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Ruud Van the Man




Forlan (ahem)



I want to know - how come another striker? Hmmmm. Please stay, Ruud. Don't let those rumours be true.

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Oh yeah, I really love the Guardian rumour page. Usually gives me a laff.




Diego Forlan has finally come round to the idea that, without an outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of chickenpox at Old Trafford, he'll never get a game for Manchester United. Expect to see him stripping off his shirt to reveal his agent's number tattooed across his chest every time he scuffs the ball three yards wide at this summer's Copa America.
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  • 3 weeks later...

So Liverpool finally secured Rafael Benitez. Nice one - I am really looking forward to next season. He sounds like he has a lot of spirit and fire in the old belly.

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I was a little sad to see Houllier go, but I thought he had lost his bottle a bit the last 2 seasons - always full of excuses. He did a good job though. I was looking forward to getting Martin O'Neill, but this Benitez guy has stature too so I'm looking forward to it.

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There was a lot of talk last night (england/protgual) on the bbc radio 5, (thanks again Montoya and Nofackie), pregame commentary about the Italian referee, Pierluigi Collina


It seems Mr Collina has reached the age of mandatory retirement in Italy's Seri A league, and as such, is being forced to retire. It appears as if FIFA doesn't have such a rule, so Mr Collina is still eligable to officiate at FIFA championship games, etc in the future.


All the talk on the radio last night was about the possibility of Mr Collina moving to the UK and becoming a premiership referee.


To me, this is fantastic news for the premiership (if it happens). I think he is head and sholders above all the other referees, and has been for number of years. By all accounts, most of the players have nothing but good things to say about this man.


Perhaps it is not too far away when (for example) the FA scouts the best referees from both England, and abroad, in order the have the best possible referees in change of premiership games, similar to the way clubs scout players from around the globe in order to have the best teams.

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Collina is brilliant - and looks ace too. Great ref. I hope he does come, I have heard that rumour as well.


Check this out all you Pierluigi Collina fans -






These increasingly loud "rumours" about Gerrard making his way to Chelsea are not good. I wish they would go away... \:\(

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Defeat by Portugal has made Sven-Goran Eriksson a real England manager. No longer is he protected by a foreign nationality and courteousness. He got it badly wrong in the Euro 2004 quarter-final and in future his wisdom will not be taken on trust by the public at large.

Eriksson is experiencing a small taste now of what it was like to be his predecessor, Kevin Keegan.


The change of ambience was unmistakeable yesterday when he was making unsatisfactory attempts to justify his substitutions against Portugal. He already had his critics but the scepticism now permeates the public as it has not done before. It is a pivotal occasion when a Football Association spokesman is moved, as has now happened, to affirm total support for an England manager.


Eriksson looks sure to be in command at the 2006 World Cup finals. A qualification group featuring Wales, Northern Ireland, Poland, Austria and Azerbaijan will not give England the rough ride that might unseat the Swede. The harm after Thursday's result is to the credibility of the manager's claim that he can guide his side to triumph at a major tournament.


"In 3 years we have lost three [competitive games] and the difference between winning and losing in them was nothing," he argued. "So that gives me, at least, confidence that we can beat any team."


Those statistics, of course, also record that England falter when the challenge is at its steepest, as it was against Brazil, France and now Portugal. A manager loves to be viewed as the common denominator in every success, but Eriksson must also accept being held to account for failure, particularly the disappointment at the Estadio da Luz.


Some English complaints should not have been aired at all. Eriksson persists in arguing that Sol Campbell's apparent winner in stoppage time ought to have stood, despite the photographic evidence of John Terry impeding the goalkeeper Ricardo with his left arm.


Eriksson also laments the condition of the turf in the shoot-out, following a 2-2 draw, that started with David Beckham skying his kick and ended in despair. Unless there is proof, however, of an animatronic penalty spot that was made to wiggle only when English feet approached, then each team met with the same slightly shoddy conditions.


The factor that actually has to be investigated is Eriksson's decision-making and the explanations did not convince as England prepared to fly home. The key calculation lay with the use of Paul Scholes.


The midfielder's skin and metabolism leave him struggling with heat and humidity. He is a man in search of a wet, chilly summer and now that Scotland's bid to host Euro 2008 has been rejected Scholes will never savour one. After his travails in Japan two years ago, England understand the position fully and his longest outing here was for 76 minutes against France.


