Sunday, 27 October 2013

WINOL Sportsweek Feedback 23/10/2013


  •          It’s seems far too monotone for me, Tom, and just by watching your body language, it seems more of a struggle than a pleasure to be presenting the programme. You seem to be squinting as well.
  •      “I’m here at the Camrose stadium” – Yes, you are. But why are you there? Is it a Matchday? If it was a matchday, could this have been done on the pitch while the players were warming up? I know full well it can as I did a PTC while the players came out of the tunnel before. If it’s not a matchday, why have you turned up to an empty venue?  All I can see here is you, some horrible metal work at the bottom on the frame and an empty stand. Why was this not done in the actual stand where you can see seating? – I think “I’m here at..” should be banned from now on. While it’s interesting to know where you are, there are more creative ways to introduce your location.
  •       I like the fact you moved position for the 2nd link into Tate’s story, but why is it just 5 yards up from where you were previously? It seems lazy.
  •     The same position for the start and beginning – where’s the initiative and creativity?
  •     I do like however that a sporting venue was chosen - well done team – but I don’t think this was used to its full potential.

  • ·         The headlines are good in terms of the ordering of the stories; however I really think bringing the presenter back in vision midway through each headline is poor. It looks messy and pointless. Let’s stop that and use longer shots in the headlines – remember it doesn’t need to be rushed.
  •       The headlines themselves are scripted well – they engage us, although I’m not overly sure about the quotes for Strevens used. “BS tells us about his time in the Football League” “Yeah I broke my leg, I broke this, I broke that” – yeah, it happened, but surely we can use when he talks about being at Watford early on instead?

  • ·         Absolutely love this intro, Laura. Very, very good work. You have used a quote from the manager reflecting on a previous result to engage the viewer and hence link onto the rest of your piece.
  •        Pronunciation is great too.
  •      “Captain Wes Daly leading the game” – I’m not sure on this. “Leading the game” doesn’t strike me – perhaps “firing an early chance just over the crossbar” or something along those lines?
  •     Why are you so far from the action? How can we identify anybody? Follow the ball, follow the action, and get tight in on it. Make the viewer feel like they are at the game, in the thick of it.
  •      I like what you’ve done with the yellow card, however I personally wouldn’t have used it. Unless he later gets sent off, it’s a bit redundant and feels like it’s been put in for the sake of it.
  •      Please don’t show replays on chances which show nothing. It was a header over the bar – could you have perhaps mentioned the Wolverhampton Wanderers line in the wide shot on the effort?
  •     “Match looking as dismal as the weather” – I usually like these sorts of lines, however, my argument would be is…can we see the weather? Was there any past reference to the weather? If not, then don’t mention the weather unless we see it or hear about it before hand. To me, watching it, it just seems cloudy – a typical day in England, then!
  •         Good work using the replay for the goal – it was a good angle, however we MUST see the ball hit the back of the net. We don’t. We see the players and the post.
  •     Next time, carry the sound from the goal underneath the video of the replay – that’s what you should try at every single opportunity. I noticed the audio cutting – if you bring the sound along it gives it a more natural transition from one picture to another. 
  •     Not sure the free-kick was of any relevance. It was a terrible effort and not really interesting.
  •      Good work with the post-match interview, it’s always fascinating to hear what anybody has to say about their team’s results – try and get somebody different to Jason next time round (although he is always more than happy to be interviewed) - I also like the cut to the players on the pitch – well done with that, but next time, can we get closer? On the pitch? Let’s see the player’s faces up close and get a feel for the game.

