbar when McGregor rose to divert the ball over the top. In a less salubrious fashion, Hungary’s frustration was manifested by a clattering challenge on McGinn by Akos Elek, who had replaced Adam Pinter for the second half, and who was cautioned for the foul. Elek was very fortunate to stay on the field after a late lunge saw his studs planted on Kenny McLean’s instep. The yellow card was also shown to Adam Szalai for a ludicrous dive when the striker was challenged by Stuart Armstrong, although the Scots were not squeaky clean and Mulgrew, McGinn and Callum McGregor all went into the Austrian referee’s book. Hungary played long in the closing minutes, striving for a face-saving equaliser but Scotland were pleasingly solid. “We&#39;re getting used to the formation a bit more and hopefully in the summer we carry that on,&quot; said McKenna, who was named Scotland’s man of the match. “They tried to batter us about, but we stood strong. “It&#39;s a massive achievement for me to be here and I want to stay.”
Hungary 0 Scotland 1: Alex McLeish gets first win of second spell thanks to Matt Phillips goal
Alex McLeish supervised the first victory of his second spell in charge of Scotland, thanks to a well-worked goal scored by Matt Phillips, four minutes into the second half of this friendly against Hungary in Budapest. The Hungarians are currently 19 places behind Scotland in 50th spot in the Fifa rankings and it showed in the rawness of their play. Nevertheless, they were capable of threat and Allan McGregor had to produce three decisive interventions to maintain a clean sheet. In contrast to the 1-0 defeat by Costa Rica at Hampden Park on Friday night, when Andrew Robertson was the outstanding performer amongst the home contingent, the Liverpool defender had a quiet evening and made way for Barry Douglas midway through the second half. Scott McKenna, though, extended his impressive form at Aberdeen with an authoritative display on the left of the Scots’ three-man back line and there were positive showings from John McGinn and Callum McGregor. McLeish produced a surprise with a team selection that contained only four players who had started against Costa Rica - Allan McGregor, McKenna, Mulgrew and Robertson. The manager had lamented a slow start against Costa Rica, with the Scots sluggish throughout a first half in which they conceded the only goal of the game to Marcos Urena. That failing was remedied in Budapest as Scotland took control of possession by a ratio of close to 2:1 but by the interval McLeish’s players had been thwarted by the familiar failing of inability to convert chances. Even a penalty kick, awarded fortuitously for a foul by Laszlo Kleinheisler on the margin of the box, could not conjure the breakthrough when taken by Mulgrew, normally a reliable striker of a dead ball. Instead, the Blackburn Rovers man attempted a finish that lacked conviction, power and direction, making it an easy block for Peter Gulacsi, the new first choice in goal for Hungary. Indeed, Allan McGregor had more to do at the other end of the field and he had to dive full length to divert a free kick from Balazs Dsudzsak which was heading for the top corner. Mulgrew came close to an even more ignominious moment in the second half when he dawdled on the ball and was ambushed by Adam Szalai but was rescued my McGregor’s reflexes as the goalkeeper came smartly off his line to block the shot. Between times, however, Scottish anxiety had been soothed somewhat when Phillips found the mark after a fluent attack prised open the Hungarian defence. Scotland clap the travelling support at the end of their win Credit: PA Fraser was the architect with a first-time cross low into the heart of the box, where Phillips made a side-footed contact to shoot across Gulacsi into the net. “I definitely enjoyed that,” said the West Brom winger afterwards. “We played some really good stuff. You can see the boys gelling. We're delighted to win the game because it's important for us to start winning games. It's a new group, it will take time but there are plenty of positives.” The Hungarians were stung by Phillips’ contribution and a dangerous free kick by Roland Varga was dipping below the crossbar when McGregor rose to divert the ball over the top. In a less salubrious fashion, Hungary’s frustration was manifested by a clattering challenge on McGinn by Akos Elek, who had replaced Adam Pinter for the second half, and who was cautioned for the foul. Elek was very fortunate to stay on the field after a late lunge saw his studs planted on Kenny McLean’s instep. The yellow card was also shown to Adam Szalai for a ludicrous dive when the striker was challenged by Stuart Armstrong, although the Scots were not squeaky clean and Mulgrew, McGinn and Callum McGregor all went into the Austrian referee’s book. Hungary played long in the closing minutes, striving for a face-saving equaliser but Scotland were pleasingly solid. “We're getting used to the formation a bit more and hopefully in the summer we carry that on," said McKenna, who was named Scotland’s man of the match. “They tried to batter us about, but we stood strong. “It's a massive achievement for me to be here and I want to stay.”
Alex McLeish supervised the first victory of his second spell in charge of Scotland, thanks to a well-worked goal scored by Matt Phillips, four minutes into the second half of this friendly against Hungary in Budapest. The Hungarians are currently 19 places behind Scotland in 50th spot in the Fifa rankings and it showed in the rawness of their play. Nevertheless, they were capable of threat and Allan McGregor had to produce three decisive interventions to maintain a clean sheet. In contrast to the 1-0 defeat by Costa Rica at Hampden Park on Friday night, when Andrew Robertson was the outstanding performer amongst the home contingent, the Liverpool defender had a quiet evening and made way for Barry Douglas midway through the second half. Scott McKenna, though, extended his impressive form at Aberdeen with an authoritative display on the left of the Scots’ three-man back line and there were positive showings from John McGinn and Callum McGregor. McLeish produced a surprise with a team selection that contained only four players who had started against Costa Rica - Allan McGregor, McKenna, Mulgrew and Robertson. The manager had lamented a slow start against Costa Rica, with the Scots sluggish throughout a first half in which they conceded the only goal of the game to Marcos Urena. That failing was remedied in Budapest as Scotland took control of possession by a ratio of close to 2:1 but by the interval McLeish’s players had been thwarted by the familiar failing of inability to convert chances. Even a penalty kick, awarded fortuitously for a foul by Laszlo Kleinheisler on the margin of the box, could not conjure the breakthrough when taken by Mulgrew, normally a reliable striker of a dead ball. Instead, the Blackburn Rovers man attempted a finish that lacked conviction, power and direction, making it an easy block for Peter Gulacsi, the new first choice in goal for Hungary. Indeed, Allan McGregor had more to do at the other end of the field and he had to dive full length to divert a free kick from Balazs Dsudzsak which was heading for the top corner. Mulgrew came close to an even more ignominious moment in the second half when he dawdled on the ball and was ambushed by Adam Szalai but was rescued my McGregor’s reflexes as the goalkeeper came smartly off his line to block the shot. Between times, however, Scottish anxiety had been soothed somewhat when Phillips found the mark after a fluent attack prised open the Hungarian defence. Scotland clap the travelling support at the end of their win Credit: PA Fraser was the architect with a first-time cross low into the heart of the box, where Phillips made a side-footed contact to shoot across Gulacsi into the net. “I definitely enjoyed that,” said the West Brom winger afterwards. “We played some really good stuff. You can see the boys gelling. We&#39;re delighted to win the game because it&#39;s important for us to start winning games. It&#39;s a new group, it will take time but there are plenty of positives.” The Hungarians were stung by Phillips’ contribution and a dangerous free kick by Roland Varga was dipping below the crossbar when McGregor rose to divert the ball over the top. In a less salubrious fashion, Hungary’s frustration was manifested by a clattering challenge on McGinn by Akos Elek, who had replaced Adam Pinter for the second half, and who was cautioned for the foul. Elek was very fortunate to stay on the field after a late lunge saw his studs planted on Kenny McLean’s instep. The yellow card was also shown to Adam Szalai for a ludicrous dive when the striker was challenged by Stuart Armstrong, although the Scots were not squeaky clean and Mulgrew, McGinn and Callum McGregor all went into the Austrian referee’s book. Hungary played long in the closing minutes, striving for a face-saving equaliser but Scotland were pleasingly solid. “We&#39;re getting used to the formation a bit more and hopefully in the summer we carry that on,&quot; said McKenna, who was named Scotland’s man of the match. “They tried to batter us about, but we stood strong. “It&#39;s a massive achievement for me to be here and I want to stay.”
Hungary 0 Scotland 1: Alex McLeish gets first win of second spell thanks to Matt Phillips goal
Alex McLeish supervised the first victory of his second spell in charge of Scotland, thanks to a well-worked goal scored by Matt Phillips, four minutes into the second half of this friendly against Hungary in Budapest. The Hungarians are currently 19 places behind Scotland in 50th spot in the Fifa rankings and it showed in the rawness of their play. Nevertheless, they were capable of threat and Allan McGregor had to produce three decisive interventions to maintain a clean sheet. In contrast to the 1-0 defeat by Costa Rica at Hampden Park on Friday night, when Andrew Robertson was the outstanding performer amongst the home contingent, the Liverpool defender had a quiet evening and made way for Barry Douglas midway through the second half. Scott McKenna, though, extended his impressive form at Aberdeen with an authoritative display on the left of the Scots’ three-man back line and there were positive showings from John McGinn and Callum McGregor. McLeish produced a surprise with a team selection that contained only four players who had started against Costa Rica - Allan McGregor, McKenna, Mulgrew and Robertson. The manager had lamented a slow start against Costa Rica, with the Scots sluggish throughout a first half in which they conceded the only goal of the game to Marcos Urena. That failing was remedied in Budapest as Scotland took control of possession by a ratio of close to 2:1 but by the interval McLeish’s players had been thwarted by the familiar failing of inability to convert chances. Even a penalty kick, awarded fortuitously for a foul by Laszlo Kleinheisler on the margin of the box, could not conjure the breakthrough when taken by Mulgrew, normally a reliable striker of a dead ball. Instead, the Blackburn Rovers man attempted a finish that lacked conviction, power and direction, making it an easy block for Peter Gulacsi, the new first choice in goal for Hungary. Indeed, Allan McGregor had more to do at the other end of the field and he had to dive full length to divert a free kick from Balazs Dsudzsak which was heading for the top corner. Mulgrew came close to an even more ignominious moment in the second half when he dawdled on the ball and was ambushed by Adam Szalai but was rescued my McGregor’s reflexes as the goalkeeper came smartly off his line to block the shot. Between times, however, Scottish anxiety had been soothed somewhat when Phillips found the mark after a fluent attack prised open the Hungarian defence. Scotland clap the travelling support at the end of their win Credit: PA Fraser was the architect with a first-time cross low into the heart of the box, where Phillips made a side-footed contact to shoot across Gulacsi into the net. “I definitely enjoyed that,” said the West Brom winger afterwards. “We played some really good stuff. You can see the boys gelling. We're delighted to win the game because it's important for us to start winning games. It's a new group, it will take time but there are plenty of positives.” The Hungarians were stung by Phillips’ contribution and a dangerous free kick by Roland Varga was dipping below the crossbar when McGregor rose to divert the ball over the top. In a less salubrious fashion, Hungary’s frustration was manifested by a clattering challenge on McGinn by Akos Elek, who had replaced Adam Pinter for the second half, and who was cautioned for the foul. Elek was very fortunate to stay on the field after a late lunge saw his studs planted on Kenny McLean’s instep. The yellow card was also shown to Adam Szalai for a ludicrous dive when the striker was challenged by Stuart Armstrong, although the Scots were not squeaky clean and Mulgrew, McGinn and Callum McGregor all went into the Austrian referee’s book. Hungary played long in the closing minutes, striving for a face-saving equaliser but Scotland were pleasingly solid. “We're getting used to the formation a bit more and hopefully in the summer we carry that on," said McKenna, who was named Scotland’s man of the match. “They tried to batter us about, but we stood strong. “It's a massive achievement for me to be here and I want to stay.”
Ellie Blackburn calls Katie Brennan on stage to lift the Premiership cup.
Bulldogs walking on AFLW sunshine despite rain-sodden Ikon Park
Ellie Blackburn calls Katie Brennan on stage to lift the Premiership cup.
