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Playing the precarious predictions game

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Phil McNulty | 15:51 UK time, Friday, 30 December 2011

It is that time of the year again - time to blow the cobwebs off the cracked and notoriously unreliable crystal ball to gaze into what 2012 holds for football.

In the game this would be called a hospital pass and is accompanied by the supposedly consoling words from your superiors such as: "Don't worry. No one will remember if you get it wrong."

Just like no-one remembers a now infamous tip that suggested Liverpool would win the title in 2009-2010, a prediction that came agonisingly close to success and was only off-target by 23 points and seven places.

Jack Wilshere with Steven Gerrard in the background

Any potential England success at Euro 2012 requires a dynamic and organised midfield. Photo: Getty

The highlight of this year's football calendar is Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine - with Fabio Capello and England offered the opportunity to set the perfect mood music for the subsequent London Olympics.

England qualified convincingly once more but the debacle that was the South Africa World Cup campaign in 2010 ensures expectations remain on the ground floor. Capello has fashioned a younger element to his squad in the last few months to increase optimism levels.

And he will hope Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere can return to full fitness to form a potent midfield partnership that will give England a base to ensure they are still in contention in their final group game against co-hosts Ukraine, when Wayne Rooney returns from the ban that means he misses out against France and Sweden.

England are firmly in Europe's second tier behind European and world champions Spain, as well as Netherlands and the dangerous, maturing Germany.

The Republic of Ireland face a tough assignment in their group against Spain, Italy and Croatia - but, if there is one man who will relish the task of finding a way through, it is the old master coach Giovanni Trapattoni. They have the capacity to cause a shock.

Capello's reign ends after the tournament and reality dictates that a semi-final place will allow him to leave with dignity, while the last-eight also holds the potential to provide a familiar stopping point for the campaign.

This means 2012 requires the Football Association to name a successor to the Italian. All football logic dictates Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp will be that man. Boxes are ticked in his nationality, football philosophy and ability to bring the best out of big players with shrewd man-management.

If Redknapp goes who steps in at Spurs? This appointment may be shaped by whether Everton chairman Bill Kenwright concludes what seems an endless search for investment to help manager David Moyes.

Moyes celebrates a decade in charge at Goodison Park in 2012 but will struggle to move Everton further forward without new finance. He has the careful fiscal attitude that might appeal to Spurs chairman Daniel Levy if a vacancy arises and Moyes retains huge respect from his peers.

Two predictions that have been removed from the equation have been to foretell the fates of Manchester United and Manchester City in the Champions League after their elimination. Even if they had come out of the group stage, it would have been the supreme optimist who predicted success had they come up against teams of the calibre of Barcelona and Real Madrid. In fact, I can't see further than Barcelona in 2012.

The Europa League now claims the Manchester clubs' attention - and both have a real chance of emerging as eventual winners - but the big prize at stake is the Premier League and this looks increasingly likely to be a battle fought purely within the confines of the city.

The biggest challenge to that supremacy is coming from a different quarter of London as Tottenham move into exciting contention with a brand of football that stays true to the greatest White Hart Lane traditions with pace, passing and goals.

Spurs remain the outsiders to break up the Manchester duo, but the entertainment produced by Redknapp's side has been one of the features of the season and makes them as watchable as any team in the Premier League.

Will they win the title? They are outsiders - but have such verve and quality that they are sure to have a say in the shake-up.

Lionel Messi playing for Barcelona

It remains hard to look beyond Barcelona as Europe's best side throughout 2012. Photo: Getty

City's finances have fashioned a hugely impressive squad but United have recovered superbly, in the league at least, from the humiliation of a 6-1 beating by their neighbours at Old Trafford.

My pre-season prediction was that United would finish ahead of City and claim a 20th crown. Roberto Mancini's side look in the sort of shape to reverse the tip but, for now, I will stick with my earlier call until such time that it is impossible to ignore the evidence produced at Etihad Stadium. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool will fight it out for fourth behind Spurs for the remaining Champions League place.

Arsenal and Chelsea are now England's representatives in the Champions League, but I no more see them lifting the trophy than I did United or City. They have tough ties against AC Milan and Napoli in the last 16 - and, while they may make further progress, they do not have any of the appearance of potential winners.

Kenny Dalglish's hopes of putting Liverpool back among the Champions League places have been undermined by a lack of goals, an unlikely faultline given the Scot's £78m investment in attacking talent in the shape of Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing.

Despite this, they look well equipped for a cup run and I can see Dalglish having a real chance of bringing silverware back to Anfield in either the League Cup or the FA Cup.

Steve Kean's future at Blackburn, and the abuse he has been receiving from his own supporters, has been part of the Premier League narrative in 2011. How long will he survive to add further chapters in 2012?

Blackburn's fall from grace under Indian owners Venky's has been well chronicled and how this fine old club pulls itself out of this turmoil will play a huge role in whether they survive in the Premier League.

The relegation battle has a Lancastrian look with Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan at the bottom and none giving the impression of moving into comfort zones in the coming months.

I tipped Blackburn and Wigan for the drop back in August, along with Swansea City, but Brendan Rodgers's side have shown enough to suggest they can survive. This drops Bolton into trouble and their decline has been alarming since their FA Cup semi-final thrashing against Stoke City at Wembley last season.

So Blackburn and Wigan will continue to have the black border around their names when it comes to relegation but expect this to be another last-day decision.

So there it is. The crystal ball goes away again but one thing can be said with some certainty - 2012 has all the ingredients to be another landmark year in football.

And as for the predictions? Please heed these words: "No-one will remember if you get it wrong."


Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Add your commentThe only prediction that I can make is that the English media will again get carried away with the "brilliance" of the players going in to big tournaments.

    Wayne Rooney is considered a "legend" by a lot of fans in England, a view shared by the vast majority of the media. With 115 goals in 234 league games, "the white pele". With a goals to games ratio of 0.49, he falls way short of class acts such as Ruud Van Nistelrooy (0.63) who enjoyed a supreme goalscoring spell at Manchester United, but was never fancied by the media. Even Michael Owen over Liverpool was never compared to pele, with a goalscoring record better than Rooney's at the same age. Do you think that if Steven Fletcher had a goals to games ratio of 0.49 in the Premier League, he would be "the white pele"? I think not.

    So why is it that Rooney is the golden boy? His work ethic and determination? I've seen many players who work harder, and show more desire for the team, and not a mention given. Stephen Hunt and Hugo Rodallega to nama a few.

    On the big stage, many English players are found wanting, but none more so than Wayne Rooney. Especially in an England shirt.

    If he's englands beacon of hope in the Euro's, then I'd be worried. Just like I'd be worried going in to any competition as an England fan. Media hype and public belief overshadow reality.

