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Charlton Athletic have now firmly established themselves as a Premiership club after initially being relegation candidates after their promotion to the top league. They can now be taken seriously as outsiders for a European spot – even if it would only be through the Worthington Cup – and a visit to The Valley is one of the toughest matches of the season. Can Charlton build on their successes, which include 9th place last season, to become a real force to be reckoned with and can they hang on to Alan Curbishley, their hugely talented manager. MANAGER Alan Curbishley has been tipped by many as a future England manager and, although he is no longer part of the FA’s coaching set up, he seems to have overtaken Peter Taylor as England’s best young manager. Curbishley is an excellent motivator (out of the Kevin Keegan mould), he is tactically aware and, just as importantly, he has the fans behind him. There is no doubt that Charlton have the right man at the helm. As long as Curbishley remains at The Valley, Charlton will continue to go from strength to strength. GOALKEEPERS Dean Kiely may not be well known by many people, but those who have seen him play regularly will tell you that he is up there with the best keepers in the country. Second choice goalkeeper, Sasa Ilic, is best know for his heroics in the play-off final against Sunderland. He isn’t as good or consistent as Kiely, but most teams would want a keeper of his quality sitting on the bench. DEFENDERS The key to Charlton’s success is that they don’t have any real stars, but are solid and consistent all the way through. That is certainly the case with their defence. The vastly improved Chris Powell, who has played for England under Sven Goran Eriksson, is one of the better English left-backs while Kishishev, despite being injured currently, will also play an important role this season. Luke Young looks to be an excellent signing from Tottenham and Andy Todd is transfer listed. Richard Rufus is, undoubtedly, the star of the Charlton defence but South African international is as good, if not better. The Charlton defence is, on paper, one of the weakest in the division but they don’t concede too many goals, especially at home. MIDFIELDERS Charlton have a very useful, if underrated, midfield. Graham Stuart was, arguably, Charlton’s best player last season and if they are to repeat their success last season he will have to be at his best, scoring and creating goals. Scott Parker is mainly a ball-winning midfielder, but he also has a tremendous amount of skill and is likely to be a future England international. Captain Mark Kinsella is the driving force behind Charlton while John Robinson and Claus Jensen provide some creative influence. STRIKERS Charlton have a group of strikers who are easily capable of scoring a lot of goals this season, and if they do another top half finish is not beyond them. Jonaton Johansson is one of three excellent Finnish strikers currently playing in the Premiership (the others are Jari Litmanen and Mikkael Forssel) and is probably as good as either of the other two. New signing Jason Euell, who can also play in midfield, was brilliant for Wimbledon and should improve in this better team. Shaun Bartlett scored one of the goals of last season and will be looking to continue where he left off during his loan spell and Matt Svensson also found the net on a number of occasions last time round. The injury-prone Clive Mendonca is still at Charlton and youngster Kevin Lisbie has the pace to frighten anyone. Possible line up (4-4-2) D Kiely L Young C Powell R Rufus M Fish M Kinsella S Parker C Jensen G Stuart S Bartlett J Johansson A mid-table finish looks inevitable, but it is unlikely that Charlton will finish as high as 9th again. An 11th or 12th place is likely and unless Alan Curbishley strengthens his squad they may stay in the Premiership’s ‘no-mans land’ for a long time – going nowhere up or down.
Bolton have gone into the 2001-2002 season as massive relegation favourites after winning promotion via the play-offs. This is the third time they have been in the Premiership since 1995, but on each of the previous occasions they lasted just one year in the top flight. But after three games of the new season, Bolton top the table with 9 points, including an impressive victory against star-studded Liverpool. So can Bolton Wanderers defy the critics and ‘do an Ipswich’ or will they fade away. MANAGER Sam Allardyce – Allardyce is certainly not a manager coming into the Premiership with a huge reputation, but that is certainly not because of any lack of ability – he led them to the play-offs in 1999 and 2000, before winning promotion last time round. He has a 10 year contract with the Lancashire club and has already made his mark in the Premiership winning ‘Manager of the Month’ for August. It may not be too long before Sam Allardyce is approached by a bigger club. GOALKEEPERS Jussi Jaaskelainen played an important role in Bolton’s promotion last year and was one of the best keepers outside the Premiership. Jaaskelainen may be no Peter Schmeichel or Fabien Barthez but he is easily capable of doing a good job this season – if Allardyce decides to strengthen his squad this season, it is unlikely that a new goalkeeper will be near the top of his shopping list. DEFENDERS In Colin Hendry, Paul Warhurst and Gudni Bergsson Bolton have three very experienced defenders who were the base on which Bolton’s promotion was won last year. Hendry is still one of the best defenders in England, and it is unlikely that he will perform with anything other than his usual solidarity. A lot depends on how well Warhurst and Bergsson can make the step up to the Premiership. The capable Simon Charlton and Andy Barness are also in the squad. MIDFIEL DERS Bolton have an average strength midfield – on their day they can be very good but they are not going to consistently put in outstanding performances. Youngster Kevin Nolan has already grabbed the headlines, scoring twice on the opening day, in Bolton’s 5-0 thrashing of Leicester on the opening day, and is very highly rated by people in the know at Bolton. Bo Hansen and Per Frandsen are typical efficient, hard-working and creative Scandinavian players who are the key to the Bolton midfield. Jamaican Ricardo Gardner impressed in the 1998 World Cup, while exciting Gareth Farrelly makes up the midfield. STRIKERS Goals have, in the past, been the problem for newly promoted sides, as strikers struggle to adapt to much tougher defences than they face in Division One. However, Bolton have got as good a chance as any other recently promoted side to score plenty Dean Holdsworth, the ex-Wimbledon man, always looked capable at this level and after a successful Division One campaign he should be in great shape for the new season. Michael Ricketts gained a reputation as a super-sub, after netting goal after goal off the bench, but will be looking to shake off that tag and should start most games. Veteran Ian Marshall, who can also play in defence, will add some much needed experience to the front line. Bolton may have made a lightning quick start to the season but don’t expect it to last – they simply don’t have enough strength in depth to cope with a full Premiership season. If they are not relegated, they will be somewhere in the lower part of the bottom half of the table. They are capable of beating any team in the Premiership as they showed against Liverpool but it is difficult to see where more than 40 points will come from.