It tends to be pretty obvious when a player is delivering platitudes and going through the motions in the interests of diplomacy but there was nothing contrived about Marcus Rashford’s answer as he waited eagerly to interject. The subject had turned to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the young Manchester United striker’s eyes had widened as he began to discuss the Swede’s impact at Old Trafford. “What I have learnt from him is irreplaceable,” Rashford said. “You will see the benefits in years to come. No other forward in the world could have come in and been able to pass on so much. There is nobody else that we could have learnt that much about football - and mentally – from. For me, it’s the mentality he’s brought with him that’s the biggest thing I’m going to take from what he’s offered us. His mentality alone is what puts him head ahead of the game. Before he’s even kicked a ball on the pitch, in his mind he’s already ahead of everyone else, and that’s a massive mentality to have.” Rashford was talking in April last year, a few days after Ibrahimovic had succumbed to a cruciate knee ligament injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League that would bring a premature end to a debut United campaign which had yielded 28 goals. It was an injury that would also mark his last meaningful contribution in a red shirt, an unfortunate end for a player whose contribution at Old Trafford may ultimately be measured as much for what he brought off the field as on it. There was a sad inevitability about the news on Thursday that United had released Ibrahimovic from his contract, which still had over three months to run, in order to allow him to join Los Angeles Galaxy as he prepares for a career swansong in Major League Soccer in the US following that brief, aborted comeback. It also raises some questions about the wisdom of United offering a new 12-month deal last August to a then 35-year-old who had suffered such a serious injury. It felt very much like sentimental indulgence and so it has proved but, whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular move, Ibrahimovic’s time at United will remembered for those first 12 months when he led by example and reintroduced a winner’s mentality to a meek, cowed dressing room far removed from the uncompromising place it once was. Ibrahimovic scored the winning goal in the EFL Cup final Credit: Reuters Indeed, to truly gauge Ibrahimovic’s impact is to recognise just how far standards had fallen at a club once synonymous with character, resilience, big, forceful personalities and iron will. Jose Mourinho’s thinking may appear more muddled now but even before the manager was in situ at United he had established very clearly that the dressing room lacked leaders and natural born winners. Ibrahimovic’s signing served to address that problem head on. They laugh about it now but it became very apparent to some when they first witnessed this supposed veteran strip down to the waist in pre-season and start striding around the dressing room in full voice, a rippling six-pack the feature of a towering, muscular 6ft 5in frame, that this was a player who would not tolerate any drop in standards. It was intimidating, especially at first. Ibrahimovic would be incredibly exacting and demanding in training, rebuking team-mates for misplaced passes or dropping off in the closing stages of sessions. More often than not, though, he would not need to say anything. “You’d just get that withering stare,” one source said. “The fans have probably seen it in matches – the one where he looks disgusted at what he’s just witnessed.” Juan Mata encapsulated Ibrahimovic’s impact quite neatly midway through last season. “He has brought a lot of things to the team, not just his mentality, but his way of understanding football, his way of behaving with the players in the dressing room,” he said. “He is always pushing buttons in the right moment and in the right way trying to motivate everyone.” Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United. Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history. #foreverredpic.twitter.com/vo1Gs3SUHL— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 22, 2018 Accusations of insufferable arrogance are invariably misplaced. Ibrahimovic is arrogant but in the best sense and playful with it. It is no secret he would strut around the club pretending he was God but always with a twinkle in his eye. Staff say he will be missed not least because he was so funny, that lofty glare masking a very sharp sense of humour. He would encourage the self-proclaimed “lion” persona and parody himself in the process. “I bet you wish your husband looked like this” Ibrahimovic told one female member of staff before erupting into laughter. Asked to do social media for the club, Ibrahimovic replied, deadpan: “Why, do you want me to increase your following?” Mourinho had claimed Ibrahimovic would be a “gift” for Rashford and Rashford agreed but it was not only the England striker who benefited. Ibrahimovic was generous with his time with the young players, and always ready to speak his mind when he saw something he did not like. When Anthony Martial’s representative, Philippe Lamboley, claimed publicly that they were exploring the option of a move to Sevilla in January last year, Ibrahimovic waded in and pulled the France forward aside, bluntly telling him to park such talk, buckle down and focus on making a success of things at United. It was a measure of the significance Mourinho placed on Ibrahimovic that, when the manager spotted the Swede’s wife, Helena Segar, a very strong character herself, as he walked past the players’ lounge at Old Trafford after one game, he stopped to tell her: “Thank you for keeping your man happy here. It’s really important.” Zlatan And no one could underplay Ibrahimovic’s significance on the pitch. Yes, he missed some big chances in some big games that would prove costly and in the weeks leading up to that ruptured anterior cruciate the impact of being asked to play so many games had begun to take its toll but there were times when he carried the team. Eleven goals in 11 matches between Nov 27 and Jan 15 of that first season featured numerous decisive moments. Then again in the February it was Ibrahimovic who kept rising to the occasion, a hat-trick in a Europa League game against St-Etienne followed by a late winner in a difficult FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers and then, most memorably, two goals in the League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley, including a dramatic 87th minute winner. It was certainly interesting to talk to Ibrahimovic after the game. He has an acute sense of theatre, Ibrahimovic, and he was well and truly playing to the crowd as he fielded questions from reporters about his form and future. One exchange was particularly amusing. Reporter: “You’ve said you’re like a lion, how …”. Ibrahimovic, interrupting: “Like a lion? I’m not like a lion. I am a lion. I don’t want to be a lion. The lion is born a lion. It means I’m a lion!” Suffice to say, Matteo Darmian does not talk this way but then few do. Zlatan celebrates with the Europa League trophy Credit: AP There were signs before the injury of Ibrahimovic getting restless, though. He had won the title in nine of his previous ten seasons with Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris St-Germain and to see United so cut adrift and with so much work to do frustrated him. At one stage, he even suggested the club needed to prove they were willing to match his own ambition if he was to stay on. “Everything depends on what you want and what the club wants, what the vision of the club is because I said from day one I didn’t come here to waste time, I came here to win. If you want to win bigger then you have to create bigger.” His comeback in November, only 212 days after sustaining that injury against Anderlecht, seemed too good to be true and that was born out over 187 minutes of laboured football before Ibrahimovic concluded that he was not up to it. It was no disgrace. It can take another six to nine months following a lengthy rehabilitation process for much younger players to get fully back up to speed after a cruciate injury. The problem was, at 36, the luxury of time was not something Ibrahimovic had at United. It was certainly a disappointment that supporters did not get to see a fit Ibrahimovic for a second season but it will have been of more disappointment to many of them that he did not come to the club several years before.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be remembered at Man Utd for reintroducing a winner’s mentality
It tends to be pretty obvious when a player is delivering platitudes and going through the motions in the interests of diplomacy but there was nothing contrived about Marcus Rashford’s answer as he waited eagerly to interject. The subject had turned to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the young Manchester United striker’s eyes had widened as he began to discuss the Swede’s impact at Old Trafford. “What I have learnt from him is irreplaceable,” Rashford said. “You will see the benefits in years to come. No other forward in the world could have come in and been able to pass on so much. There is nobody else that we could have learnt that much about football - and mentally – from. For me, it’s the mentality he’s brought with him that’s the biggest thing I’m going to take from what he’s offered us. His mentality alone is what puts him head ahead of the game. Before he’s even kicked a ball on the pitch, in his mind he’s already ahead of everyone else, and that’s a massive mentality to have.” Rashford was talking in April last year, a few days after Ibrahimovic had succumbed to a cruciate knee ligament injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League that would bring a premature end to a debut United campaign which had yielded 28 goals. It was an injury that would also mark his last meaningful contribution in a red shirt, an unfortunate end for a player whose contribution at Old Trafford may ultimately be measured as much for what he brought off the field as on it. There was a sad inevitability about the news on Thursday that United had released Ibrahimovic from his contract, which still had over three months to run, in order to allow him to join Los Angeles Galaxy as he prepares for a career swansong in Major League Soccer in the US following that brief, aborted comeback. It also raises some questions about the wisdom of United offering a new 12-month deal last August to a then 35-year-old who had suffered such a serious injury. It felt very much like sentimental indulgence and so it has proved but, whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular move, Ibrahimovic’s time at United will remembered for those first 12 months when he led by example and reintroduced a winner’s mentality to a meek, cowed dressing room far removed from the uncompromising place it once was. Ibrahimovic scored the winning goal in the EFL Cup final Credit: Reuters Indeed, to truly gauge Ibrahimovic’s impact is to recognise just how far standards had fallen at a club once synonymous with character, resilience, big, forceful personalities and iron will. Jose Mourinho’s thinking may appear more muddled now but even before the manager was in situ at United he had established very clearly that the dressing room lacked leaders and natural born winners. Ibrahimovic’s signing served to address that problem head on. They laugh about it now but it became very apparent to some when they first witnessed this supposed veteran strip down to the waist in pre-season and start striding around the dressing room in full voice, a rippling six-pack the feature of a towering, muscular 6ft 5in frame, that this was a player who would not tolerate any drop in standards. It was intimidating, especially at first. Ibrahimovic would be incredibly exacting and demanding in training, rebuking team-mates for misplaced passes or dropping off in the closing stages of sessions. More often than not, though, he would not need to say anything. “You’d just get that withering stare,” one source said. “The fans have probably seen it in matches – the one where he looks disgusted at what he’s just witnessed.” Juan Mata encapsulated Ibrahimovic’s impact quite neatly midway through last season. “He has brought a lot of things to the team, not just his mentality, but his way of understanding football, his way of behaving with the players in the dressing room,” he said. “He is always pushing buttons in the right moment and in the right way trying to motivate everyone.” Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United. Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history. #foreverredpic.twitter.com/vo1Gs3SUHL— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 22, 2018 Accusations of insufferable arrogance are invariably misplaced. Ibrahimovic is arrogant but in the best sense and playful with it. It is no secret he would strut around the club pretending he was God but always with a twinkle in his eye. Staff say he will be missed not least because he was so funny, that lofty glare masking a very sharp sense of humour. He would encourage the self-proclaimed “lion” persona and parody himself in the process. “I bet you wish your husband looked like this” Ibrahimovic told one female member of staff before erupting into laughter. Asked to do social media for the club, Ibrahimovic replied, deadpan: “Why, do you want me to increase your following?” Mourinho had claimed Ibrahimovic would be a “gift” for Rashford and Rashford agreed but it was not only the England striker who benefited. Ibrahimovic was generous with his time with the young players, and always ready to speak his mind when he saw something he did not like. When Anthony Martial’s representative, Philippe Lamboley, claimed publicly that they were exploring the option of a move to Sevilla in January last year, Ibrahimovic waded in and pulled the France forward aside, bluntly telling him to park such talk, buckle down and focus on making a success of things at United. It was a measure of the significance Mourinho placed on Ibrahimovic that, when the manager spotted the Swede’s wife, Helena Segar, a very strong character herself, as he walked past the players’ lounge at Old Trafford after one game, he stopped to tell her: “Thank you for keeping your man happy here. It’s really important.” Zlatan And no one could underplay Ibrahimovic’s significance on the pitch. Yes, he missed some big chances in some big games that would prove costly and in the weeks leading up to that ruptured anterior cruciate the impact of being asked to play so many games had begun to take its toll but there were times when he carried the team. Eleven goals in 11 matches between Nov 27 and Jan 15 of that first season featured numerous decisive moments. Then again in the February it was Ibrahimovic who kept rising to the occasion, a hat-trick in a Europa League game against St-Etienne followed by a late winner in a difficult FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers and then, most memorably, two goals in the League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley, including a dramatic 87th minute winner. It was certainly interesting to talk to Ibrahimovic after the game. He has an acute sense of theatre, Ibrahimovic, and he was well and truly playing to the crowd as he fielded questions from reporters about his form and future. One exchange was particularly amusing. Reporter: “You’ve said you’re like a lion, how …”. Ibrahimovic, interrupting: “Like a lion? I’m not like a lion. I am a lion. I don’t want to be a lion. The lion is born a lion. It means I’m a lion!” Suffice to say, Matteo Darmian does not talk this way but then few do. Zlatan celebrates with the Europa League trophy Credit: AP There were signs before the injury of Ibrahimovic getting restless, though. He had won the title in nine of his previous ten seasons with Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris St-Germain and to see United so cut adrift and with so much work to do frustrated him. At one stage, he even suggested the club needed to prove they were willing to match his own ambition if he was to stay on. “Everything depends on what you want and what the club wants, what the vision of the club is because I said from day one I didn’t come here to waste time, I came here to win. If you want to win bigger then you have to create bigger.” His comeback in November, only 212 days after sustaining that injury against Anderlecht, seemed too good to be true and that was born out over 187 minutes of laboured football before Ibrahimovic concluded that he was not up to it. It was no disgrace. It can take another six to nine months following a lengthy rehabilitation process for much younger players to get fully back up to speed after a cruciate injury. The problem was, at 36, the luxury of time was not something Ibrahimovic had at United. It was certainly a disappointment that supporters did not get to see a fit Ibrahimovic for a second season but it will have been of more disappointment to many of them that he did not come to the club several years before.
It tends to be pretty obvious when a player is delivering platitudes and going through the motions in the interests of diplomacy but there was nothing contrived about Marcus Rashford’s answer as he waited eagerly to interject. The subject had turned to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the young Manchester United striker’s eyes had widened as he began to discuss the Swede’s impact at Old Trafford. “What I have learnt from him is irreplaceable,” Rashford said. “You will see the benefits in years to come. No other forward in the world could have come in and been able to pass on so much. There is nobody else that we could have learnt that much about football - and mentally – from. For me, it’s the mentality he’s brought with him that’s the biggest thing I’m going to take from what he’s offered us. His mentality alone is what puts him head ahead of the game. Before he’s even kicked a ball on the pitch, in his mind he’s already ahead of everyone else, and that’s a massive mentality to have.” Rashford was talking in April last year, a few days after Ibrahimovic had succumbed to a cruciate knee ligament injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League that would bring a premature end to a debut United campaign which had yielded 28 goals. It was an injury that would also mark his last meaningful contribution in a red shirt, an unfortunate end for a player whose contribution at Old Trafford may ultimately be measured as much for what he brought off the field as on it. There was a sad inevitability about the news on Thursday that United had released Ibrahimovic from his contract, which still had over three months to run, in order to allow him to join Los Angeles Galaxy as he prepares for a career swansong in Major League Soccer in the US following that brief, aborted comeback. It also raises some questions about the wisdom of United offering a new 12-month deal last August to a then 35-year-old who had suffered such a serious injury. It felt very much like sentimental indulgence and so it has proved but, whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular move, Ibrahimovic’s time at United will remembered for those first 12 months when he led by example and reintroduced a winner’s mentality to a meek, cowed dressing room far removed from the uncompromising place it once was. Ibrahimovic scored the winning goal in the EFL Cup final Credit: Reuters Indeed, to truly gauge Ibrahimovic’s impact is to recognise just how far standards had fallen at a club once synonymous with character, resilience, big, forceful personalities and iron will. Jose Mourinho’s thinking may appear more muddled now but even before the manager was in situ at United he had established very clearly that the dressing room lacked leaders and natural born winners. Ibrahimovic’s signing served to address that problem head on. They laugh about it now but it became very apparent to some when they first witnessed this supposed veteran strip down to the waist in pre-season and start striding around the dressing room in full voice, a rippling six-pack the feature of a towering, muscular 6ft 5in frame, that this was a player who would not tolerate any drop in standards. It was intimidating, especially at first. Ibrahimovic would be incredibly exacting and demanding in training, rebuking team-mates for misplaced passes or dropping off in the closing stages of sessions. More often than not, though, he would not need to say anything. “You’d just get that withering stare,” one source said. “The fans have probably seen it in matches – the one where he looks disgusted at what he’s just witnessed.” Juan Mata encapsulated Ibrahimovic’s impact quite neatly midway through last season. “He has brought a lot of things to the team, not just his mentality, but his way of understanding football, his way of behaving with the players in the dressing room,” he said. “He is always pushing buttons in the right moment and in the right way trying to motivate everyone.” Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United. Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history. #foreverredpic.twitter.com/vo1Gs3SUHL— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 22, 2018 Accusations of insufferable arrogance are invariably misplaced. Ibrahimovic is arrogant but in the best sense and playful with it. It is no secret he would strut around the club pretending he was God but always with a twinkle in his eye. Staff say he will be missed not least because he was so funny, that lofty glare masking a very sharp sense of humour. He would encourage the self-proclaimed “lion” persona and parody himself in the process. “I bet you wish your husband looked like this” Ibrahimovic told one female member of staff before erupting into laughter. Asked to do social media for the club, Ibrahimovic replied, deadpan: “Why, do you want me to increase your following?” Mourinho had claimed Ibrahimovic would be a “gift” for Rashford and Rashford agreed but it was not only the England striker who benefited. Ibrahimovic was generous with his time with the young players, and always ready to speak his mind when he saw something he did not like. When Anthony Martial’s representative, Philippe Lamboley, claimed publicly that they were exploring the option of a move to Sevilla in January last year, Ibrahimovic waded in and pulled the France forward aside, bluntly telling him to park such talk, buckle down and focus on making a success of things at United. It was a measure of the significance Mourinho placed on Ibrahimovic that, when the manager spotted the Swede’s wife, Helena Segar, a very strong character herself, as he walked past the players’ lounge at Old Trafford after one game, he stopped to tell her: “Thank you for keeping your man happy here. It’s really important.” Zlatan And no one could underplay Ibrahimovic’s significance on the pitch. Yes, he missed some big chances in some big games that would prove costly and in the weeks leading up to that ruptured anterior cruciate the impact of being asked to play so many games had begun to take its toll but there were times when he carried the team. Eleven goals in 11 matches between Nov 27 and Jan 15 of that first season featured numerous decisive moments. Then again in the February it was Ibrahimovic who kept rising to the occasion, a hat-trick in a Europa League game against St-Etienne followed by a late winner in a difficult FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers and then, most memorably, two goals in the League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley, including a dramatic 87th minute winner. It was certainly interesting to talk to Ibrahimovic after the game. He has an acute sense of theatre, Ibrahimovic, and he was well and truly playing to the crowd as he fielded questions from reporters about his form and future. One exchange was particularly amusing. Reporter: “You’ve said you’re like a lion, how …”. Ibrahimovic, interrupting: “Like a lion? I’m not like a lion. I am a lion. I don’t want to be a lion. The lion is born a lion. It means I’m a lion!” Suffice to say, Matteo Darmian does not talk this way but then few do. Zlatan celebrates with the Europa League trophy Credit: AP There were signs before the injury of Ibrahimovic getting restless, though. He had won the title in nine of his previous ten seasons with Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris St-Germain and to see United so cut adrift and with so much work to do frustrated him. At one stage, he even suggested the club needed to prove they were willing to match his own ambition if he was to stay on. “Everything depends on what you want and what the club wants, what the vision of the club is because I said from day one I didn’t come here to waste time, I came here to win. If you want to win bigger then you have to create bigger.” His comeback in November, only 212 days after sustaining that injury against Anderlecht, seemed too good to be true and that was born out over 187 minutes of laboured football before Ibrahimovic concluded that he was not up to it. It was no disgrace. It can take another six to nine months following a lengthy rehabilitation process for much younger players to get fully back up to speed after a cruciate injury. The problem was, at 36, the luxury of time was not something Ibrahimovic had at United. It was certainly a disappointment that supporters did not get to see a fit Ibrahimovic for a second season but it will have been of more disappointment to many of them that he did not come to the club several years before.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be remembered at Man Utd for reintroducing a winner’s mentality