Scholes could not even last for an hour against Portugal and Eriksson should have had a better response to that circumstance. As it was, Phil Neville, as a holding player, took up positions that tugged England backwards and invited Luiz Felipe Scolari's team to perform with even greater abandon. Owen Hargreaves eventually came on to take over on the left from Steven Gerrard, who had cramp. Nonetheless, he would surely have been a better replacement for Scholes, if only because it would come naturally to him to advance and engage with Portugal. "I was afraid that he couldn't play for long because he has been ill," Eriksson said of his rationale.


The Bayern Munich midfielder did have an upset stomach a few days ago, but there had been no indication that he was such an invalid. An email sent to me by a Swedish friend indicated that English sceptics are not alone in wondering if the conservative strain runs too deep in Eriksson.


"You can take Svennis out of Torsby, but you can't take Torsby out of Svennis," his critic and fellow countryman wrote of the defeat. "The Swedish small-town safety-first-always-cover-your-butt mentality has never been more evident."


No matter how the accusation is couched, it is the reproach for negativity that confronts Eriksson. In theory, too, he appreciates that hanging back does not suit England. "We talked before the game and again at half-time," he said. "We knew that every time we could win the ball high up the pitch we would be dangerous."


It is England's long-standing characteristic that their attention and technique waver if they are required simply to hold possession and play out time. Eriksson judges that Portugal, with Brazil, are the best in the world at that sort of style. His own team was never likely to guard the lead established by Michael Owen's goal in quite that manner.


Their best chance of surviving lay in keeping Scolari's side off balance with threatening breaks. "Portugal were losing 1-0 and they were gambling by putting more and more men up front," Eriksson recalled, "but there were moments when many of our players were very, very tired. If we had been a little bit fresher we could have scored a second goal on the counter-attack."


This mitigating plea of exhaustion is being made late and abruptly. Until now the messages from the England camp were of a physical state much improved from the 2002 World Cup and of gratitude for the relative cool of 7.45pm kick-offs. The squad had a day less to recuperate than Portugal, but it was still disconcerting suddenly to hear moans about weariness.


That was another factor to be negotiated and the side that does so comes through in those tight contests that England keep on losing. There is no way of ignoring another variety of misfortune in Wayne Rooney's foot injury that cost the side the striker Eriksson calls "the new big star in world football".


A craftier England, though, would not have let the pressure descend upon them that led to Helder Postiga's equaliser. In all three of their competitive defeats this side have failed to see the job through after taking the lead. They are still to improve their response to the shifting nature of such subtle matches.


The team return for a friendly with Ukraine at St James' Park on August 18, with Jermain Defoe and possibly Chris Kirkland in the squad.


Eriksson will be starting a comeback of his own there as he seeks to recover the country's faith.

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Some English complaints should not have been aired at all. Eriksson persists in arguing that Sol Campbell's apparent winner in stoppage time ought to have stood, despite the photographic evidence of John Terry impeding the goalkeeper Ricardo with his left arm.
Didn't see that. So it was invalid then??

France out, they played crap as well...
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Thank you. After my recent interview with "fatty" Becks, here's another:


David Beckham has admitted for the first time that he was not fit to lead England's ill-fated attempt to win Euro 2004 - and that his recent problems on and off the pitch have been taking a heavy toll.

The England captain, who has been widely criticised for a series of largely anonymous performances in Portugal, claims that an inadequate fitness regime at his Spanish club left him well below his peak physical condition.


Beckham said: 'I don't think we've done as much conditioning work at Real Madrid as we used to do at Manchester United [whom he left in 2003].


'I didn't feel as fit in the second half of the season as I did in the first half. Maybe that's the way the Spanish game is.'


Asked if his lack of fitness had spilled over into Euro 2004, he replied: 'Yes, maybe it has.'


Beckham has had to defend himself since England lost on penalties to Portugal in the quarter-finals in Lisbon Thursday night.


Sources inside the England camp say he was well below ideal fitness levels when he joined the squad. Fitness coaches had to give him extra sessions.


Beckham also suggested that recent troubles, including claims that he betrayed his wife Victoria by having two affairs, have been getting on top of him. 'It has been tough this season on and off the pitch because of certain situations, but I am strong enough,' he said.


'I've got to be strong because I am a father who has got to look after two young boys and my wife. When I'm down they pick me up and when they're down I pick them up.'


But he insisted: 'I will overcome this.'

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Oh yeah, did anyone else see the Holland Sweden penalty shootout.


When one of the Swedes missed the goal and sent the ball flying, commentator said "He's Beckham'd it!" lol.gif lol.gif

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Beckham's been eating too many of them Meiji chocolate nuts. They really pack on the pounds. And I expect it was probably one of the treatments at the Tokyo Beauty Center that messed with his eyesight. (Owen did alright wearing two pants though - maybe he should be made captain).

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