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1
General SMFShop Discussion / Will Everton’s failed gamble mean
« on: July 24, 2018, 05:36:54 pm »
The good news for football followers is that the Premier League will shortly be back. The bad news is that, if your club did not finish in the top six last season, it will almost certainly http://authenticsenatorsshop.com/bobby-ryan-jersey_c-423.html again be among the 14 also-rans this time round. The even worse news, looking at the evidence of the past couple of seasons, is that clubs “knocking on the door” of the top six – that is, showing Womens Mats Naslund Jersey ambition in trying to move forward and join the big boys – need Authentic Skal Labissiere Jersey to be just as careful over relegation worries as those teams who expect to spend most of their time in the bottom half of the table.

Take Everton. Granted they were not relegated last season but they were sufficiently worried to appoint Sam Allardyce, which more or less makes the point. This time last year they were throwing their money around, with a new owner keen to make his mark, a new stadium in the offing and a confident belief that seventh place in the 2016-17 table was a beachhead from where http://www.authenticbruinsstore.com/ray-bourque-jersey_c-435.html the top six could be attacked. To say it did not quite work out that way would be an understatement.

Ronald Koeman could not survive a dreadful Europa League campaign that impacted badly on league form, Allardyce steadied the ship but clumsily managed to alienate supporters and, though the club now have the replacement they originally wanted in Marco Silva, the optimistic signals and signings of last summer are just a memory.
They are not a particularly happy one either. One of the reasons Everton have yet to bring anyone in is because they are conscious of the need Authentic Stefen Wisniewski Jersey to move people out. Supporters were shocked to discover that two of the players who have taken less than a year to prove they are unlikely to have a future at the club – Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen – are both on contracts worth six-figure sums per week.
Everton have not given up on the transfer market: funds will be made available if business can be done for the targets Silva and the new director of football, Marcel Brands, have identified, though it is an open secret that the club is carrying too much dead weight – to use an expression of Wayne Rooney’s – on generous wages that few prospective buyers would be able to match.
While Rooney’s http://www.broncosfootballofficialstore.com/Andy_Janovich_Jersey return to Goodison may not have been a complete success, at least he brought it to a neat and honourable conclusion.
Perhaps Everton have only themselves to blame for profligacy, though a year ago they were mainly showing the vision and enterprise supporters usually want to see in their clubs. They had a well-regarded footballing director in Steve Walsh to oversee player recruitment, backed a manager they imagined would be around for the foreseeable future and took a bold financial plunge. Unfortunately only the capture of Jordan Pickford could be described as money well spent and the failure adequately to replace Romelu Lukaku was, it must be admitted, an oversight that had consequences.
Yet it is also possible that Everton became caught up in what might be termed the Leicester effect: the suddenly intoxicating notion that the Premier League’s mid-sized clubs might not have to spend season after season labouring in the shadow of the European elite after all. While even now the Foxes’ unlikely title success of 2016 is regularly cited as proof that almost anyone can win the league – stand by for the odds on Wolves being slashed if the newly promoted side topple Everton on the first weekend – what should not be ignored is that the top six have strengthened massively in the last couple of years to prevent anything similar happening again.
The top six that established itself the season after Leicester’s win was the same one as last season, just in different order. In 2017 the gulf between Manchester United in sixth and Everton in seventh was eight points, last season the gap between sixth-placed Arsenal and seventh-placed Burnley was nine.
Perhaps that differential counts for little when Manchester City won the title by an enormous 19 points over their nearest rivals United, though the fact that 13 Premier League clubs were unable to break through the 50-point barrier suggests the elite are pulling away.
 
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2
General SMFShop Discussion / how ICC changed the pre-season friendly
« on: July 24, 2018, 12:07:38 pm »
Charlie Stillitano knows exactly when everything fell into place. “I sat down with José Mourinho in 2003 and he said. ‘I want to play really hard games,’” the New Yorker, who appears to be friends with every football A-lister, tells the Guardian. “José was the first person to not just embrace it, but demand it. Sir Alex Ferguson later wrote he learned something from José about getting ready to start the season. It was like total stamp-endorsing.”