    In reality, Rooney should be compared to Jermain Defoe, a decent goalscorer at the top level.

    Leave the big stage to the real Superstars of footlall, such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrés Iniesta and Samuel Eto'o, who have proven themselves worthy of the hypee time, and time again.

  • Comment number 2.

    How much can you know about football if you want to judge Rooney on his goals ratio alone, put him on a level with Jermain Defoe and then have the audactiy to say he doesnt have that much of a work ethic either... Shocking, just shocking. 11 Wayne Rooneys as a line up would beat 11 of any other player. Thats my opinion.

  • Comment number 3.

    I, for one, would hope that Steven Gerrard does not come back into England contention. I mean I hope he recovers from his injuries and helps Liverpool do what they can, but him and the other old lags from the last World Cup shouldn't be part of Euro 2012. Anyway I think they'll fail at the quarters. Probably on penalties!

  • Comment number 4.

    @2 - Strikers are ALWAYS going to be judged on the amount of goals they score. I did not doubt his work ethic, I simply compared it to that of Rodallega and Hunt.

    Lampard scores more, and sets up more, than Rooney. Will Lampard be held in the same regard as Rooney by the English media? I think not.

    I'm intrigued though, who would you compare Rooney to in world football?

  • Comment number 5.

    @ post #1

    Coming from someone called Heskeys_wonderful_stepovers I think we can take your opinion as a joke.
    Rooney is not praised enough and it will just be a matter of time before he performs at a major tournament (without being injured or suspended).

  • Comment number 6.

    I think Euro 2012 will be OK for England, I reckon we will get out of the group stages.
    I also reckon United will win the Premier League again, but that it will go down to the last game.
    Barcelona may win the Champions League, but I think Real Madrid and AC Milan are also up there.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Leave the big stage to the real Superstars of footlall, such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo..."

    Hardly big stage (international) Superstars...especially CR. What have they proved on 'the big stage'?

  • Comment number 8.

    @5- My name was made to be comical, yet, my opinion is of my belief. Time and time again, the English media hype up the "amazing", "brilliant", "superb" pro's of the England team. Players like Carrick, Rooney, Cole, Terry. Admit it, NONE of the above would get in to ANY top 2 team in Spain, Germany, or Italy.

    Every 2 years, it's always the same story. This time we'll go further, this time Rooney will show the world. It won't happen. The players believe the hype. The fans believe the hype. You all believe the hype when the rest of the world are laughing at your ignorance.

    But feel free, digress, believe the hype. Believe it like it will happen this time.

  • Comment number 9.


    Ridiculous comments. If you knew as much about football as you claim to do then you would know that Rooney has not played as a striker in every game therefore his scoring statistics are skewed. I would love to know how many RVN and Owen would get playing on the left wing or centre midfield from time to time. He is a class act (Messi doesn't perform for Argentina) and even Liverpool supporters will admit to this.

  • Comment number 10.

    @7, are you serious? His record for madrid: 86 goals in 79 games. His record for portugal: 32 goals in 87 games. Compare Rooney to him, I dare you.

  • Comment number 11.

    Heskeys_wonderful_stepovers, totally agreed with Wayne Rooney when he puts on a England shirt but then to say leave the big stage to the real superstars without mentioning that Messi has never performed anywhere near half-decently for Argentina, let alone up to the standard he operates at at Barcelona, is scandalous

  • Comment number 12.

    @11- Messi has scored against the best at international level. Spain, Brazil, Portugal and France.

    Rooneys international goals have come against teams such as Estonia and Khazakhstan.

    I'm not saying that Messi is better at internatioal level, but argentina generally play against better teams, such as Chile and Colombia at South American international competitions.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.


    Alos who talks up Carrick? I'm a Utd supporter and admit he's not all that. I hate Chelsea with a passion and especially Cole, but don't have bias that blinkers my view of his ability and will completely disagree that Cole would not get into the German, Italian or Spanish team. Who do they have who is better than them?

    I agree England get hyped up way way way too much and am a pessimist with regards to the England team in tournaments. But even I can look at the youngsters coming through and feel optimistic. Jones, Welbeck, Barkley, Wilshere, Sturridge, Smalling etc, along with plenty of years left in Young, Rooney, Hart and co.

  • Comment number 15.

    @13 - There's having hope, and there's expecting the championship. There's a difference, but the biased English media believe that every world cup will (should) be won, and the same with every european championship. The belief is flawed, the hype isn't thought out, the team don't merit the praise.

    It's not the teams fault, it's the pressure by the media. If they would just accept that England will never be a top 4 international team again, everyone else will be happy and the players won't be under so much pressure. The media constantly feed off the '66 past glory.

  • Comment number 16.

    @14 - Lahm, Abathe and Capdevilla? I don't think Nathan Dyer would rip those pro's to shreads.

  • Comment number 17.

    @10 - see #9.

    Rooney: 27/71=0.39

    The comparison, I dare.

  • Comment number 18.

    ''I'm not saying that Messi is better at internatioal level''

    Yet you said this in your first comment... ''Leave the big stage to the real Superstars of footlall, such as Lionel Messi''

    Make up your mind would you.. your obviously have it in for Rooney, your either a Manchester City or a Liverpool fan.. which makes you..... well, you.

  • Comment number 19.

    @15 - England CAN be a top 4 international team and its not the media's fault that they're not. It's spain, brazil, holland and germany's fault. But seriously we can. Leave behind the likes of Terry and disruptive influences and Heskeys who injure captains in training produce none other than oafishness on the pitch and we'll have a chance.

  • Comment number 20.

    "And he will hope Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere can return to full fitness to form a potent midfield partnership"
    Is this the same Gerrard that has repeatedly failed on the international stage? On form, Scott Parker cannot be dropped. Wilshiree needs to find fitness & form with Arsenal first. Lets not pick players on reputation or players injured otherwise we'll end up failing as in previous years.

  • Comment number 21.

    For the record Wigan will not be relegated. We been here 7 years and still be here in 7 years hopefully to the annoyence of BBC/ESPN/SKY.

    Rooney fails in major tournaments for England. I would take Crouch instead. A 6'7 striker with a better goal scoring record that Rooney.

    PC 22 in 42
    WR 28 in 73

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm a Glasgow Rangers and Scotland fan, I read a comment by heskey and it is crazy, he stated that rooney, cole and terry wouldnt make it into any top 2 teams from spain or germany now lets be serious, terry is far better than r.carvalho and pepe put together much better than the ageing puyol or mascherano, far better than boetang or van buyten and can you even name a top 2 in germany the league changes that much! Cole is best left back of his era with the exception of lahm who mostly plays rightback. Rooney as for him no manager in the world would knock him back! Rooney is totally different from ronaldo and messi, hes a grafter, you dont ever see ronaldo or messi running back 50-60 yards to make a tackle!

