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Anthony “Marmite” Martial is reaching a crossroads in his career at the ripe old age of 22.

He is adored by some fans, hated by others. He is criticised for his demeanour which is, in fact, very similar to that of his manager. He is criticised for his lack of workrate. He is considered by some to be lazy, a player who only wants to be involved in the nicer aspects of a football match.

He didn’t do enough to convince Didier Deschamps that he was worth a place in the French World Cup squad although, in fairness, they did pretty well without him. Read the rest of this entry »

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Manchester City finished last season with a few new records. Points, goals, wins – think of a record and they seemed to break it!

As of yet Pep Guardiola has only added Riyad Mahrez to his squad and, whilst he may he another world-class signing, he is still only one player.

Now it could be argued that, with the margin of victory achieved last time out there was little, if any, need to strengthen the squad. Pep, however, has always held the belief, much like his hero Sir Alex Ferguson, that you strengthen from a position of strength. Read the rest of this entry »

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So the big clubs have jetted off around the world on their pre-season tours. Manchester’s United and City are in America where they will be joined by Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea are travelling around 20,000 miles and starting off in Australia and Arsenal begin in Singapore .

These “far-away” games are followed by matches nearer home in the likes of Dublin and Nice.

Why do teams feel the need to travel so far to play a few games of football? After all, the World Cup has only just finished and a lot of players won’t even be going on tour with them. Read the rest of this entry »

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How can a club like Manchester United not know that one of their star players does not have a visa?

The pre-season tour will already be starting without their new signings Fred and Diogo Dalot. The former because he still has a week off from not playing in the World Cup and the latter because he is recovering from injury.

Most of the rest of the World Cup participants will not be joining the tour at all so it is quite important during these friendly games that alternative tactics and set-ups can be worked on. Read the rest of this entry »

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Whisper it quietly readers, but Liverpool have bought a new goalkeeper. Apparently, after a costly mistake in a pre-season friendly, Loris Karius is no longer to be trusted as numero uno at the club.

Forget that he single-handedly, (almost literally), cost Liverpool any chance they may have had of beating Real Madrid in the Champion’s League final. No, it would appear that Jürgen Klopp, that soft-hearted old teddy bear, was prepared to forgive him those mistakes and continue with him between the sticks for another season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Two seasons ago three of the “big six” started their campaigns with new managers in charge. Pep Guardiola had arrived, with much fanfare and hype, at Manchester City and he would go on to lead them to….er….third place in the Premier League, 15 points behind the winners, and absolutely nothing else.

José Mourinho rode into town, checked himself into the Lowry hotel as if anticipating a short stay and then led his new club, Manchester United, to an underwhelming sixth place finish. He did redeem himself, however, by winning both of the B trophies. He picked up the Carabao Cup and the Europa League with the latter ensuring qualification for the Champion’s League. Read the rest of this entry »

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Video Assistant Referee, (VAR) as it is called by those in the know, has been a relative success in this World Cup. It has made incorrect decisions almost a thing of the past and that is the whole point.

Incorrect decisions” suggests that a clear and obvious error has been made and VAR is there to right these wrongs.

In the final of the World Cup there were two opportunities to use VAR, or there were none, depending upon your point of view. Read the rest of this entry »

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(England supporters strike a pose which has become all-too familiar over the last 50-odd years)

Now that the dust has settled on England’s World Cup success/failure, do we really have a team capable of winning a future tournament?

On the evidence of this one the answer has to be a pretty emphatic NO.

Even the “experts” are finally starting to come round to our way of thinking which, all along, has been that this was an average England team and they put in some very poor performances on their way to fourth place. Read the rest of this entry »

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After tomorrow there will probably be very few articles on the subject of the World Cup. The winner will have been decided and, hopefully, Croatia will have collected the trophy for the first time ever. The alternative is another four years of French strutting and preening which, while not unusual, would definitely be more annoying.

Today, England met Belgium in the meaningless third placed play-off game. A game into which the England manager was trying to inject some life. He was doing so by trying to convince a very dubious public and an even more dubious WSA, that the game was not meaningless. Read the rest of this entry »

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It doesn’t really matter whether England finish third or fourth. For them, the World Cup is over. FIFA prolonging their stay in Russia is more like a punishment rather than any prestigious ending to the competition.

On the positive side, the game on Saturday gives England’s reserves a chance for some revenge on Belgium’s reserves for the 1-0 beating they handed out in the group stage. On the negative side, nobody cares.

The result of that game, which decided who won the group and who finished second, was the biggest mistake made by the two teams. Had they contrived to let England win the group then the team would probably have lost in the quarter-final to Brazil. Read the rest of this entry »