  • ·         Well done getting Ben, Tate.  I think it adds a whole different dimension to the whole because it feels more like a sports programme, instead of just seeing highlights all the time.
  •       Your PTC is very similar to the link Tom gives. Rule for everybody – try and keep these different. Let’s be thorough in what is being said, and make sure we don’t repeat one another.
  •      Also, another suspect of the “I’m here at…” line. No thank you. Angus pointed this out when I spoke to him. Be more creative.
  •      Also, the sound is very tinny. Why did it sound like that? Was anybody filming this with you? 
  •      The framing of the interview is good – perhaps we could go a bit tighter next time?
  •      The background of the interview though? Could you have done it with the goal behind him? Or him next to a post? Not buildings. No buildings. 
  •      I do not know what those shots over the top are. It seems like a load of shots have been logged for the sake of it. Don’t use random shots to paint what your piece is about. Make sure they are relevant. From now on, I propose that if you have an interviewed lined up, get as many CLOSE-UPS of those players filmed on put onto a timeline so everybody knows where to access them.
  •       HOWEVER, you used the Dover images well to paint over when he was talking about Dover – MORE OF THAT!
  •       The interview itself is actually quite interesting. Especially when he talks about Watford, etc. The injury talk is also interesting (I don’t think that particular quote used for the headlines was the main news line from this interview though)
  •       Why did you give a sign-off? It seems quite needless to show random footage of a corner just to say who you were and where you were. Just end on the interview, or better yet, give Ben a ball and ask him to do some keepy-uppys. 
  •           Otherwise, Tate, this is good. Great to get something different in there. Use these tips in future.
  •  Well done Tom for getting this in, in some capacity. We can tell you have voiced this in a studio or with a gun mic though. Give us the more natural feel. We won’t see you in shot, so if you have to read it off a bit of paper at the ground, then by all means do.
  • I have no idea what relevance Doug Rowe had to do with that. This was a poor editorial decision. You go off the back of a real sports news story into a Winchester striker from 3 years ago scoring a similar goal to a Premier League player. YES, use it, but editorially, the decision to use it should not have been there.
  • Also…who is Kasami? I know who he is, you know who he is, but does EVERYBODY watching know who he is? I doubt it. Explain who he is and why you are mentioning him. Who did Fulham play on Monday? Not everybody will know. Don’t assume your audience watches EVERY single bit of sport possible. Tell the viewer the story, and get them engaged in what you are telling them.
DODGEBALL – Charlie Gardiner

  • ·        I slammed university sports last week and I usually do, but what I want you all to do is to not use university football – you have 4/5 non-league sides on your front doorstep, so university football is just a step down.
  •       So, having said that, this dodgeball piece is interesting. The link is factual – GOOD and the intro is factual –ALSO GOOD.
  •       Charlie, your voiceover is not great. While you have good pronunciation, where is the enthusiasm? Where is the “oomph”? There is none. This is a feature, not a eulogy.
  •       5:47-5:50 is 3 seconds of madness with the camera. What are you doing? He’s not moving, yet the camera is all over the place. Let’s be careful with what we are filming. You may one day miss a crucial moment with a big story because your filming is careless.
  •       The framing of this interview is all wrong. I can see what you’re trying to do by getting the players in the background, and that’s great, but why can’t you just move to the other side of the camera and get him looking in the direction of where the players are behind him? This really struck out for me when I first watched Sportsweek. Framing is everything, and this really lets what could have been a great feature down.
  •           The sound on the interview is quite tough as well – as I said to Laura last week, use a radio mic as often as possible in that hall because it’s so hard to judge. I made that mistake once, so you live and learn!
  •      In terms of your scripting, it’s really good. I think factually it has some interesting information – like the stat about winning in 16 seconds is great, so honestly well done with that.
  •      I would have liked to have seen you get involved - would be good TV to see the reporter get involved with the dodgeball getting hit by the balls.

  • ·       A definite improvement from last week but still a lot of work to do to get it to the level it was two/three years ago. That will take hard work and commitment, but please don’t be fazed by that. You get out of WINOL by what you put in.
  •       Every piece of criticism you receive, use it constructively. WINOL can be draining and disheartening, but remember guest editors and lecturers may one day be your friends & colleagues in the industry, so listen, take it all on board and get to know the people that come in to help YOU.
  •       Thomas Baxter – let’s have a package from you this week. I think it’s vitally important we see this ‘editorship’ side from you. Remember, it’s more than just presenting and fixing the show up. You have to be included in what your team is doing and be at the heart of the operation. You have to support your team, just like they have to support you. Sports teams particularly are all about teamwork and advising each other and taking on board what everybody has to say. Once that team discipline returns, then Sportsweek can progress. At the moment, it’s very, very jagged around the edges, but I firmly believe we can fix this and get it going smoothly again. If Sportsweek is not up to scratch, then WINOL is not up to scratch. Remember that.
  •        I am very concerned about the length of the programme. I understand it is hard, but you have to suck every opportunity at any given moment and use it to its full potential – I propose printing off every fixture to the 4 teams we cover (Eastleigh, Basingstoke, Totton, Winchester) – I did this, and I pinned them to the sports board. Saturday games, and Tuesday night games MUST be filmed and packaged up. Especially Tuesdays because they are your most recent games therefore it is NEW. Tuesday nights are a must. They were done in my time, and they will be done in your time.
  •      Congratulations everybody – we are slowly making small steps to improvement. Be pleased with your work and take pride in your work.
I look forward to seeing the next WINOL Sportsweek, and feel free to email me at or