In most people’s eyes Blackburn are the second best of the three promoted sides, not as good as Fulham but better than relegation favourites Bolton. It is difficult to say what would be a successful season for Blackburn, although it is likely that most fans would settle for survival, before a better second year. MANAGER Assessing Graeme Souness’s managerial ability is one of the hardest things to do in football. He has never really proven himself in England, only once winning the FA Cup with Liverpool and not doing anything at Southampton to suggest he is a class boss. But successful spells at Rangers, Galatasary and now Blackburn – leading them into the Premiership – counter his failures. The 2001-2002 season is not only important for Blackburn but for Souness too, as he trys to prove that he can manage successfully in the top division. GOALKEEPERS Ex-Liverpool man Brad Friedel never really got a chance at Anfield, but proved more than adequate in the First Division last year. Friedel is not going to be in anyone’s ‘Premiership Dream Team’ but there are a lot of worse keepers out there. DEFENDERS Balckburn’s defence just reads like a lists of Premiership rejects – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. It won’t top the defensive records at the end of the season but the back four of ex-Man Utd players John Curtis and Henning Berg, ex-Liverpool full back Stig Inge Bjornbye and Craig Short is not going to be easy to score against. They also have a number of young defenders who will get first team action including Martin Taylor. Like their goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, the Blackburn defence is solid but unspectacular – Ipswich proved that you can succeed like that, and Blackburn will be looking to do the same. MIDFIELDERS If Blackburn are to win matches this year, then their exc iting midfield – a mix of youth and experience, flair and hard work – will have to be functioning at its very best. Youngsters Damien Duff (a full international with Eire) and David Dunn (one of England’s best midfield prospects) both have enormous natural talent and were instrumental in Blackburn’s second place last year. Craig Hignett and Gary Flitcroft provide experience in the Premiership while Turkish Tugay, a signing from Rangers, is very much an unknown quantity south of the border. Jason McAteer is a quality player but seemingly out of favour with Souness and unlikely to figure at the start of the season. On their day Balckburn’s midfield could rip apart any Premiership defence. STRIKERS It is hard to say how well Blackburn’s front line will cope with life in the Premier League but if last season is anything to go by goals will not be a problem for the Ewood Park side. Matt Jansen smashed his way to 24 goals, while Marcus Bent and Nathan Blake backed him up well. There is little doubt that Jansen will get goals although Bent and Blake are still unproven at this level. New signing Carlos Grabbi comes to England with a lot of fans, but if his early season form continues then he could be this years Juan Pablo Angel – he has already made some terrible misses. Possible line up (4-4-2) B Friedel J Curtis S Bjornbye H Berg C Short D Duff D Dunn C Hignett Tugay M Jansen C Grabbi Blackburn should comfortably survive this season, and be pushing towards a top half finish, although 12th or 13th would be a good season for Souness’s men. Expect them to have a good cup run – probably in the Worthington Cup – and then build on their work next season.
Aston Villa are, undoubtedly, the Premiership’s underachievers. They consistently finish in the top half of the table, but without ever threatening any of the bigger clubs. Could the 2001-2002 season be the one where Villa finally make the breakthrough. MANAGER John Gregory – Outspoken, especially in his attacks on various referees, Gregory has to prove his credentials as a top class Premiership manager. After a successful spell at Wycombe Doug Ellis was quick to sign Gregory, whose main job this season has to keep his discontented squad happy – it is probably not far out to say that more want to leave than want to stay. The question is, how long will ‘Deadly’ Doug give Gregory before looking for a replacement. GOALKEEPERS The signing of Peter Schmeichel may prove to be the signing of the summer. After several successful seasons with Man Utd the Dane has returned to England. Despite criticism at Sporting Lisbon last season, Schmeichel should prove that he is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Along with his solid defence, Peter Schmeichel will concede few goals this year. DEFENDERS After losing Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate, both to Middlesborough, the solid defence that Villa have always had looked in danger of falling apart. But youngster Gareth Barry, highly rated Olof Mellberg and Alpay will help to ensure that the Midlands club are difficult to break down. Full/wing backs Steve Stone, Alan Wright and Mark Delaney are a constant threat on the attack, as well as helping out at the back. MIDFIELDERS On paper Aston Villa’s midfield is very strong indeed. They have 7 quality midfielders who are likely to be competing for 3 places if Gregory insists on playing his preferred 5-3-2 formation. Paul Merson is the best of these and should be an automatic choice if he can reproduce his form over the last cou ple of seasons. The out of favour David Ginola is still a brilliant player on his day, and should be able to win several points for Villa with his trademark solo efforts. Ian Taylor has been at Villa Park for ever and, although he will not be a first choice player, Taylor will be an important part of the squad and should provide good cover. Lee Hendrie has promised for a long time now, but is yet to produce any consistency, while George Boateng failed to play as well as he did at Coventry. Two Moroccans complete the seven with Hassan Kachloul and Mustapha Hadji both capable goalscoring midfielders. STRIKERS Last season this was a real problem area for John Gregory’s team. However this season things could change for the better. Juan Pablo Angel was arguably the Premiership flop of last season – a big money arrival from Argentina, Angel was paraded as a natural goalscorer – his tally was 0. However he seems to have regained some confidence and now looks like the player Villa hoped they were getting. Darius Vassel looks, at the moment, like one of England’s best young strikers – he seems to have everything and will be looking to force his way into the England senior squad in the next couple of years. Dion Dublin couldn’t stop scoring when he first joined the Birmingham club but after suffering a broken neck, Dublin has not even looked half the player he was. Last season he was woeful in front of goal and will surely start the season as 3rd choice striker behind Angel and Vassell. Possible line up (5-3-2) P Schmeichel S Stone A Wright O Mellberg Alpay G Barry H Kachloul G Boateng P Merson JP Angel D Vassell If Juan Pablo Angel and Darius Vassell can score goals then Aston Villa should be looking at a possible 6th place finish behind the big five of Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds and Chelsea. They don’t c oncede many, but they don’t score many either – everything hinges on Aston Villa’s strikers.