It tends to be pretty obvious when a player is delivering platitudes and going through the motions in the interests of diplomacy but there was nothing contrived about Marcus Rashford’s answer as he waited eagerly to interject. The subject had turned to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the young Manchester United striker’s eyes had widened as he began to discuss the Swede’s impact at Old Trafford. “What I have learnt from him is irreplaceable,” Rashford said. “You will see the benefits in years to come. No other forward in the world could have come in and been able to pass on so much. There is nobody else that we could have learnt that much about football - and mentally – from. For me, it’s the mentality he’s brought with him that’s the biggest thing I’m going to take from what he’s offered us. His mentality alone is what puts him head ahead of the game. Before he’s even kicked a ball on the pitch, in his mind he’s already ahead of everyone else, and that’s a massive mentality to have.” Rashford was talking in April last year, a few days after Ibrahimovic had succumbed to a cruciate knee ligament injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League that would bring a premature end to a debut United campaign which had yielded 28 goals. It was an injury that would also mark his last meaningful contribution in a red shirt, an unfortunate end for a player whose contribution at Old Trafford may ultimately be measured as much for what he brought off the field as on it. There was a sad inevitability about the news on Thursday that United had released Ibrahimovic from his contract, which still had over three months to run, in order to allow him to join Los Angeles Galaxy as he prepares for a career swansong in Major League Soccer in the US following that brief, aborted comeback. It also raises some questions about the wisdom of United offering a new 12-month deal last August to a then 35-year-old who had suffered such a serious injury. It felt very much like sentimental indulgence and so it has proved but, whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular move, Ibrahimovic’s time at United will remembered for those first 12 months when he led by example and reintroduced a winner’s mentality to a meek, cowed dressing room far removed from the uncompromising place it once was. Ibrahimovic scored the winning goal in the EFL Cup final Credit: Reuters Indeed, to truly gauge Ibrahimovic’s impact is to recognise just how far standards had fallen at a club once synonymous with character, resilience, big, forceful personalities and iron will. Jose Mourinho’s thinking may appear more muddled now but even before the manager was in situ at United he had established very clearly that the dressing room lacked leaders and natural born winners. Ibrahimovic’s signing served to address that problem head on. They laugh about it now but it became very apparent to some when they first witnessed this supposed veteran strip down to the waist in pre-season and start striding around the dressing room in full voice, a rippling six-pack the feature of a towering, muscular 6ft 5in frame, that this was a player who would not tolerate any drop in standards. It was intimidating, especially at first. Ibrahimovic would be incredibly exacting and demanding in training, rebuking team-mates for misplaced passes or dropping off in the closing stages of sessions. More often than not, though, he would not need to say anything. “You’d just get that withering stare,” one source said. “The fans have probably seen it in matches – the one where he looks disgusted at what he’s just witnessed.” Juan Mata encapsulated Ibrahimovic’s impact quite neatly midway through last season. “He has brought a lot of things to the team, not just his mentality, but his way of understanding football, his way of behaving with the players in the dressing room,” he said. “He is always pushing buttons in the right moment and in the right way trying to motivate everyone.” Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United. Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history. #foreverredpic.twitter.com/vo1Gs3SUHL— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 22, 2018 Accusations of insufferable arrogance are invariably misplaced. Ibrahimovic is arrogant but in the best sense and playful with it. It is no secret he would strut around the club pretending he was God but always with a twinkle in his eye. Staff say he will be missed not least because he was so funny, that lofty glare masking a very sharp sense of humour. He would encourage the self-proclaimed “lion” persona and parody himself in the process. “I bet you wish your husband looked like this” Ibrahimovic told one female member of staff before erupting into laughter. Asked to do social media for the club, Ibrahimovic replied, deadpan: “Why, do you want me to increase your following?” Mourinho had claimed Ibrahimovic would be a “gift” for Rashford and Rashford agreed but it was not only the England striker who benefited. Ibrahimovic was generous with his time with the young players, and always ready to speak his mind when he saw something he did not like. When Anthony Martial’s representative, Philippe Lamboley, claimed publicly that they were exploring the option of a move to Sevilla in January last year, Ibrahimovic waded in and pulled the France forward aside, bluntly telling him to park such talk, buckle down and focus on making a success of things at United. It was a measure of the significance Mourinho placed on Ibrahimovic that, when the manager spotted the Swede’s wife, Helena Segar, a very strong character herself, as he walked past the players’ lounge at Old Trafford after one game, he stopped to tell her: “Thank you for keeping your man happy here. It’s really important.” Zlatan And no one could underplay Ibrahimovic’s significance on the pitch. Yes, he missed some big chances in some big games that would prove costly and in the weeks leading up to that ruptured anterior cruciate the impact of being asked to play so many games had begun to take its toll but there were times when he carried the team. Eleven goals in 11 matches between Nov 27 and Jan 15 of that first season featured numerous decisive moments. Then again in the February it was Ibrahimovic who kept rising to the occasion, a hat-trick in a Europa League game against St-Etienne followed by a late winner in a difficult FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers and then, most memorably, two goals in the League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley, including a dramatic 87th minute winner. It was certainly interesting to talk to Ibrahimovic after the game. He has an acute sense of theatre, Ibrahimovic, and he was well and truly playing to the crowd as he fielded questions from reporters about his form and future. One exchange was particularly amusing. Reporter: “You’ve said you’re like a lion, how …”. Ibrahimovic, interrupting: “Like a lion? I’m not like a lion. I am a lion. I don’t want to be a lion. The lion is born a lion. It means I’m a lion!” Suffice to say, Matteo Darmian does not talk this way but then few do. Zlatan celebrates with the Europa League trophy Credit: AP There were signs before the injury of Ibrahimovic getting restless, though. He had won the title in nine of his previous ten seasons with Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris St-Germain and to see United so cut adrift and with so much work to do frustrated him. At one stage, he even suggested the club needed to prove they were willing to match his own ambition if he was to stay on. “Everything depends on what you want and what the club wants, what the vision of the club is because I said from day one I didn’t come here to waste time, I came here to win. If you want to win bigger then you have to create bigger.” His comeback in November, only 212 days after sustaining that injury against Anderlecht, seemed too good to be true and that was born out over 187 minutes of laboured football before Ibrahimovic concluded that he was not up to it. It was no disgrace. It can take another six to nine months following a lengthy rehabilitation process for much younger players to get fully back up to speed after a cruciate injury. The problem was, at 36, the luxury of time was not something Ibrahimovic had at United. It was certainly a disappointment that supporters did not get to see a fit Ibrahimovic for a second season but it will have been of more disappointment to many of them that he did not come to the club several years before.
It tends to be pretty obvious when a player is delivering platitudes and going through the motions in the interests of diplomacy but there was nothing contrived about Marcus Rashford’s answer as he waited eagerly to interject. The subject had turned to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the young Manchester United striker’s eyes had widened as he began to discuss the Swede’s impact at Old Trafford. “What I have learnt from him is irreplaceable,” Rashford said. “You will see the benefits in years to come. No other forward in the world could have come in and been able to pass on so much. There is nobody else that we could have learnt that much about football - and mentally – from. For me, it’s the mentality he’s brought with him that’s the biggest thing I’m going to take from what he’s offered us. His mentality alone is what puts him head ahead of the game. Before he’s even kicked a ball on the pitch, in his mind he’s already ahead of everyone else, and that’s a massive mentality to have.” Rashford was talking in April last year, a few days after Ibrahimovic had succumbed to a cruciate knee ligament injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League that would bring a premature end to a debut United campaign which had yielded 28 goals. It was an injury that would also mark his last meaningful contribution in a red shirt, an unfortunate end for a player whose contribution at Old Trafford may ultimately be measured as much for what he brought off the field as on it. There was a sad inevitability about the news on Thursday that United had released Ibrahimovic from his contract, which still had over three months to run, in order to allow him to join Los Angeles Galaxy as he prepares for a career swansong in Major League Soccer in the US following that brief, aborted comeback. It also raises some questions about the wisdom of United offering a new 12-month deal last August to a then 35-year-old who had suffered such a serious injury. It felt very much like sentimental indulgence and so it has proved but, whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular move, Ibrahimovic’s time at United will remembered for those first 12 months when he led by example and reintroduced a winner’s mentality to a meek, cowed dressing room far removed from the uncompromising place it once was. Ibrahimovic scored the winning goal in the EFL Cup final Credit: Reuters Indeed, to truly gauge Ibrahimovic’s impact is to recognise just how far standards had fallen at a club once synonymous with character, resilience, big, forceful personalities and iron will. Jose Mourinho’s thinking may appear more muddled now but even before the manager was in situ at United he had established very clearly that the dressing room lacked leaders and natural born winners. Ibrahimovic’s signing served to address that problem head on. They laugh about it now but it became very apparent to some when they first witnessed this supposed veteran strip down to the waist in pre-season and start striding around the dressing room in full voice, a rippling six-pack the feature of a towering, muscular 6ft 5in frame, that this was a player who would not tolerate any drop in standards. It was intimidating, especially at first. Ibrahimovic would be incredibly exacting and demanding in training, rebuking team-mates for misplaced passes or dropping off in the closing stages of sessions. More often than not, though, he would not need to say anything. “You’d just get that withering stare,” one source said. “The fans have probably seen it in matches – the one where he looks disgusted at what he’s just witnessed.” Juan Mata encapsulated Ibrahimovic’s impact quite neatly midway through last season. “He has brought a lot of things to the team, not just his mentality, but his way of understanding football, his way of behaving with the players in the dressing room,” he said. “He is always pushing buttons in the right moment and in the right way trying to motivate everyone.” Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United. Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history. #foreverredpic.twitter.com/vo1Gs3SUHL— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 22, 2018 Accusations of insufferable arrogance are invariably misplaced. Ibrahimovic is arrogant but in the best sense and playful with it. It is no secret he would strut around the club pretending he was God but always with a twinkle in his eye. Staff say he will be missed not least because he was so funny, that lofty glare masking a very sharp sense of humour. He would encourage the self-proclaimed “lion” persona and parody himself in the process. “I bet you wish your husband looked like this” Ibrahimovic told one female member of staff before erupting into laughter. Asked to do social media for the club, Ibrahimovic replied, deadpan: “Why, do you want me to increase your following?” Mourinho had claimed Ibrahimovic would be a “gift” for Rashford and Rashford agreed but it was not only the England striker who benefited. Ibrahimovic was generous with his time with the young players, and always ready to speak his mind when he saw something he did not like. When Anthony Martial’s representative, Philippe Lamboley, claimed publicly that they were exploring the option of a move to Sevilla in January last year, Ibrahimovic waded in and pulled the France forward aside, bluntly telling him to park such talk, buckle down and focus on making a success of things at United. It was a measure of the significance Mourinho placed on Ibrahimovic that, when the manager spotted the Swede’s wife, Helena Segar, a very strong character herself, as he walked past the players’ lounge at Old Trafford after one game, he stopped to tell her: “Thank you for keeping your man happy here. It’s really important.” Zlatan And no one could underplay Ibrahimovic’s significance on the pitch. Yes, he missed some big chances in some big games that would prove costly and in the weeks leading up to that ruptured anterior cruciate the impact of being asked to play so many games had begun to take its toll but there were times when he carried the team. Eleven goals in 11 matches between Nov 27 and Jan 15 of that first season featured numerous decisive moments. Then again in the February it was Ibrahimovic who kept rising to the occasion, a hat-trick in a Europa League game against St-Etienne followed by a late winner in a difficult FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers and then, most memorably, two goals in the League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley, including a dramatic 87th minute winner. It was certainly interesting to talk to Ibrahimovic after the game. He has an acute sense of theatre, Ibrahimovic, and he was well and truly playing to the crowd as he fielded questions from reporters about his form and future. One exchange was particularly amusing. Reporter: “You’ve said you’re like a lion, how …”. Ibrahimovic, interrupting: “Like a lion? I’m not like a lion. I am a lion. I don’t want to be a lion. The lion is born a lion. It means I’m a lion!” Suffice to say, Matteo Darmian does not talk this way but then few do. Zlatan celebrates with the Europa League trophy Credit: AP There were signs before the injury of Ibrahimovic getting restless, though. He had won the title in nine of his previous ten seasons with Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris St-Germain and to see United so cut adrift and with so much work to do frustrated him. At one stage, he even suggested the club needed to prove they were willing to match his own ambition if he was to stay on. “Everything depends on what you want and what the club wants, what the vision of the club is because I said from day one I didn’t come here to waste time, I came here to win. If you want to win bigger then you have to create bigger.” His comeback in November, only 212 days after sustaining that injury against Anderlecht, seemed too good to be true and that was born out over 187 minutes of laboured football before Ibrahimovic concluded that he was not up to it. It was no disgrace. It can take another six to nine months following a lengthy rehabilitation process for much younger players to get fully back up to speed after a cruciate injury. The problem was, at 36, the luxury of time was not something Ibrahimovic had at United. It was certainly a disappointment that supporters did not get to see a fit Ibrahimovic for a second season but it will have been of more disappointment to many of them that he did not come to the club several years before.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be remembered at Man Utd for reintroducing a winner’s mentality
