Alex Chick

  • Rooney not England’s biggest concern

    Since news broke of Wayne Rooney's alleged "sordid romps with a vice girl", sports journalists (including this one) have sought ways to talk about the scandal without appearing to pander to the lowest common denominator.

    Plainly, this scandal is about a regulation piece of celebrity love rattery, not sport. But we need an excuse to mention it because it's HUGE. Everyone's talking about it, so why can't we?

    We needed to shoehorn a football angle into a sorry tale that ought to be between a man, his wife and a £1,200-a-night prostitute. The thought process was as transparent as it was cynical.

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  • And the winner is…

    Predictions are a mug's game, which is why I have steered clear of all but the most obvious - like 'England will not win the World Cup'.

    But with four teams and four games remaining, it's time to stick my neck on the line and try to pick a winner.

    Uruguay

    For all the late drama, Uruguay were the better side against Ghana in their quarter-final and on the balance of play probably deserved to go through.

    Their coach Oscar Tabarez will have two priorities - firstly to stop Arjen Robben, as Brazil largely did simply by double-teaming him every time he threatened to cut inside from the right onto

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  • Good old Scholes: why the surprise?

    Is Paul Scholes turning into some sort of media star?

    The Manchester United midfielder normally speaks about as often as Harpo Marx, but he gave post-match interviews after the Community Shield and last night's 3-0 win against Newcastle.

    Is he planning a Beckham-style vault into celebrity? Will his goldenballs protrude from Armani billboards across the globe? Will he be the public face of England's 2022 World Cup bid after 2018 goes up in flames?

    It seems unlikely.

    In fact, Scholes was only fulfilling the contractual obligation that comes with being man of the match.

    Yes, the 35-year-old was

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: day five

    Get set for a world-class diva duel - Didier Drogba versus Cristiano Ronaldo as Ivory Coast take on Portugal. And Brazil prepare to make their entrance.

    - - -

    Monday's action

    Netherlands 2-0 Denmark - Group E - Soccer City

    A slightly flattering scoreline for Bert van Marwijk's Dutch side in the deafening sound of Soccer City - players from both sides complained the could not hear above the vuvuzela noise. With Arjen Robben still nursing a hamstring strain, Netherlands struggled in the first half but went in front less than a minute after the restart when an attempted clearing header by

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day six

    By 5pm tonight we will have seen all 32 teams in action, with favourites Spain making their debut against Switzerland.

    - - -

    Tuesday's action

    New Zealand 1-1 Slovakia - Group F - Rustenburg

    Fans who tuned in for one of the least glamorous games of the tournament were rewarded with a mercifully vuvuzela-free soundtrack and a thrilling finish. Robert Vittek headed a lacklustre Slovak side ahead five minutes after the break (he looked offside) but the All-Whites levelled in the last minute of second-half stoppage time with a Winston Reid header. Slovak coach Vladimir Weiss called it "a minor

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  • Devil in Kaka spoils Brazil’s night

    Look, it might be apocalypse out there. England might be knocking each other's blocks off in a crisis meeting as I type. The French have aired their dirty laundry all over southern Africa. And you can read about those two cesspools of misery here and here.

    But Brazil played football at the World Cup tonight. It happens a maximum of seven times every four years, so let's pay attention to some actual football.

    The BBC begin their coverage with a somewhat corny animated thing called: "A Brazilian history of time" trotting out the usual cliches about samba flair, joyous self-expression and

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  • Let Mascherano rot

    Roy Hodgson
    has done English football many services.

    He has
    restored the reputation of the nation's managers, proved that a small club
    playing attractive football can achieve staggering feats, and shown the world
    that some English people can speak foreign languages.

    But it
    would be his greatest achievement yet if he banished Javier Mascherano to the
    reserves and left him there for the rest of the season.

    The
    Argentine apparently refused to play for Liverpool at Manchester
    City as he tried to force through a
    move to Barcelona.

    Hodgson is
    playing hardball, and hauled Mascherano into training

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  • Premier League predictions: 9th-12th

    The mid-table slog continues on day three of Armchair Pundit's week-long festival of guesswork.

    It is probably no surprise to see which teams have been reserved for the top eight - but eyebrows may be raised by the prospect of a top-half finish for Newcastle and a much-improved season for West Ham.

    Note: Predicted teams are based on squads at time of writing.

    12th - BLACKBURN ROVERS (Last season: 10th)

    The fruitless search for a striker has dominated Blackburn's summer, but there is no need for panic at Ewood Park. Nikola Kalinic is an improving youngster with real potential, while the club's

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  • Was this a great World Cup?

    Like those who awarded Zinedine Zidane the Golden Ball before he nutted Marco Materazzi, I am running the risk of reviewing the World Cup before it has finished.

    Overall it has been a good tournament, if not a great one. But that's not much of a blog post. Let's go into more details in 10 categories below.

    GOALS

    Unlike the 2006 World Cup, the goal flow has increased throughout the tournament. The first week was, if we are honest, a bit tough going, and for a long time matches were averaging less than two goals a game. But Sami Khedira's header last night was the 144th goal - even if tonight's

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  • Premier League predictions: 5th-8th

    They all want a place in the top four. And they're all going to be disappointed. It's part four of the pre-season predictions game.

    It's largely a tale of stability among the European hopefuls. Three of the four clubs here will be featuring almost exactly the same side as last season. The other is Manchester City.

    Tottenham and City are both ranked a couple of places below where the bookies would have them. In Spurs' case, it's down to the juggling act between Premier and Champions Leagues. For City, I'm just not sure they have added much more than numbers to their squad.

    8th - TOTTENHAM

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