Arsenal are the team that are always around the top of the table, and always make the late stages of cup competitions – but they have now gone 3 seasons without a trophy, after the magnificent double-winning season in 1998 On paper Arsenal are probably as good as anyone in England, and are capable of reaching the later stages of the European Cup. MANAGER Arsene Wenger – Wenger has a reputation as a brilliant coach, yet his team are consistently finishing 2nd to Man Utd. He was a highly supported candidate for the England job, and is widely tipped to take over the Japanese national side when he leaves Arsenal. Despite Arsenal’s lack of trophies, Wenger is definitely the right man for the job. GOALKEEPERS For Arsenal this is a very strong area on the pitch. David Seaman, despite a lot of criticism, is consistently proving himself as the best goalkeeper in England. Richard Wright is the best young keeper in the country, and will get plenty of first team experience in cup competitions, before taking over from Seaman when he retires. DEFENDERS The famous Arsenal back four of Keown, Adams, Dixon and Winterburn is no more, and people have speculated for years on how Arsenal would cope with life without them. The answer is that they are coping very well. Sol Campbell is a brilliant choice to partner Tony Adams or Martin Keown – neither will play every game. Lee Dixon continues to put in his unspectacular but consistent performances on the right, and Ashley Cole is not only proving to be brilliant for the Gunners, but also seems to be the solution to England’s left-back problems. MIDFIELDERS Arsenal’s midfield is one that appears to have everything. Patrick Vieira is arguably the best midfielder in the England Premiership at the moment – only his temperament lets him down on occasions, while Freddie Ljungberg and a vastly improved Robert Pires provide the creative flair which sees Arsenal score many great goals to watch. The much ridiculed but workman-like Ray Parlour may not have succeeded at international level but is as good at his job as any other midfielder in England. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst has proven himself in Scotland and is a versatile player who can play in defence, while Lauren and the so far unseen Inamoto should provide good cover. STRIKERS Arsene Wenger faces the very difficult challenge of keeping 5 strikers, who on their day would scare any Premiership defence, happy. Obviously, the best of these is Thierry Henry – he not only scores goals with lightning pace and deadly finishing, but creates just as many for his team-mates. Many people believe that Dennis Bergkamp is on the way down, but after his magnificent start to the 2001-2002 campaign, people will not be so quick to write him off in the future. Sylvain Wiltord started his Arsenal career slowly but by the end of last season he looked as deadly as compatriot Henry, while the always inconsistent Nwankwo Kanu may be the first of the 5 to leave Highbury due to a lack of first team opportunities – he is brilliant at times, but to play at the top level you have to be brilliant all of the time. Finally there is £10m signing Francis Jeffers, the vastly underrated ex-Everton hitman – he brings something to the team which no other striker has at Highbury, and that is the ability to get in the box and win the ball in the air. On paper it could be a very exciting season for Arsenal, but expect another year of coming 2nd, and a disappointing Champions League campaign.
There is only one way to describe the German football team, and it only takes two words to do so – ABSOLUTE SHAMBLES. The once mighty side, feared by everyone, have been in decline ever since they beat Argentina in Turin on 8th July 1990 by a n Andreas Brehme penalty to nil. That match gave the Germans their third World Cup Final victory, and at the time they were the most successful footballing nation ever, winning the trophy 3 times and being runners-up on 3 occasions. But only 11 years later, they were thrashed 5-1 at home by England, a team who have only ever won one major tournament, 35 years ago, and a team who have not beaten Germany since the World Cup final that year. Since 1990, Germany have played in 2 World Cups and 3 European Championships, winning just one of those competitions, Euro ’96. For another team this may have been a successful time – but not the Germans. Germany and, before them, West Germany are famous for their efficient style of play. Everyone knows that they are going to use a 3-5-2 formation, but they have always been able to raise their game whenever needed. Only one defeat in 60 World Cup qualifying matches (they lost 1-0 to Portugal having already qualified) before the England match shows that they will not be broken down easily – but that is exactly what England did. The German team have become a laughing stock for the rest of the world, and that was perfectly demonstrated by the English humiliation of them. The so-called ‘best goalkeeper in the world’ Oliver Khan is doing little to live up to his reputation. He conceded 3 against Liverpool while playing for Bayern Munich, and then just 8 days later 5 more, against England. And although there was some world-class finishing by Michael Owen in particular, a truly brilliant goalkeeper would have saved 2 if not the of England’s goals. But the goalkeeper can not be blamed totally fo r England’s goal-scoring spree. The blame really lies with Germany’s world famous back 3. Times have changed since the days of Lothar Matthaus and Matthias Sammer – a defence that even the best of strikers didn’t want to play against has turned into a defence which Sunday League teams would be relishing the prospect of facing. There seems to be no communication between the defence – their attempts at catching England offside were laughable. They were unable to cope with the Wimbledon-style long ball tactic, which England continuously used, and their attempts at tackling England’s forward men were almost non-existent. Without Mehmet Scholl, Germany are dreadful in midfield. Only Dietmar Hamann seems