It tends to be pretty obvious when a player is delivering platitudes and going through the motions in the interests of diplomacy but there was nothing contrived about Marcus Rashford’s answer as he waited eagerly to interject. The subject had turned to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the young Manchester United striker’s eyes had widened as he began to discuss the Swede’s impact at Old Trafford. “What I have learnt from him is irreplaceable,” Rashford said. “You will see the benefits in years to come. No other forward in the world could have come in and been able to pass on so much. There is nobody else that we could have learnt that much about football - and mentally – from. For me, it’s the mentality he’s brought with him that’s the biggest thing I’m going to take from what he’s offered us. His mentality alone is what puts him head ahead of the game. Before he’s even kicked a ball on the pitch, in his mind he’s already ahead of everyone else, and that’s a massive mentality to have.” Rashford was talking in April last year, a few days after Ibrahimovic had succumbed to a cruciate knee ligament injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League that would bring a premature end to a debut United campaign which had yielded 28 goals. It was an injury that would also mark his last meaningful contribution in a red shirt, an unfortunate end for a player whose contribution at Old Trafford may ultimately be measured as much for what he brought off the field as on it. There was a sad inevitability about the news on Thursday that United had released Ibrahimovic from his contract, which still had over three months to run, in order to allow him to join Los Angeles Galaxy as he prepares for a career swansong in Major League Soccer in the US following that brief, aborted comeback. It also raises some questions about the wisdom of United offering a new 12-month deal last August to a then 35-year-old who had suffered such a serious injury. It felt very much like sentimental indulgence and so it has proved but, whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular move, Ibrahimovic’s time at United will remembered for those first 12 months when he led by example and reintroduced a winner’s mentality to a meek, cowed dressing room far removed from the uncompromising place it once was. Ibrahimovic scored the winning goal in the EFL Cup final Credit: Reuters Indeed, to truly gauge Ibrahimovic’s impact is to recognise just how far standards had fallen at a club once synonymous with character, resilience, big, forceful personalities and iron will. Jose Mourinho’s thinking may appear more muddled now but even before the manager was in situ at United he had established very clearly that the dressing room lacked leaders and natural born winners. Ibrahimovic’s signing served to address that problem head on. They laugh about it now but it became very apparent to some when they first witnessed this supposed veteran strip down to the waist in pre-season and start striding around the dressing room in full voice, a rippling six-pack the feature of a towering, muscular 6ft 5in frame, that this was a player who would not tolerate any drop in standards. It was intimidating, especially at first. Ibrahimovic would be incredibly exacting and demanding in training, rebuking team-mates for misplaced passes or dropping off in the closing stages of sessions. More often than not, though, he would not need to say anything. “You’d just get that withering stare,” one source said. “The fans have probably seen it in matches – the one where he looks disgusted at what he’s just witnessed.” Juan Mata encapsulated Ibrahimovic’s impact quite neatly midway through last season. “He has brought a lot of things to the team, not just his mentality, but his way of understanding football, his way of behaving with the players in the dressing room,” he said. “He is always pushing buttons in the right moment and in the right way trying to motivate everyone.” Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United. Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history. #foreverredpic.twitter.com/vo1Gs3SUHL— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 22, 2018 Accusations of insufferable arrogance are invariably misplaced. Ibrahimovic is arrogant but in the best sense and playful with it. It is no secret he would strut around the club pretending he was God but always with a twinkle in his eye. Staff say he will be missed not least because he was so funny, that lofty glare masking a very sharp sense of humour. He would encourage the self-proclaimed “lion” persona and parody himself in the process. “I bet you wish your husband looked like this” Ibrahimovic told one female member of staff before erupting into laughter. Asked to do social media for the club, Ibrahimovic replied, deadpan: “Why, do you want me to increase your following?” Mourinho had claimed Ibrahimovic would be a “gift” for Rashford and Rashford agreed but it was not only the England striker who benefited. Ibrahimovic was generous with his time with the young players, and always ready to speak his mind when he saw something he did not like. When Anthony Martial’s representative, Philippe Lamboley, claimed publicly that they were exploring the option of a move to Sevilla in January last year, Ibrahimovic waded in and pulled the France forward aside, bluntly telling him to park such talk, buckle down and focus on making a success of things at United. It was a measure of the significance Mourinho placed on Ibrahimovic that, when the manager spotted the Swede’s wife, Helena Segar, a very strong character herself, as he walked past the players’ lounge at Old Trafford after one game, he stopped to tell her: “Thank you for keeping your man happy here. It’s really important.” Zlatan And no one could underplay Ibrahimovic’s significance on the pitch. Yes, he missed some big chances in some big games that would prove costly and in the weeks leading up to that ruptured anterior cruciate the impact of being asked to play so many games had begun to take its toll but there were times when he carried the team. Eleven goals in 11 matches between Nov 27 and Jan 15 of that first season featured numerous decisive moments. Then again in the February it was Ibrahimovic who kept rising to the occasion, a hat-trick in a Europa League game against St-Etienne followed by a late winner in a difficult FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers and then, most memorably, two goals in the League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley, including a dramatic 87th minute winner. It was certainly interesting to talk to Ibrahimovic after the game. He has an acute sense of theatre, Ibrahimovic, and he was well and truly playing to the crowd as he fielded questions from reporters about his form and future. One exchange was particularly amusing. Reporter: “You’ve said you’re like a lion, how …”. Ibrahimovic, interrupting: “Like a lion? I’m not like a lion. I am a lion. I don’t want to be a lion. The lion is born a lion. It means I’m a lion!” Suffice to say, Matteo Darmian does not talk this way but then few do. Zlatan celebrates with the Europa League trophy Credit: AP There were signs before the injury of Ibrahimovic getting restless, though. He had won the title in nine of his previous ten seasons with Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris St-Germain and to see United so cut adrift and with so much work to do frustrated him. At one stage, he even suggested the club needed to prove they were willing to match his own ambition if he was to stay on. “Everything depends on what you want and what the club wants, what the vision of the club is because I said from day one I didn’t come here to waste time, I came here to win. If you want to win bigger then you have to create bigger.” His comeback in November, only 212 days after sustaining that injury against Anderlecht, seemed too good to be true and that was born out over 187 minutes of laboured football before Ibrahimovic concluded that he was not up to it. It was no disgrace. It can take another six to nine months following a lengthy rehabilitation process for much younger players to get fully back up to speed after a cruciate injury. The problem was, at 36, the luxury of time was not something Ibrahimovic had at United. It was certainly a disappointment that supporters did not get to see a fit Ibrahimovic for a second season but it will have been of more disappointment to many of them that he did not come to the club several years before.
In Katie Brennan’s absence, Ellie Blackburn will lead the Bulldogs.
AFLW grand final 2018: Lions out to capitalise on Brennan absence
In Katie Brennan’s absence, Ellie Blackburn will lead the Bulldogs.
If the 2018 Senate race in Tennessee were held today, voters would favor Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen over his opponent, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a new poll finds.
Tennessee Democrat Bredesen leads Republican Blackburn in race for Corker's Senate seat, poll says
If the 2018 Senate race in Tennessee were held today, voters would favor Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen over his opponent, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a new poll finds.
David Bentley still counts the night he pulled his hood up and sat on the train out of Finsbury Park station listening to excited Arsenal fans talking about the chipped goal they had just witnessed as one of the best moments of a career that was lived fast and finished early. Then aged 19, Bentley appeared to have the world at his feet after lofting the ball over Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the penalty area, but 10 years later he retired – fed up with a game that was no longer allowing him to smile. These days he splits his time between working for a football agency, managing restaurants and opening a new bespoke flooring business, GFF Bentley and Howell, in Stansted. It is almost a decade since Tottenham Hotspur paid Blackburn Rovers £15 million for Bentley, but the 33 year-old has not kicked a ball since the night in Cardiff when he decided it was all over and chief among the disappointments was his England experience. Such was the rigid nature of the England set-up, Bentley took to making his own fun by smuggling McDonald’s into the team hotel, taking advantage of manager Fabio Capello’s lack of English by calling the confused Italian Postman Pat and getting up to no good with his partner in crime Jimmy Bullard. He was meant to be the on-pitch heir to David Beckham’s England throne, but, in terms of breaking the rules, this was very much bend them like Bentley. “Capello didn’t want us to have ketchup,” said Bentley, who won seven full England caps. “I know that’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised what an effect that can have and you weren’t allowed to eat your dinner until the captain came in. It just didn’t work with us. “Everything that is beautiful about English people, our sense of humour, not taking ourselves too seriously, was knocked out of us. Or at least they tried.” Gareth Southgate has had sweet treats taken off the shelves of the Starbucks inside St George’s Park, but Bentley has revealed how footballers will find a way of eating what they want. “You had to be in your bed at 10pm, it was bizarre,” said Bentley. “It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. You had to go to your room and there was nothing to do, so I needed something to keep me occupied. David Bentley (right) was at one time considered the heir to David Beckham (left) Credit: AFP “Jimmy (Bullard) knocked on my door one of the nights we were staying in the team hotel, the Grove, and said he was hungry, so we decided to try to get a McDonald’s. “I had a friend who worked with me, so I called him up and told him to get a McDonald’s in. The security guards used to hang by the back door and then they used to go for a walk. So when they were having a walk, my mate got the McDonald’s past them in a Lucozade bottle bag – he just brought it in. I don’t think anyone ever found out.” Asked whether Bullard’s account of Bentley calling Capello Postman Pat to his face is true, the former midfielder said: “Yeah. I wasn’t going out to disrespect him, it was just to try to raise a smile. I hate silence, I prefer to see people enjoy themselves and not take it too serious. “He did look like Postman Pat. The thing is he didn’t understand a word of English, so he had no idea what I was going on about. I would go ‘alright Postman Pat’ and he wouldn’t have a clue, or I’d say ‘yes Postman Pat’ and he’d just carry on. All the boys would be laughing. “If you are tense and overthink it, you play rigid and that’s our problem, that’s England’s problem. The players play within themselves, they are not expressing themselves, they are just doing a job. Watch a foreign team and you can see the difference.” If Harry Kane misses out... In Bentley’s opinion, a stray muffin is the last thing Southgate needs to worry about at St George’s Park. “Everyone I speak to tells me St George’s Park is terrible, lacking character, lacking anything to do, no soul,” he said. “It sounds like a nightmare.” Bentley played all through the England age groups and became the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley, when he netted for the Under-21s against Italy in March 2007. But later that year he was accused of turning his back on his country, when Stuart Pearce claimed he pulled out of the Under-21 European Championships because of fatigue. “I had played 62 games that season and I got told by Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, I’m not playing for the Under-21s and I took the flak,” he said. “Did I tell anyone I was tired or fatigued? No, but that was the spin. “I rung up Stuart Pearce and fronted him up, whereas I know at least one player who was meant to be in the squad who just switched his phone off. I said, ‘look I’ve had a 62 game season and I’ve got the Intertoto that starts on June 25, and the tournament ends on June 28’. “Mark Hughes said ‘you’re not going’ and that I could do without the Under-21s. I followed his advice, even though I’d have quite liked to have gone, and I went on to have a great season, so it was the right decision.” David Bentley in action for England U21s against Italy Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Wembley crowd held the decision against Bentley, though, and booed him when he eventually made his senior debut as a substitute against Israel in September 2007. Asked if he felt hung out to dry by Pearce, he replied: “Yeah of course, that’s what they do isn’t it? They look for a scapegoat. Then I got booed on my debut and that wasn’t nice, and then there was always that stigma with me and England. “When you get crucified, how are you going to go home and enjoy what you do? How are you going to go out on the pitch and express yourself? You’re not. You just think, ‘I don’t need this’. I hate that mentality, but you almost can’t help it and I saw it when I was with England. “If we were allowed to express ourselves, we would probably win a World Cup or a Euros, but we never will with the mentality that’s there. They won’t win it this time, we haven’t got a chance.” Why Nick Pope must start in goal for England Despite being the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley and the first player to net a hat-trick against Manchester United in the Premier League while playing for Blackburn, Bentley accepts he will be remembered for his stunts as much as his achievements. “There are three things that people talk to me about when I meet them,” said Bentley “The goal for Tottenham against Arsenal, chucking water over Harry Redknapp and kicking a ball into a skip from the top of the Red Bull offices.” Bentley won the £15,000 watch off the wrist of his agent as part of a bet for finding the skip first time, and asked about pouring a bucket of water over Redknapp live on television after Tottenham qualified for the Champions League, he said: “The lads tried to get the chairman in the changing room and someone said ‘get the manager’ and it turned out he was being interviewed, so I went and did it. It was just a celebration, I wasn’t trying to make him look silly. “He wasn’t happy because he was trying to change his image and I went and chucked water on him. He wanted to be like Sir Alex Ferguson. I played loads that year and there was no problem between us, but then that was the end for me.” As his Spurs contract ran down, Bentley went on loan to Birmingham City, West Ham United, Rostov in Russia and finally Blackburn before deciding football was no longer for him. “I went back to Blackburn and I came off in a game against Cardiff and said ‘that’s the last game I’ll ever play’,” said Bentley, who spent three years in Spain immediately after retiring before returning to England last year. “My dad was in the stands and I told him ‘I’m done’. He said ‘you’ll be alright’ but I said ‘no I’m done’. “People are always wondering if I was depressed or something, but I just wanted to do something else. I’m fine. I had a great time. I did it the way I wanted. I went for it, got to the top and didn’t stay there for that long. I like that.”
David Bentley exclusive interview: Smuggling McDonald's, Fabio Capello's nickname and throwing water over Harry Redknapp
David Bentley still counts the night he pulled his hood up and sat on the train out of Finsbury Park station listening to excited Arsenal fans talking about the chipped goal they had just witnessed as one of the best moments of a career that was lived fast and finished early. Then aged 19, Bentley appeared to have the world at his feet after lofting the ball over Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the penalty area, but 10 years later he retired – fed up with a game that was no longer allowing him to smile. These days he splits his time between working for a football agency, managing restaurants and opening a new bespoke flooring business, GFF Bentley and Howell, in Stansted. It is almost a decade since Tottenham Hotspur paid Blackburn Rovers £15 million for Bentley, but the 33 year-old has not kicked a ball since the night in Cardiff when he decided it was all over and chief among the disappointments was his England experience. Such was the rigid nature of the England set-up, Bentley took to making his own fun by smuggling McDonald’s into the team hotel, taking advantage of manager Fabio Capello’s lack of English by calling the confused Italian Postman Pat and getting up to no good with his partner in crime Jimmy Bullard. He was meant to be the on-pitch heir to David Beckham’s England throne, but, in terms of breaking the rules, this was very much bend them like Bentley. “Capello didn’t want us to have ketchup,” said Bentley, who won seven full England caps. “I know that’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised what an effect that can have and you weren’t allowed to eat your dinner until the captain came in. It just didn’t work with us. “Everything that is beautiful about English people, our sense of humour, not taking ourselves too seriously, was knocked out of us. Or at least they tried.” Gareth Southgate has had sweet treats taken off the shelves of the Starbucks inside St George’s Park, but Bentley has revealed how footballers will find a way of eating what they want. “You had to be in your bed at 10pm, it was bizarre,” said Bentley. “It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. You had to go to your room and there was nothing to do, so I needed something to keep me occupied. David Bentley (right) was at one time considered the heir to David Beckham (left) Credit: AFP “Jimmy (Bullard) knocked on my door one of the nights we were staying in the team hotel, the Grove, and said he was hungry, so we decided to try to get a McDonald’s. “I had a friend who worked with me, so I called him up and told him to get a McDonald’s in. The security guards used to hang by the back door and then they used to go for a walk. So when they were having a walk, my mate got the McDonald’s past them in a Lucozade bottle bag – he just brought it in. I don’t think anyone ever found out.” Asked whether Bullard’s account of Bentley calling Capello Postman Pat to his face is true, the former midfielder said: “Yeah. I wasn’t going out to disrespect him, it was just to try to raise a smile. I hate silence, I prefer to see people enjoy themselves and not take it too serious. “He did look like Postman Pat. The thing is he didn’t understand a word of English, so he had no idea what I was going on about. I would go ‘alright Postman Pat’ and he wouldn’t have a clue, or I’d say ‘yes Postman Pat’ and he’d just carry on. All the boys would be laughing. “If you are tense and overthink it, you play rigid and that’s our problem, that’s England’s problem. The players play within themselves, they are not expressing themselves, they are just doing a job. Watch a foreign team and you can see the difference.” If Harry Kane misses out... In Bentley’s opinion, a stray muffin is the last thing Southgate needs to worry about at St George’s Park. “Everyone I speak to tells me St George’s Park is terrible, lacking character, lacking anything to do, no soul,” he said. “It sounds like a nightmare.” Bentley played all through the England age groups and became the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley, when he netted for the Under-21s against Italy in March 2007. But later that year he was accused of turning his back on his country, when Stuart Pearce claimed he pulled out of the Under-21 European Championships because of fatigue. “I had played 62 games that season and I got told by Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, I’m not playing for the Under-21s and I took the flak,” he said. “Did I tell anyone I was tired or fatigued? No, but that was the spin. “I rung up Stuart Pearce and fronted him up, whereas I know at least one player who was meant to be in the squad who just switched his phone off. I said, ‘look I’ve had a 62 game season and I’ve got the Intertoto that starts on June 25, and the tournament ends on June 28’. “Mark Hughes said ‘you’re not going’ and that I could do without the Under-21s. I followed his advice, even though I’d have quite liked to have gone, and I went on to have a great season, so it was the right decision.” David Bentley in action for England U21s against Italy Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Wembley crowd held the decision against Bentley, though, and booed him when he eventually made his senior debut as a substitute against Israel in September 2007. Asked if he felt hung out to dry by Pearce, he replied: “Yeah of course, that’s what they do isn’t it? They look for a scapegoat. Then I got booed on my debut and that wasn’t nice, and then there was always that stigma with me and England. “When you get crucified, how are you going to go home and enjoy what you do? How are you going to go out on the pitch and express yourself? You’re not. You just think, ‘I don’t need this’. I hate that mentality, but you almost can’t help it and I saw it when I was with England. “If we were allowed to express ourselves, we would probably win a World Cup or a Euros, but we never will with the mentality that’s there. They won’t win it this time, we haven’t got a chance.” Why Nick Pope must start in goal for England Despite being the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley and the first player to net a hat-trick against Manchester United in the Premier League while playing for Blackburn, Bentley accepts he will be remembered for his stunts as much as his achievements. “There are three things that people talk to me about when I meet them,” said Bentley “The goal for Tottenham against Arsenal, chucking water over Harry Redknapp and kicking a ball into a skip from the top of the Red Bull offices.” Bentley won the £15,000 watch off the wrist of his agent as part of a bet for finding the skip first time, and asked about pouring a bucket of water over Redknapp live on television after Tottenham qualified for the Champions League, he said: “The lads tried to get the chairman in the changing room and someone said ‘get the manager’ and it turned out he was being interviewed, so I went and did it. It was just a celebration, I wasn’t trying to make him look silly. “He wasn’t happy because he was trying to change his image and I went and chucked water on him. He wanted to be like Sir Alex Ferguson. I played loads that year and there was no problem between us, but then that was the end for me.” As his Spurs contract ran down, Bentley went on loan to Birmingham City, West Ham United, Rostov in Russia and finally Blackburn before deciding football was no longer for him. “I went back to Blackburn and I came off in a game against Cardiff and said ‘that’s the last game I’ll ever play’,” said Bentley, who spent three years in Spain immediately after retiring before returning to England last year. “My dad was in the stands and I told him ‘I’m done’. He said ‘you’ll be alright’ but I said ‘no I’m done’. “People are always wondering if I was depressed or something, but I just wanted to do something else. I’m fine. I had a great time. I did it the way I wanted. I went for it, got to the top and didn’t stay there for that long. I like that.”