Memories of this summer’s World Cup remain fresh in the minds of fans, yet the modern football juggernaut waits for no one. This week sees the good and the great from Europe —  Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool and both Milan clubs among others —  begin their pre-season preparations in earnest as the International Champions Cup (ICC) rolls around once again. A sauntering summer kick-about this is not – the tournament involves 18 teams, 27 matches, three continents, and 22 cities in eight countries.
Stillitano, executive chairman of Relevent Sports, the company behind the ICC, says this year’s incarnation is more inclusive than ever before. For the first http://www.chiefsofficialonlineshops.com/chiefs+christian+okoye+jersey time, a four-team women’s tournament is on the schedule, alongside a new under-14 futures competition, which is being trumpeted as football’s version of the Little League World Series.
Stillitano believes the quality of teams in the ICC means the days of the bigs guns from the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A reluctantly hopping on a plane, kicking a ball around, and smiling through gritted teeth at the opening of a new gas station, are gone.
“I went with Manchester United to Singapore in 2001, just to get a feel for things as we were bringing them over in future years,” he says.  “They played a Singapore XI. Fabien Barthez played striker, and it was all the Manchester United fans laughing and joking, even the board members.
“It was more like the celebration of Man Unitedness. And, then I remember in 2002 was the first game we ever did. Real Madrid versus Roma. Fabio Capello was the manager of Roma and everyone thought we were going to do terribly. They said a club match wouldn’t sell, but Giants Stadium sold out.
“An English-American journalist stood up and said, ‘I don’t understand what the big deal is here. It’s just a friendly.’ Capello was having none of it. ‘Do you see who is here? Zidane, Figo, Totti, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Panucci. You think they want to lose to each other tomorrow?’
“That stuck with me. If you can get them out in the field together, they’ll fight. Of course, it’s still pre-season. Players won’t be going all-out for 90 minutes.”
Purely from a North American viewpoint, the ICC helps football’s profile in the summer – particularly when the likes of the NFL and NBA are in their off-season and fans look to other forms of entertainment.  Last summer saw three of the most attended football matches in US history - 93,098 for Real versus Manchester City in Los Angeles, 82,104 for Barcelona’s clash with Juventus in New Jersey, and 80,162 for Barca and Manchester United. The crowds will flock once again this year – Manchester United’s meeting with Liverpool at Michigan’s 107,000-capacity Big House could break records – and the ripple effect  is http://www.officialminnesotawild.com/Adidas-Kyle-Quincey-Jersey clear.
Relevent have recently purchased football marketer BRC Group, allowing them to take control of FC Alianza, the largest and most prestigious amateur Hispanic football program in the US. The Futures tournament, meanwhile, includes eight state and eight MLS development teams, as well as Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Celtic and Bayern Munich.
“The future of the sport depends on finding, training, and encouraging emerging players,” says Stillitano.
However, the ICC’s two-week spell Authentic Demetri Goodson Jersey cuts right across MLS and eats into fans’ attention – as well as the revenue streams. The market isn’t that big, after all. So, is there any friction? “We have an open dialogue and a good partnership Authentic Bernie Parent Jersey with MLS,” says the Relevent Sports CEO, Daniel Sillman.
 
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3
General SMFShop Discussion / Liverpool’s Fabinho brings
« on: July 23, 2018, 04:27:56 pm »
Fabinho’s phone filled with messages of congratulations within moments of his £43.7m move to Liverpool being announced. One was from his fellow Brazilian, Roberto Firmino, offering his new teammate advice about the club and where to live in the city. Another was from Kylian Mbappé, wishing his former Monaco colleague well in Craig Mager Authentic Jersey the Premier League. The addition to Liverpool’s midfield intends to invite the World Cup-winning star to join him.

“Kylian has already said he will remain at PSG for the next season but I will try slowly to convince him to come to Liverpool,” says the defensive midfielder, more in hope than expectation Jared Goff Jersey at this juncture. “Kylian sent me a message congratulating me on going to Liverpool. I have not had the chance to congratulate him yet on what he did winning the World Cup but what France did was fantastic. What Mbappé did Doug McDermott Authentic Jersey in two years of professional football is amazing. http://www.officialpanthersfootballstore.com/Graham_Gano_Jersey He is a phenomenon and needs to be congratulated. As soon as I have the chance I will.”

The double training sessions Jürgen Klopp has put on at Melwood this week, and Mbappé’s hectic schedule since becoming the first teenager since Pelé to score in a World Cup final, account for the lack of interaction between the close friends. Together they won the 2017 French title and reached the Champions League semi-finals before a fine Monaco team broke up in haste. Mbappé, Bernardo Silva, Tiémoué Bakayoko and Benjamin Mendy were among those who departed. All have won silverware with new clubs and http://www.officialcardinalslockerroom.com/elite-adrian-wilson-jersey Fabinho aims to follow suit.
“We have a very good team and I believe we will be able to fight for the title,” John Jerry Jersey insists the 24-year-old from just outside São Paulo. “I have just started with my team mates but I can see we have excellent players, an excellent manager and a very good group. I followed Liverpool last season because the way they played was very exciting – their quick transitions, the counterattacking, the way they played from the defence to the opposition net, it was fantastic to watch. We have to carry on that way this season so it will be very important for us to follow that through.
“I understand Manchester City are the champions and produced excellent football last season, but we will do our best to get the title from them and make everyone here happy. I have spoken quite often to Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy since I arrived, mainly Bernardo. I told him that although we are friends I will be harsh on him when we play against each other! I am pleased they are playing in England and we will be living close by. Off the pitch we are very good friends but on the pitch is a different story. I have never had the chance to play against a team which had a good friend playing for them before.”
Liverpool were still coming to terms with defeat in the Champions League final when Fabinho’s under‑the-radar signing was announced in http://www.detroitlions.us.com/WOMENS-TJ-LANG-JERSEY.html May. “I think everything started to happen about a month before the end of the season,” he admits. “It all moved very fast. I tried to focus on the end of the season with Monaco and finishing second in the French league but when you know a club of Liverpool’s stature is interested in you it obviously touches you.”
The acquisition of Fabinho and Naby Keïta intensifies competition in the heart of Liverpool’s midfield and, with Jordan Henderson expected to miss the Premier League opener against West Ham United because of his late return to pre‑season training, the Brazilian has an early opportunity to press his claims. Both the player and Klopp, however, are preaching caution.
“I have only just started playing with a new team and I have to get used to my new teammates,”he says. “I’ve noticed already it’s a different way of playing compared to what I was used to.”
Klopp elaborates: “We have seen it a little bit with Fabinho that he needs to settle. He’s a little bit too deep between the centre-halves at the moment. We do it differently to Monaco. You can push him into position but because it’s natural for him moments later he’s again deep. That shows he needs time to adapt to different styles.” cheap jerseys cheap jerseys china wholesale nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys from china

4
General SMFShop Discussion / whole of next season by knee injury
« on: July 23, 2018, 11:05:07 am »
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out of Liverpool’s plans for next season with Jürgen Klopp admitting it will be “a bonus” if the midfielder plays a competitive game before May. The full extent of the knee injury was revealed on the day Liverpool agreed a world‑record Bobby Hull Youth jersey €75m fee for the Roma goalkeeper Alisson.

Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the Champions League final and England’s World Cup campaign because of an injury Authentic Wayne Gallman Jersey sustained against Roma on 24 April. It has been confirmed the 24-year-old sustained multiple ligament damage and is expected to be out of action for up to 12 months in total.
Liverpool, and the player, knew the full extent of the injury within days of the semi-final first‑leg win at Anfield but did not go public with the prognosis at the request of the England international. Oxlade-Chamberlain did not want the severity of his ligament damage to disturb teammates’ preparations for the Champions League final against Real Madrid in May and kept the news Authentic John Jaso Jersey between himself, Klopp and the medical staff involved in his recovery.
The former Arsenal midfielder, who was in outstanding form before the Roma game, had a successful operation eight http://www.authenticcapitalstore.com/-31-philipp-grubauer-jersey_c-489.html days after sustaining an injury that damaged his cruciate and medial ligaments plus the tendons to his hamstring. That is expected to be the only surgery required. His rehabilitation is on course and Liverpool do not view the injury as career-defining although accept it may take a full year from the time of the challenge at Anfield for the £40m signing to make a complete recovery.
Klopp said: “It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab.
“We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury, and after the successful surgery we were sure of it. I hope everyone treats this information responsibly. There has been no change, no setback – it’s exactly on the schedule we expected and planned for. The new information is that we’re now giving more detail publicly.
“It is typical of Ox that he didn’t want the news to overshadow the end of the season and, to be quite honest, we thought we could wait and tell people at an appropriate time. His surgery – which he had on the day of our second leg in Rome – has been completely successful and his recovery has started superbly well. But the truth of the matter is that http://www.packersfootballofficialshop.com/authentic-aaron-rodgers-jersey.html we are preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it. If we do see him back this season, it will be a bonus.”
The length of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s absence will not influence Liverpool’s transfer business for the remainder of this window. Klopp, as he stated, has been resigned to the player’s absence since April and already added Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri to his outfield options for the new campaign. Alisson will join the incomings subject to a medical on Thursday, becoming the world’s most expensive goalkeeper in the process, and is expected to be Liverpool’s final signing of the transfer window. A proposed £53m move for the Lyon captain, Nabil Fekir, will not be revived due to the Anfield club’s concerns over the player’s medical.
Alisson will sign a six-year contract and take Liverpool’s summer spend to £176m. The Brazil international has agreed personal terms and interrupted a post-World Cup holiday in Sardinia on Wednesday to fly to Merseyside before his medical. Klopp’s priority once the deal is concluded will be to offload several players deemed surplus to requirements, with the manager admitting his squad is too big. Simon Mignolet, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, Divock Origi and Lazar Markovic could all http://www.officialsunsproshop.com/authentic-34-charles-barkley-jersey.html depart. “Of course we have to sell,” Klopp said. “We cannot go with 35-40 players. We need a lot of players but not 40.”
The manager said the summer’s transfer business has strengthened his squad considerably. “Maybe it is the first year we don’t sell a key player. There was always a lot of change but in both directions. Now it is more in one direction. That is clear. Big teams, successful teams, if you don’t buy it you have to build it. That means stay together, bring additions in and make the next step: stay together, bring additions in, make the next step. That is how it is. The team and squad is in a really good moment.
 
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5
General SMFShop Discussion / Mourinho key issues
« on: July 20, 2018, 01:17:09 pm »
One assessment of José Mourinho’s business at the halfway mark of the window might be that it has been underwhelming. The manager has recruited Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk for £52m, paid Porto £19m for Diogo Dalot and signed Lee Grant for £1.5m from Stoke City to become his third-choice goalkeeper.

