ab

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 »

var

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 »

EF

(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 »

e

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 »

evb

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 »

elc

England finally reverted to type. Having beaten the team four places below them in the world rankings to reach the semi-final they then went out, quite tamely, to the team eight places below them.

In fairness, they have made massive strides forward by getting this far in a World Cup but, also in fairness, they came a cropper as soon as they met a decent team.

Forget Belgium in the group stage. That wasn’t a competitive game. It was a game between two reserve teams who had seen their senior players already qualify for the next stage. So the first real test was against Sweden and they passed with flying colours. They passed mainly because Sweden failed to work out the English system. Read the rest of this entry »

su

Well that was quite a day! Belgium can now look forward to trying to be the third best team at this World Cup when, in actual fact, they were probably the best albeit with a manager who didn’t know it.

They created very little in their semi-final defeat to France and, apart from a couple of shots from distance, the French defence coped very well and relatively easily with anything the Belgians threw at them, which wasn’t very much. Read the rest of this entry »

pj

It’s not a bad time to be Mancunian at the moment. The city itself is far and away the best in Britain and would do well, if it were possible, to sever all ties with those idiots in Westminster who think that life begins and ends in London.

The weather is hot and sunny, the two Manchester Premier League clubs are the best two teams in Britain, Lancashire have just beaten Northants in a T20 double header at Old Trafford and England are in the World Cup semi-final.

Now, some of our more discerning readers may be wondering what the last bit about England being in the World Cup semi-final has to do with Manchester but there are tenuous links. Read the rest of this entry »

wc

Win one more game and England are there! They will be participating in their first World Cup final since 1966.

Why is that? Do they suddenly have a team better than the one which included Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne? Are they a notch up from the Alan Shearer generation which included the likes of Paul Scholes and David Beckham? How about the team of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard? Read the rest of this entry »