David Bentley still counts the night he pulled his hood up and sat on the train out of Finsbury Park station listening to excited Arsenal fans talking about the chipped goal they had just witnessed as one of the best moments of a career that was lived fast and finished early. Then aged 19, Bentley appeared to have the world at his feet after lofting the ball over Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the penalty area, but 10 years later he retired – fed up with a game that was no longer allowing him to smile. These days he splits his time between working for a football agency, managing restaurants and opening a new bespoke flooring business, GFF Bentley and Howell, in Stansted. It is almost a decade since Tottenham Hotspur paid Blackburn Rovers £15 million for Bentley, but the 33 year-old has not kicked a ball since the night in Cardiff when he decided it was all over and chief among the disappointments was his England experience. Such was the rigid nature of the England set-up, Bentley took to making his own fun by smuggling McDonald’s into the team hotel, taking advantage of manager Fabio Capello’s lack of English by calling the confused Italian Postman Pat and getting up to no good with his partner in crime Jimmy Bullard. He was meant to be the on-pitch heir to David Beckham’s England throne, but, in terms of breaking the rules, this was very much bend them like Bentley. “Capello didn’t want us to have ketchup,” said Bentley, who won seven full England caps. “I know that’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised what an effect that can have and you weren’t allowed to eat your dinner until the captain came in. It just didn’t work with us. “Everything that is beautiful about English people, our sense of humour, not taking ourselves too seriously, was knocked out of us. Or at least they tried.” Gareth Southgate has had sweet treats taken off the shelves of the Starbucks inside St George’s Park, but Bentley has revealed how footballers will find a way of eating what they want. “You had to be in your bed at 10pm, it was bizarre,” said Bentley. “It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. You had to go to your room and there was nothing to do, so I needed something to keep me occupied. David Bentley (right) was at one time considered the heir to David Beckham (left) Credit: AFP “Jimmy (Bullard) knocked on my door one of the nights we were staying in the team hotel, the Grove, and said he was hungry, so we decided to try to get a McDonald’s. “I had a friend who worked with me, so I called him up and told him to get a McDonald’s in. The security guards used to hang by the back door and then they used to go for a walk. So when they were having a walk, my mate got the McDonald’s past them in a Lucozade bottle bag – he just brought it in. I don’t think anyone ever found out.” Asked whether Bullard’s account of Bentley calling Capello Postman Pat to his face is true, the former midfielder said: “Yeah. I wasn’t going out to disrespect him, it was just to try to raise a smile. I hate silence, I prefer to see people enjoy themselves and not take it too serious. “He did look like Postman Pat. The thing is he didn’t understand a word of English, so he had no idea what I was going on about. I would go ‘alright Postman Pat’ and he wouldn’t have a clue, or I’d say ‘yes Postman Pat’ and he’d just carry on. All the boys would be laughing. “If you are tense and overthink it, you play rigid and that’s our problem, that’s England’s problem. The players play within themselves, they are not expressing themselves, they are just doing a job. Watch a foreign team and you can see the difference.” If Harry Kane misses out... In Bentley’s opinion, a stray muffin is the last thing Southgate needs to worry about at St George’s Park. “Everyone I speak to tells me St George’s Park is terrible, lacking character, lacking anything to do, no soul,” he said. “It sounds like a nightmare.” Bentley played all through the England age groups and became the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley, when he netted for the Under-21s against Italy in March 2007. But later that year he was accused of turning his back on his country, when Stuart Pearce claimed he pulled out of the Under-21 European Championships because of fatigue. “I had played 62 games that season and I got told by Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, I’m not playing for the Under-21s and I took the flak,” he said. “Did I tell anyone I was tired or fatigued? No, but that was the spin. “I rung up Stuart Pearce and fronted him up, whereas I know at least one player who was meant to be in the squad who just switched his phone off. I said, ‘look I’ve had a 62 game season and I’ve got the Intertoto that starts on June 25, and the tournament ends on June 28’. “Mark Hughes said ‘you’re not going’ and that I could do without the Under-21s. I followed his advice, even though I’d have quite liked to have gone, and I went on to have a great season, so it was the right decision.” David Bentley in action for England U21s against Italy Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Wembley crowd held the decision against Bentley, though, and booed him when he eventually made his senior debut as a substitute against Israel in September 2007. Asked if he felt hung out to dry by Pearce, he replied: “Yeah of course, that’s what they do isn’t it? They look for a scapegoat. Then I got booed on my debut and that wasn’t nice, and then there was always that stigma with me and England. “When you get crucified, how are you going to go home and enjoy what you do? How are you going to go out on the pitch and express yourself? You’re not. You just think, ‘I don’t need this’. I hate that mentality, but you almost can’t help it and I saw it when I was with England. “If we were allowed to express ourselves, we would probably win a World Cup or a Euros, but we never will with the mentality that’s there. They won’t win it this time, we haven’t got a chance.” Why Nick Pope must start in goal for England Despite being the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley and the first player to net a hat-trick against Manchester United in the Premier League while playing for Blackburn, Bentley accepts he will be remembered for his stunts as much as his achievements. “There are three things that people talk to me about when I meet them,” said Bentley “The goal for Tottenham against Arsenal, chucking water over Harry Redknapp and kicking a ball into a skip from the top of the Red Bull offices.” Bentley won the £15,000 watch off the wrist of his agent as part of a bet for finding the skip first time, and asked about pouring a bucket of water over Redknapp live on television after Tottenham qualified for the Champions League, he said: “The lads tried to get the chairman in the changing room and someone said ‘get the manager’ and it turned out he was being interviewed, so I went and did it. It was just a celebration, I wasn’t trying to make him look silly. “He wasn’t happy because he was trying to change his image and I went and chucked water on him. He wanted to be like Sir Alex Ferguson. I played loads that year and there was no problem between us, but then that was the end for me.” As his Spurs contract ran down, Bentley went on loan to Birmingham City, West Ham United, Rostov in Russia and finally Blackburn before deciding football was no longer for him. “I went back to Blackburn and I came off in a game against Cardiff and said ‘that’s the last game I’ll ever play’,” said Bentley, who spent three years in Spain immediately after retiring before returning to England last year. “My dad was in the stands and I told him ‘I’m done’. He said ‘you’ll be alright’ but I said ‘no I’m done’. “People are always wondering if I was depressed or something, but I just wanted to do something else. I’m fine. I had a great time. I did it the way I wanted. I went for it, got to the top and didn’t stay there for that long. I like that.”
David Bentley exclusive interview: Smuggling McDonald's, Fabio Capello's nickname and throwing water over Harry Redknapp
David Bentley still counts the night he pulled his hood up and sat on the train out of Finsbury Park station listening to excited Arsenal fans talking about the chipped goal they had just witnessed as one of the best moments of a career that was lived fast and finished early. Then aged 19, Bentley appeared to have the world at his feet after lofting the ball over Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the penalty area, but 10 years later he retired – fed up with a game that was no longer allowing him to smile. These days he splits his time between working for a football agency, managing restaurants and opening a new bespoke flooring business, GFF Bentley and Howell, in Stansted. It is almost a decade since Tottenham Hotspur paid Blackburn Rovers £15 million for Bentley, but the 33 year-old has not kicked a ball since the night in Cardiff when he decided it was all over and chief among the disappointments was his England experience. Such was the rigid nature of the England set-up, Bentley took to making his own fun by smuggling McDonald’s into the team hotel, taking advantage of manager Fabio Capello’s lack of English by calling the confused Italian Postman Pat and getting up to no good with his partner in crime Jimmy Bullard. He was meant to be the on-pitch heir to David Beckham’s England throne, but, in terms of breaking the rules, this was very much bend them like Bentley. “Capello didn’t want us to have ketchup,” said Bentley, who won seven full England caps. “I know that’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised what an effect that can have and you weren’t allowed to eat your dinner until the captain came in. It just didn’t work with us. “Everything that is beautiful about English people, our sense of humour, not taking ourselves too seriously, was knocked out of us. Or at least they tried.” Gareth Southgate has had sweet treats taken off the shelves of the Starbucks inside St George’s Park, but Bentley has revealed how footballers will find a way of eating what they want. “You had to be in your bed at 10pm, it was bizarre,” said Bentley. “It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. You had to go to your room and there was nothing to do, so I needed something to keep me occupied. David Bentley (right) was at one time considered the heir to David Beckham (left) Credit: AFP “Jimmy (Bullard) knocked on my door one of the nights we were staying in the team hotel, the Grove, and said he was hungry, so we decided to try to get a McDonald’s. “I had a friend who worked with me, so I called him up and told him to get a McDonald’s in. The security guards used to hang by the back door and then they used to go for a walk. So when they were having a walk, my mate got the McDonald’s past them in a Lucozade bottle bag – he just brought it in. I don’t think anyone ever found out.” Asked whether Bullard’s account of Bentley calling Capello Postman Pat to his face is true, the former midfielder said: “Yeah. I wasn’t going out to disrespect him, it was just to try to raise a smile. I hate silence, I prefer to see people enjoy themselves and not take it too serious. “He did look like Postman Pat. The thing is he didn’t understand a word of English, so he had no idea what I was going on about. I would go ‘alright Postman Pat’ and he wouldn’t have a clue, or I’d say ‘yes Postman Pat’ and he’d just carry on. All the boys would be laughing. “If you are tense and overthink it, you play rigid and that’s our problem, that’s England’s problem. The players play within themselves, they are not expressing themselves, they are just doing a job. Watch a foreign team and you can see the difference.” If Harry Kane misses out... In Bentley’s opinion, a stray muffin is the last thing Southgate needs to worry about at St George’s Park. “Everyone I speak to tells me St George’s Park is terrible, lacking character, lacking anything to do, no soul,” he said. “It sounds like a nightmare.” Bentley played all through the England age groups and became the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley, when he netted for the Under-21s against Italy in March 2007. But later that year he was accused of turning his back on his country, when Stuart Pearce claimed he pulled out of the Under-21 European Championships because of fatigue. “I had played 62 games that season and I got told by Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, I’m not playing for the Under-21s and I took the flak,” he said. “Did I tell anyone I was tired or fatigued? No, but that was the spin. “I rung up Stuart Pearce and fronted him up, whereas I know at least one player who was meant to be in the squad who just switched his phone off. I said, ‘look I’ve had a 62 game season and I’ve got the Intertoto that starts on June 25, and the tournament ends on June 28’. “Mark Hughes said ‘you’re not going’ and that I could do without the Under-21s. I followed his advice, even though I’d have quite liked to have gone, and I went on to have a great season, so it was the right decision.” David Bentley in action for England U21s against Italy Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Wembley crowd held the decision against Bentley, though, and booed him when he eventually made his senior debut as a substitute against Israel in September 2007. Asked if he felt hung out to dry by Pearce, he replied: “Yeah of course, that’s what they do isn’t it? They look for a scapegoat. Then I got booed on my debut and that wasn’t nice, and then there was always that stigma with me and England. “When you get crucified, how are you going to go home and enjoy what you do? How are you going to go out on the pitch and express yourself? You’re not. You just think, ‘I don’t need this’. I hate that mentality, but you almost can’t help it and I saw it when I was with England. “If we were allowed to express ourselves, we would probably win a World Cup or a Euros, but we never will with the mentality that’s there. They won’t win it this time, we haven’t got a chance.” Why Nick Pope must start in goal for England Despite being the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley and the first player to net a hat-trick against Manchester United in the Premier League while playing for Blackburn, Bentley accepts he will be remembered for his stunts as much as his achievements. “There are three things that people talk to me about when I meet them,” said Bentley “The goal for Tottenham against Arsenal, chucking water over Harry Redknapp and kicking a ball into a skip from the top of the Red Bull offices.” Bentley won the £15,000 watch off the wrist of his agent as part of a bet for finding the skip first time, and asked about pouring a bucket of water over Redknapp live on television after Tottenham qualified for the Champions League, he said: “The lads tried to get the chairman in the changing room and someone said ‘get the manager’ and it turned out he was being interviewed, so I went and did it. It was just a celebration, I wasn’t trying to make him look silly. “He wasn’t happy because he was trying to change his image and I went and chucked water on him. He wanted to be like Sir Alex Ferguson. I played loads that year and there was no problem between us, but then that was the end for me.” As his Spurs contract ran down, Bentley went on loan to Birmingham City, West Ham United, Rostov in Russia and finally Blackburn before deciding football was no longer for him. “I went back to Blackburn and I came off in a game against Cardiff and said ‘that’s the last game I’ll ever play’,” said Bentley, who spent three years in Spain immediately after retiring before returning to England last year. “My dad was in the stands and I told him ‘I’m done’. He said ‘you’ll be alright’ but I said ‘no I’m done’. “People are always wondering if I was depressed or something, but I just wanted to do something else. I’m fine. I had a great time. I did it the way I wanted. I went for it, got to the top and didn’t stay there for that long. I like that.”