Whether theses recruits have strengthened the squad is arguable. At Russia 2018 Fred could not dislodge Casemiro or Manchester City’s Fernandinho as Brazil’s defensive midfielder, the 25-year-old failing to feature for a single second.
For United Fred’s role is to be the pivot who allows Paul Pogba to surge forward. That pair join Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Scott McTominay and Marouane Fellaini as Mourinho’s midfield options. Yet there is a lack of stardust here, apart from Pogba, and no natural replacement for the Frenchman if he is absent. This is in contrast to City, where Pep Guardiola can choose from David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gündogan.
Full-back is one of the key positions Mourinho believes has to be improved if United are to catch their crosstown rivals. Yet Dalot is a largely untested 19-year-old and Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are converted wingers who will both be 33 when the season starts. Luke Shaw appears to have lost considerable weight via a close-season fitness regime but remains an enigma, while Matteo Darmian may leave Anthony Sherman Jersey along with Daley Blind, who completed his move to Ajax on Tuesday. Mourinho, then, may need to buy again, http://www.officialpadrestore.com/Rickey_Henderson_Jersey with Juventus’s Alex Sandro a possible target.
This is still the biggest issue for many United fans: the stodgy fare Mourinho’s side serve up. The complaint can be countered by the manager claiming the Europa League and League Cup in his first term, and finishing second last season – the best since the title of 2013. The concern is that Mourinho’s CV shows a career-long preference for dogmatic defence and the approach has seemingly become more entrenched at United. Can he, then, meld the attacking talent of Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sánchez into a consistently potent force?
Mourinho has high hopes Sánchez will be far more formidable following a rare close season off. Yet the Chilean’s preparation is not aided by missing the start of the tour because of a “personal administrative issue”, thought to be the denial of a US visa because of Sánchez accepting a suspended prison sentence from Spanish authorities for tax fraud this year.
The Frenchman was a standout performer in Russia and Ameer Abdullah Jersey crowned his tournament with a sweet left-foot strike in the 4-2 win over Croatia in the final. This means Pogba will arrive back next month following an enforced three-week break as a world champion and surely in the perfect place to produce a campaign of consistent brilliance. Still only 25 he should be the fulcrum who runs the team, pinning opponents back and creating openings, while weighing in with 15 goals a season.
Can he do it? Will Pogba and Mourinho improve a relationship that has been fractured? The first question impacts on the second: Pogba’s challenge is to ensure the answer is in the affirmative. If it is not then United’s season may disappoint.
By May 2019 six years will have passed since Sir Alex Ferguson landed the most recent of United’s record 20 top-division titles. Mourinho may have secured second http://www.brownsfootballofficialprostore.com/bernie-kosar-jersey_c-400.html last term but he ended trophy-less and the 19-point gap to City indicates what a non-event the race for the Premier League was. Liverpool’s dismantling of Guardiola’s men in the Champions League quarter-finals and the league fixture at Anfield via a fast-and-furious style seems anathema to Mourinho, so he may need to produce a quasi-miracle to finish ahead of City – and Liverpool. If he fails to do so then his job will be in the balance, unless a glittering Champions League challenge is returned. Mourinho, of course, has only once lasted longer than three full seasons as a manager. wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys from china wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys free shipping

6
General SMFShop Discussion / France finally throw off racism
« on: July 19, 2018, 05:37:20 pm »
Liberté, egalité, Mbappé! After France’s World http://www.officialvikingsjerseysstore.com/Ryan_Quigley_Jersey_Cheap Cup victory on Sunday, the French slogan was rewritten to celebrate a winning goal by Artemi Panarin Jersey a 19-year-old player from the Paris suburbs who is donating his World Cup fee to charity because, he says, it is such an honour to play for his national team.

Much has been made in the wake of the moment of national pride that 19 of France’s squad of 23 players are migrants or the children of migrants. Or the fact that the reflex of Muslim players Paul Pogba and Djibril Sidibé was to prostrate themselves in prayer at their win. How could a country so riddled with prejudice towards minorities get behind a team that reflects all its own contradictions back at it?
A startling recent report by the French national commission on human rights (CNCDH) stated that Muslims “remain Authentic Chicago White Sox Jersey among the least accepted minorities, with the rejection often extending from Islam, to the entirety of its practitioners”. French Muslims may be leading their nation to the biggest prize in world sport, yet 44% of French people believe Islam is a threat to French identity. Even prayers are a problem for 30% of French people who think they are “not compatible with French society”. Not a single minority achieves over 80% “tolerance” in France today. Fraternité, anyone?
In France today, a practising Muslim man is four times less likely to get a job interview than his Catholic counterpart. According to the study, Muslims in France face even worse discrimination than African-Americans do in the United States.
Last year, for the first time ever, Front National (FN) garnered more than 20% of votes in a presidential election, with the party’s leader, Marine Le Pen, setting a new record for the number of FN voters of 7.6 million; 35% of those who voted backed Front National in the second round.
The illusions many of us held over the 1998 national celebration of “black, blanc, beur” (black, white, Arab) multiculturalism have long been replaced with a deep cynicism over France’s commitment to a national identity that embraces all French men and women on an equal platform. Or the reality that, 20 years on, football is still one of the few avenues for material and professional success for France’s working-class men from the banlieues. The fraternity created by football can’t mask the growing cleavages over the very soul of our country.
Yet, away from sport, one man’s battle against the state may offer a glimmer of hope. In February, the government brought in some of its toughest laws related to asylum, doubling the time for which undocumented migrants can be detained (now 90 days), and http://www.officialauthenticredskinstore.com/womens_fabian_moreau_jersey making the illegal crossing of borders an offence punishable by one year in jail, plus fines. Charities referred to the new laws as “an unquestionable break with France’s tradition of asylum”.
Yet this month, a young farmer by the name of Cédric Herrou took the French state to court for failing to live up to its core values of liberté, egalité and fraternité. And he won. While lacking the global hysteria that surrounds the World Cup, this landmark decision is certain to have far-reaching implications.
Herrou, an olive farmer from the Roya valley, which stretches between France and Italy, first came to public attention last year when he was fined €3,000 (£2,700) for assisting dozens of migrants. He has argued that he and his friends are being persecuted for a “crime of solidarity”.
To his detractors, he’s endangering the nation in a country where immigration is now consistently framed in terms of national security and terrorism. To his supporters, he embodies everything France claims to stand for – freedom (of movement for all), equality of all peoples, and fraternity regardless of class, creed or colour. And last Friday, France’s constitutional court ruled that the country’s core “principle of fraternity” protected Herrou from prosecution. It said: “The concept of fraternity confers the freedom to help others, for humanitarian purposes, without consideration for the legality of their stay on national territory.” This decision is hugely significant in a Europe that has grown increasingly hostile to migrants. cheap jerseys wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys china cheap jerseys

