Category Archives: England

Danny Ings keeps proving doubters wrong

In a normal world we would have been enjoying the Euro’s but circumstances beyond our control means the tournament will have to be put on hold for another year.

If Euro 2020 would have gone ahead, there would have been one man who would surely have been part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, Danny Ings.

The Winchester born 27-year-old is already a contender for the Golden Boot award, having hit 18 Premiership goals so far this season, after a brace against Watford at the weekend and is only one behind Jamie Vardy.

Ings started his career in the youth team at Southampton but was released as a schoolboy. Little did they know at the time that they would be calling for his services again in helping the Saints maintaining their stay in the Premiership.

The prolific striker had two seasons at near rivals Bournemouth back in 2009-11 where he made 27 appearances for the Cherries with seven goals to his name.

In between his time with Bournemouth he was sent out on an initial one-month loan to non-league side Dorchester Town, where he scored on his debut against Ebbsfleet United in a 2-1 home defeat. His loan spell was eventually extended by the Conference South side, with Ings grabbing a further three goals in eight more appearances.

In August 2011 Championship side Burnley secured his services. He went on to play 122 games, hitting the net 38 times. His impressive appearances for The Clarets was rewarded when he won the Championship Player Of The Year at the Football League Awards  in 2014.

A year later Ings joined Liverpool, making his debut in a 3-0 loss to West Ham at Anfield. In October Ings suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee and was ruled out for the rest of the season.

However, Ings proved the doubters and everybody wrong by making a quick recovery  and returned back to the side to feature in the final match of the season against West Brom.

Ings, has always had to fight of injuries in his career and suffered another setback when he damaged his right knee in a League Cup match against Tottenham that would require another spell on the sidelines, this time it was nine months.

In September 2017, Ings made his first appearance in 11 months since his injury when he came on as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat to Leicester City in the EFL Cup. He spent a total of four seasons at Anfield, making just 14 appearances with three goals scored.

Due to the form of Liverpool’s magnificent trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino, Ings felt disillusioned and requested a move away from Liverpool. Ings joined Southampton on an initial loan spell in August 2018, which eventually turned into a permanent move. Since the move back to his original club, Ings has scored twenty-five goals for the Saints and this season in particular has looked a classy forward.

One can’t deny that Ings is such an important player for the Saints. If he gets a chance, he rarely misses.  This is a sign of a quality striker.

When you consider the setbacks he has had to suffer- two really bad injuries- he has always come back a better player. He leads the line brilliantly, and at 27 has still got more years in him-injuries permitting.

Although, Euro 2020 will now be 2021 make no mistake that Danny Ings name will still be on everybody’s lips come next year when Southgate names his squad for the Euro’s.

Interested in finding out which players are due to be released from their Premier League clubs this summer?

See details here in link below:

https://247-football.com/2020/06/29/which-players-have-been-released-from-each-premier-league-club/

 

Interview with former England and Crystal Palace player John Salako

John Salako has had a successful playing career over a spell of 19 years. He featured for eight clubs as well as earning the right to play for England.

With the Premier League returning just over a week ago, Salako believes it was the right time to come back:

“We’ve longed for it. I was very much an advocate of getting football back.

“If anyone could do it safely I knew it was us, the Premier League, the Championship. We have got great staff and people in and around the grounds. The clubs are really well run now with the doctors and physiotherapists, the way it has been organised has been tremendous.

“The games have been fantastic, much better than I thought they would be. The crowd sound, they have put a lot into that and I think that has been a massive plus and at times when you are watching it on the television you forget that there isn’t a crowd there.”

There is understandably concerns for Premier League players returning back so quickly, but Salako recognises that circumstances have chanced since his playing days:

“In our day we would finish the season and we would have three to four weeks off. You would come back pre-season and you would need to build up a six-week programme to be fit enough to start playing.

“ These guys, however, a lot of them have gyms at home, tread machines and bikes, which would have kept them fit.  You are going to see a lot of muscular injuries that won’t be able to be prevented, as well as the heat and going straight back into that intensity of playing is part and parcel of the game.

“They are really at a level where they are proper athletes. The diet, nutrition and the psychological side of it and the training programme are fantastic and second to none. Overall, I’m delighted that they decided to go ahead and play it, and it’s going really well.”

Salako joined Crystal Palace at a young age, and has never looked back:

“It was fantastic, growing up and coming through the ranks at Palace then getting into the first team, getting to the cup final and then we finished third in the Premier League and you look back and think wow, that team was a damn good side.”

Salako also represented England and won five caps in his playing days.

“I got into the England side and went off to Australasia and unfortunately came back that winter and I ruptured my knee. I had two years of three major operations. I’ve managed to play 600 games and to have a half decent career, barring those injuries, I would have liked to have achieved a lot more, but life sometimes doesn’t work out that way.”

Apart from playing for Palace, Salako went on to manage the club for a season:

“I joined Palace just before my 14th birthday, and I was there until I was 26. I absolutely loved the club, it’s in my heart, that’s home for me and I coached at the under 13’s and 16’s level. Then, I ended up as first team coach, which once again was just incredible as having been out of the game for so long applying for loads of jobs and not even getting an interview.

