Monthly Archives: October 2009

Toulon’s Jonny Wilkinson earns England call up after explosive start


Jonny Wilkinson in action for England

(Courtesy of tom.midwood)

Jonny Wilkinson told Ian Robinson on Radio 5 that he feels a better player since moving to French club Toulon.

Wilkinson joined the club last summer after spending 12 years at Newcastle Falcons.

The England international spent 10 months on the sidelines prior to the move, beginning life in the South of France a little hesitant.

Six months on, the fly-half feels fitter and fresher than ever before, and believes a change of scenery has done his life, on and off the field, the world of good.

He told Radio Five: “Its been a hell of an experience going over there (Toulon) and what’s really helped has been the opportunity to be a new guy in a team and have to search quickly to try and understand the game.”

“I’m getting better week in, week out and thats exactly where I want to be as a player.”

Wilkinson’s impressive start to the season in France – along with a few injuries in the England camp – sees the 30 year-old back in the international reckoning.

England rugby coach, Martin Johnson, has rightly named the reborn Wilkinson in his squad for next months match against Australia at Twickenham.

Johnson will hope Wilkinson can transfer his impressive club form for his country, as he prepares his side for the Six Nations in January.

November the 22nd 2003 seems a distant memory when Wilkinson scored that drop goal in Sydney against the Aussie’s to win the World Cup.

A moment to savoiour for most Englishmen, but one of the reasons why Wilkinson decided to leave his homeland for pastures new.

“I have been trying for a long time to leave things behind me, injuries, a few elements of the [2003] World Cup that were placed on me at a young age and you perhaps want to break free from.

“Coming here is a good illustration of being able to wake up one day and follow a new direction. It is something I can’t wait to be involved in,” he told the Times back in March.

Toulon or Newcastle?

So, apart from the game itself, lets see some possible reasons as to why Wilkinson has flourished in France.

Toulon

800px-Toulon_Port_tall_Ships_4

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

  • Located in Southern France
  • Situated by the sea
  • Has a Mediterranean climate – with strong sunny days, and little rain
  • Emmanuel Bertin, inventor of kite surfing, is from Toulon
  • Cade toulonnaise – a thin pancake made from chickpea flour – is a gourmet speciality

Newcastle

800px-Tyne_Bridge_-_Newcastle_Upon_Tyne_-_England_-_2004-08-14

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

  • Located North East of England
  • Situated on the north bank of the River Tyne
  • Climate generally dry yet chilly
  • Celebrity duo Ant and Dec are from Newcastle
  • Curries are popular among the locals along with a Newcastle Toon Ale

Below are highlights and a discussion of Jonny Wilkinson’s fantastic start to his Toulon career.

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Tips On How To Avert Managerial Disasters

Michel Roux Jr, spoke to the Guardian today to offer advice on how to save those troublesome scenario’s that crop up when cooking in the kitchen.

So we’ve decided to find out from a top Premier League manager how one goes about overturning hazardous situations that could ultimately throw a club into turmoil.

Question 1:

Your team are losing 4-0 away at half time. Do you?

A Tell them decisions have gone against you and hope to pull a few goals back in the second.

B Make a few substitutions to steady the ship so as not to concede more.

C Sit them on the floor next to your travelling fans and give them a right good bullocking.

D Let them down gently. Tell them they’re not as good as the other team, so just learn to deal with it.

answer C

Question 2:

Its 1-0 to the opposition and the ref awards a 93rd minute penalty. Only to consult his assistant and be told it wasn’t a penalty, before courageously deciding not to give it. Do you?

A Praise the referee for his bravery at overturning a wrong decision

B Claim it was a penalty and that the ref is blind.

C Give no comment on the incident just that you are disappointed with the loss

D Tell the press you’re confused by the final decision and blame the ref for the defeat.

answer D

Question 3:

William Gallas heads Arsenal into a 2-1 lead over Hull City in the FA Cup

William Gallas heads Arsenal into a 2-1 lead against Hull City in the FA Cup

(Courtesy of shields_t’s)

You’ve just been knocked out of the FA Cup with replays showing that the winning goal was offside. Do you?

A Moan that you were robbed and that because you’re Hull City the big decisions always go against you.