7
General SMFShop Discussion / Paul Pogba’s World Cup evolution
« on: July 19, 2018, 12:17:24 pm »
If ever there was a time for Paul Pogba to dab and dance, to snapchat and sing to his heart’s content without giving a soul with any sense the opportunity even to tut, this was it. With Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium his stage, he dabbed with president Macron. He dabbed with his mother and brothers on the pitch. He dabbed with an iconic 36.8cm piece of sculpted gold that means everything in football. A world champion, a scorer of a goal that felt result-defining in the final, a fulcrum for his team, a massive personality revered back home, the only thing missing was a hairdresser on hand to create a World Cup-shaped cut to mark this most glorious of moments.

With Pogba in his exuberant element – the master of social media filming non-stop in the dressing room, on the bus, encouraging all sorts of celebratory flourishes with his band of World Cup-winning brothers – he felt so central to everything about this French generation. During the course of this tournament his status within the group changed, http://www.bearsfootballofficialauthentic.com/YOUTH+NICK+KWIATKOSKI+JERSEY and even for his own teammates it was difficult to articulate exactly what it was and how it happened. But everyone could feel it. “I can tell you that Paul Pogba, I don’t know how and I don’t know from where, has become a leader,” announced Adil Rami. “He proved it to us. He showed it. He’s the Mike Webster Womens Jersey one that showed the way. He was the strong man of the France team.”

His evolution during this tournament into a new kind of force for Les Bleus, able to use his power, his presence and his technical skill set with an enhanced sense of responsibility and focus, is symbolic of how this team Jacob McQuaide Authentic Jersey clicked into serious contenders during their month in Russia.
Pogba being Pogba, when France arrived for this World Cup his role in the side was being debated. Polemics about his more enigmatic characteristics, the search for a way to get him to play his best and how to fit him in the tactical scheme of things, bubbled from the off. The scene was not unfamiliar as Didier Deschamps looked tense when lobbed questions on the subject before a ball had even been kicked or an anthem sung.
Kazan. France’s opening group game against Australia was not particularly convincing. The team laboured. They lacked creativity and cohesion. Still, Pogba influenced the outcome more than most. A clever through-ball opened the game up to produce a penalty for their first goal – an assist of sorts – before he prompted and finished the move for the winner (later given as an own goal). Post-match the Pogba inquisition started anew, prompting him to defend himself http://www.officialredwingsauthentic.com/authentic-17-brett-hull-jersey.html by batting away the negative vibes.
“I am less entitled to make mistakes than others,” he mused. “I went from the biggest transfer in the world to the most criticised player in the world. Criticism is always here. When I was little, with my friends we always used to take the **** out of each other, saying: ‘You were good, you were bad.’ It’s about what happens on the pitch and I treat the criticism like I did when I was playing on the block as a kid. I never listen to it. I’m having fun and that’s the only answer I can give to all those people who criticise me or who think I am this or that.”
Into the knockouts Pogba became more and more influential. The Ben Harpur Youth jersey critics in general grew quieter and quieter. Against Argentina he enjoyed himself as France glided through the creative gears. Against Uruguay he helped his team to control the game and minimise pressure. Against Belgium he was strong and disciplined, supporting the defensive work with a mix of aggression and diligence. Pogba showed many facets to his game, able to do what http://www.sabresteamprostore.com/Zemgus_Girgensons_Jersey was needed in different situations.
The connections he was making on the pitch became stronger. His bond with N’Golo Kanté flourished as a central midfield http://www.nflcardinalsofficialstore.com/YOUTH+CHRISTIAN+KIRK+JERSEY pair, though it was less effective in the final when Kanté strained to be his usual self. His instinctive understanding with Kylian Mbappé, as exemplified by that ravishing goal when they combined brilliantly as the teenager bounded on to Pogba’s sumptuous pass to ensure the final is remembered for some dazzling football as well as the strokes of first-half luck, is another major plus France take home Cordrea Tankersley Authentic Jersey from this tournament. As souvenirs go, a goal and an assist from that period of play will rightly be cherished by Pogba. wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys from china wholesale nfl jerseys from china

8
General SMFShop Discussion / Four weeks of endless drama
« on: July 18, 2018, 04:24:41 pm »
Thank you Russia, and goodbye! It’s been fun. Not to mention epic, thrilling, dazzlingly well-organised, and with a constantly shifting sense of place from the strangulating heat of Samara, to the fly-marshes of Volgograd, to the mist and drizzle of the north.