David Bentley still counts the night he pulled his hood up and sat on the train out of Finsbury Park station listening to excited Arsenal fans talking about the chipped goal they had just witnessed as one of the best moments of a career that was lived fast and finished early. Then aged 19, Bentley appeared to have the world at his feet after lofting the ball over Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the penalty area, but 10 years later he retired – fed up with a game that was no longer allowing him to smile. These days he splits his time between working for a football agency, managing restaurants and opening a new bespoke flooring business, GFF Bentley and Howell, in Stansted. It is almost a decade since Tottenham Hotspur paid Blackburn Rovers £15 million for Bentley, but the 33 year-old has not kicked a ball since the night in Cardiff when he decided it was all over and chief among the disappointments was his England experience. Such was the rigid nature of the England set-up, Bentley took to making his own fun by smuggling McDonald’s into the team hotel, taking advantage of manager Fabio Capello’s lack of English by calling the confused Italian Postman Pat and getting up to no good with his partner in crime Jimmy Bullard. He was meant to be the on-pitch heir to David Beckham’s England throne, but, in terms of breaking the rules, this was very much bend them like Bentley. “Capello didn’t want us to have ketchup,” said Bentley, who won seven full England caps. “I know that’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised what an effect that can have and you weren’t allowed to eat your dinner until the captain came in. It just didn’t work with us. “Everything that is beautiful about English people, our sense of humour, not taking ourselves too seriously, was knocked out of us. Or at least they tried.” Gareth Southgate has had sweet treats taken off the shelves of the Starbucks inside St George’s Park, but Bentley has revealed how footballers will find a way of eating what they want. “You had to be in your bed at 10pm, it was bizarre,” said Bentley. “It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. You had to go to your room and there was nothing to do, so I needed something to keep me occupied. David Bentley (right) was at one time considered the heir to David Beckham (left) Credit: AFP “Jimmy (Bullard) knocked on my door one of the nights we were staying in the team hotel, the Grove, and said he was hungry, so we decided to try to get a McDonald’s. “I had a friend who worked with me, so I called him up and told him to get a McDonald’s in. The security guards used to hang by the back door and then they used to go for a walk. So when they were having a walk, my mate got the McDonald’s past them in a Lucozade bottle bag – he just brought it in. I don’t think anyone ever found out.” Asked whether Bullard’s account of Bentley calling Capello Postman Pat to his face is true, the former midfielder said: “Yeah. I wasn’t going out to disrespect him, it was just to try to raise a smile. I hate silence, I prefer to see people enjoy themselves and not take it too serious. “He did look like Postman Pat. The thing is he didn’t understand a word of English, so he had no idea what I was going on about. I would go ‘alright Postman Pat’ and he wouldn’t have a clue, or I’d say ‘yes Postman Pat’ and he’d just carry on. All the boys would be laughing. “If you are tense and overthink it, you play rigid and that’s our problem, that’s England’s problem. The players play within themselves, they are not expressing themselves, they are just doing a job. Watch a foreign team and you can see the difference.” If Harry Kane misses out... In Bentley’s opinion, a stray muffin is the last thing Southgate needs to worry about at St George’s Park. “Everyone I speak to tells me St George’s Park is terrible, lacking character, lacking anything to do, no soul,” he said. “It sounds like a nightmare.” Bentley played all through the England age groups and became the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley, when he netted for the Under-21s against Italy in March 2007. But later that year he was accused of turning his back on his country, when Stuart Pearce claimed he pulled out of the Under-21 European Championships because of fatigue. “I had played 62 games that season and I got told by Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, I’m not playing for the Under-21s and I took the flak,” he said. “Did I tell anyone I was tired or fatigued? No, but that was the spin. “I rung up Stuart Pearce and fronted him up, whereas I know at least one player who was meant to be in the squad who just switched his phone off. I said, ‘look I’ve had a 62 game season and I’ve got the Intertoto that starts on June 25, and the tournament ends on June 28’. “Mark Hughes said ‘you’re not going’ and that I could do without the Under-21s. I followed his advice, even though I’d have quite liked to have gone, and I went on to have a great season, so it was the right decision.” David Bentley in action for England U21s against Italy Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Wembley crowd held the decision against Bentley, though, and booed him when he eventually made his senior debut as a substitute against Israel in September 2007. Asked if he felt hung out to dry by Pearce, he replied: “Yeah of course, that’s what they do isn’t it? They look for a scapegoat. Then I got booed on my debut and that wasn’t nice, and then there was always that stigma with me and England. “When you get crucified, how are you going to go home and enjoy what you do? How are you going to go out on the pitch and express yourself? You’re not. You just think, ‘I don’t need this’. I hate that mentality, but you almost can’t help it and I saw it when I was with England. “If we were allowed to express ourselves, we would probably win a World Cup or a Euros, but we never will with the mentality that’s there. They won’t win it this time, we haven’t got a chance.” Why Nick Pope must start in goal for England Despite being the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley and the first player to net a hat-trick against Manchester United in the Premier League while playing for Blackburn, Bentley accepts he will be remembered for his stunts as much as his achievements. “There are three things that people talk to me about when I meet them,” said Bentley “The goal for Tottenham against Arsenal, chucking water over Harry Redknapp and kicking a ball into a skip from the top of the Red Bull offices.” Bentley won the £15,000 watch off the wrist of his agent as part of a bet for finding the skip first time, and asked about pouring a bucket of water over Redknapp live on television after Tottenham qualified for the Champions League, he said: “The lads tried to get the chairman in the changing room and someone said ‘get the manager’ and it turned out he was being interviewed, so I went and did it. It was just a celebration, I wasn’t trying to make him look silly. “He wasn’t happy because he was trying to change his image and I went and chucked water on him. He wanted to be like Sir Alex Ferguson. I played loads that year and there was no problem between us, but then that was the end for me.” As his Spurs contract ran down, Bentley went on loan to Birmingham City, West Ham United, Rostov in Russia and finally Blackburn before deciding football was no longer for him. “I went back to Blackburn and I came off in a game against Cardiff and said ‘that’s the last game I’ll ever play’,” said Bentley, who spent three years in Spain immediately after retiring before returning to England last year. “My dad was in the stands and I told him ‘I’m done’. He said ‘you’ll be alright’ but I said ‘no I’m done’. “People are always wondering if I was depressed or something, but I just wanted to do something else. I’m fine. I had a great time. I did it the way I wanted. I went for it, got to the top and didn’t stay there for that long. I like that.”
David Bentley exclusive interview: Smuggling McDonald's, Fabio Capello's nickname and throwing water over Harry Redknapp
David Bentley still counts the night he pulled his hood up and sat on the train out of Finsbury Park station listening to excited Arsenal fans talking about the chipped goal they had just witnessed as one of the best moments of a career that was lived fast and finished early. Then aged 19, Bentley appeared to have the world at his feet after lofting the ball over Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the penalty area, but 10 years later he retired – fed up with a game that was no longer allowing him to smile. These days he splits his time between working for a football agency, managing restaurants and opening a new bespoke flooring business, GFF Bentley and Howell, in Stansted. It is almost a decade since Tottenham Hotspur paid Blackburn Rovers £15 million for Bentley, but the 33 year-old has not kicked a ball since the night in Cardiff when he decided it was all over and chief among the disappointments was his England experience. Such was the rigid nature of the England set-up, Bentley took to making his own fun by smuggling McDonald’s into the team hotel, taking advantage of manager Fabio Capello’s lack of English by calling the confused Italian Postman Pat and getting up to no good with his partner in crime Jimmy Bullard. He was meant to be the on-pitch heir to David Beckham’s England throne, but, in terms of breaking the rules, this was very much bend them like Bentley. “Capello didn’t want us to have ketchup,” said Bentley, who won seven full England caps. “I know that’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised what an effect that can have and you weren’t allowed to eat your dinner until the captain came in. It just didn’t work with us. “Everything that is beautiful about English people, our sense of humour, not taking ourselves too seriously, was knocked out of us. Or at least they tried.” Gareth Southgate has had sweet treats taken off the shelves of the Starbucks inside St George’s Park, but Bentley has revealed how footballers will find a way of eating what they want. “You had to be in your bed at 10pm, it was bizarre,” said Bentley. “It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. You had to go to your room and there was nothing to do, so I needed something to keep me occupied. David Bentley (right) was at one time considered the heir to David Beckham (left) Credit: AFP “Jimmy (Bullard) knocked on my door one of the nights we were staying in the team hotel, the Grove, and said he was hungry, so we decided to try to get a McDonald’s. “I had a friend who worked with me, so I called him up and told him to get a McDonald’s in. The security guards used to hang by the back door and then they used to go for a walk. So when they were having a walk, my mate got the McDonald’s past them in a Lucozade bottle bag – he just brought it in. I don’t think anyone ever found out.” Asked whether Bullard’s account of Bentley calling Capello Postman Pat to his face is true, the former midfielder said: “Yeah. I wasn’t going out to disrespect him, it was just to try to raise a smile. I hate silence, I prefer to see people enjoy themselves and not take it too serious. “He did look like Postman Pat. The thing is he didn’t understand a word of English, so he had no idea what I was going on about. I would go ‘alright Postman Pat’ and he wouldn’t have a clue, or I’d say ‘yes Postman Pat’ and he’d just carry on. All the boys would be laughing. “If you are tense and overthink it, you play rigid and that’s our problem, that’s England’s problem. The players play within themselves, they are not expressing themselves, they are just doing a job. Watch a foreign team and you can see the difference.” If Harry Kane misses out... In Bentley’s opinion, a stray muffin is the last thing Southgate needs to worry about at St George’s Park. “Everyone I speak to tells me St George’s Park is terrible, lacking character, lacking anything to do, no soul,” he said. “It sounds like a nightmare.” Bentley played all through the England age groups and became the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley, when he netted for the Under-21s against Italy in March 2007. But later that year he was accused of turning his back on his country, when Stuart Pearce claimed he pulled out of the Under-21 European Championships because of fatigue. “I had played 62 games that season and I got told by Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, I’m not playing for the Under-21s and I took the flak,” he said. “Did I tell anyone I was tired or fatigued? No, but that was the spin. “I rung up Stuart Pearce and fronted him up, whereas I know at least one player who was meant to be in the squad who just switched his phone off. I said, ‘look I’ve had a 62 game season and I’ve got the Intertoto that starts on June 25, and the tournament ends on June 28’. “Mark Hughes said ‘you’re not going’ and that I could do without the Under-21s. I followed his advice, even though I’d have quite liked to have gone, and I went on to have a great season, so it was the right decision.” David Bentley in action for England U21s against Italy Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Wembley crowd held the decision against Bentley, though, and booed him when he eventually made his senior debut as a substitute against Israel in September 2007. Asked if he felt hung out to dry by Pearce, he replied: “Yeah of course, that’s what they do isn’t it? They look for a scapegoat. Then I got booed on my debut and that wasn’t nice, and then there was always that stigma with me and England. “When you get crucified, how are you going to go home and enjoy what you do? How are you going to go out on the pitch and express yourself? You’re not. You just think, ‘I don’t need this’. I hate that mentality, but you almost can’t help it and I saw it when I was with England. “If we were allowed to express ourselves, we would probably win a World Cup or a Euros, but we never will with the mentality that’s there. They won’t win it this time, we haven’t got a chance.” Why Nick Pope must start in goal for England Despite being the first Englishman to score at the new Wembley and the first player to net a hat-trick against Manchester United in the Premier League while playing for Blackburn, Bentley accepts he will be remembered for his stunts as much as his achievements. “There are three things that people talk to me about when I meet them,” said Bentley “The goal for Tottenham against Arsenal, chucking water over Harry Redknapp and kicking a ball into a skip from the top of the Red Bull offices.” Bentley won the £15,000 watch off the wrist of his agent as part of a bet for finding the skip first time, and asked about pouring a bucket of water over Redknapp live on television after Tottenham qualified for the Champions League, he said: “The lads tried to get the chairman in the changing room and someone said ‘get the manager’ and it turned out he was being interviewed, so I went and did it. It was just a celebration, I wasn’t trying to make him look silly. “He wasn’t happy because he was trying to change his image and I went and chucked water on him. He wanted to be like Sir Alex Ferguson. I played loads that year and there was no problem between us, but then that was the end for me.” As his Spurs contract ran down, Bentley went on loan to Birmingham City, West Ham United, Rostov in Russia and finally Blackburn before deciding football was no longer for him. “I went back to Blackburn and I came off in a game against Cardiff and said ‘that’s the last game I’ll ever play’,” said Bentley, who spent three years in Spain immediately after retiring before returning to England last year. “My dad was in the stands and I told him ‘I’m done’. He said ‘you’ll be alright’ but I said ‘no I’m done’. “People are always wondering if I was depressed or something, but I just wanted to do something else. I’m fine. I had a great time. I did it the way I wanted. I went for it, got to the top and didn’t stay there for that long. I like that.”
Less than five months ago, England&#39;s brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team&#39;s problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England&#39;s footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s&#39; World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England&#39;s under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate&#39;s latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England&#39;s youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England&#39;s under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard&#39;s impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England&#39;s trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England&#39;s chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s&#39; Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth&#39;s Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England&#39;s trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich&#39;s season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards&#39; career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It&#39;s gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England&#39;s trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho&#39;s decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Whatever happened to England's world-conquering young stars?
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Less than five months ago, England&#39;s brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team&#39;s problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England&#39;s footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s&#39; World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England&#39;s under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate&#39;s latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England&#39;s youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England&#39;s under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard&#39;s impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England&#39;s trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England&#39;s chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s&#39; Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth&#39;s Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England&#39;s trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich&#39;s season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards&#39; career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It&#39;s gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England&#39;s trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho&#39;s decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Whatever happened to England's world-conquering young stars?
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Less than five months ago, England&#39;s brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team&#39;s problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England&#39;s footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s&#39; World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England&#39;s under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate&#39;s latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England&#39;s youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England&#39;s under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard&#39;s impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England&#39;s trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England&#39;s chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s&#39; Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth&#39;s Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England&#39;s trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich&#39;s season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards&#39; career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It&#39;s gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England&#39;s trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho&#39;s decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Whatever happened to England's world-conquering young stars?