  • Comment number 23.

    don't make me laugh. And don't get me started on Crouch. On a list of worst ever strikers to play for England with a decent amount of caps only Heskey is worse.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Boys, it's clear Heskeys_wonderful_stepovers is in it for the wind up tonight as he clearly has nothing better to do. Let's ignore his drivel from now on.

  • Comment number 26.

    England will not get out of the group stage. This is not being negative, just realistic. Ireland to go further than England.

  • Comment number 27.

    "The Republic of Ireland face a tough assignment in their group against Spain, Italy and Croatia ..."

    Why does The BBC write about the prospects for Ireland, a foreign country proudly independent of the UK for 90 years and a Republic not in The Commonwealth by choice?

    Good luck to them, but reference to The Republic of Ireland makes no more sense that writing about the prospects for Poland, The Czech Republic or other EU countries.

  • Comment number 28.

    "[Liverpool] have been undermined by a lack of goals, an unlikely faultline given the Scot's £78m investment in attacking talent in the shape of Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing.

    Despite this, they look well equipped for a cup run and I can see Dalglish having a real chance of bringing silverware back to Anfield in either the League Cup or the FA Cup."


    It's hardly "unlikely" is it? No-one in their right mind would've splashed so much money on that lot.

    As for the point in saying that a PL top half side has a great chance of winning the FA Cup? Is there one? I fully expect City to knock them out of the League Cup, and that will be that pretty much be that for the first season of Dalglish's revolution.

  • Comment number 29.

    While I hate to admit it I do think that Heskeys Stepovers is right.... somewhat misguided.... but right in the fact that England players do get overhyped as do englands hopes at major tournaments... While I wouldnt go as far as to say Rooney is rubbish as he seems to be suggesting I also wouldnt go as far as to say that he is the fantastic world beater on his current form.... however, if he regains his top form he is a star player that any team would want.

    As for phils predictions I like the sound of Moyes at everton.... i think he would be an excellent replacement should 'arry get called up to the national stage.

  • Comment number 30.

    I dont think Rooney is in the same bracket as Messi or Ronaldo but he is still a top player and would get in most teams around the world.
    England are looking weaker now than they have done for some time and Rooney is one of the few players that when fit that could actually do something at international level.
    One of Englands main problems is the high expectations of everyone really. We are trying to play a brand of football like spain yet dont have the players or experience to do it.
    Id like to see us stick to what we are good at, playing exciting football by getting the ball out wide and getting crosses in rather than trying to make 50 passes before getting to the penalty area. Keeping possession for long periods allows the opposition to get into position and defend as a unit and we dont have anyone clever enough to brake that down, Rooney included.

  • Comment number 31.

    thecat - thats the only way england will ever win a major tournament taking players who deserve to go, players who are on form parker, sturridge, richards to name some.

    Heskey - capedivilla hes touching 34 and is well past it, Jordi Alba looks like the spains first choice left back.

  • Comment number 32.

    "but the debacle that was the South Africa World Cup campaign in 2010 ensures expectations remain on the ground floor"

    I don't understand even when Phil writes explicitly that expectations are low that people start banging on about how "the media" is hyping everything up like crazy. I don't think any one seriously thinks England are a top international team. Aren't we just a bunch of "over-the-hill-plodders"?

    However, one hopes that the players can prove the doubters wrong, and give some joy to those of us who just want a decent showing from the lads. And as for Rooney, he was a class act back when he first showed up at Euro 2004 on the international stage, we just hope he still can produce that level of influence again.

  • Comment number 33.


    For those that believe that Wayne Rooney is not much more than an ordinary PL striker do not know what they are talking about. Wayne Rooney is much more than about goals, he has such a determined work ethic, coupled with his technical and finishing skills, he is deadly. Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney cannot be compared. Defoe is a natural goal scorer- an assassin. Rooney on the other hand is an all-round forward- who can create goals, hassle opponents, hold up play, get past defenders and finish off chances. He is the total package, whilst Defoe is a specialist. Learn about football, before spouting off nonsense

  • Comment number 34.

    also with regards Heskeys stepovers..... whats the harm in hoping for the best.... i dont see why the media and the players shouldnt go into every tournament thinking they can win it.... why not? Bet Uruguay believed they could and they got a lot further than us in 2010.... My team Wycombe have had a couple of decent cup runs in the last decade to semi finals and that comes from believing you can rather than going ah well guys lets just get to where we should get to and thats good enough!

  • Comment number 35.

    post 7 - Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo are hardly big stage (international) superstars...especially CR. What have they proved on 'the big stage'?

    Messi and Ronaldo are not big stage superstars?!!!! Messi in particular has proved that he is the most incredible player to watch on the planet, week in week out for the last 2-3 years, and at the very highest level of the game. A dont tell me that he doesnt perform for his country - look at the world cup. Argentina didnt go far but Messi was there star performer in every game and got in many people's team of the tournament.

  • Comment number 36.

    post no. 27 - because of our common language and physical proximaty. Lots of people in Ireland read this website but not so many Polish people!

  • Comment number 37.

    Jonathan - Messi star performer for argentina in every game?Did you watch the world cup games? Higuain was the main man! Messi was ordinary!

  • Comment number 38.

    We should leave the old guard like Gerrard at home and use the euros as an opportunity to blood the youth - a little like Germany did in South Africa. Forget Rooney - he's overrated - we don't need a talisman but a group of players selected because they work best as a team. Rooney's ban ought to be a blessing - if we need one man to compete against the best we don't deserve to make the knockout round.

    As a Spurs fan, would be desperately sad to lose Harry - but would welcome Moyes with open arms. Has helped Everton punch well beyond its (financial) weight. And as for us finishing third - I'm still wary that there's half the season to play and a transfer window for Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool to add strength where it's needed. Trying to look at Spurs with a 'glass half full' mentality but 25 years of following them makes me fear the final hurdle. Here's hoping I'm proved an ill-judged pessimist!

  • Comment number 39.


    Whilst I agree with you about Rooney not being in the same bracket as the likes of Messi and Ronaldo I agree with you on a different matter.

    Who does Rooney play in a team with week in week out? Lets be honest here he does NOT play with the same sort of players that the other two play with.. the other two play with world class players that make him and his game look world class at club level, yet neither are amazing on the international stage, just like Rooney. I can't prove this for certain but if you put Rooney in a team to replace the other two world class players I'm pretty sure that he would get close to the goals that Messi and Ronaldo would get.

  • Comment number 40.

    @31 rangersfan1990 wrote:

    "thecat - thats the only way england will ever win a major tournament taking players who deserve to go, players who are on form parker, sturridge, richards to name some."

    Isn't that exactly what I said??