to be playing with any ability in an area which Germany need to be functioning well due to their traditional lack of striking prowess. And he seems to be brilliant at picking up bookings on a regular basis, something which is vital to avoid in international football. Sebastian Deisler is Germany’s big hope but he seems to fail on the biggest stage – firstly in Euro 2000, and then in the 5-1 drubbing by England. Up-front (traditionally Germany’s weakest area) has now been overtaken by the defence as the worst part of their game – and that is not a complement to a new found ability in front of goal. Carsten Jancker, who once failed a trial with Luton Town and cannot get a regular game for Bayern Munich, leads the front line. He is one of Germany’s better players, but by no means good. His strike partner is the German Andy Cole – Oliver Neuville has scored just once for his country in 27 appearances. After a disastrous Euro 2000 (even worse than England’s tournament) Germany appointed Rudi Voller, a man who played in the 1990 World Cup Final, and more importantly a man who did not really want the job on a full-time basis. Although he was to become an in stant hero in Germany, after a successful start to the World Cup 2002 qualifying campaign, it is unclear why. Germany beat Kevin Keegan’s poor England side, and got lucky with a win against Albania and draw against Finland. Therefore, when looking for someone to blame for Germany’s current predicament, the German FA must be high on the list – they appointed a man who had publicly stated that he did not want the job. As long as England do not slip up against Albania and Greece, Germany will find it very tough to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. They will be forced into a two-legged play-off, likely to be against the Ukraine. Ukraine are no the best team in the world but they do have two of the world’s better strikers – Sergei Rebrov and Andrei Schevchenko, who have easily enough talent to score as many goals past the frail German defence as England did. Holland are not going to make the next World Cup and, unless something drastic is done, Germany will join them as spectators.
So Sven Goran Eriksson has been in charge for two matches now and England have won both, looking better than they ever did when Kevin Keegan was the manager. But the big question’s remain. Will he ever be accepted by everyone in England? It is very unlikely that this will ever occur. Some people, including me, were insistent that under no circumstances should England be managed by a foreigner – a countries’ football team is not that countries’ football team unless it is managed by someone from that country, was a common argument amongst England fans. But by the time of Sven’s first match in charge about 80% of those people, again including me, had decided to get behind the Swede, as if he wasn’t successful then England would not improve as they need to. There is no question about the fact that the better the results are on the pitch, the more Sven Goran Eriksson will be accepted off the pitch. However there will always be those so-called England “fans” who fail to get behind the team – the same ones who go abroad in major tournaments and cause trouble, the same ones who boo certain players depending on what club team they play for. How will Eriksson adapt to the English media? In many people’s opinion, Sven Goran Eriksson will be fine until he faces the wrath of the English media – then they say he will go the same way as other England managers in the past, and not be able to cope with the pressure. But there is no evidence to back this claim up. Eriksson is a hugely experienced manager who has successfully managed in Italy, where the press are said to be worse than here in England – he was fine then and it is likely that he will be fine again. Already he has the vast majority of journalists on his side, but again their opinion will depend upon the results that he generates. How good is Eriksson’s knowledge of the English game? It was quite clear that when Sven Goran Eriksson took over as manager of England he knew as much about English football as the average American. He was constantly embarrassed by people asking questions about players he had never heard of. But now he knows as much as anyone. He has been at every Premiership match possible – think of a match you have watched on television and I bet he was there. How good is Eriksson as a manager? There is no doubt that Sven Goran Eriksson has all of the top level experience that is required. He has succeeded in every country that he has managed in. Eriksson took part timers IFK Gothenburg to European glory, an achievement worthy of any top manger. Portugal was the next stop in Eriksson’s European tour, where he guided Benfica to the league title. Then it was off to Italy where he managed amongst others Lazio, taking them to the Serie A title, the hardest thing to do in European domestic football. Despite a poor start to this season there is no doubt that he was more success than failure at Lazio. This is a brilliant C.V. for a manager whose ability is unquestionable. How successful will Eriksson be as manager of England? In my opinion Eriksson will be the most successful manager that England have had since Bobby Robson, who took them to the 1990 World Cup semi-finals. Graham Taylor and Kevin Keegan were disasters, while Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle both left the job for off the field reasons when things were staring to look good. Sven Goran Eriksson is blessed with an enormous amount of young talent whatever way you look at it, and it will take a lot of bad luck for Eriksson to fail in this job. In my opinion it is possible that England could become a good enough team to reach at least the World Cup quarter finals and possibly the semi-finals. We have always had the players but not the manger to pull everything together. Now we have both so the future is bright for England. With the team of Tord Grip, Steve McLaren and Peter Taylor part of "Team England" things are looking good.