But that is now a wrap. After four and a half weeks and 64 matches, 1,613 shots, 1,734 fouls and a shared continental-scale avalanche of herring, beetroot, dumplings, vodka and sustained on-field drama, the World http://www.lionsshopnfl.com/Authentic-Sylvester-Williams-Jersey Cup can now be packed away for the next four years.
It is tempting in the immediate glow to call this the greatest modern tournament. Certainly Gianni Infantino and friends have been energetically congratulating themselves. On the eve of Sunday’s final the swanky Arbat embankment was buzzing. This is where Fifa based itself for Russia 2018, with an HQ at the Stalin-does-Disney Radisson Royal, the tallest hotel in the world when it opened in 1957, and host these days Jamie Collins Youth jersey to its own fleet of river yachts.
On the strip outside the Royal on Saturday night an armed military escort lounged in its supercharged Mercedes jeep, next to the plain-clothes security in the Cadillac Escalade, just down from the black-out Maybachs, part of a £2m haul of luxury cars lined up waiting for their passengers to eat a pizza.
Inside the Qatar 2022 committee could be seen enjoying a pre-final dinner that looked more like a celebration. Understandably so. Russia 2018, the other half of the late-Blatter two-hander, has been a wonderful success, a World Cup that has both re-geared international football’s juggernaut status and reinforced Fifa’s authority as keeper of the spectacle.
Around the same time Infantino was across town on stage at the ballet cooing and fawning over Vladimir Putin. “This World Cup is changing the perception of Russia, particularly from us in the west. Even the police are smiling!” Fifa’s president gushed, a political statement for which he will now presumably fine himself heavily.
Infantino is right to be bullish though. The World Cup will head to the Gulf looking relevant and purposeful, beneficiary once again of football’s ability to re-energise itself no matter what its governing bodies throw at this great belching circus of global interests.
On the pitch Russia 2018 was beautifully gripping from first to final whistle. The only caveat would be the absence of one or two obviously great national teams, although it is possible this young French squad might change that perception in years to come.
Overall Belgium scored the most goals. Russia committed an astonishing 95 fouls in five matches. Right up to the final weekend Spain had made the most passes despite exiting at the first knockout stage. England led the world on passes backwards. Neymar overcame his constant sufferings to have the most shots, 27 in all. By way of contrast Kylian Mbappé had just six before the final.
At the end of which France were admirable champions, a team culled from the beautifully fecund academy system and http://www.officialseahawkslockerroom.com/elite-earl-thomas-jersey cast in the fanatically team-oriented shape of their coach. It seems likely that in Mbappé France also finessed a little further the outstanding attacking player of the next decade.
Although this wasn’t a tournament for stars. Instead the struggles of the World Cup’s herd of would-be GOATS provided another layer in the daily drama and a refreshing shift away from club football’s cult of personality.
The constant TV close-ups of Lionel Messi’s Sad Face, his utter bafflement at not being about to rouse a team of lesser talents; the wretched theatricals of Neymar; the inability of the great C-Ron to drag Portugal along under his arm: all of this was a gripping counter-narrative to Germain Ifedi Jersey football’s standard seasonal star fest. cheap jerseys china wholesale jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys

9
General SMFShop Discussion / France players invade Deschamps press
« on: July 18, 2018, 11:15:42 am »
Ecstatic France players crashed Didier Deschamps’ press conference after their World Cup victory, chanting his name as they sprayed champagne, water and energy drinks on their coach and assembled journalists.

The players were corralled out of the room before returning a few seconds later, as Deschamps was drying himself off, singing “C’est pas fini”, dancing and jumping on to the press conference table.
“They are completely crazy, those lads,” said a grinning, wet Deschamps after the players had left. “They’re young and they’re happy.” He had only just changed after being caught in the post-match downpour at the Luzhniki Stadium and was now soaked again. He said that in their post-match discussions he had told his players that life would never be the same for them after winning the trophy.
“Professionally, there’s nothing above that,” said Deschamps, Justin Faulk Youth jersey who won the trophy as a player in 1998. “Maybe they’re going to win other titles and I don’t want to undermine other titles, but when you are a professional footballer there’s nothing above that.
“I had an immense privilege to live through this as a player 20 years ago and it was in France, so it will be marked in my memory forever, but what the players did together today is just as beautiful. I have a son who is 22 years old. When we were world champions he was too young to understand and today there are young people who have this happiness to be able to live this event with us.”
Antoine Griezmann, who scored France’s second goal from the Justin Hardy Youth jersey penalty spot, paid tribute to the diverse origins of the players in the France team: http://www.authenticbaltimoreoriolesshop.com/Jj-Hardy-Jersey “That’s the France we love. They are different origins but we are all united. It’s the same in our team; there are many players who come from different horizons but we do have the same state of mind. We all play for the same jersey, for the cockerel and for our country. As soon as you wear the jersey you do everything for each other and it’s beautiful.”
There were some doubts over the decisions for the first two France goals, with the Argentinian referee, Néstor Pitana, awarding a soft free-kick that led to the first and then pointing to the penalty spot after consulting VAR over an Ivan Perisic handball. Griezmann scored the penalty to make the score 2-1.
Croatia’s manager, Zlatko Dalic, disputed the penalty but refused to blame the decision for the result. “In the World Cup final you do not give such a penalty but it in no way diminishes France’s win,” he said. “I respect the referee. He did what he saw, fair and square … With respect to VAR, when it goes in your favour it’s good, when it doesn’t it’s bad, that’s all I have to say.”
Griezmann said he pretended he was playing in a less important match to keep his cool while he waited for the referee to decide on the penalty appeal. “I just tried to stay calm and concentrate,” he said. “I just did the same trick I normally do for penalties and it’s working at http://www.canucksteamproshop.com/Jacob_Markstrom_Jersey the moment.”
Dalic said he told his players they should be proud of their achievements in an on-pitch huddle at the end of the match, and he also implored them not to dwell on any supposed injustices. “We were dignified in all our victories and we must be dignified in defeat,” he said. “We have to respect the scoreline.”
Dalic Nick Ahmed Youth jersey acknowledged that there was an element of luck in some of Croatia’s previous results, with the team needing penalties to win their last-16 game with Denmark and quarter-final with Russia.
“In the first six http://www.pacersprostore.com/WOMENS-VICTOR-OLADIPO-JERSEY.html games we may have been favoured by luck, today not,” he said. “I have to congratulate my players for the game, maybe the best game we played in this tournament. We controlled the match but we conceded and against such a strong side as France you can’t make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we have to be proud as well for what we’ve done.”
 