  • Comment number 41.

    Cant see past Barca for CL 2012

  • Comment number 42.

    Ashley cole would get into all nations squads. Capdevilla is no longer in the Spain squad anyway. Otherwise only Hart can be considered world class at the moment with the youngsters mentioned by Greavesy showing good signs. Rooney was the outstanding player of euro 2004 but since then has been a disappointment. decent defenders worked out a way to stifle him and he has not been able to improve his game to outfox them once again. Messi is unplayable at his best and i think that Gareth Bale is starting to reach that level in a different playing style of course. Ronaldo is also better than shrek. Having said that he is still the best England have and perhaps that is why we will once again fail. Unless Wiltshire, can dominate a midfield against the likes of xavi, Swienstiger, Snjeider, there really is little hope this time round. Maybe in 4 years we will have a chance.

  • Comment number 43.

    Dark Starrrr - Totally right he would be right beside messi and ronaldo if he was at either team!

  • Comment number 44.

    At 18:36 30th Dec 2011, thecat wrote:

    Is this the same Gerrard that has repeatedly failed on the international stage? On form, Scott Parker cannot be dropped.


    I think that Gerrard has been Englands best performer over the last 10 years , he was the only player that came back from South Africa with any credibility intact.

    Parker will be ineffective against slick passing international sides , and he will pick up a lot of yellow cards which you can get away with in the EPL but not in international games.

  • Comment number 45.

    thecat - I was agree with your comment hence why I said it?

  • Comment number 46.

    Moyes at the spuds if arry goes on to be England Manager after the euros!!

  • Comment number 47.

    Rangersfan - no, no he really wasnt ordinary. I watched the games and he played really well, as many pundits recognised. Check out some of this great skills at the world cup here (if this link is allowed)

  • Comment number 48.

    @Heskeys_Wonderful_Stepovers you clearly have a bit of an axe to grind! Statistics are extremely subjective, especially when comparing players who fullfil differing roles! Agreed, in the past the media have seriously overhyped our national sides chances in tournaments, however so far in the lead-up to Euro 2012 there appears to be a real air of caution from the media. They would appear to be making an effort to play down our chances! Whether this continues closer to the tournament will have to be seen.

    As for the predictions Mr McNulty has made:

    Have to agree that Arsenal will be surprise winners of the champions league, despite my hoping that they can do it! I can't see it being anyone other than Barca/Real/Bayern!

    You'd like to back one of the Machester teams for the Europa League, It's a real possibility if they go for it, but I feel both may suffer due to focusing on taking the prem crown. Predicting which of the two to take the prem is difficult, I for one can't do it, it changes weekly!!

    Relegation teams are always tough to predict, wigan are always tough to call, I've been saying for seasons they'd drop, but all credit because they have a knack for pulling themselves to safety!

    Let's hope 2012 brings some great football!!

  • Comment number 49.

    11 Wayne Rooneys? How many would last the ninety minutes? Wayne Rooney, Wayne Rooney, I often ask myself where would he be without football? Strangeways no doubt, Lets be honest, A guy that wanted to walk away from Manchester United, Probaly the biggest Club in the world, Has to be a total bufoon. I watched him down at the liberty stadium, where he did'nt have his best game but you could see he had aura about him, the guy is a quality footballer, his touch, his vision, and i believe turn of pace, but 18 hours without a goal in this season just not justify him to be mentioned in the same breath as Messi, Ronaldo, Pele, Maradona, Zico, Just Fontaine, Gerd Muller, Cruyff, Romario, Giggs, Klinsmann, Pusckas, Eusebio and even John Charles. I Mean the guy should'nt even be going to Poland And Ukraine with a two match ban, but England are so desperate they have'nt a choice, Wayne Rooneys goals per games ratio will hardly set the world on fire and ultimately thats what stikers always get judged on, Work rate? Roy Keane, there's a guy who worked how can you compare Rooneys so called work rate to his? how many times has he been sent off for his so called work rate? Honestly, I dont Blame Wayne Rooney For All The Hype That Follows him, Its the uneducated people who keep harping on about him, He's probaly going to be sent off in the Euro's anyway for a petulant kick out at somebody, it would'nt be the first time and certainly won't be the last, What would you be more suprised at? England going out in the quarters or Rooney not geting a Booking, THE GUY IS A QUALITY PLAYER BUT THATS ALL, HE'S NEVER GOING TO BE THE BEST AROUND, OR EVEN ONE OF THEM, Is he making Shrek 5?

  • Comment number 50.

    At 18:28 30th Dec 2011, greavesy wrote:

    I agree England get hyped up way way way too much and am a pessimist with regards to the England team in tournaments. But even I can look at the youngsters coming through and feel optimistic. Jones, Welbeck, Barkley, Wilshere, Sturridge, Smalling etc, along with plenty of years left in Young, Rooney, Hart and co.


    The youngsters you mention played together for the U21´s and did win anything or do anything special, so dont hold your breath.

  • Comment number 51.

    Right everyone. I've been daft enough to stick my neck out - so now it's your turn. All predictions welcome and a Happy New Year to you all.

    Let's hear from you.

  • Comment number 52.

    @44 repo wrote:

    "I think that Gerrard has been Englands best performer over the last 10 years , he was the only player that came back from South Africa with any credibility intact."

    A fallacy if ever there was one! The Gerrard loving media like the Beeb love to hype him up. A goal within the first 10 minutes fails to hide the fact that the guy went missing for 4 games.

  • Comment number 53.

    For once I agree with Phil McNulty! England is a firm second tier team in the Euros, behind the likes of Germany, Netherlands and Spain. England are on par with France, Italy, Portugal

  • Comment number 54.

    I think Manchester City will win the PL (I hope Tottenham do) unless Man Utd bring in a world class midfielder, Bayern will shock Europe and beat Barcelona and win the CL, Spain will win the 2012 Euros

  • Comment number 55.

    At 19:16 30th Dec 2011, thecat wrote:

    A fallacy if ever there was one! The Gerrard loving media like the Beeb love to hype him up. A goal within the first 10 minutes fails to hide the fact that the guy went missing for 4 games.


    Sorry mate , I actually watched the games and he was our best performer overall.
    I think you are getting confused with Rooney who looked completely uninterested.

    I was in mainland Europe at the time and the sportswriters here marked Gerrard as our best performer for all games.

  • Comment number 56.

    Inevitably the media circus will get behind England in the run up to the Euros and we'll all start to believe once again that we can actually win something even thougn nobody else in Europe or indeed the world seriously considers us contenders. All you need to do is look at the bookie's odds within the UK (always second or third favourite) and then outside where we find ourselves well down the ranking - ideal second tier quarter final fodder.

