National Football Centre - is it needed?

Why have a National Football Centre of Excellence? What do our nearest footballing rivals have at the moment? Below are a few.

FRANCE - The Clairefontaine academy 30 miles outside Paris does not have a national intake. It takes boys from Paris and the areas west and north-west of the city. Each year 24 boys, aged 13, are selected for the three-year residential course which they combine with playing for their clubs at the weekend. On average, Clairefontaine claim that six to seven from every intake go on to sign professional contracts. The success of French football is really built on a brilliant regional structure.

There are designated high schools for children who are gifted at sport - Eric Cantona attended one and they are throughout France. There are eight schools that are multi-sport but run the same football programme as Clairefontaine. The football flagship was once based at Vichy but was switched to Clairefontaine, just outside Paris, which is known as the Institut National du Football. It also caters for women's football and is the base for the France senior team when they play home matches.

GERMANY - No national centre and no national stadium. The federal-minded Germans leave player development all in the hands of the clubs who – judging by national team performances – do a very good job of it.

SPAIN -All national teams from junior to senior levels train at a complex outside Madrid known as La Ciudad del futbol de Las Rozas. However, the place does not have a residential training scheme and was quiet enough to be used recently as a temporary base for Real Madrid while their new training ground was being built. Promising young Spanish players are developed by their clubs and then recommended by their regions to play in the junior national team.

ITALY - The Italian football federation leaves development of young players in the hands of the clubs who get them as early as seven years old. The clubs oversee their players' education as well. For example, as a trainee at SPAL in Ferrara, a young Fabio Capello studied for a chartered surveyors' diploma. The jewel in the crown is Coverciano – the Italian football federation HQ – on the outskirts of Florence. The Italy senior team always prepares there although again there is no residential scheme for young players. Instead Coverciano is the Oxbridge for coaches, physios, sports doctors and even directors of football. It is there that Capello and generations of post-war Italian coaches have gone to learn the secrets of Italian football management – with great success.

ENGLAND - Before the Burton Proposals there was Lilleshall (pictured below) and also Bisham Abbey.

A proposed dedicated centre for the training of future England stars, is to be in Burton on Trent, Staffordshire. The former FA chief executive Adam Crozier signed off the purchase of the 350 acre Byrkley Park Estate for £2million in 2001. Planning permission was granted in June that year and an opening date of 2003 was set. It's still ongoing.........
When we all finally assess a team it is down to what major event have they won?
World Cup: Italy (4): Germany (3): England (1): France (1): Spain (0)
Euro Cup: Italy (1): Germany (3): England (0): France (2): Spain (1)
So Italy are the most successful team (in this list) in the World Cup
and Germany have won the most trophies in total with 6.
We should therefore adopt a joint German & Italian thoery to their National sides!!

Home and Away !

Apparently the Premier League has announced that it was "considering" staging an extra 39th round of matches in five overseas countries starting in the 2010-11 season, with Sydney and Melbourne mooted among possible venues?

How will this work, who will they all play against and where? At the moment the 20 teams all play each other twice which is 38 games. That's the simple bit. 19 home games and 19 away games.

The proposed 39th game will it count towards the final league table or is it for the away fans of Man United (for example) in Sydney to see one live match? Marketing, money making or a thank you for loyal fans overseas?

Proposed format (but don't hold me to this!)

Four clubs to travel to one of five host cities, with two games taking place in each venue over a weekend (10 matches, 20 teams). Cities would bid for the right to become a host, not for individual matches. Points earned from the games would count towards the final Premier League table.

Confused? .....................You and everyone else will be !

p.s. If the proposals are not clear how can anyone be for or against it?

Rugby Union or Rugby League?

RUGBY LEAGUE is better?

Rugby League is the better game in every way. It's faster, more open, more exciting. In League, the ball is always in motion; in Union, the ball always seems to be stuck under a pile of bodies. In League, most of the points come from tries; in Union, most of the points come from penalties. League games are all-action, with barely enough time to squeeze in TV replays; Union games involve lots of standing around in bewilderment as the play gets halted for constant rule infringements.

The reason for the constant rule infringements is that Union has far too many rules. Nobody knows them all: not the players, not the commentators, and certainly not the gentlemen in burberry who shout 'heave' on the sidelines. Perhaps fittingly for a game played by people who grow up to be lawyers, games often hinge on the interpretation of obscure rules and precedents that are applied almost at random. It's like an ultra-violent version of Mornington Crescent.