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10
General SMFShop Discussion / This England team understood
« on: July 17, 2018, 01:37:55 pm »
It was the morning of the semi-final. He was walking down the street shouting “Come on England!” to no one in particular. Sitting on a nearby bench I raised my hand in solidarity. He saw me, turned round and yelled: “It’s coming home!” I hollered the words back at him and we both laughed. At last I had exchanged the greeting of the summer, one both nonsensical and chock full of meaning, with a complete stranger.

It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks back home. There has been lots ‘going on’ besides the football, which may have heightened the hysteria. But from the point Harry Kane turned home the winner against Tunisia England succumbed to football fever at a level not seen since 1996. The flags came out in earnest, not just from a sense of duty. People chucked sickies and themselves off double-decker buses. Watching the games at outdoor screenings became de rigueur and having a half-dozen pints emptied on your head a rite of passage. The shirts sold out, the memes went wild and Harry Maguire’s forehead became the most unlikely fetish since Prince Harry’s ginger beard.
At the heart of it all were those three words. But there was some ambiguity as to what exactly was coming home. Yes, there was the World Cup itself. There was a little bit in all of us that thought it might happen – probably not but might. The phrase was an expression of confidence hedged with irony, an expression recognisably English. It meant other things too, though. It expressed an enthusiasm for the football team, a sign of solidarity. These were players with whom we could identify. It was also a nod to times past and a collective happy memory. It evoked summers gone by or maybe just summer itself. Finally, when stripped out of context, “It’s coming home” was straightforwardly silly. It was just fun to say, like “garlic bread?” once was, or Nate Solder Authentic Jersey “Proper Bo!”
A sense of fun was an integral part of Gareth Southgate’s plan for his England team. It was necessary because this was a team who had got to the point where pulling on the three lions had seemed equivalent to donning a shirt made of lead. To throw off the psychodrama of the past decade the team had to remember what had brought themselves to this point in the first place: their love of the game. It was a good way to start again. Back home we recognised a team enjoying themselves. We also saw that, as a result, they were more committed to each other. We saw it on the pitch but also at the dart board or on social media on the back of a unicorn. They seemed to be http://www.footballcardinalsofficial.com/Authentic-Robert-Nkemdiche-Jersey having a laugh.
This fun had a serious point. It was intended as a building block in a platform for winning football matches. Perhaps half of England’s six matches in Russia saw it bear real fruit. The confidence that came from a team relaxed and united helped us not only to edge past Tunisia but steady ourselves late on against Colombia and quite simply cruise past a Sweden team that had been making things difficult for opponents for years. In the end, against Croatia, enthusiasm and commitment showed their limitations. The team ran out of legs and ideas. They were outfought and out-thought (also outplayed a little) by opponents with greater experience. If England want to improve on this memorable run, they will have to offer more.
As professionals, footballers will ultimately judge themselves by the medals on their mantelpiece (or inside their air-conditioned trophy rooms). It is arguable, however, that the enjoyment English people got from this World Cup was not in any way invalidated by the fact that we did not win it.
Football is a game. That is not to denigrate but celebrate it. A lot of claims were made during the tournament about England’s success, about what it meant or what it might achieve. Most seem a bit of a stretch. One might hope that effective set pieces could bring together the competing sides in a culture war or reunite young with old, but in reality those tensions in our country will have to be resolved by other means. Football cannot bring world peace or resolution to the Jerryd Bayless Authentic Jersey Brexit negotiations however many inspirational, but yet humble, quotations from the England manager are pinned on the wall.
What a game can certainly do, though, is remind us how great it is to have http://www.saintsofficialfootballstore.com/Marcus-Williams-Jersey.html fun. Life is short and much of it is hard. These recent years have been unrelentingly unpleasant. Occasions when you get lost in the moment, when you enjoy only what is around you, are perhaps rarer than they should be. Sport can provide such moments, either through playing or watching. In this World Cup we watched an England team who understood the power of enjoyment and used it to help them achieve an end. For those of us at home and in the Ben Smith Jersey stands, we were reminded enjoyment can also be an end in itself.
 
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11
General SMFShop Discussion / Gary Lineker jersey
« on: July 16, 2018, 06:11:09 pm »
Gary Lineker says he felt like a German on Wednesday evening inside Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium as he willed England to reach penalties, so confident was he in their ability to cope with the pressure of a shootout.