    For what its worth we should leave behind Lampard, Gerrard, Terry and Ferdinand and show some real commitment to youth rather than remaining faithful to the tiring "golden generation" (I despair). Rooney should play up front in a more conventional role devoting his energies to putting the ball in the net and let others do the supporting roles. We could run Spain a gallant second - oh no there I go again...

  • Comment number 57.

    At 19:16 30th Dec 2011, desertwalker wrote:

    England are on par with France, Italy, Portugal

    Maybe with France if they are still sulking, but Italy and Portugal are definitely superior to England.

  • Comment number 58.

    club predictions :

    c.l final byern v barca

    p.l mcy

    fa cup. mcy

    l.cup palace (not really mcy)

    euro cup mu

    c.l places m.u / tot / ars

  • Comment number 59.


    wol / bb / nor

  • Comment number 60.

    The thing i love and hate about football fans is the irrational comments... people on here seem to think English players are terrible whilst anyone defending a player gets moaned at for bigging up a player.

    The reality is,English players, in general, are very good! Not in the best 11 in the world but still in the top few teams. This is why many have played in the CL later stages alongside other top stars from around the world.

    We should realistically hope our team to get towards the later stages of the European Championships... just like many fans across Europe will expect for their team... Portugal, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, England, Russia... many fans of any of these teams would say less than the semi finals will be a dissapointment!


    Man City.. EPL
    Real Madrid.. CL

    all other competitions are not really fought out by 1st elevens of the big teams

  • Comment number 61.

    The winners of the premier league in 2012 are impossible to predict. The old line that United get stronger in the new year doesn't really work as the players simply aren't as good as the previous crops. City are developing fast and are putting in the building blocks to be a major force for years to come. Spurs look fantastic and certainly have the talent to win trophies. The premier league is more interesting than it has been for a while.

    Barcelona should win the champions league again although Real Madrid are edging closer to them and Bayern are a hugely progressive side as well. Keeping Messi fit is obviously the key for the Catalan outfit. He really is on a different level to everyone else. As for the domestic English cups, Liverpool or City should triumph in the Carling cup and Maybe Spurs will have a real go at the FA cup this year.

    The most intriguing tournament in 2012 is the European Championship. Spain are the obvious favourites and that is quite understandable. However knock-out football has a way of surprising and making predictions look foolish. The Dutch and the Germans are real contenders and the French have huge talent and may prove the dark horses.

    All I want to see from England is a team that is set-up well and gives everything. There is talent and given the correct platform they could progress past the group. Players like Hart, Jones, and Wilshere have talent to match anyone. They could all make a name for themselves in Poland and Ukraine. Looking forward, an England team with a spine of Hart, Jones, Wilshere and Sturridge fills me with a good deal of optimism. The key, as always with England, is to actually get the best out of them....

  • Comment number 62.

    re...RedSurfer wrote:
    All you need to do is look at the bookie's odds within the UK (always second or third favourite) and then outside where we find ourselves well down the ranking - ideal second tier quarter final fodder.

    Really.. if this was true then people can take advantage of market arbitrage... bet on England to win in foreign countries and lay England in the UK...guaranteed money. Realistically, your comment is not correct otherwise people can make risk free money... thats how I understand efficient markets anyway! And betting is a pretty efficient market.

  • Comment number 63.

    58. At 19:31 30th Dec 2011, simon wrote:
    club predictions :

    c.l final byern v barca

    p.l mcy

    fa cup. mcy

    l.cup palace (not really mcy)

    euro cup mu

    c.l places m.u / tot / ars

    What? At least tell us what you are talking about... you might as well put that the ''YMCA'' will win everything.

  • Comment number 64.

    think we are missing the point guys/gals.........while ever we are making 10 year old kids play 11 a side football on three quarter size pitches we won't win anything.... I like Rooney...he has flaws but don't we all ......but if he is our best hope then its another disappointment i'm afraid....

  • Comment number 65.

    One thing's for sure; two teams out of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are in for a very disappointing end to the season.

    As a Spurs fan I hope Tottenham remain in the top four, but I wouldn't be surprised if they don't. There are too many factors that can affect results, not least of all injuries to key players. On a completely biased note; I think last year's Champions League was better for Tottenham's inclusion, and was less exciting this year for Spur's exclusion. The team seemed genuinely excited and proud to be the in competition. Something lacking from the usual suspects this year.

    Long term I'd love to see another one or two teams join what is now the Top Six so that the Premier League is even more mixed up and unpredictable. Most of the teams seemed to playing really good football this season, so with a sugar Daddy rich owner or a bit of luck it's not inconceivable. Ignoring Tottenham for a second, I'm genuinely pleased to see City come in and mix things up. Perhaps in a couple of years I won't be so happy to see them dominate the Premier League, but for now I'm happier to see them at the top than Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool.

    With regards the manager of England; I desperately hope Redknapp isn't allowed to manage the national side. The job's a poison chalice. It's the last job any manager should take on – a retirement fund boost – and it surely has to be the least rewarding management job in football.

    The media, and most of the country for that matter, seem to have an unrealistic view of what England are capable of. The players don't have the passion, or perhaps the skill (when they're not surrounded by foreigners) to win competitions. Given the role, Redknapp would be temporarily put on a pedestal, only to be knocked down after the first or second failed competition. I doubt even Mourinho or Ferguson could change the England team's trophy case (assuming such a thing exists).

  • Comment number 66.

    I think England has no chance what so ever advancing to the semi's. Fabio Capello has done too little for the English youth system to develop. Plus the fact that premier league clubs still keep on buying succes instead of raising it themselves. This could take maybe 10 years to develop but in the end it paus out dividend, like Holland have always done and Spain and Germany are showing recently. I very much enjoy reading these blogs as a Dutchman, I think there's an abondance of knowledge present in the home country of football, it just isnt utilized.

  • Comment number 67.

    sorry marysprayer. i think the y.m.c.a will win everything lol

  • Comment number 68.

    I personally believe that Rooney isn't a superstar and is overrated AS A STRIKER, yes he is a good player but he isn't at the standard of the top strikers for example, Robin Van Persie.

    However the influence that Rooney has on the overall game, in the position that he has adopted over the years of the CF or CAM behind the striker of Hernandez or Welbeck for Manchester United, is second to none in that position.

    But he still remains England's best player at the moment.

  • Comment number 69.

    Race for the 4 CL places will be really interesting. Given that the top 2 places will be the Mancester clubs and spurs have got a advantage for 1 of the place, it will be a race for 1 place between arsenal, chelsea and liverpool.

    Shows the significant progress made by City and spurs over last couple of years to break into that "big 4" held by utd, chesea, arsenal and liverpool

  • Comment number 70.