I'm tempted to say that the more rules there are in a game, the less satisfactory it is. Chess, for example, is a very simple game, yet it is deep and rich enough to have inspired a mass of study and literature. Go is simpler and richer again. In fact, simplicity has been the key to most of the games that have inspired the popular imagination - from football to basketball, from Scrabble to Monopoly. Apart from Rugby Union, I can't think of another popular game with such a messy, patched-up ruleset. Why has this abomination survived for so long? And why has it flourished when there is a much simpler and more satisfactory alternative in Rugby League?

Rugby Union is better?
Rugby union has bigger and better tournaments for the fans to enjoy – the Six Nations, Heineken Cup and of course the World Cup. These are unsurpassed in quality, passion and pure theatricality, which is something that isn't offered in league. Also, the number of league to union converts (Jason Robinson, Wendell Sailor, Henry Paul etc) proves that union is the better code!

Rugby league is simply a game where you run forward, then jog backwards the way you have just come. It is a stop start game. Rugby union requires so much more. People who think rugby union is just a bloodbath sport for fighting are wrong. It is a game that flows and has complex tactics. Whenever I have watched rugby league, I find it intolerably dull, and I think that is because I have played the wonderful game that is rugby union.

What do you think??

The 100 metres roll of shame.

Why do so many professional sportsmen & women feel the need to cheat by using drugs? The obvious answer is to get ahead of the others who have chosen not to, but is it that simple?

The latest example the british athelete Dwain Chambers was caught and served his ban and now has been chosen to represent his country once again. What message does that send out to the young? He served his punnishment for abusing the system and he says that he's clean. Many believe that his punnishment should have been a life ban, would this have sent out a stronger message to those who are tempted to go down that route?

Chambers was European 100m champion, had been banned from sport for two years after being found guilty of a doping offence by an independent Disciplinary Committee. Perhaps he should be given a second chance to prove that he has learnt his lesson? If he does it a second time then it should be a life ban!

1) Chambers is in a long line of cheats that have been caught..... Other cheats.....include....

The 100m roll of shame

* BEN JOHNSON - Won Olympic 100m gold in 1988 but tested positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol.

* JASON LIVINGSTON - Before the 1992 Games, tested positive for the steroid methandianone.

* DWAIN CHAMBERS - Tested positive for the "designer" steroid tetrahydrogestrinone after being implicated in the Balco scandal.

* LINFORD CHRISTIE - The 1992 Olympic champion tested positive for nandrolone at the end of his career.

* TIM MONTGOMERY - Banned after being implicated in the Balco scandal.

* MICHELLE COLLINS- Banned after being implicated in the Balco scandal.

* KELLI WHITE- Banned after testing positive for the stimulant modafinil.

* CHRYSTE GAINES - Banned after testing positive for modafinil

Bye bye Adam....

Question ?
Who has hit one hundred sixes in Test match cricket?

Australian Adam Gilchrist is that man.

Everyone loves a "six hitter". Whether is it is on the village green or in a professional match, we all love watching the cricket ball sail over the boundary rope and out of the ground. (except the bowler!)

Australia's latest retiree will be missed by teammates and cricket lovers all around the world.

From the moment he entered the international cricket arena he had an impact, and now, as he walks away from the game, he will be remembered as one of the all-time great players.

He has changed the old school role of the wicket-keeper/batsman and in many ways he has raised the bar in terms of what is expected from the man behind the stumps.

Good on ya mate........... Take a bow....... !!!

Happy retirement....... Mr Adam Gilchrist

Artificial 2010 World Cup ?

The Fifa president has suggested that the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa could be played on Artifical pitches & not traditional grass.

What are the pros & cons?

Some cons:-
Would the players be happy playing on plastic?

This could be the future for Goalkeepers? Wearing pyjama bottoms to protect their legs from the nasty plastic pitch (Bless)!! ---------------->

More injuries as the plastic pitch is not good for joints.

Some pros:-
Artificial turf is a solution, you can use it more than just once a week, saves mowing !

No wear and tear on the pitch

It could be used for other events such as pop concerts.

Many players and coaches dislike artificial pitches arguing the surface disadvantages teams that are not used to playing on them.

Any thoughts?

African Cup of Nations Final - 10/2/2008

African Cup of Nations Final – 10/2/2008

The defending champions Egypt won the Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 victory over rivals Cameroon. The final had looked as if it could be heading for extra time until the 77th minute when Mohamed Aboutrika broke the deadlock in front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 35,000 in the city of Accra (Ghana).

Cameroon upped the tempo towards the latter stages of the match, but struggled to create any openings. Egypt were always in control - their quality shone through, even though Cameroon’s physical presence was noticeable throughout the 90 minutes It was ironic that the Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o was the top scorer for the tournament with five, although he ended up on the losing side in the final.