Leeds United have been predicted by many as the team who will be the biggest threat to Manchester United in years to come. They have an ambitious chairman, a very talented manager and the strength in depth in their squad which is now required to be a top side. THE CHAIRMAN PETER RISDALE, 55 – Peter Risdale is a very ambitious chairman who is prepared to put money into the club in order to gain success. He has shown this with the purchase of Rio Ferdinand for £18million, a world record fee for a defender and a British record for any player. However he is sensible and will not go spending money which Leeds cannot afford, stating recently that they need to sell players if they are to finance a £12million deal for Robbie Keane at the end of the season. He has also shown good judgement in appointing David O’Leary as manager – at the time most experts thought O’Leary was far too inexperienced for a massive job like this, but Risdale’s choice has proven to be a good one. THE MANAGER DAVID O’LEARY, 42 – Aged only 42 David O’Leary has many years in management ahead of him. He is the most promising manager certainly in England, maybe in the whole world and has been compared to sir Alex Ferguson. His tactical awareness has been visibly improving throughout this season. In his first Champions League group game Leeds were destroyed 4-0 in the Nou Camp. In their most recent game, however, O’Leary outwitted soon to be England manager Sven Goran Erikkson, winning 1-0 in Rome. It is very likely that David O’Leary will become manager of his native Republic Of Ireland in years to come, but only if he can leave club football where he is currently enjoying so much success. THE ASSISTANT MANAGER EDDIE GRAY, 52 – In his first full season in charge of Leeds’ youth team Eddie Gray led the side to the FA Youth Cup. He then took Leeds reserves to the league title, also in his first season in charge. Gray was the automatic choice as assistant manager when O’Leary took over. THE PLAYERS GOALKEEPERS Leeds don’t have any problems in the goalkeeping department, with three keepers who are good enough to play at Premiership level. NIGEL MARTYN, 34 – Nigel Martyn became the first ever £1million goalkeeper when Crystal Palace signed him from Bristol Rovers in 1989. Leeds then signed him for £2.25million, another record for a goalkeeper, in 1996. In his first season in the Leeds goal Martyn kept 23 clean sheets in 44 games. Many people, including me, think that he has been unlucky not to have been an England regular as he has been the most consistent English goalkeeper in recent years. Didn’t have a great game in Euro 200 against Romania in a poor England team but can’t be blamed for England’s defeat, as he only knew he was playing minutes before the start. PAUL ROBINSON, 21 – Paul Robinson has overtaken Richard Wright in many people’s eyes as the best young keeper in England, impressing in the Premiership and Europe. Although he has only come into the team because of an injury to Martyn, the Leeds number two will provide real competition for a starting place. With David Seaman and Nigel Martyn the wrong side of 30, and David James too inconsistent Robinson could earn many international caps. DANNY MILOSEVIC, 21 – Another exciting prospect, the 21 year old Australian played in the Australian Olympic squad but with Martyn and Robinson at the club, Milosevic will find first team opportunities hard to come by. DEFENDERS In terms of strength in depth Leeds’ defence is one of the best, if not the best in England. They have 4 quality centre backs, and such is the strength of the full backs at Elland Road, Ian Harte is available for transfer. RIO FERDINAND, 22 – The world record fee for a defender of £18million shows that Ferdinand must be a world class player, if not now certainly in the future. His defending ability has been criticised but he is a solid centre back and is excellent on the ball. Unlucky to miss Euro 2000, Ferdinand is certain to gain a lot of international experience as players like Tony Adams and Martin Keown retire from international. JONATHON WOODGATE, 20 – One of two Leeds players who could face prison if found guilty of an assault they are accused of carrying out. On the footballing side, however, Woodgate has looked a superb centre back and in Woodgate and Ferdinand Leeds have what could possibly be England’s future central defence partnership. LUCAS RADEBE, 31 – Leeds captain and South African international who looked like leaving not too long ago as he was unhappy about being left out to new boy Rio Ferdinand. He has now signed a new contract and the rock solid defender should help the championship charge in coming years. Radebe is superb in all aspects of the game, especially when man marking. Some regard him as one of Leeds’ best ever defenders and bought for just £250,000 Radebe is one of footballs biggest ever bargains. MICHAEL DUBERRY, 25 – Left Chelsea due to a lack of first team opportunities in the first team having been touted as a future England star. Duberry, however, doesn’t now look world class and is unlikely to play for England unless there is a serious injury crisis. He does look comfortable in the Premiership, although behind Ferdinand, Radebe and Woodgate in the pecking order Michael Duberry will not be able hold down a regular starting place. DOMINIC MATTEO, 26 – This solid left sided Scotsman is one of Leeds’ most versatile players and has already mad appearances on the left side of defence and midfield since his £4.25million move from Liverpool pre-season. Matteo is also capable of p laying in the centre of defence or as a sweeper. He could turn out to be one of the buys of the season and has already displaced Ian Harte from the team. IAN HARTE, 23 – Irishman Ian Harte is best know for his thunderous free kicks but is also a more than capable defender whose only drawback is his lack of pace. Harte is a regular international but could be on his way out of the club. Peter Risdale recently stated that Harte is one player who may be sold to finance a possible £12million mover for Robbie Keane at the end of the season. He may be out of favour at Elland Road but you can guarantee that there will be plenty of interested parties. GARY KELLY, 26 – The experience Irish right back missed the whole of last season through injury but the man who made his debut at the age of 18 has not found if difficult to regain his place in Leeds’ defence. Despite being so young Kelly was called up to Ireland’s international squad before his first season in the team had been completed, and is one of Leeds’ most consistent performers. DANNY MILLS, 23 – Big things were expected of Danny Mills when the former Norwich right back joined Leeds form Charlton for £4million. Despite good performances when playing for Leeds, Mills has struggled to establish himself as the number one right back in front of Gary Kelly. Another of Leeds’ young contingent, Danny Mills should gradually get more and more chances to prove himself. OTHER DEFENDERS DANNY HAY ALAN MAYBURY MIDFIELDERS In midfield Leeds have absolutely everything. The tenacious, hard tackling of Olivier Dacourt and David Batty, the composure and goalscoring ability of Lee Bowyer and the pace of Harry Kewell and Jason Wilcox. DAVID BATTY, 32 – Signed from Newcastle for £4.4million, the ferocious midfielder has represented England at U21, B team and first team levels. His trademark tackling has won many admirers and Batty is a firm favourite amongst the Leeds faithful. However, Batty missed most of last season through injury and is only now playing in the Premiership again. Despite his obvious qualities, David Batty will be remembered