Paul Parker

  • Tasteless ‘banter’ is an unfortunate part of sport

    I find it interesting to hear that Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has chosen the days following John Terry being found not guilty in a trial on racial abuse charges to express his dismay about swearing and behaviour in football.

    Hunt may be a football man — he runs the Government department concerned with sport says he is a qualified referee, after all — but for him to say these things now, in light of what was revealed during the Terry trial, is just opportunistic. Picking up on footballers misbehaving is virtually a guaranteed headline for a politician. If he were that concerned about the

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  • Spurs have tough task in replacing Modric

    If Tottenham Hotspur are unable to identify an adequate replacement for Luka Modric, who looks set to leave White Hart Lane, then it could be the difference between retaining their position in the top four and slipping out of that collection of elite clubs.

    Andre Villas-Boas said on Wednesday during his first press engagement as Spurs boss that the club will sell Modric if a suitable offer is received. Twelve months after he first asked to leave the club, a parting of ways now looks inevitable.

    If Modric does set off for pastures new, Tottenham will still have Gareth Bale to lead the team

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  • Ryan Giggs's leadership skills could be tested to the limit while captaining Team GBStuart Pearce described picking Ryan Giggs as his captain for the Team GB Olympic football team as "a no-brainer", and it is hard to disagree. Once it was confirmed that David Beckham would not be in the squad, there was only ever one real candidate.

    Considering that he is the most decorated player in the history of English football, it is odd to think that Giggs is actually a novice when it comes to playing in a tournament like the Olympic one. Having never reached a major international finals with Wales, Giggs has never experienced a campaign of three group games and then a knockout phase

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  • Arsenal must get rid of Van Persie

    Following Robin van Persie's revelation that he will not sign a new contract at Arsenal, I don't think the club have any option but to sell their captain immediately.

    He's just had a great season but Arsenal need to move on. What is the point in keeping hold of Van Persie when replacements need to be sourced and bedded into the team? Not to mention the fact that Arsenal can make some money on him now rather than losing him for free next summer.

    Ultimately you have to put sentiment to one side and admit it is best for all concerned if he leaves. Arsenal can't afford to go through this whole

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  • Four things AVB must change

    Andre Villas-Boas crouches on the touchline at Chelsea (PA Photos)

    Andre Villas-Boas is an exciting appointment for Tottenham, but he is also high-risk.

    He has the ability to push Tottenham on to the next level, but he must learn from his time at Chelsea and change.

    1-First of all, he has to stop crouching in his technical area. It sounds like a silly thing, but football is a game best watched from above - if your head is at the same level as everyone else's knees, I don't know how you expect to see anything. For a man who is so interested in tactical intricacies, it amazes me that he take a position that compromises his view so badly.

    2-While he's at it, he

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  • Pearce right to ditch Beckham

    Stuart Pearce has made the right decision leaving David Beckham out of the British football squad for the Olympics.

    We needed to decide whether the team was going to be about PR or performance, and Pearce has made a good call.

    Football is the winner, as it proves there is no room for sentiment and places have to be won on merit alone.

    Beckham may be a global ambassador and a figurehead for the Games, but it would be a nonsense to have included him simply on that basis.

    I know he was enthusiastic from the Olympics from the very start, unlike some players. But I suspect that was simply because

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  • England must aspire to something better

    I think England leave Euro 2012 with a sense of keen disappointment. Despite some suggestions to the contrary I think they underperformed, while the nature of the defeat to Italy leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

    It was a footballing lesson from Italy in Kiev, but to be honest I think we have had a footballing lesson from Norway, Belgium, France, Sweden and Ukraine as well in some respects. We have been outpassed by every team we have played against under Roy Hodgson but everyone seems content to be outplayed, nick a goal and then say, 'oh, well it's all about winning'.

    This took us through

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  • England can’t afford to play for penalties

    Welbeck and Carroll celebrate against SwedenEngland have exceeded the expectations of many by making it through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, never mind as winners of Group D.

    Avoiding a date with Spain in the next round is just reward for finishing above France in their group, but it's not as though facing Italy in Kiev on Sunday is a plum draw.

    Irrespective of whoever England were put up against in the last eight, they have to adapt to the different requirements they must meet in the knockout phase. In the group stage, England's attitude was much more focused on being hard to beat. None of their games so far have been what you

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  • Rooney must follow Gerrard’s example

    Gerrard has been a model of discipline and restraint for Hodgson's EnglandWayne Rooney will come back into the England team against Ukraine, and on the face of it that is great news for England.

    However, he will have to fall in line with Roy Hodgson's new, disciplined England if the team are to continue their unbeaten run under their current manager.

    The forward will bring some much-needed creativity to the team as they seek to book their place in the quarter-finals, a success when put up against pre-tournament expectations.

    Rooney may also be the man to coax some better performances out of his Manchester United team-mate, Ashley Young, who has so far largely failed

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  • Dutch must root out discontent, for sake of fans

    The Netherlands' capacity to self-destruct at major tournaments never fails to amaze.

    This is a nation which continually produces some of the world's top footballers - an admirable feat considering they are a nation of just 17 million or so - but they fall well short of the mark as often as they live up to their potential.

    The Dutch arrived in Poland and Ukraine as many people's third favourites. They were fancied enough that the tag of dark horses would not have done them any justice. And yet, as two defeats leave them bottom of Group B, they are on the verge of going home at the first

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