Egypt fully deserved their win and has now won the Africa Cup of Nations for a record sixth time. All eyes will be on Egypt during their campaign to qualify for the World Cup Finals in South Africa in 2010.

The tournament was a great advert for African attacking football, flair and entertainment which was reflected in the 32 matches played and there were 99 goals scored.
It will be interesting to compare this competition with the forthcoming Euro 2008 to be held in Switzerland.

England v Switzerland - 6/2/2008 - Friendly

England (2) Switzerland (1) – 6th February 2008 – Friendly Match

A new Wembley pitch, new players but is it a new era?

It is always difficult to assess an international match but there were a few talking points which came to light. England was vaguely promising and patchy in equal measure under the new gaffer. They provided the minimum requirement of a win.

Let’s start with the pitch. It looked as an international pitch should have done, not that cabbage patch that England had to play on against Croatia in a crucial match!

Capello (photo when he was a player) has set his stall out and will not be hurried or pushed by the media or any expert pundit. He appears to be his own man and demands respect from all around him. This can only be a good thing and was needed to be strict. After all “Rome wasn't built in a day!”

The team. There were pluses in the performances of Wayne Rooney, Joe Cole and David Bentley - and minuses in the displays of Ashley Cole and Wes Brown.

Cole is so far removed from the defender that excelled at Arsenal that he will soon face a fight to save his international career, while Brown is hardly international class in his favoured central defensive position, so his emergence at right-back in Capello's first side ahead of Micah Richards was a mystery.

England looked vulnerable defensively, with only Rio Ferdinand a likely long-term presence from this line-up, and defending set pieces will figure prominently on Capello's "to do" list before the friendly in France next month.

The attacking system also needs looking at as Rooney is better playing behind a striker rather than up front on his own - how Capello addresses this problem, and who with, will be fascinating.

The days of England's star system are over. The era of a high-profile group of players being assured of selection simply by joining up with the squad has passed.

In conclusion the players, team and system will change as there were many first choice players not involved this time, so we can only really judge the team and new management when the real international matches have started.

The players will have to work hard, gain respect, be punctual and carry out instructions that have been given. A bit like the rest of us at work!

England v Croatia - 21/11/2007 - Wembley

England v Croatia - 21/11/2007 - Wembley

The weather was dismal, pitch below was dreadful and the performance worse.

The team was wrong, the system was wrong, the attitude was wrong. Paul Robinson is out of form, so is dropped. Fair enough. David James is playing very well at the moment for Portsmouth - but is left on the bench. A rookie goalkeeper, yet to make even a save for England, is pushed into this vital match. Hello? The midfield again has Lampard and Gerrard together, diluting the effectiveness of both. David Beckham may not be fully match fit, but just check how many direct assists he has in recent matches for England. More than anyone, by a long way. We play 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1) when we all know our strength is playing 4-4-2. Croatia subsequently have the midfield to themselves, as we have no-one closing them down. We were, basically, all over the place. And the defence was, well, basic to say the least. Up front, Crouch had no-one to lay the ball off to. MaClaren & his team realised this all to late.

The second half was (slightly) better for a short period. Defoe won the penalty, soft, yes, but he was in there - and Beckam provided (again) the killer pass for the 2nd one. We should have then gone on to win the match, so what went wrong? Attitude. We sat back - we let them come on to us. Why? Where was the passion? It was like, "we've done what we had to do - now just sit tight". How many times have we seen this before? At the end of the day, it was just not good enough. The manager got it wrong (again) and had to change things around - too many players did not perform as well as we all know they can - but the most disappointing thing of all was that we seemed to lack leadership and passion, both on and off the pitch. We were given a second chance by Israel, a third chance when we drew level, and still managed to blow it. There is some serious thinking to be done - and it should start with the FA admitting that they got it wrong once again.

What would other countries have done in a similar position? Could you imagine Italy playing such an open match. I think not!

Arsene Wenger was asked recently if he thought the influx of foreign players was responsible for the downturn in standards in English football and I heard him say that were we to examine the results of the English team prior to the arrival of foreign players we would find that in truth, very little has changed. The mere fact that so many foreign players are playing in the premier league, should have had all the bells ringing at the FA in relation to the fact that our academy's were not then producing the youngsters who could have filled the places now occupied by the foreign players. Football has changed, it's no longer about sport in it's truest sense, it is now solely about money. Managers jobs and reputations are based on results and as such they draft in players from wherever they can if they consider them to be of the right calibre.

We got exactly what we deserved from this competition.

NOTHING ! (Diddly squat!)

Perhaps the current Football setup should take a leaf out of the England Rugby Team !

p.s. Who decided in their infinite wisdom to play an American Football mach just before a vital International Match at Wembley?