by many football fans as the man who missed that penalty against Argentina in World Cup ’98. OLIVIER DACOURT, 26 – In many ways Olivier Dacourt is a similar player to David Batty as he is hard tackling and will give it 100% every game. The ex Strasbourg, Everton and Lens midfielder was signed by David O’Leary for a club record £7.2million but it remains to be seen whether this price tag was justified. LEE BOWYER, 23 – Lee Bowyer joined Leeds from Charlton for what was a record fee for a teenager, £2.6million. Many people see Bowyer as the star of the Leeds midfield as he has everything – determination, creativity and the ability to score goals. This season he is in the form of his life and would certainly be playing for England was it not for the alleged attack on student. JASON WILCOX, 29 – Jason Wilcox’s pace and ability to go past players with ease made him a target for David O’Leary. The Leeds boss got his man for £3million and at first he seemed worth every penny of it. However, an injury picked up towards the end of last season saw him miss Euro 2000 and he has only recently returned to full fitness. EIRIK BAKKE, 23 – Bakke, who has forced his way into the Norwegian team, is a very good midfield prospect for the future. He has the ability to score goals, especially in the air. He is excellent at getting in the header from corners and this has brought him several goals. HARRY KEWELL, 22 – Australian Kewell normally plays on the left-hand side of midfield but is also more than capable of playing up front. He has become one of the most admired players in the whole of Europe since joining Leeds from the New So uth Wales Soccer Academy at the age of just 16. His pace and flair have startled many world class defences and anyone wishing to purchase Kewell will have to pay well over £20million, possibly over £30million. OTHER MIDFIELDERS STEPHEN MCPHAIL JACOB BURNS GARETH EVANS STRIKERS Scoring goals should not be a problem for Leeds this season as they have a wealth of talent in this important position, with 4 or 5 players, including Harry Kewell, trying to gain just two spots in the team. MARK VIDUKA, 25 – When David O’Leary paid £6million for a striker who had only really proven himself in the weak Scottish Premier League many people thought that the Leeds boss had made a big mistake. However, Viduka has quickly silenced the critics with some excellent displays including his 4 goal demolition of Liverpool. Excellent in the air, Mark Viduka has shocked many with his skill and quick footwork. ALAN SMITH, 20 – The fiery young striker has quickly established himself as Mark Viduka’s strike partner, ahead of Darren Huckerby and Michael Bridges, with some excellent play since coming into the team 2 years ago. He scored with his first touch in the Premier League – at Anfield in a 3-1 win. One drawback in Alan Smith’s play is his aggression which has seen him in trouble too many times. MICHAEL BRIDGES, 22 - £5million man Michael Bridges has looked superb since leaving Sunderland for Elland Road, shortly before last season. Bridges repaid the price tag with over 20 goals in his first season, including a hat-trick in his second game. Bridges has now established himself in the England U21 team. OTHER STRIKERS TONY HACKWORTH LEE MATTHEWS David O’Leary has managed to put together a squad with an excellent blend of youth and experience, and determination and creativity. They have already started to look like a good side in Europe but have struggled to find their form in the Premiership this season. Leeds look as if they may dominate the next decade just as Man Utd dominated the 90s.
Last Saturday the IBO and IBF Featherweight World Champion, Britain’s Paul Ingle, was badly injured in a fight with South Africa’s Mbulelo Botile and had to be rushed to hospital to have a blood clot removed from his brain. This has re-opened the debate on whether boxing should be banned, or if not what could be done to make the sport safer than it currently is. Boxing critics will say that it is a barbaric and unnecessary sport, as it’s main objective is to injure the opponent. The harshest opponents of the sport have, since Saturday’s bout, called for boxing to be made illegal. However, this is extremely unlikely to occur. Hundreds of people in Britain make a living from professional boxing and hundreds more dream of following in the footsteps of Lennox Lewis or Prince Naseem Hamed. There is likely to be far too much opposition from both the boxers and the fans for any government to be brave enough to ban boxing. There are also other big problems with banning boxing. A lot of people, including myself, believe that this would actually increase the risks involved in boxing. At first this sounds ludicrous – “how can a sport become more dangerous if it is illegal?” I hear you say. Well if boxing is banned it will not go away, it will just continue illegally. The only difference with this being that the current safety measures that are in place (which are, incidentally, very good) will cease to exist. This would result in an increased risk in a sport which many already consider to be far too dangerous. Also the biggest fighters in Britain would not stop fighting – they would just go to America where safety measures are no better than they are in Britain. One politician, Paul Flynn suggested that he wanted to “outlaw blows to the head in the same way that blows below the waist are banned now”. If you are going to do this you then might as well just ban boxing altoge ther, as boxers would just cover up their bodies and every fight would end in a stalemate. As I read somewhere today, “boxing without head punches is like Formula One with a 50mph speed limit.” Other suggestions to make boxing safer include the idea that all boxers should be made to wear protective headwear. However, many boxing experts, believe that this actually increases the risk of serious injury. This is because it increases the speed at which the skull twists and therefore increases the damage done to the brain. So far I have looked at what could be done to change the sport. However, is boxing really that bad and do changes need to be made? Although it is tragic when injuries such as the ones inflicted on Paul Ingle occur, boxing is in fact a very safe sport. I read that only 18 people have died in Britain in boxing since something like 1930, and most of these were before current safety measures were brought into place. Considering that the number of fights which take place each year in Britain, well into the thousands, this is hardly anything. Other sports such as Equestrian, Formula One and Fishing (yes fishing) are far more dangerous – but you don’t get people calling for bans on these sports every time a terrible accident occurs. Many people have died in horse sports, recent deaths in Formula One include those of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger and more people are injured or die in fishing than any other sport in this country. Boxing is also a sport that keeps potential criminals off the streets. Many professional boxers have been in prison before finding boxing, which has helped them to rebuild their lives. Boxers also know exactly what the risks of the sport are – nobody forces them to enter the ring. Professional boxers are professional boxers because they choose to be professional boxers. The only sensible suggestion to make boxing safer that I have heard is for doct ors to be able to pull a boxer out of a fight if they feel that serious damage I being done, although this would be very hard to implement as many boxers would be upset if a doctor forced them stop unfairly in their eyes.