    Phil, I accept your imperial challenge. Predictions as follows:
    United retain the Premiership title through sheer effort of will. City, Tottenham and Arsenal fill the champions' league spots. Abramovich sacks AVB and appoints Gus Hiddink. After failing to win the title, City make discreet enquiries about Mourinho and Guardiola but are rebuffed. Mancini keeps his job.
    Blackburn, Bolton and Fulham are relegated. Wigan and Wolves make their annual great escape and all three promoted teams stay up with points to spare. Man City win the Carling Cup and Tottenham win the FA Cup.
    Real Madrid stifle and niggle Barcelona just enough to win the Champions' League.
    Germany's young team peaks at the right time to win Euro 2012. Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones and Daniel Sturridge shine as England make the semis.
    Harry Redknapp takes the England job in July. Carlo Ancelotti walks out on Paris St Germain to take over at Tottenham, just in time to persuade Bale and Modric to stay.
    Angry at being ignored by the media during the close season, Mario Balotelli breaks into the Etihad stadium in August and sets off a firework display which burns the stadium to the ground. He is fined two weeks' wages. When he takes to the field for the first game of the 2012-13 season he has a wooden cross tied to his arms and back to symbolise his persecution by everyone in the world, all the time.

    Happy New Year

  • Comment number 71.

    The League as it is tonight:

    1 Man City 18 38 45
    2 Man Utd 18 33 45
    3 Tottenham 17 15 38
    4 Chelsea 18 15 34
    5 Arsenal 18 8 33
    6 Liverpool 18 7 31
    7 Newcastle 18 3 30
    8 Stoke 18 -10 25
    9 West Brom 18 -7 22
    10 Everton 17 -2 21
    11 Norwich 18 -6 21
    12 Aston Villa 18 -4 20
    13 Fulham 18 -5 19
    14 Swansea 18 -5 19
    15 Sunderland 18 0 18
    16 QPR 18 -14 17
    17 Wolves 18 -13 16
    18 Wigan 18 -20 14
    19 Bolton 18 -19 12
    20 Blackburn 18 -14 11

    My prediction at the close of season


    An unbiased opinion and I’m declaring my interest as a NUFC fan – so I think I’ve been pretty fair there.

    I think England will get to SF’s of the Euro’s and then get slaughtered, ‘Arry Redknapp (Gawd bless ‘em) will be next England gaffer and I stand by my prediction that Martin O’Neill will be the next THFC manager.

  • Comment number 72.

    Champions League : Bayern Munich
    Premier League : Manchester City
    League Cup : Liverpool
    FA Cup : Manchester United
    Euro 2012 : Germany
    PL Top 4 : Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Spurs
    Relegated : Blackburn, Swansea, Wigan

  • Comment number 73.

    First time blogger here, so please don't critise too much....
    I love to hear all of the 'football experts' state how good a player is compared with so and so. A good example that relates to this blog is Wayne Rooney campared with Cristiano Ronaldo. I am no expert and am what many would percieve as an armchair fan. However from my vague and old memory I seem to remember that in CR's last season at MUFC he scored rather a lot of goals and WR did not. I also seem to remember that CR was classed as a midfielder and WR a striker... This to me seems to end the debate about goal scoring ability and goal to games ratio....

    I believe that England and many of the PL team lack players with vision. I am not talking creativity, which I believe that many confuse with a few fancy step overs and an occassional long pass that comes off. I am talking an ability to see the bigger picture and to realise what your team mates may do without having played together at club level.

    I remember like yesterday the 1986 world cup, when captain marvel (IMHO runs a lot but creates nothing) and Ray Wilkins exit in the second match and England have to win. Who comes in and creates for England? Oh it's that lazy none tackling midfielder from spurs (who Monaco later sign and create a team around - Arsene Wenger) and England are suddenly transfromed into world beaters (not quite)...

    PL work horses do not make International superstars. Let's forget work effort and reward those 'lazy' players that can change a game and create goals.

    I also vividly remember a certain tournament in France in 96 or 97 when that lazy midfielder became manager and he took a bunch of kids and won it.

    Let's discard the old guard and build up youth. Let's pick a few work horses and a bunch of visionary's. Let's be realistic that we will expect to make the quarters (based on media) and be happy if we do.

    If you campare Germany to England there is not much difference in Leagues and players. There is a big difference in National achievement. Now ask yourself why Germany (with no world beaters generally mentioned) always make the latter stages on major tournaments...

    Would love to see a manager come into the national setup and discard none achievers at national level. Would love the media and supports 8 years to achieve that goal. Lets face it, no way with any manager in the world that England could win a major tournament in the next 8 anyway.

    As for PL and CL, then not mentioned this before, but we as a nation have shot ourselves in the foot with the number of foriegn players in there.

  • Comment number 74.

    Euros: England and Ireland to both go through as runners-up in the group stages but to go out in the quarters to Spain and France respectively.

    In the club game the premier league will be so tight but I think manc will pip it. That Manchester derby on I think 3 May will be crucial. I don't think either of them will do that well in the Europa league - they'll focus on the EPL. Stoke to beat Valencia and reach the final!!

    Don't think our CL teams have much hope, Chelsea might make the quarters but that's the best we'll get. Bayern/real to win it - no teams ever won back to back CL and I don't think barca will change this. My money's on tottenham and chelsea to qualify next season, with arsenal just missing out and Liverpool miles off in sixth.

    Finally, Blackburn are a cert to go down, as venky's won't sack kean. Bolton have too much to go down, I fear for Wigan and also wolves.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ 73 - yes we have a lot of foreigners in the PL but what we don't do is integrate like France, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Spain etc.

    Personally I'd have fired Capello and give the job to who ever is to take the team forward to WC 2014.

  • Comment number 76.

    Once again the "saint Harry" media machine is in full swing. His tax evasion court case is being held in January. That will determine his England future.

  • Comment number 77.

    @73 sanityuk
    I agree with you up to a point about England teams squandering talent - like you I remember the 86 World Cup and it was no coincidence that England started to click with a fit, creative midfield and Peter Beardsley linking play to Lineker up front. The surprise is that four years later at Italia 90 Hoddle was long gone and Robson was still in the starting eleven until yet another injury opened the door for Gascoigne and Platt. I have to question what you've said about Rooney because IMO Rooney is a thoroughbred who's prepared to be a workhorse for the team. Yes, in Ronaldo's final seasons at Man Utd he scored for fun but that was helped by Rooney playing deeper and wider than he prefers, and in a lot of key games in 2009, notably the CL final, Ronaldo was effectively playing as United's lone striker.
    One other thing, Tottenham are playing some of the best football we've seen in the Premiership and it's possible because of the platform Scott Parker gives them as a holding player. Without him they got slaughtered by Man City in August. Now with him shoring up the midfield they can go forward with complete confidence. I think England's best chance of success at Euro 2012 is to have Parker doing that same job with the likes of Wilshere, Cleverley and Rooney free to make it happen further forward. This England team needs a balance.