Thursday, 17 October 2013

WINOL Sportsweek 16/10/13 Feedback Review

·         Lighten up, smile, relax, it’s important the viewer feels comfortable for something like sport. This isn’t a court story. Sport is entertainment- so entertain the audience.
·         Could we have done it in different areas? Buildings are a no-go – why do we want to see buildings on a sports programme?
·         Sound enthusiastic too. Tone linking into each story and knowing when to pause, when to smile and when to put emphasis on words - it’s all important.
·         Anybody can read an autocue like it’s a memo or a dinner menu; real presenters leave you remembering THEM as well as the programme. SELL YOURSELF!

·         The Dytche looked an unprofessional background. Sure it’s a sports show so have it outside, but this seems a waste when there’s a fantastic studio and gallery to use. Perhaps use one of the club stadiums? Winchester? Totton?

·         You must lead with Eastleigh as often as possible.
·         Volleyball good, although perhaps the last headline?
·         Nobody cares what the VICE captain has to say – who is he? What is the ‘news’ line that makes it a headline?

Eastleigh v Oxford City – TATE SLYFIELD
·         The V/O sounds like you want to be elsewhere, however the Pronunciation was very good.
·         Sound levels sometimes very jumpy, but good use of second camera angle.
·         As for the scripting, I enjoyed seeing Richard Hill pick up the manager of the month award – it was different and a nice intro but WHY did he win it? Are there no stats? 7 wins out of 7? 5 wins in a row during September? Tell us why he won it.
·         Stuart Fleetwood – sell the fact he has played in the Football League. He would be a great sit down interview. He was widely regarded as a top talent when he broke onto the domestic scene – will make for a great feature.
·         Damien Batt – he has also played in the Football League, most recently with Oxford United.
·         Ben Strevens – Former Dagenham, Gillingham and Wycombe. These are interesting players – do what you can to get feature interviews.
·         Post-match interviews? Disappointing defeat by their standards? No reaction from anybody? This has to be a MUST for EVERY game in the leagues you cover.

Volleyball – LAURA ALLEN
·         Nice to see you getting involved Laura. Always make it for a more interesting watch.
·         Intro is great – informative, and interesting to know.
·         Auto focus used on camera, don’t do this, manual focus instead. As the background was more in focus than the person being interviewed? This happened 3 times.
·         Also, move the camera, swing it round to follow the action. There were too many still shots of the camera focusing on one area but then not turning to follow the action accordingly.
·         Sound was awkward at times. It’s tricky filming in that hall because it echoes like anything, but maybe a radio mic should have been used while you were actually on the court instead of a V/O.
·         I liked the outro. It was nice, different and kept me engaged.

Winchester Mens Football – LEWIS SALTER
·         Two university men’s football pieces in two weeks – get noticed by demonstrating your versatility and variety.
·         I used the uni teams very rarely – I know our audience is primarily students, but nobody cares how many players the 1s have lost (It’s not a transfer window) or how the 3s are getting on in training.  You need to target Basingstoke and Totton. This is where you will find local reporters who you can network with, leading to potential opportunities in future.
·         I like the fact you linked to WINOL Woodwork, Lewis. This is always a great feature and we used it quite commonly with the likes of Basingstoke, Totton and Eastleigh.
·         Why did you come back to general shots after WINOL Woodwork? Surely we could have ended with a slow-mo replay of the person hitting the bar, with the music slowly fading out rather than you coming back in just to sign out again?
·         Camera focus. Check and double check EVERYTIME. Again, I know lighting is tough at night but it looked poor at times.
·         Move away from university now. Be a bit more adventurous and really test yourself. The industry is a hard worker so you have to be up to the challenge.