B Stay clear of the incident and instead accuse the captain from the other team who wasn’t playing that he spat at your assistant’s shoes.

C Complain that the opposition’s manager didn’t shake your hand at the end of the match and that he never does.

D Say that Hull City have come a long way in recent years and that on another day you could have won.

All of them. Oh…except for the last one.

Question 4:

You’re next match is away against a team who are fighting for survival like you, with the game being dubbed a “6-pointer.” Do you?

A Say you won’t underestimate the opposition as they are too good to go down.

B It will be a tight affair but you hope that your team has enough in the locker to win.

C The home side have overspent and are where they should be, with their future looking bleak.

D Tell reporters that the opposition have had a tuff time of late, but that you fully expect them to survive.

answer C.


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The Curious Case of Phil Brown

It seems Phil Brown, the Hull City manager, could learn a thing or two from Michel Roux Jr, presenter of Professional MasterChef and chef extraodinaire.

Michel Roux Jr spoke to the Guardian as they asked him to offer tips for rescuing kitchen disasters.

The two Michelin star chef spoke with precision and authority at how he’d revive a loaf of bread or rescue a burnt pan all in an effort to save his beloved kitchen from falling apart and jeopardise the service.

Phil Brown, Championship Playoff Winner 2008, has had his fare share of sticky situations in football – with the latest one being a curious case.

Chairman quits

In the last 48 hours speculation around the Yorkshire club has reached worrying levels, to the extent of – dare I say it – instability.

First, Brown was said to be off after all good betting shops – and some not – decided to stop taking bets on the ‘Primark Mourinho’ being the next Premier League managerial sacking.

The club quickly released a statement saying Brown had not been sacked.

Then we were told a press conference was to be held by the manager on Friday lunchtime, hopefully to clear everything up.

Yet early on Thursday morning, Hull City’s chairman, Paul Duffen, resigned and the eagerly awaited Brown press conference was moved 24 hours back.

The Curious One

Brown was straight out of the blocks, ready to eradicate any blame thrown at him, as the club sit in the relegation zone and, unsurprisingly, are most pundits’ favourites to go down.

He hastily told reporters that “the (Hull City) players are one million per cent behind me,” and that Duffen’s departure had nothing to do with “the football side of things” but “the business of football.”

Although the two generally run together as one, in this particular blame-game scenario Brown thought it better they stay as two separate entities so as not to confuse who is at fault.

He then went on to categorically state, for those who weren’t listening the first time, that he runs the football side of things and remains in charge of Hull City’s match against Burnley on Saturday.

Staying power

Well there you have it, clarity. The manager has spoken. Duffen has been sacked not Brown. Its Duffen’s fault Hull City find themselves in a dogfight to stay in the top division for the third consecutive season.

And finally. Credit to Phil Brown for taking time out to thank his friend Paul Duffen for all the hard work he’s done at the club.

“I am here specifically to talk to you about the game on Saturday, but I will finish this statement by wishing Paul Duffen all the very best for the future from myself and all of my backroom staff.”

I win!

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Should Spitting Be A Bookable Offence?

Footballers were warned this week that spitting during a football match could help spread swine flu, which begs the question…

Should spitting be a bookable offence?

Even if its a case of someone simply spitting on the ground, a booking should be brandished to the offender.

Spitting has been ever-present in football. The pitch itself and at times, players, have all had their fare share of saliva thrust upon them.

Yet, not only is it a disgusting habit, its now also a way of spreading a disease which has an alarming potential to kill.

Unhygienic and unhealthy

Worringly, three Blackburn Rovers’ players have already been confirmed as carrying the virus, with more players at Rovers, and at Bolton Wanderes, showing signs of having swine flu symptoms.

The situation down at Ewood Park has become more serious in the past week, even the manager is having to hide for cover.

The Health Protection Agency voiced their concerns towards the ‘nasty’ habit of spitting.

“Spitting is disgusting at all times. It’s unhygienic and unhealthy, particularly if you spit close to other people,” said an HPA spokesman.

“Footballers, like the rest of us, wouldn’t spit indoors so they shouldn’t do it on the football pitch.

“If they are spitting near other people it could certainly increase the risk of passing on infections.”

More to be done

Of course its positive that the HPA have publicly disapproved and warned footballers of the risk they can place upon another person, yet more needs to be done if we hope to eradicate all possible outlets of spreading.