  • Comment number 78.

    On another note, I predict Bristol city to be in the premier league next season (joking!) But doing the double over the league leaders in the space of a month is some achievement - especially given the saints home record.

  • Comment number 79.

    Phil - Pretty much agree with all your comments.
    Man City have got a real chance this season of winning the the PL title; however up to now they have had relatively few injuries/absences to their key 'central-spine' players, e.g. Hart, Kompany, Toure and Silva, yet are still only equal on points and only 5 goals better off than United who have had half their squad, in particular defenders, on the treatment table in the first half of the season.
    Tottenham are still going strong (playing the best football in the PL according to SAF) and will keep the pressure on both Manchester clubs. However Arsenal and Chelsea look to need a few miracles to get back in the race and both may well struggle to stay in the top 4, but I do think that one or both of them might do better than most people think in the CL; don't think either will win it, but they might scare a few teams on the way. In the PL Liverpool will probably get better as the season progresses, but the best 'King Kenny' can hope for is beating Wenger and/or AVB into 4th spot.
    If Capello 'goes for broke' in Poland/Ukriane and takes the main batch of youngsters, we might have an outside chance of making the latter stages; however if he take the 'failed old boys' club, then its hard to see us getting out of the group stages.
    What I am most looking forward to is seeing the likes of Hart, Walker, Jones, Smalling, Cleverly, Wilshere, Rodwell, Welbeck, Young, A Johnson, etc pulling on the England shirts, altogether, before the end of 2012.... not too hopeful, but stranger things have happened!

  • Comment number 80.

    Loving all the Gerrard haters out there having it completely stuffed down their throats tonight!

    half an hour played, scores a goal and puts three sitters on for Carroll, who lacks the confidence (or possibly the ability) to convert them.

    Stunning half from the Liverpool skipper and shows just why he should be going to Poland and Ukraine! Should be a midfield of, imo, Wilshere, Gerrard and Parker.

    Leave Lampard at home, take Cleverly (if fit, and playing well) and play Young left, Rooney in the middle and Sturridge right of a 4-3-3.

    Predictions for the English league and cups

    PL- Man City
    Championship- Saints
    League 1- Charlton

    League Cup- Liverpool
    Fa Cup- Man United

    CL- Barca

    CL Spots in EPL. Man United, Tottenham, Chelsea. with Liverpool 5th Arsenal 6th

  • Comment number 81.


    Saints losing their home record could be the start of a blip... ;D

    Apart from that agree entirely with your eng lineup and predictions - except Liverpool won't finish ahead of arsenal!

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 81

    Could be but i don't see it. Think they have been the stand out team this year.

    Could be BCs kick start for their season though. Maybe push on from here and look towards the play off spots?! ;D

    I think Liverpool have got more than arsenal to be honest, although arsenal are looking good. Only thing with arsenal is that I don't think they would cope with losing Van Persie for any period of time, Even just a couple of games could really dent their hopes for the 4th spot

  • Comment number 83.

    At 19:40 30th Dec 2011, marysprayer wrote:

    think we are missing the point guys/gals.........while ever we are making 10 year old kids play 11 a side football on three quarter size pitches we won't win anything.

    Good point !

    My 7 year old is in the Sporting academy in Portugal, the training is heavily based on skills, about 70% ball work, and then 30% games 2 vs 2 on a pitch about 20m x 15m, they even teach them stepovers !!!!
    The same academy produced Figo, Simao, Quaresma, Ronaldo, Nani, Veloso, and Moutinho to name a few.
    I sometimes watch sub 15´s play , they play 7 vs 7 on a pitch about 50m x 30m , most of those kid´s have a better first touch than your average EPL player.
    But what impresses me is that the coaches are not interested in the results of the games , they look for at how the each kids plays and at their future potential.

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 83

    I think it is well publicised that the English clubs training methods are completely out of touch with many of the other larger European nations.

    the only good thing is that we seem to be finally doing something about. Man City's new training area could be a real kick start to the youth of England.

    Maybe in 10 years time we'll see far more skills based training and less emphasis on who is the fastest or strongest!

    its ridiculous to think that Michael Owen was nearly not enrolled into the England youth system when he a 10 year old because he was "too small to play at the top level" Then you look at Messi, where barcelona picked him up as a 13 year old and he probably hasn't grown that much since then!

  • Comment number 85.

    United have the best squad and on blob play the best football. They also know what it takes to do it over 38 games, so it will be a surprise if they don't win the league.

    Hopefully City will knock Liverpool out of the League Cup (and then lose the final ;-})

    Anyone can win the FA Cup as we saw last season with a final of City v Stoke.

    CL is Real Madrid's as long as they don't mess it up - although Barca still appear to have the sign on them it's been as much about luck as anything in recent meets. Once you're in it it's far harder to win the thing than it used to be of course, which helps explain why no team has ever retained the CL.

    Europa league is wide open for whichever side suddenly finds themselves in the semis - hopefully I'll have made it back from Amsterdam by then!

    Euros are wide open but freeze and you're gone - hopefully Spain will fail to bore their way to the final this time. I'll go for a shock winner, maybe Portugal. tbh though I couldn't care less as long as the winners score more than 8 goals in 7 games - dull as ditch water was SA2010.

  • Comment number 86.

    84 you're living in the past. Carrington has been open for a decade. City are trying to catch up.

  • Comment number 87.

    At 22:41 30th Dec 2011, Liverpaul85 wrote:

    @ 83

    I think it is well publicised that the English clubs training methods are completely out of touch with many of the other larger European nations.


    Out of touch and also arrogant !!!!!

    This is absolutely true !. My team was FC Alverca , our company sponsored them. We gained promotion to the first division with players like Deco , Maniche , Ricardo Carvalho, and Mantorras , Mantorras was probably the best footballer I have ever seen in the flesh, and I have watched England and Portugal live a few times, his career was cut short by a serious knee injury at a very young age.
    But Carvalho was the player I thought would make the big time, he was just an amazing defender.
    During the close season I e-mailed 2 premier league clubs telling them to buy Carvalho as he would have cost about 200 thousand quid.
    One club replied telling me that they have their own scouting network thank you very much , the other did not even reply.
    The next year Mourinho took Carvalho and Deco to Porto , then as you know they were sold on to Barca and Chelsea for huge amounts of money.

  • Comment number 88.

    Ireland to make the semi finals... United for the league, City to bottle it. Liverpool for 7th.. Harry to be England Manager and Gone by xmas...after over seeing the greatest ever run of greatest defeats. Some to start insisting girls can play on the same team as boys. Daglish to retire. Giggs to score again in 2012 in the next season.. A team that has not won it before to win the Champions league, Chelsea to win nothing Villa Boas to go elsewhere before end of 2012. United to win all the competitions they remain in, making an ass of all the usual journos

  • Comment number 89.