·         The length is not good enough for the teams, facilities and manpower you have.
·         10 minutes should be the target every week AT LEAST.
·         Thomas Baxter – you have to contribute to the programme. People see your name at the end, that’s great, but where is your voice? Where are you on screen? The audience doesn’t see you. As Sports Editor, this is your programme and you MUST lead from the front. Some weeks I had to do 3 VTs and produce the show, and provide content on Wednesdays for the bulletin. You HAVE to keep extending and enhancing your showreel.
      Everybody - Always think you can do better. Never be satisfied with what somebody says is a good job. Always push further and create more exciting, solid and intriguing content.
·         You have a short amount of time to get as much practical experience possible and as many opportunities to meet people and interview players which will only enhance a future showreel – you must show your versatility.
·         Views? Why are the views so low? Are you plugging the programme on the non-league forums or on university FB pages? When I was Sports Editor, we were averaging 1700-2000 views a week from our programme which at student level is fantastic. Why bother creating content and doing the work if nobody’s going to see it?

I look forward to seeing next week’s WINOL Sportsweek, and really hope this advice helps you over the next few days. Please feel free to email me to or

Monday, 29 April 2013

QPR weak links cost the club its Premier League status

Queens Park Rangers will be officially playing their football in the second-tier next season following their 0-0 draw away to Reading, a result, which coincidentally, condemned both sides to relegation from the Premier League. It finalises a season which has been nothing short of a disaster for the West London club, despite a string of signings in the summer and January transfer windows. With just four league wins all season, most will question how QPR failed so miserably in what was being hyped up as one of their most highly anticipated campaigns to date, but the fact is, there have been a number of players who have under-performed  and a long list of poor decisions which have blighted The Hoops' push toward becoming a top-half side in England's top division.

Creative Commons - Source (Flickr: Adel Taarabt) - Author: wonker

Then-manager Mark Hughes and owner Tony Fernandes splashed the cash in the summer, bringing in a host of names to boost the squad. Inter Milan keeper Julio Cesar signed, his fellow countryman Fabio joined on loan from Manchester United, and the recently released Jose Bosingwa made the move from West London rivals Chelsea. Highly sought-after Esteban Granero made his move from Real Madrid, while Park-Ji Sung was made captain after completing his move from United. Andy Johnson, Bobby Zamora and Junior Hoilett also came to Loftus Road. Not a bad crop of players, and while we take a closer look at the deeper issues behind QPR's downfall, let's start with the former Champions League winner, Cesar. 

The Brazilian is a very, very good goalkeeper. He was instantly criticised after a long list of errors and the decision to rotate between him and another error-prone keeper in Robert Green did neither stopper any good. Cesar should have been the number one all season. Despite Green's Premier League experience, the supporters failed to recognise Cesar had until midway through the season. Constant criticism from faithful was never going to help Cesar's confidence, but he's proved his critics wrong and become one of the club's most important players during this dismal season. 

The defence was the main problem for QPR this season. Nedum Onuoha offered some hope of solidity at the back but even he had to endure time in and out of the team, a team so certain of their centre-back pairing of the immobile Clint Hill and the horribly awkward Anton Ferdinand. Hill's place as captain may serve some loyalty to the fans, but his performances demonstrated something rather different, frequently being outpaced by a league far above his own crippling standards. Ferdinand was another who merely fails to have the quality required for the very top division. Jose Bosingwa failed to make the impact really required in the right-back berth while Rafael's twin brother Fabio has also endured a torrid time, struggling for consistency and quality. Armand Traore's inclusion in the line-ups is merely baffling, while January-signing Christopher Samba's Premier League pedigree is remembered highly from his time at Blackburn, his £12m move from Russian giants Anzhi really has failed to live up to its billing of a defensive saviour. The one positive to come from QPR's frail back-line this season would be the wise, old head of the departed Ryan Nelsen. Despite his age proving to be a crushing negative effect on his side at times, his leadership, demonstrable attitude and commitment to the club's relegation battle has been the one good thing to come from Loftus Road's defensive team. His winter departure to become head coach of Toronto FC proved to be a crushing blow to QPR's survival hopes.

