Terry Lane - Wednesday 12.06.13, 18:20pm
Born in the 1960’s, I have been fanatical about football ever since I learned to roll my socks down & hold my long sleeve cuffs in fist-like grips in homage to my boyhood hero Eddie Gray. Like every football fan, I believe my knowledge of the game is pretty good, and my whole life has been dogged by the fact that no England manager or squad has come close to the 1966 World Cup victory over West Germany at Wembley Stadium. Manager Alf Ramsey was later knighted and to this day, Geoff Hurst is the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
When it comes to football trivia I thought I knew my England onions, so to speak. So it was with great interest and very little prior knowledge that I read a new book about Sir Walter Winterbottom, especially as the title professed him to be “the father of modern English football”.
As a boy I knew two things about Walter Winterbottom – he was the England manager before Sir Alf Ramsey, and he had a funny name; and I don’t think I know anyone who would claim to know much more. Not surprisingly, this is apparently the first biography to be written about Sir Walter Winterbottom who died in 2002. Graham Morse, Winterbottom’s son-in-law, draws on personal diaries, photographs and letters as well as interviews and insights from some top names in English football.
What I didn’t know is that Walter Winterbottom was in fact the only England manager before Alf Ramsey. He took charge in 1946 at the tender age of just 34 having been forced into early retirement through injury. On joining the FA he agreed to take a dual role of England Team Manager and Director of Coaching for an improved offer of £983 per year. He holds records as the youngest and the longest serving England Manager.
The book’s prologue explains how in the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden Walter Winterbottom faced stiff criticism from the English press following an early exit with a 1-0 defeat to Russia. Winterbottom’s team selection came under fire. He had left out a young, promising striker by the name of Brian Clough and also sidelined Bobby Charlton just months after the Munich air crash that also took the lives of three young England players – Tommy Taylor, Roger Byrne & Duncan Edwards.
His early years as England manager, were met with some resistance for two reasons. Firstly he had never played in the top tier of English football and because he was the first manager to suggest even the most seasoned players would improve their game through coaching and tactical awareness. This is why Winterbottom is held in such high esteem as an innovator of modern coaching.
Winterbottom managed some of the greatest England players including Bobby Charlton, Stanley Matthews, Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Moore; and his disciples included the likes of Bill Nicholson, Jimmy Hill, Ron Greenwood and Bobby Robson.
Surprisingly, he remains the only manager to take England to more than two World Cup Finals; and his legacy as a the father of modern coaching in the English game lives on even if his achievements as England Team Manager have always been overshadowed by Sir Alf Ramsey because of 1966 & all that!
Sir Walter Winterbottom – The Father of Modern English Football by Graham Morse is a very interesting, enjoyable and insightful read and published by John Blake Publishing in this the 100th anniversary of Walter Winterbottom’s birth.
Terry Lane - Wednesday 05.06.13, 20:16pm
With Crystal Palace earning a place in next season’s Premier League with the last game of the 2012/13 English football season, I am already looking forward to the 2013/14 season with extra enthusiasm and excitement. For this summer’s close season won’t be bridged by an international football tournament or the Olympics.
Furthermore, at least 5 Premier League teams will start the season with new managers. David Moyes has the hardest job in football replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Mark Hughes attempts to resurrect his managerial career as he takes over from Tony Pulis at Stoke City, Roberto Martinez has today been appointed new manager of Everton, Jose Mourinho returns to Chelsea where he won back-to-back Premier League titles in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge; and Manuel Peregrini will soon be unveiled as the new manager of Manchester City replacing the sacked Roberto Mancini less than 12 months after winning the Premier League title. Add to this little pot boiler the fanatical antics of new kid on the Sunderland block, Paulo Di Canio, and the highly amusing monologues of Ian Holloway at newly promoted Crystal Palace, and I’m sure you’ll agree next season could be a real humdinger!
Of course following the managerial merry-go-round will be the buying and selling of players. Wayne Rooney ended last season on a sour note with a second transfer request to leave Old Trafford. I can only assume that unless he is going abroad to the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, there will only be one Premier League team interested and able to afford his wage demands; and that is Chelsea. I am of course ignoring the fact Wayne Rooney might follow his former strike partner Carlos Tevez and swap the red for the sky blue of Manchester!
Other players already linked with Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea include Real Madrid’s Luka Modric & Christiano Ronaldo, and Everton’s versatile Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Though I’m not sure where Modric would fit into a Chelsea midfield boasting Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Ramires, Oscar and Frank Lampard; and though there is no doubting Ronaldo has been the second best player in the world for the past three seasons, I believe he would unbalance the very good working relationship of ‘the three amigos’ (Mata, Oscar & Hazard) that were given the license to flourish under Rafa Benitez last season. That said, I expect Chelsea to be involved in some high profile transfers over the next couple of months.
