World Cup 2018 power rankings: Germany on top among qualified 23

October 12, 2017


“Twenty-three nations have booked their places for the World Cup in Russia, with the holders and Brazil looking in good shape but we rank England in 13th place, below Iceland.” Guardian (Video)

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The Best Soccer Teams in History to Miss Out on Qualifying for the World Cup

October 8, 2017


France, 1994
“As World Cup qualification reaches its final stages, a number of major nations find themselves in danger of missing out on Russia 2018. As Argentina, the Netherlands, Chile and Ghana struggle to make it, and with reigning African champion Cameroon already eliminated, we look back at the most shocking failures to qualify in World Cup history. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Gareth Southgate should switch England to a three-man defence

October 8, 2017

“It’s difficult to imagine a starker contrast between performance and outcome than England’s 1-0 victory over Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday night. The narrow win, sealed by Harry Kane’s last-gasp goal, didn’t really mask an uninspiring performance from manager Gareth Southgate’s side. But ultimately it means England have qualified for next summer’s World Cup. Preparation starts now: The FA immediately announced home friendlies against Germany and Brazil next month, knowing those dates wouldn’t be needed for playoff matches, while Sunday’s trip to Lithuania effectively has become another friendly, a chance for experimentation. And experimentation is crucial if England have any chance of reaching the latter stages in Russia next year. …” ESPN


Harry Winks’ Dembele-esque skillset explains his value to England

October 3, 2017

“Being English and receiving one-to-one tuition from Mauricio Pochettino is virtually a guarantee of a senior international call-up these days with Harry Winks the latest player to benefit from the Argentine’s expertise. Should Winks debut for England against either Slovenia or Lithuania, it will mean that 14 of England’s last 29 debutants have been coached by Pochettino before their first call-up. Winks’ teammate Kieran Trippier became the latest to do so against France in June. …” Squawka


Book review: Preston North End – The Rise of the Invincibles by Michael Barrett and David Sque

January 4, 2017

“Ostensibly, this is the story of the 1888-89 unbeaten double-winning Preston North End team in comic book form. As it is, there’s enough reason right there to dive straight in. After all, there’s not a lot to dislike, especially given that the artist responsible for the illustrations is David Sque, who worked on Roy of the Rovers. But let’s take it up a notch. This graphic novel by Michael Barrett – born minutes away from Deepdale – tells not only the tale of the immortal 1888-89 season but also the rise of the professional game as we know it, and the growth of the cotton industry against the socio-economic backdrop of the rise of the working classes in northern England in the late Victorian era.” Football Pink


All Guns Blazing: The Sutton United Story

January 4, 2017

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“Matt Tubbs has been here before. The journeyman striker made his name with goals in FA Cup giant-killings for both Salisbury and Crawley Town before going on to enjoy a league career with the likes of Bournemouth and Portsmouth. Now he is back in that familiar role as the spearhead of an overachieving non-league side as his new club Sutton United prepare to take on one of his former teams, AFC Wimbledon, in the FA Cup third round. There may be an element of familiarity about it all for Tubbs, but there is no disguising his excitement as he sizes up the task facing Sutton in front of a sell-out 5,000-strong crowd at the Borough Sports Ground this Saturday.” the set pieces


How Hughton gave the ailing Seagulls the ‘Chris’ of life

December 27, 2016

“It was coming on Christmas two years ago when Sami Hyypia, the respected former Liverpool defender, walked in to the office of Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom and tendered his resignation as manager. Then, the Seagulls were suffering. For despite reaching the promotion play-offs in the previous Championship season (2013/14) – under Spanish coach Oscar Garcia – they were floundering in the relegation zone. And it presented as no surprise when Hyypia’s offer to prematurely part with the club was accepted by Bloom and the Brighton board.” Football Pink