In midfield, all the attention centered around the Moroccan Adel Taarabt. His agent stated earlier in the season that his client was seeking a move to one of AC Milan or Barcelona, but his performances this season make him more of a transfer target for the likes of French outfits Saint-Etienne or Evian. His own arrogance highlighted his downfall, and despite being the club's joint-top goalscorer, his obsession with a move to a "big" club was the weakness in QPR's midfield, a midfield crying out for a leader. Park Ji-Sung's experience at Manchester United should have offered his new teammates some guidance throughout a torrid year, but another injury-blighted season combined with losing the captaincy meant his impact in London was more a hindrance than an asset, failing to score all season. Esteban Granero's skill, creativity and experience in La Liga should have made him a fine addition, but questions over his attitude and his commitment to the cause did not go down well with Harry Redknapp when he took over on 24 November 2012Granero's lack of enhancing a side in desperate need of some European tika-taka football was costly, although the 25-year-old still possesses the quality which should see him move on this coming summer. Another summer signing in Stephane M'bia struggled in defence and after being reverted to a midfield holding, his performances improved but really lacked the quality which made him a top transfer target for many clubs during his time at Marseille. Redknapp's insistent use of Shaun Derry proved puzzling, as has the inclusion of Shaun Wright-Phillips. While both players are vastly experienced in England, both players also now lack the quality to cut it in the Premier League and far too often were they used in games where they made little or no impact, except for SWP's single goal against his old club Chelsea in a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge, just Redknapp's second game in charge. 

As for the strikers, QPR's scouts, owner and coaches need a hard long look at themselves. Injury-stricken Andy Johnson has played just three games all season and Jay Bothroyd's time away from the club on loan is a certain sign of his lack of interest, even though he did score once in three appearances for the Hoops. Scottish forward Jamie Mackie failed to make the same impact his did last season with just two goals in 27 games, and Bobby Zamora only scored four all year in what was also a season blighted by time on the sidelines. Highly-rated Canadian Junior Hoilett was heavily linked with a host of top clubs in the summer but just two goals in 23 games demonstrate his true worth with a long line of inconsistent performances. When QPR did eventually make the right signing it was already too late. Loic Remy, a winter deal from Marseille has averaged a goal every two games since his move from France and has really offered a glimmer of hope to the QPR fans. But, it was too little too late. A clause in his contract will certainly see him leave Loftus Road this summer following the club's relegation and rightly so. 

Remy's heroics for a desperately poor QPR side are a highlight for the club, as well as the impressive performances of former Spurs man Jermaine Jenas and Spurs loanee Andros Townsend, and when the highlight is a man who's made just 10 league appearances this season, then you know you've had a terrible season. Queens Park Rangers have had a terrible season. They made the wrong decisions early on and failed to accept responsibility for their mistakes. Players like Taarabt and Bosingwa were more concerned about potential summer moves away rather than fighting for a club they themselves put deep into the relegation mire. Only a minority of the current crop will stay, while the rest will flee without flinching. There are a small few who should never look back. Remy, Granero, and even Cesar know their qualities and deserve to be at bigger clubs. The likes of Johnson, Hill, Ferdinand (now on loan at Turkish side Bursaspor), Derry and even Zamora should go to the Championship and stay there. Some may feel sorry for the club, others may feel sorry for Harry Redknapp being forced into a nightmare role, but most of all I feel for the supporters. A spirited bunch, and worthy celebrators of Premier League football, the Loftus Road faithful has had to suffer an embarrassing, gut-wrenching season from their idols, and responsibility must come from the very top. Tony Fernandes must accept his role in his club's demise. He allowed excessive funds to be spent on building a squad, and while his managers this season, scouting staff and board of directors all noted their opinions on potential money-making players, at exactly the right time, he sanctioned the wrong decisions. Fernandes loves his club and will fight to see them back in the Premier League but a catalogue of mistakes and a lack of on-field passion has sent QPR back to the despair of Championship football - a level in which, I'm afraid, they now deserve to be.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Why has the Premier League's bargain buy missed out on a PFA nomination?