The arrival of Manuel Peregrini from Malaga will surely see Manchester City spending big again to attract more top players from Serie A to join Sevilla’s Spain winger, Jesus Navas who has already signed for Man City this month. Other transfer rumours surrounding Manchester City include Real Madrid defender Pepe & Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian midfielder, Fernandinho; and surely every Premier League club is interested to know that Aston Villa’s top scoring Belgium striker Christian Benteke is apparently looking for a move.
Rumours linking players to be leaving the English Premiership include David Luiz & Pepe Reina to Barcelona, Luis Suarez to Real Madrid and Arsenal’s unsettled striker Podolski to return to Germany with Borussia Dortmund being the most likely destination.
It’s going to be a hot, busy summer ahead!
Edwin Huxley - Saturday 04.05.13, 10:52am
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Make sure to tweet #CatchTheMatch to get your free @NOWTVSport day pass for the big matches this Sunday!
Edwin Huxley - Wednesday 10.04.13, 17:01pm
Over the years, France has provided the English Premier League with so many top talents, it is almost impossible to single out who among them is the best. One thing that is beyond question, though, is that amongst this list of talents are some of the greatest players ever to have graced the English top flight. From Arsene Wenger’s French influenced “Invincibles” era to Alan Pardew’s second coming of the French Revolution, France is well represented in the Premier League.
Here are some of the best French imports ever to have played in the league. Let’s start off with perhaps the most iconic French player to ever play in the Premier League, Eric Cantona.
Cantona’s time in England was a combination of sublime football, baffling quotes and explosive moments of madness. A four-time Premier League and two-time FA Cup winner with Manchester United, Cantona is to this day one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best signings as United coach. He is truly the benchmark for all the Frenchmen who came after him.
A close second to Cantona is Thierry Henry. Henry arrived at Highbury relatively unheralded after a quiet spell in Italy, but he left the Emirates as a legend. In his time in the Premier League, Henry captured the imagination of English football with exquisite goals and sublime skill. He also led Arsene Wenger’s Gunners side of the early 2000s to back to back titles, including the Invincibles season, and three FA Cup triumphs, as well as a Champions League final. Henry thoroughly deserves his place among the best French imports, a true legend of Premier League football. Sports in France are as natural to French culture as croissants, and football remains as the number one sport. Participation is high, as is the interest; the French people are extremely passionate of their athletes. Such passion and support for the games has been a trademark for French sports fans throughout the world.
The same passion can also be seen in other up and coming games like poker. Over the past couple of years, the game of poker has become so popular worldwide that at times, it may seem impossible to avoid. It still takes place amid the glitter and glamour of some of the most fabulous casinos in the world, but is also now found on millions of laptops worldwide. Anyone with an internet connection can take a shot at the big time, thanks to the availability and ease of online poker. partypoker.com is one site that offers and provides one of the biggest rooms with tremendous player action at anytime of the day. It is one of the leading online poker sites which enjoy a huge player base and a proven track record in online gaming. Perhaps the same passion of the French people is also evident in their competitive spirit for the game and determined will to win ballgames.
Last, but certainly not the least on my list is Patrick Vieira. An inspirational leader on the pitch for both club and country, Vieira was one of the fulcrums of Wenger’s superb Gunners side. His control of the midfield was brilliant. A player who demonstrated a rare blend of power, speed, technical ability and leadership, Vieira is perhaps one of the greatest midfielders ever seen in the Premier League. He has become one of the all-time greats in Premier League history and showcases a compilation of great French talent.
Terry Lane - Saturday 30.03.13, 12:22pm
There is a full program in the Premier League today starting with the early kick-off at the Stadium Of Light where Sunderland host the champions elect, Manchester United.
With a win, Man Utd could go a staggering 18 points clear at the top of the Premier League and bag their twentieth league title. Manchester United have a good record at Sunderland who after a poor run of form find themselves just four points above the relegation zone and in serious danger of dropping out of the Premier League altogether.
Manchester City need to pick up maximum points against Newcastle if they are to fend off a rejuvenated Chelsea team who are currently in third place, just four points behind Roberto Mancini’s team. I think Man City v Newcastle is difficult to predict but you can check on some sports betting news before making any bets. Chelsea (away to Southampton), Tottenham (away to Swansea) and Arsenal (at home to Reading) now appear to be in a three-way dogfight for that all important third place and automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Chelsea will confident of a victory at Southampton as new manager Mauricio Pochettino has won only two of eight games in charge of Southampton but the victories have come against top opposition in Manchester City and Liverpool.
Tottenham are currently in fourth place, four points ahead of Arsenal who have a game in hand. They go to Swansea who appear to be suffering from a hangover from winning the League Cup. Spurs know they need to win if they are going to hold onto 4th place from their north London rivals, as Arsenal face Reading who already look destined for relegation, even with the appointment this week of former Southampton manager, Nigel Adkins.
As we move towards April, aside from the formality of Manchester United being crowned champions, the top and the bottom of the Premier League is looking very exciting. To make it more so, I have placed an accumulator bet on Manchester United, Chelsea & West Ham (v West Brom) to win today. Fingers crossed.