Its great to hear that clubs such as Arsenal have already made efforts to combat the threat of swine flu.

It is now the Premier League’s responsibility, or the FIFA, to follow on from where HPA have left off, take it that one step further, and punish any player who looks to be contributing to the spread of the virus.

If possibly passing on a death-threatening virus to a fellow player isn’t an offence on the playing field, we may as well allow everyone to kick and punch each other and do away with punishment in football altogether.

A booking may turn out to be the least of their worries.

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Juninho Stars As Kawasaki Score 7

Brazilian striker Juninho scored a brace as his side Kawasaki Frontale claimed their biggest league win at home to 10-man Sanfrecce Hiroshima last weekend.

The 7-0 win sees Kawasaki return to the top of the J-League, a point ahead of second placed and reigning champions Kashima Antlers, with just 4 games remaining.

On a personal level, Juninho’s (no, not the former Middlesborough midfielder, or the ex-Lyon playmaker) double strike took his league tally to 16. He is now the league’s second top goalscorer behind Jubilo Iwata’s Roiychi Maede, who’s on 18.

Samba stars

Juninho, 32, has been at the club since 2003, and is another Brazilian, albeit relatively unknown outside of Asia, who has taken the J League by storm.

Samba legends such as Zico, Bebeto and current Brazilian manager, Dunga, have all had spells in Japan.

Juninho, Kawasaki’s all-time top goalscorer, loves life in Japan so much, he contemplated taking up Japanese citizenship.

More and more Brazilians continue to ply their trade in the J-League, and not just to bid farewell and receive a bumper pay-off.

Another familiar Brazilian who once played in Japan and with Juninho at Kawasaki, is Porto’s Hulk.

Roles reversed?

Last season saw Kawaski finish runners-up, 3 points behind champions Kashima Antler.

It looks rather rosy, as with 5 weeks remaining Kawasaki’s final four games seem favourable.

Their next game is at home to second from bottom, Chiba, whilst an away match against the side one place above Chiba, Kashiwa, sees them finish the campaign off.

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Is The Yellow Submarine Sinking?

CAN you name the team that currently sits bottom of the La Liga table?

Here’s a clue. They possess a Brazilian born Spaniard who last summer lifted the European Cup, a former Highbury hero, and an ex Italian Red Devil? Yep – Villareal.

With 4 losses and no wins after 7 games, Villarreal look a shadow of their former self.

Last year saw El Submarino Amarillo receive a number of plaudits for their free-flowing style, as they  finished the season 5th, narrowly missing out on a Champions League place.

They also reached the quarter-finals of the CL, losing to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal 4-1 over two legs.

Yet manager, Ernesto Valverde, feels its too early to panic, suggesting that a profligacy in front of goal may be the cause of their dreadful start.

The under-fire manager told Reviste: “There is a certain pressure at the club because the expectation is that Villarreal is a club that should be up there with the top sides.

“I think that if we are going to pin down an explanation then perhaps we have lacked a clinical edge in front of goal.”

Deja vue

Sky Sports’ Guillem Balague believes, just like former manger Manuel Pellegrini, the club will keep faith with the ex-Olympiacos coach.

“With Pelligrini in the first year, they were at the bottom and they stuck with him; that’s what Villarreal will do,” he said.

“They’ve got two games at home, Malaga and Tenerife, Lazio in the Europa League and if he gets a couple of results… end of crisis.”

However, despite dominating the preceedings, Valverde’s men lost away to 10-man Lazio in the Europa League.

A late goal by Tommaso Rocchi two minutes into injury time at the Stadio Olimpico condemned the Spanish outfit to a 2-1 defeat, after Sebastian Eguren cancelled out a Mauro Zarate opener.

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Young Button Finally Fulfills Dream

HERE’S a young world champion in the making, driving with both guts and enthusiasm as he dreams of a Formula One career.

After 171 grand prix races, Jenson Button finally became the new F1 world champion last weekend in Brazil.

Yet here we see a rather tentative John Button try and dismiss his son’s lofty dreams of one day driving a F1 car.

Although Button senior claims all that matters is his Jenson being happy, it surely must be all the sweeter now that his son is both happy and a world champion.

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