Third Division strugglers to almost certain promotion into the Premiership this season - and in just a few years too. So why are Fulham so good now when they could easily have been relegated out of the Football League in the not too distant past? Is it just Mohammed's millions or were Fulham’s Third Division players too good for the level they were playing at? To get a clearer picture of the changes that have taken place in recent times just take a look at the teams of 1996 and 2000. GOALKEEPER 1996 Mark Watson – now at Third Division Cardiff. 2000 Maik Taylor – widely recognized as one of the best Goalkeepers outside the top flight. FULL BACKS 1996 Simon Morgan – one of few players who has remained at the star-studded club Paul Watson – currently playing for Brighton in Division Three. 2000 Alan Neilson – one of several Fulham internationals, with around 5 caps for Wales. Terry Phelan – an Irish international with over 40 caps for Ireland. CENTRE BACKS 1996 Terry Angus – playing for Nuneaton Borough in the Nationwide Conference. Simon Stewart – also at a Conference side, Kingstonian. 2000 Andy Melville – around 40 caps for Wales. Kit Symons – another Welsh defender, with over 30 caps. Chris Coleman – also has many caps for the Welsh national side. In this position Fulham have a choice of three class players. MIDFIELDERS 1996 Lea Barkus – I have failed to find any evidence that Barkus still plays. Robbie Herrera – at Torquay, another Third Division team. Martin Thomas – one of few 1996 Fulham players playing above the Third Division, but only for newly promoted Division Two Swansea City. Glenn Cockerill – experienced midfield man who I believe has retired. 2000 Bjarni Goldbaek – Ex Chelsea Danishman with 20 international caps. Lee Clark – Ex Newcastle and Sunderland star. John Collins – Scottish international with about 60 caps. Has played for Celtic, Monaco and Everton. Steve Hayward – solid midfielder, capable at the First Division level. STRIKERS 1996 Nicky Cusack – Swansea player. Mike Conroy – the only other player I failed to trace – may have retired. 2000 Barry Hayles – prolific goalscorer who could probably perform in the Premiership. Louis Saha – Young French superstar has scored hatfulls of goals so far. It seems quite clear that none of the players who were at Fulham in the 1996-97 season were stars and would not have been able to get Fulham so far on their own – and they haven’t. Only Simon Morgan remains at Craven Cottage. So surely it is the money which owner Mohammed Al Fayed has put into the club which has elevated Fulham to their current healthy position at the top of Division One. He has attracted top class managers in Kevin Keegan and Jean Tigana, who in turn have brought superb players to the club. Fulham have come a long way thanks to al Fayed’s money and it remains to be seen how far they can go. If the Harrods owner continues to finance Fulham they could become one of Europe’s top clubs.
Is that your final answer? Are you sure? Not C? You’re only 5 questions away from £1 million. You had £16,000 … you’ve now got £32,000. Well done audience. But we don’t want to give you that. It’s only easy if you know the answer. This is the last point at which you could go away with nothing. Chris Tarrant has really started to annoy me now on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Every single programme is exactly the same – with Tarrant saying all the same annoying catchphrases of his with absolutely no variation. I know that it is necessary for Chris Tarrant to put the contestants in two (or four) minds about the answer to the question, but this doesn’t mean he has to insult the intelligence of the potential millionaires. The following is something similar to how one question may go: - Chris Tarrant: Ok, this is your first question for £100. Remember, it’s only easy if you know the answer. What is the longest river in Italy? Is it A Po B Laa-Laa C Dipsy D Tinky Winky? Contestant: It’s Po Chris. Chris Tarrant: Are you sure? Contestant: 100%, Chris. Chris Tarrant: Have you ever been to Italy? Contestant: No. Chris Tarrant: So how do you know then? Contestant: It’s just one of those things that you know, Chris. Chris Tarrant: Is that your final answer? Not the River Tinky Winky? Contestant: I said it was bloody Po, didn’t I? (I’m sure the contestant wouldn’t actually say this, but it's what about 99% would like to say) The programme itself is probably the best thought out quiz programme of recent years, contestants having to answer 15 consecutive questions in order to win the £1 million top prize. They have 3 lifelines – “50:50” where two wrong answers are eliminated, “Ask the Audience 221; where the contestant can ask the audience or “Phone a Friend” where the contestant can, unsurprisingly, phone a friend. Recently a relation of Camilla Parker Bowles became the first person to win £1 million and it remains to be seen how long before people get bored with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
In the Dooyoo community, I think that about half the people are members as they enjoy writing and reading opinions, and the other half simply write for money, churning out up to 20 opinions everyday and keeping strictly to the 75 word limit just to get the 10p per opinion. However, the people who try to make the money are normally the ones who have an average of just three or four reads per opinion, whereas the people who write just one or two opinions per day but read and rate a lot more opinions are the ones who write the best opinions. There are many ways to improve your chances of making money on Dooyoo, while also increasing your enjoyment while on the site. a) The most obvious thing to do is write good quality opinions. There is no real formula for writing good Dooyoo opinions but you just pick it up by reading others. This may mean writing less opinions but you will get more reads from one good opinion than from 5 bad opinions. It helps you and it also helps other people, who don't want to read "not useful" opinions. If someone reads three of your bad opinions they are unlikely to put you in their circle of friends, and therefore will not read your future opinions. b) The time of day that you write your opinion is also important as you want it to be seen on the front page by as many people as possible. It has been suggested that the best time is about 7pm. However, although many people will be on Dooyoo at this time, possibly reading your opinion, your opinion will be replaced on the front page quickly as many other people will be writing their own opinions. I have found that the best time is around 7:30am (if you can get up that early!), or 9pm when anything up to 7 or 8 people may read your opinion. c) Write opinions about thing people want to read about. Expensive goods are a useful example, as people are likely to want to read about them before spending lots of money. Issues in speaker 217;s corner are also highly read. I have seen many people writing about cheats for obscure computer games - people are not likely to want to read these. d) Build up a circle of friends. Many people think that they can just trust someone and they will forever read their opinions. This is not true. It is far more productive to only put people in your circle of friends if you regularly read their opinions - then they will read yours. Also it is best to trust people who have rated at least 500 opinions, as you know that they are likely to read yours. e) Write good comments. Some people are much more likely to read your opinions if you write a comment about theirs than if you just rate it "Very Useful". I think I have covered everything here, but if I remember something else I will add it. I realise I have used the word "opinion(s)" a bit too much but Dooyoo is all about opinions. I hope you have found this very useful (if you got this far!)