    At 22:55 30th Dec 2011, TheTrawler wrote:

    I cant work out if you are more "pro Utd" or more "anti- Liverpool".

    You are obsessed with knocking back any "pro-Liverpool" comment on the blogs whilst bigging up Man Utd at every opportunity. .

  • Comment number 90.

    Watched Liverpool-Newcastle today and couldn't help but notice, despite a Liverpool win, albeit with the ineptitude of Carroll and Downing, few have commented on the even more inept performances of Henderson. Today he touched the ball 23 times and despite today's game being one dominated by possession, 17 of his passes were "backwards" and of the 6 that went forward, 3 of those were to Newcastle players. Why does Dalgleish always remove Adam (for Gerrard in last two games) when it is Henderson who contibutes so little - if anythiong?

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 85 & 86

    I see you haven't taken your united tinted glasses off yet!

    Maybe you could come up with some real predicitons without being completely bias towards United.

    Carrington is a fantastic facility. But its not really any better than what chelsea have got or Melwood. Most PL teams nowadays have these facilities.

    What Man city seem to be doing though is broadening it further! they will be able to pay the best youth level coaches in the world and teach them about technique, passing, movement. They will improve them mentally as well as physically.

    I think its about time you realised there is another team in Manchester that in a few years will be bigger and better than yours!

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 90

    Parkonian, didn't see the whole game today due to work commitments but what i did see and from previous games, Henderson is more about being available for the simple pass all the time, he may not do massive amounts with it but he is always available. He has definitely improved and grown in stature over the last 6 months. when he first came he looked like a bunny in the headlights. Now he seems to pick the ball up more and very rarely does he lose possession.

    i think the reason Adam is brought off is to give Henderson playing time with Gerrard. To help him learn and develop as a player. Just my opinion though.

  • Comment number 93.

    Premier League:

    1. Man City
    2. Man United
    3. Chelsea
    4. Spurs

    Champions League:


    League Cup:

    Man City

    Euro 2012:

    England.............out on pens quarter finals.........Rooney sent off for 2 footed challenge on Spain.

  • Comment number 94.

    City will never be bigger or better than United. You're an outsider though, dripfed on media jibberish, so I wouldn't expect you to get it. You might as well say that when Everton eventually get a blank chequebook they'll be bigger and better than Liverpool within a decade. It's rubbish, pal. United are the standard City are trying to reach. And if and when City ever get there United won't be going away either.

    As for this idea you have that City throwing money at their new facilities will suddenly give them a conveyor belt of top talent? Don't be ridiculous. Their first team squad is built on foundations of sand for a start off. There is hardly any genuine attachment to the club to build for the future from - maybe Hart, Richards, and er...

    My predictions were not biased towards United either. I simply pointed out that if they don't win the league it will be a big surprise. And everybody with a brain knows that anyway.

  • Comment number 95.

    @ 87

    i think it is a bit harsh to call our coaches and methods arrogant. the FA and our media certainly but through my experiences of going through the different levels of coaching badges, there is always a sense that what we're teaching is old fashioned. Its down to the FA to start organising different methods of coaching.

    i also think the clubs are starting to realise that we need different methods and that the Fa coaching levels are quite poor.

    being a Liverpool fan I have seen some of the work that Rafa put into changing the mentality of the youth teams there and i seriously believe that in a couple of years time you will see a fair few youngsters coming out of Liverpools academy.

    there are a couple already on the radar such as Connor Coady and Raheem sterling who have improved immensely by having the right youth coaches

  • Comment number 96.

    People who are saying Gerrard doesn't deserve a place in the England squad for Euro 2012 seriously need a reality check, may i ask who can be argued to being better than him? Parker and Wilshere are exceptional talents i'll admit, but there's no reason why they can't play in tandom to Gerrard. Thus of course leaving out the drivel i.e Lampard, Milner, Barry etc.. the list goes on. Gerrard is a class act, with the kind of leadership England need, they can't win Euros with the youngsters they have, regardless of their individual talents.
    Of course we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves or heap unwanted pressure yet again on the players shoulders, but we have the players to make an impact on the tournament, which we, unforgivably, haven't got anywhere near to in the past

  • Comment number 97.

    89 I'm one of the biggest defenders of Liverpool's status in English football history on these blogs. Until Chelsea won the league in 2010, United AND Liverpool both had as many league titles as the every team in London put together. Also heard )though no checked it out) that between them they have more European trophies than every other team in England put together. And they have more World Cups than every other team in England put together as well.

  • Comment number 98.


    Good point, but he clearly does not lose possession much because he is going the "wrong way"!!

    Henderson made only one tackle today and for that he was blown for a foul, otherwise he was running all over the place and not contibuting a lot. Thank goodness for the industry and talents of Gerrard, Bellamy, Skrtel, Agger and Enrique.

    Next game vs. Man City will be telling for the Reds and I fear a drubbing - in Man City's favour. Keep an eye on Henderson in this upcoming game and see how out of his depth he clearly is. It may have worked at Sunderland - just!! - but Liverpool need 2or3 Gerrards to run the midfield and set up the forwards (assuming they can soon find the net with greater accuracy than of late!)

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 94

    What a load of trollope you write!

    It won't be that big a surprise if untied don't win the league. It has happened before and will happen again. Man city are a team that are only going to get better. when Ferguson leaves it will be very hard for united to find anyone that can fill his shoes and due to his influence throughout the whole club I can see United suffering for a few years after Fergie leaves.

    Also, you say City's team is built on sand, but who from the current team has come through the ranks at united? Giggs.....Welbeck......erm.....?

    So why are those players going to have anymore attachment to the club than man citys?

    the only players that will really stay loyal to Man united are possibly Evra (who only has a couple more seasons) and possibly Carrick (mainly because no other team in the top 6 would want him)

    and one more thing, what has their first team squad got to do with their ability to bring through young talent? thats down to the scouts, coaches, Director of football and manager. Nothing to do with a £50m first team player!

  • Comment number 100.


    I hope so but I'm not going to get carried away. We outplayed Southampton a month back at Ashton gate and I thought it would be the start of a turnaround but we went on to take only 2 points from 5 games. Big game against millwall on Tuesday and to be honest I'd be satisfied with staying up this season, look to build in the future.

    Granted, arsenal would be in trouble without RVP, but it's still to be seen how Liverpool cope without Suarez. Tonight was only one game and although Gerrard looked excellent on his comeback, he's only one player. You created less chances tonight and there was an element of luck about a couple of the goals.


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