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
James Tarkowski was back at Boundary Park on Saturday, watching Oldham Athletic in a familiar battle in the bottom half of League One, and reflecting on how far he had come from those days when he was a Blackburn Rovers academy reject making his way in the professional game. It was seven years ago that the Burnley defender was given his senior Latics debut by his old youth team manager Tony Philliskirk, then in temporary charge of the seniors, and began the long road to where he finds himself, now. That being, in an England tracksuit at St George’s Park, getting his suit measured up and being photographed in the World Cup shirt, just in case Gareth Southgate decides, come May, that the 25-year-old from Manchester is worthy of a place in his squad for Russia. Tarkowski bumped into Philliskirk at the weekend and was reminded that he broke a leg at 15, had a double operation on a foot at 17 and was only a regular in Oldham’s reserves until he got his chance in January 2011. Tarkowski went on from Oldham to Brentford and then to Burnley, whom he joined in their Championship promotion season. Tarkowski&#39;s game has been shaped by Dyche Credit: PA Even then, he had to wait for his chance behind Michael Keane who, since the latter’s move to Everton, he has now supplanted in the England squad. He is in contention to win his first cap in Friday’s friendly against Holland in Amsterdam or against Italy on Tuesday at Wembley. It has been a long line of Sean Dyche’s Burnley boys in the England squad – Danny Ings, Jack Cork, Kieran Trippier, Keane, Tom Heaton, and now Tarkowski and Nick Pope, the goalkeeper who has also pushed himself into World Cup contention. Tarkowski acknowledged the debt to Dyche, who has changed the defender’s style to suit Burnley. “Maybe some of you have written yourself that I’m an old-fashioned English defender but, before I joined Burnley, no one ever said those words about me,” Tarkowski said. “I was more a ball-playing centre-half, as you’d say these days – playing out from the back in a Brentford team that was expansive, open, and took a lot of chances. “When I went to Burnley, it sort of flipped it on its head. We take a lot less chances, but do the basics right. I’ve found that has really brought my game on, keeping it quite simple at times, but doing the defending – the most important stuff – right. That’s what I’m there to do.” For Pope, the rise has been even steeper. While Tarkowski won a scholarship at Oldham at 16, at the same age, the Burnley goalkeeper was rejected by Ipswich Town and combined college with playing for Bury Town of Bury St Edmunds. He is probably the only current England international whose working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire. “I did two years of business marketing and one year of sports science,” Pope said. “I had a couple of jobs alongside. I worked on a milk round and in Next as well. It didn’t pay much. I was on an electric float. It was a 4am-er in Soham.” Nick Pope&#39;s working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire Credit: Getty Images “Now that I am here, I would like to think my ambitions are greater than just being in a squad. You have to be hungry and this is the first time I have been called up to a squad, but I want to prove myself. To play for England is the end goal for me.” As for Tarkowski, he had the option to play for Poland, the country of his late grandfather Boleslaw, who left before the German invasion in 1939, and then returned to serve in a tank brigade of the Polish Free Army. “I’ve always seen myself as English,” Tarkoswki said. “It’s only really the name that’s followed me around. “I speak to my cousin Pawel quite a lot and, for him, we share the same name, so he’d like me to play for Poland, but once I got the call-up he sent me a message saying congratulations. If Harry Kane misses out... “It’s not something he’s going to hold against me. I’ve always seen myself as an English person, so to play for Poland, would be difficult.” “There were a couple of conversations with people associated with the Polish FA, mentioning would I think about it and whether I would look at it. At times, throughout my career, I’ve thought about it. But I always saw myself as English, so that was the most important thing.” Dyche kept him waiting once he joined Burnley in January 2016 and, during that time, he felt his game change. The Burnley manager expects his players to train as they mean to play and that means full commitment to the small details. That includes not turning your back on the ball when it comes point blank which, Tarkowski says “95 per cent of people do”. “It sounds daft, but sometimes the simple things are harder to do than the more complicated,&quot; added Tarkowski. Pope says that he learned an important lesson taking over from the injured Heaton in September. “This Premier League season has taught me to enjoy it and forget about all the noise, he said. “It is just 90 minutes on some grass. Go and show what you are about. That is something I have learned since Burnley: don’t be scared of the challenge, embrace it and show what you are about.”
James Tarkowski's change in style delivers another England hit for Sean Dyche
James Tarkowski was back at Boundary Park on Saturday, watching Oldham Athletic in a familiar battle in the bottom half of League One, and reflecting on how far he had come from those days when he was a Blackburn Rovers academy reject making his way in the professional game. It was seven years ago that the Burnley defender was given his senior Latics debut by his old youth team manager Tony Philliskirk, then in temporary charge of the seniors, and began the long road to where he finds himself, now. That being, in an England tracksuit at St George’s Park, getting his suit measured up and being photographed in the World Cup shirt, just in case Gareth Southgate decides, come May, that the 25-year-old from Manchester is worthy of a place in his squad for Russia. Tarkowski bumped into Philliskirk at the weekend and was reminded that he broke a leg at 15, had a double operation on a foot at 17 and was only a regular in Oldham’s reserves until he got his chance in January 2011. Tarkowski went on from Oldham to Brentford and then to Burnley, whom he joined in their Championship promotion season. Tarkowski's game has been shaped by Dyche Credit: PA Even then, he had to wait for his chance behind Michael Keane who, since the latter’s move to Everton, he has now supplanted in the England squad. He is in contention to win his first cap in Friday’s friendly against Holland in Amsterdam or against Italy on Tuesday at Wembley. It has been a long line of Sean Dyche’s Burnley boys in the England squad – Danny Ings, Jack Cork, Kieran Trippier, Keane, Tom Heaton, and now Tarkowski and Nick Pope, the goalkeeper who has also pushed himself into World Cup contention. Tarkowski acknowledged the debt to Dyche, who has changed the defender’s style to suit Burnley. “Maybe some of you have written yourself that I’m an old-fashioned English defender but, before I joined Burnley, no one ever said those words about me,” Tarkowski said. “I was more a ball-playing centre-half, as you’d say these days – playing out from the back in a Brentford team that was expansive, open, and took a lot of chances. “When I went to Burnley, it sort of flipped it on its head. We take a lot less chances, but do the basics right. I’ve found that has really brought my game on, keeping it quite simple at times, but doing the defending – the most important stuff – right. That’s what I’m there to do.” For Pope, the rise has been even steeper. While Tarkowski won a scholarship at Oldham at 16, at the same age, the Burnley goalkeeper was rejected by Ipswich Town and combined college with playing for Bury Town of Bury St Edmunds. He is probably the only current England international whose working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire. “I did two years of business marketing and one year of sports science,” Pope said. “I had a couple of jobs alongside. I worked on a milk round and in Next as well. It didn’t pay much. I was on an electric float. It was a 4am-er in Soham.” Nick Pope's working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire Credit: Getty Images “Now that I am here, I would like to think my ambitions are greater than just being in a squad. You have to be hungry and this is the first time I have been called up to a squad, but I want to prove myself. To play for England is the end goal for me.” As for Tarkowski, he had the option to play for Poland, the country of his late grandfather Boleslaw, who left before the German invasion in 1939, and then returned to serve in a tank brigade of the Polish Free Army. “I’ve always seen myself as English,” Tarkoswki said. “It’s only really the name that’s followed me around. “I speak to my cousin Pawel quite a lot and, for him, we share the same name, so he’d like me to play for Poland, but once I got the call-up he sent me a message saying congratulations. If Harry Kane misses out... “It’s not something he’s going to hold against me. I’ve always seen myself as an English person, so to play for Poland, would be difficult.” “There were a couple of conversations with people associated with the Polish FA, mentioning would I think about it and whether I would look at it. At times, throughout my career, I’ve thought about it. But I always saw myself as English, so that was the most important thing.” Dyche kept him waiting once he joined Burnley in January 2016 and, during that time, he felt his game change. The Burnley manager expects his players to train as they mean to play and that means full commitment to the small details. That includes not turning your back on the ball when it comes point blank which, Tarkowski says “95 per cent of people do”. “It sounds daft, but sometimes the simple things are harder to do than the more complicated," added Tarkowski. Pope says that he learned an important lesson taking over from the injured Heaton in September. “This Premier League season has taught me to enjoy it and forget about all the noise, he said. “It is just 90 minutes on some grass. Go and show what you are about. That is something I have learned since Burnley: don’t be scared of the challenge, embrace it and show what you are about.”
James Tarkowski was back at Boundary Park on Saturday, watching Oldham Athletic in a familiar battle in the bottom half of League One, and reflecting on how far he had come from those days when he was a Blackburn Rovers academy reject making his way in the professional game. It was seven years ago that the Burnley defender was given his senior Latics debut by his old youth team manager Tony Philliskirk, then in temporary charge of the seniors, and began the long road to where he finds himself, now. That being, in an England tracksuit at St George’s Park, getting his suit measured up and being photographed in the World Cup shirt, just in case Gareth Southgate decides, come May, that the 25-year-old from Manchester is worthy of a place in his squad for Russia. Tarkowski bumped into Philliskirk at the weekend and was reminded that he broke a leg at 15, had a double operation on a foot at 17 and was only a regular in Oldham’s reserves until he got his chance in January 2011. Tarkowski went on from Oldham to Brentford and then to Burnley, whom he joined in their Championship promotion season. Tarkowski&#39;s game has been shaped by Dyche Credit: PA Even then, he had to wait for his chance behind Michael Keane who, since the latter’s move to Everton, he has now supplanted in the England squad. He is in contention to win his first cap in Friday’s friendly against Holland in Amsterdam or against Italy on Tuesday at Wembley. It has been a long line of Sean Dyche’s Burnley boys in the England squad – Danny Ings, Jack Cork, Kieran Trippier, Keane, Tom Heaton, and now Tarkowski and Nick Pope, the goalkeeper who has also pushed himself into World Cup contention. Tarkowski acknowledged the debt to Dyche, who has changed the defender’s style to suit Burnley. “Maybe some of you have written yourself that I’m an old-fashioned English defender but, before I joined Burnley, no one ever said those words about me,” Tarkowski said. “I was more a ball-playing centre-half, as you’d say these days – playing out from the back in a Brentford team that was expansive, open, and took a lot of chances. “When I went to Burnley, it sort of flipped it on its head. We take a lot less chances, but do the basics right. I’ve found that has really brought my game on, keeping it quite simple at times, but doing the defending – the most important stuff – right. That’s what I’m there to do.” For Pope, the rise has been even steeper. While Tarkowski won a scholarship at Oldham at 16, at the same age, the Burnley goalkeeper was rejected by Ipswich Town and combined college with playing for Bury Town of Bury St Edmunds. He is probably the only current England international whose working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire. “I did two years of business marketing and one year of sports science,” Pope said. “I had a couple of jobs alongside. I worked on a milk round and in Next as well. It didn’t pay much. I was on an electric float. It was a 4am-er in Soham.” Nick Pope&#39;s working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire Credit: Getty Images “Now that I am here, I would like to think my ambitions are greater than just being in a squad. You have to be hungry and this is the first time I have been called up to a squad, but I want to prove myself. To play for England is the end goal for me.” As for Tarkowski, he had the option to play for Poland, the country of his late grandfather Boleslaw, who left before the German invasion in 1939, and then returned to serve in a tank brigade of the Polish Free Army. “I’ve always seen myself as English,” Tarkoswki said. “It’s only really the name that’s followed me around. “I speak to my cousin Pawel quite a lot and, for him, we share the same name, so he’d like me to play for Poland, but once I got the call-up he sent me a message saying congratulations. If Harry Kane misses out... “It’s not something he’s going to hold against me. I’ve always seen myself as an English person, so to play for Poland, would be difficult.” “There were a couple of conversations with people associated with the Polish FA, mentioning would I think about it and whether I would look at it. At times, throughout my career, I’ve thought about it. But I always saw myself as English, so that was the most important thing.” Dyche kept him waiting once he joined Burnley in January 2016 and, during that time, he felt his game change. The Burnley manager expects his players to train as they mean to play and that means full commitment to the small details. That includes not turning your back on the ball when it comes point blank which, Tarkowski says “95 per cent of people do”. “It sounds daft, but sometimes the simple things are harder to do than the more complicated,&quot; added Tarkowski. Pope says that he learned an important lesson taking over from the injured Heaton in September. “This Premier League season has taught me to enjoy it and forget about all the noise, he said. “It is just 90 minutes on some grass. Go and show what you are about. That is something I have learned since Burnley: don’t be scared of the challenge, embrace it and show what you are about.”
James Tarkowski's change in style delivers another England hit for Sean Dyche
James Tarkowski was back at Boundary Park on Saturday, watching Oldham Athletic in a familiar battle in the bottom half of League One, and reflecting on how far he had come from those days when he was a Blackburn Rovers academy reject making his way in the professional game. It was seven years ago that the Burnley defender was given his senior Latics debut by his old youth team manager Tony Philliskirk, then in temporary charge of the seniors, and began the long road to where he finds himself, now. That being, in an England tracksuit at St George’s Park, getting his suit measured up and being photographed in the World Cup shirt, just in case Gareth Southgate decides, come May, that the 25-year-old from Manchester is worthy of a place in his squad for Russia. Tarkowski bumped into Philliskirk at the weekend and was reminded that he broke a leg at 15, had a double operation on a foot at 17 and was only a regular in Oldham’s reserves until he got his chance in January 2011. Tarkowski went on from Oldham to Brentford and then to Burnley, whom he joined in their Championship promotion season. Tarkowski's game has been shaped by Dyche Credit: PA Even then, he had to wait for his chance behind Michael Keane who, since the latter’s move to Everton, he has now supplanted in the England squad. He is in contention to win his first cap in Friday’s friendly against Holland in Amsterdam or against Italy on Tuesday at Wembley. It has been a long line of Sean Dyche’s Burnley boys in the England squad – Danny Ings, Jack Cork, Kieran Trippier, Keane, Tom Heaton, and now Tarkowski and Nick Pope, the goalkeeper who has also pushed himself into World Cup contention. Tarkowski acknowledged the debt to Dyche, who has changed the defender’s style to suit Burnley. “Maybe some of you have written yourself that I’m an old-fashioned English defender but, before I joined Burnley, no one ever said those words about me,” Tarkowski said. “I was more a ball-playing centre-half, as you’d say these days – playing out from the back in a Brentford team that was expansive, open, and took a lot of chances. “When I went to Burnley, it sort of flipped it on its head. We take a lot less chances, but do the basics right. I’ve found that has really brought my game on, keeping it quite simple at times, but doing the defending – the most important stuff – right. That’s what I’m there to do.” For Pope, the rise has been even steeper. While Tarkowski won a scholarship at Oldham at 16, at the same age, the Burnley goalkeeper was rejected by Ipswich Town and combined college with playing for Bury Town of Bury St Edmunds. He is probably the only current England international whose working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire. “I did two years of business marketing and one year of sports science,” Pope said. “I had a couple of jobs alongside. I worked on a milk round and in Next as well. It didn’t pay much. I was on an electric float. It was a 4am-er in Soham.” Nick Pope's working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire Credit: Getty Images “Now that I am here, I would like to think my ambitions are greater than just being in a squad. You have to be hungry and this is the first time I have been called up to a squad, but I want to prove myself. To play for England is the end goal for me.” As for Tarkowski, he had the option to play for Poland, the country of his late grandfather Boleslaw, who left before the German invasion in 1939, and then returned to serve in a tank brigade of the Polish Free Army. “I’ve always seen myself as English,” Tarkoswki said. “It’s only really the name that’s followed me around. “I speak to my cousin Pawel quite a lot and, for him, we share the same name, so he’d like me to play for Poland, but once I got the call-up he sent me a message saying congratulations. If Harry Kane misses out... “It’s not something he’s going to hold against me. I’ve always seen myself as an English person, so to play for Poland, would be difficult.” “There were a couple of conversations with people associated with the Polish FA, mentioning would I think about it and whether I would look at it. At times, throughout my career, I’ve thought about it. But I always saw myself as English, so that was the most important thing.” Dyche kept him waiting once he joined Burnley in January 2016 and, during that time, he felt his game change. The Burnley manager expects his players to train as they mean to play and that means full commitment to the small details. That includes not turning your back on the ball when it comes point blank which, Tarkowski says “95 per cent of people do”. “It sounds daft, but sometimes the simple things are harder to do than the more complicated," added Tarkowski. Pope says that he learned an important lesson taking over from the injured Heaton in September. “This Premier League season has taught me to enjoy it and forget about all the noise, he said. “It is just 90 minutes on some grass. Go and show what you are about. That is something I have learned since Burnley: don’t be scared of the challenge, embrace it and show what you are about.”