“I was very motivated and ambitious as I wanted to be a manager. I done my coaching badges and having that opportunity to go back in and be first team manager was incredible. We stayed up, got to the cup final, then I ended up being squeezed out, as they thought they could improve in different areas.”

Palace are thriving at the moment under Roy Hodgson, and has nothing but praise for the former England manager:

“We saw Roy bow out of the England job and we sort of thought well maybe that’s the end for Roy.

“He’s been an incredible coach around the world and has done so much. Roy came in at a time when everyone had written Palace off. He managed to keep them up and then every season he has added and built on pretty much a shoestring budget and it’s been actually incredible, and so I couldn’t give Roy enough praise of what he has done with the tools he has had.”

Black Lives Matter has been a very important message in our lives at the moment. This is also something Salako feels very strongly about:

“It’s so disgusting what’s been happening to black people for so long and they’ve been persecuted and abused and the way that the police force do target and kill black people is disgusting and there is that racial bias through England, Europe and it’s disgusting in America, it really is so bad.

“What we saw with George Floyd is just beyond disgraceful and I think enough is enough, and that plane that flew over the Burnley game the other night saying white lives matter.

“I’ve heard that said a few times and really it’s quiet disheartening and heart-breaking, because it’s just missing the point as there is so much brutality and there is so much hype perpetrated towards black people just because of the colour of their skin and they really are racially down trotters. I’ve been lucky not to get massive amounts of it[racial abuse], but I can imagine people like Ian Wright and people who come from Inner London and I know they have a lot more and have to deal with it on a daily basis. Finally, I am hoping that we are all going to deal with it and take a big step forward and what the Premier League now are doing is hopefully going to have a massive impact.”

Listen to full interview with John Salako by clicking link below: 

https://soundcloud.com/user-365414754/john-solako-football

 

Interview with former top referee Keith Hackett

Former referee Keith Hackett began referring in local leagues in Sheffield back in 1960. He gradually made it onto an elite panel of referees and eventually had the honour of referring at International level.

With the return of the Premiership, he feels that they would have learned a lot from how the Bundesliga have returned to action.

“Hopefully in these situations they will share information across the countries.” he said ”I think they’ve already made it very clear in terms of what players can do in terms of spitting, mobbing the referee and confrontations and they[referee’s] are looking for a bit more discipline from the players.”

He also feels that this is the right time for the return of the Premiership:

“If it had gone on a bit later the Premier League would have had a very difficult decision and as we creep more and more towards the start of the new season the window of opportunity to get the season finished was diminishing so I applaud what they have done, I think they are taking exceptional care in terms of testing the players and making certain they are ok.”

The main concern on the restart will be the fitness levels of players. Hackett continued:

“I hope we don’t have the same in Germany where there was a considerable uplift in the number of injuries which was rather surprising because when you have a crowd that raises your adrenalin as a referee and the players and sometimes they do daft things and now there might be that they are over-stretching.”

He also felt that the officials were not quite up to their normal high standard:

“In a game of football that adrenaline rush that you get from fans keeps you on your toes and I thought in one or two cases in the Bundesliga games the referees seemed to drift a bit and loose a bit of concentration on the odd occasion and of course referees can’t afford to do that and if they do they are going to miss things and if they do that we are going to get the wrong decisions.”

Hackett also feels that some referees in the current game are not up to the standard that they should be:

“There are some referees on that list that I think are very lucky to be on that list and there are one or two passengers I think that need to move on, they need to be put under pressure in order to sustain the very top quality performances the Premier League and the Championship require.”

Hackett refereed at the highest level in English football for 23 years and loved his time with the whistle:

“Refereeing of football matches believe it or not is not a punishment it is an enjoyment and I think I got a lot out of referring from a satisfaction point of view, health point of view, it got me fit and mobile and of course the challenges of going around the world referring and at home as well as seeing the introduction of the Premier League and seeing that for the first two seasons get established.”

He was also in charge of a memorable match between Manchester United and Arsenal back in the 1990-91 season which saw a mass brawl on the pitch involving 21 players:

“It took me more by surprise than anybody and I learnt from it.” he said “The one thing is that you just needed to prepare a bit more, then perhaps I would have known there was a bit of ill feeling in the previous game between Winterburn [Nigel] and McClair[ Brian] and if I had of known that in fairness I might have been in their zone having a word of encouragement rather than a threatening word, but it all happened so quickly.”

He retired from refereeing in 1994, but was soon back involved in football:

“When I left refereeing my intention was to leave it for good, but I got dragged back to become the PGMOL boss and we started to introduce technology.” he said. “I watched rugby and was very keen on introduction the communication kits, so we introduced them. I brought in art monitors for the training. I was sat in the directors box at Old Trafford when Roy Carroll dropped the ball a yard over the line and at the following shareholders meeting of the Premier League I put forward a case for technology. I was asked by former Fulham Chairman Al Fayed what would I change in football and I said goal line technology and his answer was go and get it then.”