It's a curious question, and one I'm sure even the man himself is asking. But for all the illustrious talent up on the shortlist at this year's PFA Player of the Year award, the sheer professional who perhaps deserves an overwhelming amount of praise, has slipped embarrassingly under the shadows at the hands of his Premier League colleagues.

Spanish outfit Rayo Vallecano must be kicking themselves for the rather minimal fee they received for one of their star men. A simple £2m paid by Swansea City for, at the time, a 26-year-old who's move to the quiet hills of Wales seemed nothing other than ambitious. But nobody would predict the sheer impact Michu would have on the white side of the Welsh territory. 

The inclusions of Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez, Juan Mata and Gareth Bale were heavily expected to appear on the shortlist for this year's most prestigious individual footballing prize, and many more believed that Swansea's talismanic Spaniard would also pave his name into the reckoning, but this appears to not be the case. Mata's Belgian teammate Eden Hazard and Manchester United's midfield lynchpin Michael Carrick make up the six up for the award. 

It begs the main question as to what else Michu could have done to earn the respect of his fellow professionals. With a more-than-impressive record of 21 goals from 38 appearances in all competitions under Michael Laudrup's management, the 27-year-old has exceeded all expectations when bought for the measley £2m. Further to this, he also acquired his first professional winner's medal guiding his Swansea side to a Capital One Cup victory over giant-killers Bradford City, scoring three goals in six competitions matches. 

While Michu has been receiving all the plaudits for leading Swansea's charge this season, his exclusion from the 40th anniversary of the award is a mystery to the masses. His commitment to the cause has seen him sign a one-year contract extension at the Liberty Stadium despite a host of clubs in England and Spain preparing big money moves to acquire his services. This should scare off any potential buyers who, according to boss Laudrup, would have to pay a fee in excess of £30m. If a bid of that nature was lodged, Michu would have increased his value 15 times and all in a season's work. 

The biggest surprise on the shortlist is Carrick. The experienced centre-midfielder has enjoyed a prosperous spell back in the United line-up making 41 appearances and once more proving his worth with an impressive string of performances. Eden Hazard is also another surprise but his impact on the Chelsea has really hit the headlines. At 22, the Belgian has really stamped his authority in that midfield which is becoming more and more creative by the minute. But whilst it's understandable as to why all six candidates deserve their place, the man most deserving has failed to make an impact of the Premier League's most important talents. 

Michu's 17 league goals, making him the 4th highest goalscorer, have gone unaccounted for. His exclusion is an unjust insult to his value as a Swansea City player. However, with a trophy, worldwide interest and a new found love in Wales, I'm pretty sure Michu's more than content out of the limelight and focusing on what he does best - football.

Friday, 12 April 2013

INTERVIEW: Guillem Balague

Gareth Messenger and Liam Garrahan met up with Sky Sports' Revista de La Liga pundit Guillem Balague for LaLigaNewsTV at Temple Walkabout, London.


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Why Manchester City's Scott Sinclair destroyed the Sinclair of old

Scott Sinclair's move from Swansea City to Premier League champions had an air of ambition about it. It signalled the turning tide in Sinclair's stop-start career in professional football. From a reserve at Chelsea to the champions of England in a matter of years, nothing could have gone wrong, but it did.

Originally a product of Bristol Rovers, Sinclair made the move to Chelsea in July 2005 for an initial £200k with increments rising to a possible £750k based on certain circumstances. Not a bad fee for a recently turned 16-year-old, and just two years later Sinclair was making his mark on the Chelsea senior side, appearing in a League Cup Semi-Final match against Wycombe.

With huge investment from owner Roman Abramovich taking shape, Sinclair saw his opportunities at SW9 thwarted by the likes of Joe Cole, Damien Duff and Arjen Robben. Numerous loan spells at six different clubs between the period of 2007 and 2010 surely highlighted the end of his Chelsea career, despite making five appearances (one against Arsenal and the other a starting place in the XI v Manchester United). For a young man destined to reach the top by a host of professionals and even members of the Chelsea board and coaching staff, frustration had set in and it was time for Sinclair to seek regular first team football.