James Tarkowski was back at Boundary Park on Saturday, watching Oldham Athletic in a familiar battle in the bottom half of League One, and reflecting on how far he had come from those days when he was a Blackburn Rovers academy reject making his way in the professional game. It was seven years ago that the Burnley defender was given his senior Latics debut by his old youth team manager Tony Philliskirk, then in temporary charge of the seniors, and began the long road to where he finds himself, now. That being, in an England tracksuit at St George’s Park, getting his suit measured up and being photographed in the World Cup shirt, just in case Gareth Southgate decides, come May, that the 25-year-old from Manchester is worthy of a place in his squad for Russia. Tarkowski bumped into Philliskirk at the weekend and was reminded that he broke a leg at 15, had a double operation on a foot at 17 and was only a regular in Oldham’s reserves until he got his chance in January 2011. Tarkowski went on from Oldham to Brentford and then to Burnley, whom he joined in their Championship promotion season. Tarkowski&#39;s game has been shaped by Dyche Credit: PA Even then, he had to wait for his chance behind Michael Keane who, since the latter’s move to Everton, he has now supplanted in the England squad. He is in contention to win his first cap in Friday’s friendly against Holland in Amsterdam or against Italy on Tuesday at Wembley. It has been a long line of Sean Dyche’s Burnley boys in the England squad – Danny Ings, Jack Cork, Kieran Trippier, Keane, Tom Heaton, and now Tarkowski and Nick Pope, the goalkeeper who has also pushed himself into World Cup contention. Tarkowski acknowledged the debt to Dyche, who has changed the defender’s style to suit Burnley. “Maybe some of you have written yourself that I’m an old-fashioned English defender but, before I joined Burnley, no one ever said those words about me,” Tarkowski said. “I was more a ball-playing centre-half, as you’d say these days – playing out from the back in a Brentford team that was expansive, open, and took a lot of chances. “When I went to Burnley, it sort of flipped it on its head. We take a lot less chances, but do the basics right. I’ve found that has really brought my game on, keeping it quite simple at times, but doing the defending – the most important stuff – right. That’s what I’m there to do.” For Pope, the rise has been even steeper. While Tarkowski won a scholarship at Oldham at 16, at the same age, the Burnley goalkeeper was rejected by Ipswich Town and combined college with playing for Bury Town of Bury St Edmunds. He is probably the only current England international whose working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire. “I did two years of business marketing and one year of sports science,” Pope said. “I had a couple of jobs alongside. I worked on a milk round and in Next as well. It didn’t pay much. I was on an electric float. It was a 4am-er in Soham.” Nick Pope&#39;s working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire Credit: Getty Images “Now that I am here, I would like to think my ambitions are greater than just being in a squad. You have to be hungry and this is the first time I have been called up to a squad, but I want to prove myself. To play for England is the end goal for me.” As for Tarkowski, he had the option to play for Poland, the country of his late grandfather Boleslaw, who left before the German invasion in 1939, and then returned to serve in a tank brigade of the Polish Free Army. “I’ve always seen myself as English,” Tarkoswki said. “It’s only really the name that’s followed me around. “I speak to my cousin Pawel quite a lot and, for him, we share the same name, so he’d like me to play for Poland, but once I got the call-up he sent me a message saying congratulations. If Harry Kane misses out... “It’s not something he’s going to hold against me. I’ve always seen myself as an English person, so to play for Poland, would be difficult.” “There were a couple of conversations with people associated with the Polish FA, mentioning would I think about it and whether I would look at it. At times, throughout my career, I’ve thought about it. But I always saw myself as English, so that was the most important thing.” Dyche kept him waiting once he joined Burnley in January 2016 and, during that time, he felt his game change. The Burnley manager expects his players to train as they mean to play and that means full commitment to the small details. That includes not turning your back on the ball when it comes point blank which, Tarkowski says “95 per cent of people do”. “It sounds daft, but sometimes the simple things are harder to do than the more complicated,&quot; added Tarkowski. Pope says that he learned an important lesson taking over from the injured Heaton in September. “This Premier League season has taught me to enjoy it and forget about all the noise, he said. “It is just 90 minutes on some grass. Go and show what you are about. That is something I have learned since Burnley: don’t be scared of the challenge, embrace it and show what you are about.”
James Tarkowski's change in style delivers another England hit for Sean Dyche
James Tarkowski was back at Boundary Park on Saturday, watching Oldham Athletic in a familiar battle in the bottom half of League One, and reflecting on how far he had come from those days when he was a Blackburn Rovers academy reject making his way in the professional game. It was seven years ago that the Burnley defender was given his senior Latics debut by his old youth team manager Tony Philliskirk, then in temporary charge of the seniors, and began the long road to where he finds himself, now. That being, in an England tracksuit at St George’s Park, getting his suit measured up and being photographed in the World Cup shirt, just in case Gareth Southgate decides, come May, that the 25-year-old from Manchester is worthy of a place in his squad for Russia. Tarkowski bumped into Philliskirk at the weekend and was reminded that he broke a leg at 15, had a double operation on a foot at 17 and was only a regular in Oldham’s reserves until he got his chance in January 2011. Tarkowski went on from Oldham to Brentford and then to Burnley, whom he joined in their Championship promotion season. Tarkowski's game has been shaped by Dyche Credit: PA Even then, he had to wait for his chance behind Michael Keane who, since the latter’s move to Everton, he has now supplanted in the England squad. He is in contention to win his first cap in Friday’s friendly against Holland in Amsterdam or against Italy on Tuesday at Wembley. It has been a long line of Sean Dyche’s Burnley boys in the England squad – Danny Ings, Jack Cork, Kieran Trippier, Keane, Tom Heaton, and now Tarkowski and Nick Pope, the goalkeeper who has also pushed himself into World Cup contention. Tarkowski acknowledged the debt to Dyche, who has changed the defender’s style to suit Burnley. “Maybe some of you have written yourself that I’m an old-fashioned English defender but, before I joined Burnley, no one ever said those words about me,” Tarkowski said. “I was more a ball-playing centre-half, as you’d say these days – playing out from the back in a Brentford team that was expansive, open, and took a lot of chances. “When I went to Burnley, it sort of flipped it on its head. We take a lot less chances, but do the basics right. I’ve found that has really brought my game on, keeping it quite simple at times, but doing the defending – the most important stuff – right. That’s what I’m there to do.” For Pope, the rise has been even steeper. While Tarkowski won a scholarship at Oldham at 16, at the same age, the Burnley goalkeeper was rejected by Ipswich Town and combined college with playing for Bury Town of Bury St Edmunds. He is probably the only current England international whose working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire. “I did two years of business marketing and one year of sports science,” Pope said. “I had a couple of jobs alongside. I worked on a milk round and in Next as well. It didn’t pay much. I was on an electric float. It was a 4am-er in Soham.” Nick Pope's working life began with a milk round in Cambridgeshire Credit: Getty Images “Now that I am here, I would like to think my ambitions are greater than just being in a squad. You have to be hungry and this is the first time I have been called up to a squad, but I want to prove myself. To play for England is the end goal for me.” As for Tarkowski, he had the option to play for Poland, the country of his late grandfather Boleslaw, who left before the German invasion in 1939, and then returned to serve in a tank brigade of the Polish Free Army. “I’ve always seen myself as English,” Tarkoswki said. “It’s only really the name that’s followed me around. “I speak to my cousin Pawel quite a lot and, for him, we share the same name, so he’d like me to play for Poland, but once I got the call-up he sent me a message saying congratulations. If Harry Kane misses out... “It’s not something he’s going to hold against me. I’ve always seen myself as an English person, so to play for Poland, would be difficult.” “There were a couple of conversations with people associated with the Polish FA, mentioning would I think about it and whether I would look at it. At times, throughout my career, I’ve thought about it. But I always saw myself as English, so that was the most important thing.” Dyche kept him waiting once he joined Burnley in January 2016 and, during that time, he felt his game change. The Burnley manager expects his players to train as they mean to play and that means full commitment to the small details. That includes not turning your back on the ball when it comes point blank which, Tarkowski says “95 per cent of people do”. “It sounds daft, but sometimes the simple things are harder to do than the more complicated," added Tarkowski. Pope says that he learned an important lesson taking over from the injured Heaton in September. “This Premier League season has taught me to enjoy it and forget about all the noise, he said. “It is just 90 minutes on some grass. Go and show what you are about. That is something I have learned since Burnley: don’t be scared of the challenge, embrace it and show what you are about.”
Comparisons with Lionel Messi have already started, and why not? Mohamed Salah has, after all, scored more goals than the five-time Ballon d&#39;Or winner this season, despite playing in fewer games. He has outscored Messi despite more than eight hours less game time. He has outscored Messi despite attempting 78 fewer shots. He has outscored Messi in a team 18 points off the top of the table. There is some way to go before their careers can reasonably be compared, given the Argentine last week surpassed 600 career goals, but there is no denying that Messi would be content with the heights Salah has been hitting in his first season at Liverpool. Four goals against Watford on Saturday, including a couple of scarcely believable strikes after Messi-like dribbles down what had looked like blind alleys, took Salah to 28 for the season. Four more goals in Liverpool&#39;s final seven games would set a new individual Premier League record in a 38-game season. Four more after that and Salah&#39;s 2017/18 would become the highest-scoring Premier League season ever, to include the three earliest seasons, where 42 games were played. Most goals in a 38-game Premier League season | 1995-present For a 20-goal striker, four goals in seven games would represent a significant challenge. This season, it&#39;s hard to see Salah failing to manage that. He is well on course to beat the three players who share the record for the most goals since the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams: Alan Shearer in 1995/96 for Blackburn, Cristiano Ronaldo&#39;s penultimate season at Manchester United in 2007/08 and Luis Suarez at Liverpool in 2013/14. Those three each scored 31 goals, a tally that had not so long ago seemed insurmountable. Until Salah came along, that is. Ronaldo and Suarez both made slow starts to their record-breaking seasons. Ronaldo failed to score in his first four appearances and also missed three matches through suspension after a red card against Portsmouth. Incredibly, it wasn&#39;t until late September, eight games in, that Ronaldo scored his first goal of the season. Most goals in a 38-game Premier League season Suarez, meanwhile, missed the first five games of 2013/14 through suspension, and was also made to wait until late September for his first goal of the season. Suarez later endured a four-game goal drought in February. Salah&#39;s season has mirrored Shearer&#39;s 1995/96 more accurately. After scoring on his debut, Salah has scored consistently throughout the entire campaign. Of the top 10 goal-scorers in a 38-game Premier League season (a list in which Salah is currently joint-ninth), Salah has suffered the shortest drought, at most going two games without a goal. Whether that means he will yet endure a longer drought remains to be seen. Longest droughts suffered by top scorers in a 38-game Premier League season However, at his current rate of scoring - a goal every 85.5 minutes in Premier League games - Salah would reach 35 goals. That would make his season the highest-scoring in the top flight of English football since Southampton&#39;s Ron Davies way back in 1966/67. At £1.3m per goal (so far), Salah has been a modern day bargain. In all competitions he now has 36 goals to Messi&#39;s 35, despite two fewer appearances, scoring with 22.6 per cent of his shots, compared to 14.8 per cent for Messi. Clearly, Salah is a long, long way off matching Messi&#39;s achievements, and whether the Egyptian can extend his form into a second, third or fourth season and beyond is a truer test of his abilities. But in the context of this season, the fact that Salah has outscored Messi is worthy of note. In the context of Premier League goal-scoring, Salah&#39;s 2017/18 could be the greatest ever.
Mohamed Salah is outscoring Lionel Messi and is on course to re-write the Premier League record books
Comparisons with Lionel Messi have already started, and why not? Mohamed Salah has, after all, scored more goals than the five-time Ballon d'Or winner this season, despite playing in fewer games. He has outscored Messi despite more than eight hours less game time. He has outscored Messi despite attempting 78 fewer shots. He has outscored Messi in a team 18 points off the top of the table. There is some way to go before their careers can reasonably be compared, given the Argentine last week surpassed 600 career goals, but there is no denying that Messi would be content with the heights Salah has been hitting in his first season at Liverpool. Four goals against Watford on Saturday, including a couple of scarcely believable strikes after Messi-like dribbles down what had looked like blind alleys, took Salah to 28 for the season. Four more goals in Liverpool's final seven games would set a new individual Premier League record in a 38-game season. Four more after that and Salah's 2017/18 would become the highest-scoring Premier League season ever, to include the three earliest seasons, where 42 games were played. Most goals in a 38-game Premier League season | 1995-present For a 20-goal striker, four goals in seven games would represent a significant challenge. This season, it's hard to see Salah failing to manage that. He is well on course to beat the three players who share the record for the most goals since the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams: Alan Shearer in 1995/96 for Blackburn, Cristiano Ronaldo's penultimate season at Manchester United in 2007/08 and Luis Suarez at Liverpool in 2013/14. Those three each scored 31 goals, a tally that had not so long ago seemed insurmountable. Until Salah came along, that is. Ronaldo and Suarez both made slow starts to their record-breaking seasons. Ronaldo failed to score in his first four appearances and also missed three matches through suspension after a red card against Portsmouth. Incredibly, it wasn't until late September, eight games in, that Ronaldo scored his first goal of the season. Most goals in a 38-game Premier League season Suarez, meanwhile, missed the first five games of 2013/14 through suspension, and was also made to wait until late September for his first goal of the season. Suarez later endured a four-game goal drought in February. Salah's season has mirrored Shearer's 1995/96 more accurately. After scoring on his debut, Salah has scored consistently throughout the entire campaign. Of the top 10 goal-scorers in a 38-game Premier League season (a list in which Salah is currently joint-ninth), Salah has suffered the shortest drought, at most going two games without a goal. Whether that means he will yet endure a longer drought remains to be seen. Longest droughts suffered by top scorers in a 38-game Premier League season However, at his current rate of scoring - a goal every 85.5 minutes in Premier League games - Salah would reach 35 goals. That would make his season the highest-scoring in the top flight of English football since Southampton's Ron Davies way back in 1966/67. At £1.3m per goal (so far), Salah has been a modern day bargain. In all competitions he now has 36 goals to Messi's 35, despite two fewer appearances, scoring with 22.6 per cent of his shots, compared to 14.8 per cent for Messi. Clearly, Salah is a long, long way off matching Messi's achievements, and whether the Egyptian can extend his form into a second, third or fourth season and beyond is a truer test of his abilities. But in the context of this season, the fact that Salah has outscored Messi is worthy of note. In the context of Premier League goal-scoring, Salah's 2017/18 could be the greatest ever.

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