What does Hackett really feel about VAR

“I’m a believer in VAR. When I was referee we had three cameras. The modern game is 22 minimum. What I wanted with VAR was a balance to say look give the referee another look. What I’m seeing with these lines been drawn along the pitch, the technology is not good enough to make offside calls to the fractions that we are actually seeing, and I think that is where we should follow the MLS. Let the VAR assistant have another look and judge it on what he sees on the big screen. If he gets it wrong it’s far better to get it wrong that way than technology that is telling us it’s right, when generally I think we know that it is not.”

Click below to listen to the full interview with Keith Hackett: 

FA Cup final to be renamed in support of ‘heads up’ campaign

The FA Cup final is to be renamed in support of Prince William’s ‘heads up’ campaign aimed at raising awareness for men’s mental health. The change in sponsor means Emirates will temporarily step down as the competition’s main sponsor for the first time since 2015.

What is ‘Heads Up’?

Mental health is a topic that has become something of a national importance, with deaths by suicide rising by 10.9% in the UK in 2018 (Samaritans). A shocking stat is that men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women in the UK. The Premier League started a ‘heads up’ campaign spearheaded by Prince William (HRH Duke of Cambridge) to raise awareness of men speaking out about mental health, taking place on the weekends 8th-9th and 15th-16th February.

The campaign also saw the clubs around the Premier League starting matches a minute late in order to show a promotional video for positive mental health. Many local charities got fans with mental health to speak out and reduce the stigma surrounding men and opening up about their emotions.

This move comes after a huge spike in the number of footballers looking for mental health therapy. With 355 professionals accessing therapy in early to late 2019. Olu Maintain, a former academy player, spoke out about his fight with mental health on a youtube series called “Man-up” from BBC Sport. We are seeing a trend of more players opening up about their issues.  

Jesse Lingard spoke about the issues he had in an interview with the Daily Mail and the topic has become something of huge importance within the football community.

In an an article from BBC Sport, Prince William stated:

“It’s quite timely bearing in mind what we’ve all been through with this pandemic [Covid-19].

“I think there’s going to be, sadly, a lot of repercussions from this in society, not just in football, in terms of people’s mental health.

“Hopefully the FA Cup can be a bit of a pivot that people can rally around.”

 

When does the competition restart?

The quarter finals are set to take place on 27th-28th June, with the semi-finals potentially being played on the 18th-19th July. You can see the fixtures here.

Jill Scott signs two-year contract at City as player-coach

With women’s football non- existent at the moment on the field, good news reached us off the field that England midfielder Jill Scott has signed a new two-year deal with Manchester City that will see her combine playing with a coaching role.

33-year-old Scott became one of the first signings when City reformed back in 2014 and has gone on to become an essential part of the team that has picked up six major trophies including one WSL title in 2016.

The England midfielder has been instrumental in driving the growth of the women’s game and was deservedly awarded an MBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list.

Her new role in the Manchester City set up will see her join the coaching set up by working with assistant Alan Mahon and new head coach Gareth Taylor.

Scott told the club’s website:

“I’m a player first and foremost,

“I’ve been named as a player-coach, but I still want to play for this team and get success.

“It feels fantastic to have everything sorted and to know that I’m going to be at the club for the next two years is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Since her debut for the club in 2014, Scott has helped the Blues win three Continental Cup’s, two FA Women’s Cups and one WSL title.

Standing at 5 feet 11 inches tall, Scott was given the nickname Crouchy after former England International Peter Couch.

Scott was born in Sunderland and started her senior career at her hometown club back in 2005, aged just 18. Her talent didn’t go unnoticed and it wasn’t long before Everton Ladies snapped up her services in the summer of 2006, having turned down the opportunity to sign for Doncaster Rovers Belles. Scott decided to leave the Merseyside club at the end of the 2013 season.

After leaving Everton, Scott put pen to paper on a two-year deal with Manchester City Ladies, and immediately had a big impact on the side when City lifted the Continental Cup Trophy in 2014.

Having made no less than a century of appearances for City Ladies- including 16 this season before the WSL was cancelled in March due to the pandemic- since her debut, she has become an integral part of a very well organised side, who finished this season on top of the table with 40 points but were denied the title when Chelsea were announced as Champions on a PPG basis after the WSL Board decided that this would be the fairest way to decide the season.

At International level, Scott received her first England call up to the senior squad in 2006, having captained the Under 19’s for the previous 18 months. She made her debut for the England senior side against Holland in August 2006.

A year later she represented her country in the 2007 World Cup, coming on as a substitute in England’s opening match against Japan. She progressed to make the remaining matches in the tournament and grabbed her first England goal in a 6-1 thrashing of Argentina in the group stages.

In 2009, Scott was one of 17 women to be given central contracts by the FA. She was named in the squad for the 2009 Women’s European Championships, scoring a late winner as England defeated Holland in the semi-final.

At the 2011 World Cup, she scored against New Zealand in a 2-1 group win and hit the net against France in the quarter-finals of the event.

This year has certainly been a good year so far for the England midfielder after getting an MBE for services to women’s football and also announcing her engagement to her long-term partner Shelley Unitt in March.