Marcus Trescothick has come in to the England team this year and looked equally at home in both one-day internationals and in the Test Match arena. The Somerset left-handed batsman has used his simple, but effective technique to destroy some of the best bowling in the world, notably Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, scoring an impressive 262 runs at an average of 43.66 from his first 4 Test Matches. After his first Test, he could ha been called the best batsman in the history of cricket, with an average of over 100! He leaves most deliveries outside the off stump, but when he does decide to attack a wider ball he plays through the line of the ball, rather than pushing at it like some other England batsmen. This reduces the chance of being caught in the slips. When Marcus Trescothick does hit the ball it is as powerfully as any other player, perhaps with the exception of Andrew Flintoff. It was in the one-day form of the game, however, where Trescothick first made his name. I was lucky enough to be there as he hammered 81 in his first international, against Zimbabwe at the Oval. He only got in the team because of injuries, but it was clear from this first game that he would become a key part of England's set-up. In his 12 one-day internationals to date, Trescothick has scored 441 runs at an average of just over forty, and his useful medium pace has earned him a best of 2-7. Trescothick is also a useful close fielder and is the 2nd top scorer of all time in the England Under 19 team, second to John Crawley. Still only 24 years old, Trescothick, who has formed a superb opening partnership with Michael Atherton, could be a future England captain.
The FA Cup is by far the greatest cup competition in the world. Hundreds of teams from Man Utd to Frickley Town dream of FA Cup success. Success is defined as winning for the bigger clubs, although a Dr Martens Third Division side would love to reach the Third Qualifying Round. Everyone wants a part of the excitement. Quite simply, the FA Cup has absolutely everything - drama, delight, disasters, shock results, great football and the walk up the 39 steps (I just hope that the New Wembley keeps the same number) for the winning captain and his team. Who could forget Ian Wright coming off the bench for Crystal Palace against Man Utd to score twice and force a replay? Or Chesterfield reaching the semi-finals before the controversial loss to Middlesborough. And what about Stevenage Borough coming so close to dumping Newcastle out of the cup before losing in a replay. And my team, Bromley's classic run to the first round where they lost disastrously 3-1 to local rivals Enfield!!!! Already this season, Canvey Island of the Ryman Premier Division are the FA Cup heroes. They scored twice in the last minute to draw 4-4 at home to Port Vale, and then twice more in the last minute of the replay to win 2-1. Even Man Utd (who upset people by opting out of last year’s competition) seem to be taking it seriously now. I read today that they have booked a hotel close to the Millennium Stadium (this year’s final venue). Now that's true confidence. The FA Cup is a truly great competition.
The Worthington Cup is the worst cup competition in the whole of English football. Although the idea of having a cup for all the teams in the Premier League down to Division Three is quite good, it has in recent years descended into anarchy. Problems:- The top teams, and some smaller clubs, in the Premier League see the Worthington Cup as an opportunity to rest key players and play a reserve/youth team. An example of this is tonight - I have just stopped watching Sunderland v Man Utd as they are fielding players such as Jonathon Greening, Luke Chadwick and Michael Clegg. They are good players but normally would not get anywhere near the first team. Another problem is that the winners of the Worthington Cup win a place in the UEFA Cup. I would have no problem with this if teams played their first choice line-ups. However, with no offence to teams like Leicester and Tottenham, recent winners of this competition have all been pretty average teams. The teams who gain this UEFA Cup spot never seem to do well, so why not give the European place to somebody who finishes high in the league. The final problem, though not so large, is that supporters of lower division clubs don't bother going to Worthington Cup matches, even against bigger teams, as the competition has been degraded by the likes of Arsenal and Man Utd. What used to be a chance for Third Division strugglers to play world-class stars has turned into matches like Macclesfield v Liverpool Reserves. Solutions:- One thing that could be done would be to remove all Premier League clubs from the competition. The old Auto-Windscreens Trophy would also be scrapped, and a Nationwide League Cup for Divisions 1, 2 and 3 could be created. This would have a lot of advantages. Obviously the European spot would be allowed to go to a highly placed Premier League team. Also it would help to stop the massive fixture congestion that faces many top-flight clubs. It would also give the lower division clubs a trophy which they would have a realistic opportunity of winning. Another option, my favourite, would be to merge the English and Scottish League Cups to create a massive British Cup, with the winner winning a spot in the UEFA Cup. The problem of top clubs fielding weakened teams would surely go away as teams like Man Utd, Arsenal, Rangers and Celtic would have too much pride to give the reserves a chance. Can you really imagine Man Utd going to Ibrox and not playing a full strength side. The final option, which is surely never going to happen, would be to get rid of the competition completely. It is clear that something needs to be done before we get matches like Plymouth Argyle Reserves v Liverpool U13 played in front of crowds of less than 1000.