So, along came Swansea, signing Sinclair for a measley £500k fee on a three-year-deal. It was a change in the wind for the man rated so highly at Chelsea but never fully utilised. Sinclair became the inspiration for Swansea City's jump to the big-time. His performances inspired a side, once plying their trade in the depths of Division 4, to the very top of English football - the Premier League. 27 goals in 50 appearances in all competitions during Swansea's promotion-gaining 2010-11 season was the pinnacle of Sinclair's career as the Swans became the first Welsh side to stamp its authority in the coveted 'Best League in the World'.

Sinclair's form continued after the summer break, scoring his side's first ever goal in the Premier League against former champions Arsenal. A more conservative eight goals in the league was an unjustified return to a man so inspirational to Swansea's 11th place finish in their debut campaign. Sinclair played all 38 league games for Swansea, cementing his place as Swansea's most potent attacking threat, and perhaps just as crucially, the club's talisman.

At the start of this campaign, however, Sinclair's love for Swansea had dimished. He was set for pastures new in Manchester, ironically the hometown of his new girlfriend, actress Helen Flanagan. Unbeknown to many of us, Sinclair's move to City, hyped with so much anticipation after the departure of Adam Johnson from the Etihad, would create the biggest setback of Sinclair's career. Sinclair played his final game for Swansea at the start of the season and scored, before completing his journey across the Welsh and English border on 31 August 2012. Now, how does a starter for Swansea, become an outcast at Manchester City? I don't even think Sinclair himself knows.

Since his move from the Liberty Stadium, Sinclair has made just EIGHT appearances for Roberto Mancini's "champions", starting just TWICE and playing a total of 169 competitive minutes in no less than SEVEN months. The problem Sinclair has is that with a lack of first-team football and a contract running until the summer of 2016, he has to stick with it. A move away would mean more relocating for a man who seems relatively settled - location wise, and a loan move would bring back memories of slumming it in the reserves at his earliest Premier League club, Chelsea.

The benefit Sinclair has is time. He is only 24, and has time to redevelop his ability in England, but his decision to move to City was far from ambitious, and more toward the deluded spectrum. He made a career mistake and it's a mistake he must solve quickly. His flourishing ability at Swansea earned him admirers across the land and calls for him to be including with England. But now, we have the shadow of a talented youngster, another missing piece of English talent, talent gone through one stupid, ignorant and naive move to Manchester City.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

England's weak links must be dropped to find successful era

For months on end, England manager Roy Hodgson has pledged an alliegance to the 'loyal' men with the Three Lions on their chests. While the English faithful sit and pray for the long-desired day of success at a major tournament to come flying round the corner, they may be waiting for an infinity before our nation's managers realise that the next generation of superstars must be plunged onto the international scene for success to come anytime soon.

Image courtesy of Creative/Wikimedia Commons
Author: Олег Дубина

Some have called England's 1-1 draw with Montenegro in Podgorica a "disappointment", an "embarrassment" and even a "shambles". Lying in second in the World Cup qualifying group - it is not the time for the fans to be pointing fingers at a generic England, who somehow find themselves ranked the 4th best team in the world. It is instead time for the manager to realise the change the fans desire is a manager with some bottle.

Hodgson himself lacks bottle. He's the gentleman of football, but he is certainly the one capable to inspire a generation to international success. For some time now, I have been pleading for the manager to make changes which are obvious to the masses, but oblivious to the people who matter. It's a curious case of whether the coaching staff are willing to build for a better future, a future filled with talented youngsters, something in which England currently have in abundance.

Danny Welbeck is a suitable example. At the age of 22, the Manchester United forward is an established member of the starting XI. So he should be, he's earned his place with a consistent level of performances and an impressive major tournament debut in Poland and Ukraine during Euro 2012. Hodgson's faith in Welbeck is a step in the right direction. But there are a small minority of England's current crop who do nothing but halt England's rise to compete with the giants of world football.

