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The Importance of Sport (NEW CONCEPTS)
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Mick Harper
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If you're going to continue having a pop at our Prime Minister, Marcus, I would strongly advise you not to drive your SuperCanardly at the same time using the same route every day from Carrington to your lovely home at 17, Acacia Drive, Cheadle Garden Village. Oh, and one thing more, Marcus, you wouldn't be where you are today if your family had not, for many generations long ago, been Members of the British Empire.
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Grant



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Oh football guru, I have a question for you. England v Belgium. Friendly match (alright, Nations Cup). Chance to test new players.
But where's Grealish and why did Kane get on the pitch?
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Mick Harper wrote:
If you're going to continue having a pop at our Prime Minister, Marcus, I would strongly advise you not to drive your SuperCanardly at the same time using the same route every day from Carrington to your lovely home at 17, Acacia Drive, Cheadle Garden Village. Oh, and one thing more, Marcus, you wouldn't be where you are today if your family had not, for many generations, been Members of the British Empire.


Yeah Marcus, you aint no Bob Geldof. You aint no Bono. You are no Midge.

You are "The saint."
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Mick Harper
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But where's Grealish and why did Kane get on the pitch?

First Grealish. What England lack in spades (little in-crowd joke to start the day) is a playmaker. In the old days this was someone who could ping the ball accurately but now lots of players, even the odd goalie (another joke there for the in-crowd), can ping the ball and defences are perfectly adapted to the pinged ball. So the playmaker is now someone who can 'unlock defences' either with a through pass apparently nobody else can visualise/execute or by beating a man in an important area (not just on the wing) or participate in a wall pass in the opponent's penalty area -- you know it when you see it. Grealish seems to be one such and England have to accommodate him and preferably not out on the wing as they did against Wales. Whether he can playmake at the highest level remains to be seen.

And now Kane. Or rather Calvert-Lewin (or best of all Jamie Vardy). If you are going to play with one striker, it has to be a striker. Not a striker with ambitions like Kane but a selfish, brutish, one-track-minded, goal-hanging oaf like Calvert-Lewin (or Jamie Vardy) who just wants to put it in the back of the net and get back to tending his roses.
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Mick Harper
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Did you notice Belgium didn't press and still England couldn't cope? For ten minutes they played it around like good 'uns and then gave it all up and started lofting it up the field. This is a non-paying strategy even if it is pinged properly (see above) rather than ally-ooped (see last hundred years), against non-pressing teams since even if you do hit Calvert-Lewin (say half the time) and even if the knock-down does go to an England player (say half the time) you only end up with two players in possession against an organised defence, something you could achieve, say, eighty per cent of the time by short-passing it up the field. And if you are not being pressed there is little chance of giving the ball away in a dangerous area.

Belgium, please note, never did this except in two situations (1) when the man in possession had run out of options and (2) occasionally, to keep the opponents honest since, if you never do, the other side can move up ten yards. Good grief, England actually started hoofing goal kicks up the park. I never thought to see that again when your own half is devoid of players.

All the same, we gave the chocolate-soldiers a good game which presages well for another false dawn. Go on, my sons, you can do it.
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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Ominous words for Spurs fans? Counting your chickens before they've hatched, or Mourinho sounding like the Iraqi Minister of Information.

The prospect of adding Bale to a front line that put six past Manchester United last time out is a mouth-watering one.

"We have a squad where every player has to fight a lot and play very very well to deserve a place in the team," Mourinho added. "You can see Bale and Sonny (Son Heung-min) playing together, you can see Bale and Sonny both on the bench and I believe you can see Bale and Sonny both together drinking hot tea in a box.

"The squad is so, so good, is so, so strong. We have so, so many options that I refuse to say this player is a first choice because if you are a first choice today you are going to be a second choice in the next squad and vice-versa. The squad is very, very strong."

What could possibly go wrong? Bale and Sonny both together on stretchers, in hospital, court, rehab and therapy sessions.
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Mick Harper
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Who can remember what happened for the first nineteen games the last time Bale joined Spurs?
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Mick Harper
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Man City 1 Arsenal 0

This Thomas Partey looks just what we've been looking for ever since Patrick Viera left -- big, black and 'orrible. Arsenal will probably soon have him mincing about though. Arteta, you're a complete bastard, surely you can see we need something similar on the pitch.

And did you see Aguero try to touch up Sian? Put your flag up, dearie, and get him sent off. What are you, a girl or something?
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Mick Harper
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The return of Eurofootie was both comforting and discomforting. Talk of giving Rashford the Legion d'honneur for his attacks on the British government is now at a discount. We must take care that PSG don't poach Solskjaer. Chelsea seem to have a goalie but we've said that before. In any case I don't trust black goalies. Yes, well, go on, Kick It Out Campaign, name a good one.
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Mick Harper
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If the government continues to defy Marcus Rashford over free school meals they should vary their route to work.
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Chad


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In any case I don't trust black goalies. Yes, well, go on, Kick It Out Campaign, name a good one.

Tim Howard immediately sprung to mind. Then I remembered he was a bit pale, and a bit shit.

(I didn’t mean to say he was bit shit... it just slipped out.)
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Chad


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(I didn’t mean to say he was bit shit... it just slipped out.)

Tim Howard... Tourettes... Geddit?

(Don't know why I bother.)
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Mick Harper
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Any number of half-decent (half) black goalies can spring to mind, and mention of Howard (David James would be better) would seem to rule out an African cultural dimension ("No way, I'm going in goal on that pitch" etc). No, it looks like there's a black non-recessive gene coded for "I'm going to go charging out or nod off or any road do summat daft at least once every ninety minutes." Difficult to identify the precise Darwinian imperative and why African women should prize it but the hunt is on.
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Mick Harper
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Who can explain the Porto/Ajax phenomenon? Every year these two minor-market teams make vast sums of money flogging off the family Silva (better than Tourettes, Chad), produce another Euro-contending team, then the following year have to sell off another coupla Hectors (think about it ... Ajax) because they're minor-market teams, and produce another etc etc

They've both been doing it too long for it to be a flash in the pan (think about it.... Ajax). If they can do it, why can't everyone else? Avoid saloon bar answers in your answers.
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Chad


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It’s a bit like livestock farming. Some farms specialise in producing surplus lambs and calves to sell on to others, who then keep them until they are ready for the abattoir.

It’s a business model that works best for ‘big fish in small ponds’ (such as the clubs you mention). They can maintain enough domestic success (and the occasional good showing in Europe) to keep the fans happy, while supplying what’s needed, to those further up the food chain, at a handsome profit.

It can’t be replicated in the bigger leagues, as that would lead to repeated failure at (a much more competitive) domestic level and fans would not accept such ‘lack of ambition’.

Any club seeking to emulate the likes of Ajax or Porto need to heed a coupla things.

In order to attract aspiring young superstars (for onward sale) you not only need to have a history of producing elite players, you must also be able to offer an environment acceptable to today’s discerning youth.

(Celtic and Rangers need not apply.)
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