There was a time I believed Wayne Rooney did not warrant his place in the England side. I was wrong. Even though he has yet to truly excel when it really matters for England, a stat of 26 competitive internationals goals, level with Michael Owen, is a testament to how important Rooney could be to this step into the future.

Steven Gerrard is another who seems to flounder when we really need him. His early goal at the 2010 World Cup against the USA showed signs of early promise that it was to be England's time, but his lacklustre performances post-USA in South Africa still leave an air of doubt over the captain's true ability to take England further. Gerrard's presence in Brazil is a must. England still requires that experience but too much responsibility is placed on a man who just cannot burden the weight of club and country expectations on his withering shoulders any longer.

While Rooney and Gerrard may have their critics, they are needed. The 'contributors' to England who should be nowhere near the setup continue to plague a squad with the true talent forced into international exile.

Glen Johnson, James Milner and Ashley Young are the three contributors at the dock. The latter especially has become a mere shadow of the potential he showed pre-Euro 2012. His goal against Norway just before travelling to Poland and Ukraine rounded off an impressive spell of form for both club and country. Young's performances were, quite rightly, earning him plaudits across the land, but his Euro 2012 impact was nothing short of disastrous. It was a disaster, capped off by his horrific penalty miss in the shoot-out against Italy. Just another victim of the cruel penalty curse which also continues to plague England's success in major tournaments. While some may argue Young offers England a new dimension, others critcise his lack of incisiveness, creativity and fight which makes a successful international.
Milner is another who continues to find his way into the first team but offers no real attacking threat or defensive structure.

Image courtesy of Creative/Wikimedia Commons
Author: Станислав Ведмидь/Stanislav Vedmid'/Stanisław Wiedmid'

But why should he be offering defensive structure when he's being played as a winger? A winger who fails to leave defenders for dead and swinging in deadly balls - Milner's presence in the England team mirrors that of Stewart Downing, another club hopeful who failed to transfer his Middlesbrough form over to the white of his country. For too long many have been baffled by Milner's inclusion in the squad, let alone the first team. His effort on a field is undeniable, the man works his socks off, but that's all he gives, and if it's become a time when our manager picks players on effort, then our manager should be in charge of kids football for him to display that type of affection.
Glen Johnson is England's third choice right-back. This is not Roy Hodgson's opinion obviously, nor is it mine, but it is a fact. Two players infinitely better than Johnson in that position have been benched and forced into the exile road. Kyle Walker, who performed so outstandingly against San Marino deserved his shot against Montenegro. His pace, strength and ferocious forward play for Tottenham is a demonstration of the ability the 22-year-old has, and it is time Hodgson recognised that an ageing, lethargic Glen Johnson simply cannot cut it anymore for his country. Micah Richards is another forced onto the barren wasteland of club football and ONLY club football. Denied a spot in the squad for Euro 2012, he is another who's potential has remained unfulfilled merely down to a lack of international experience. Thwarted by managers who fail to highlight true talent.

One saving grace for England's current imbalance in the side is Hodgson's persistence in the likes of Welbeck, Cleverley and Smalling, all starting against Montenegro last night. These players have it. As do Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones, Leighton Baines, and perhaps just as crucially, England's main talisman Jack Wilshere.

It is at a stage where Hodgson must make some bold decisions in the run-in to Brazil. With England lingering behind Montenegro in second place, he simply must identify the weaknesses in the side before an automatic qualifying spot becomes untouchable. While Ashley Young can still offer a squad player status, Johnson and Milner must depart a squad brimming with talent waiting to make its mark on the nation. The team will continue to centre around Wayne Rooney, but the one who should be our main ambassador is Jack Wilshere. He is the focal point of Arsenal and will be the focal point of England. His presence, passion, and tenacity in any midfield is one England must utilise to its full ability, while the likes of Young, Milner and Johnson are the dead wood which England must abolish to produce any success in the short-term.

Saturday, 19 January 2013 

It's the most comprehensive Spanish football news coverage in the English language and the home of Bikini Soccer. We will be bringing you news, features and exclusive interviews from La Liga as well as a weekly audio podcast.


Follow us on Twitter

LIKE us on Facebook

Email Us