As part of the Italia 90 team which suffered the agony of Scott Harrington Jersey a penalty shootout defeat when England had last Caleb Swanigan Jersey reached a World Cup semi-final 28 years ago, it was an unsettling sensation for Lineker to be hankering for spot-kicks again. Against Colombia in the last 16, they won a penalty shootout for the first time at a World Cup http://www.titansauthenticofficialstore.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_BRYNDEN_TRAWICK_JERSEY.html with only Jordan Henderson having his effort saved and Jordan Pickford making a vital save.
As the clock ticked away at 1-1 against Croatia in the semi-final Lineker hoped they were heading for penalties again. “I listened to years of nonsense from really bright footballing people that telling me: ‘It’s different when you’re out there, it feels different than in practice.’” Lineker said. “Well http://www.authenticmlbgiantsstore.com/Authentic-Buster-Posey-Jersey of course it does but by God it helps if you’ve hit 50 a day, hitting targets and under pressure. I used to practice all the time as a designated penalty taker but some of the others never did anything.
“With 15 minutes to go against Croatia even of normal time I was thinking I’d take a penalty shootout now because I fancied us strongly,” he adds. “They’re so well drilled, you could see it against Colombia whereas I watched Croatia penalties in two games and they weren’t that good. It’s a really weird feeling as an England fan thinking ‘I hope it goes to penalties’ but kind of nice. I suddenly felt quite Germanic.”
Lineker believes the way this England squad has been primed for penalty shootouts is indicative of the fastidious preparation which led to such a successful tournament, even with a team young in age and lacking international experience.
“Some credit has to go the FA in terms of appointing Gareth Southgate eventually and the amount of planning that has gone on from him,” Lineker says. “He obviously had the backing of the FA to do that. Youth development now in England is as good as anywhere in the world which has taken most of my lifetime to get to but is very positive. We’ve been successful in the age group tournaments and teams that do well at youth level generally do well at World Cups. If they keep investing in grassroots, and the money that they might get if Wembley is sold actually goes into grassroots – and I know there is a commitment to that – I think the future is very bright.”
When the Italia 90 team returned after their defeat to West Germany, the closest England had come to a World Cup final since 1966, Lineker was taken aback by how much their run in the tournament had united the country. He recognises a similar mood this summer as Southgate’s team unexpectedly reached the same stage.
“You’re cocooned in a bubble in tournaments although with social media now the players will have a better grasp of what happening back home than in my day,” he says. “I flew back from Russia to England for a couple of days Dale Hawerchuk Authentic Jersey last week as there was a break in the schedule and even I was being stopped in the street, with people telling me how amazing it was and everyone talking about it.
“They’ll be surprised by the adulation at home,” he said. “That makes you feel a bit better but then every so often you’ll think: ‘God, we were so close to having a pop at footballing immortality.’ Some players will never get another chance but a lot of them will, England are just on the cusp of being exceptionally competitive.
“I very much doubt the draw will fall as favourably as that again but the good news is next time round we’ll have better players. We have young players like Ryan Sessegnon and Phil Foden and the players from this World Cup will be more experienced and actually still in their prime, possibly for the next two World Cups.” wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys china

12
General SMFShop Discussion / In toxic times
« on: July 16, 2018, 12:46:32 pm »
When England make it to a World Cup in normal times there is never too much need to agonise over the significance of it all beyond the football itself; the coherence of midfield, confidence on the ball, the astonishingly fine margins between progress and exit. But these are abnormal times – with the UK divided by the toxic, anti‑immigration Brexit campaign – so, understandably, people have agonised.

Looking for optimistic signs, many people have seen a warmer‑hearted version of England being encouraged by the extended exposure to the inclusive values of Gareth Southgate and his diverse, likable group of players. In a tweet just after England’s elimination by Croatia, Kyle Walker channelled the spirit and nearly the exact words of the Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by an English fascist just before the referendum: “We might live in a time where sometimes it’s easier to be negative than positive, or to divide than to unite, but England: let’s keep this unity alive. I love you.”
We can all hope for a lasting legacy of unity from England’s surprisingly extended and heartening journey to the semi-final, but there is a queue of cautionary notes. The first is that it is not clear whether or how this message particularly communicates itself to the millions of people supporting England, whether in an ecstatic, pint‑chucking city square crowd or at home on the couch with a brew.
For some the participation in England’s squad of 11 sons of immigrants may be absorbed, notable and a source of pride – including Southgate himself no doubt, given his comments about wanting to heal the country’s divisions. For others it may not be; Bob Lilly Womens Jersey if England had actually triumphed, perhaps for some the lesson would have been that the country is superior, we can stand alone, that the Brexit decision was somehow vindicated.
The memory lingers of fans at the European Championship just before the 2016 referendum chanting in a French square: “**** off Europe, we’re all voting out.”
Perhaps there is no unity to the perception of the England team and what it all means; maybe it is split 48%-52%. Maybe not; but if Southgate’s statement of values and his team’s amiability did show the country a better vision for itself, what now?
We have a previous experience of this, the 2012 London Olympics, and the http://www.ottawasenatorsofficialonline.com/Adidas-Mike-Hoffman-Jersey legacy was not long‑lasting. Then, the whole United Kingdom was treated to the stellar achievements and unrestrained patriotism of a Great Britain team including many black and mixed-race athletes. Few corners of the country were left unaware of Mo Farah’s inspiring story, that he came to London as a refugee from war-torn Somalia, and here he was with his cockney accent and smile as bright as a floodlight, running round the track with a gold medal, wrapped in the union jack. Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony was hailed around the world for its celebration of modern, multicultural Britain, showcasing the NHS and the Windrush Caribbean immigrants who helped to build it.
Now we know too well what happened, despite that summer when the country was being told http://www.officialnhlhockeyonline.com/TORONTO_MAPLE_LEAFS-c-1087_1122.html that old divisions and resentments had been overcome. At the very same time Theresa May, then the home secretary, was implementing her policy to make the UK a “hostile environment” for “illegal” immigrants, many of whom are simply asylum seekers, like Farah was, whose claims the Home Office does not accept. We know what the results of that policy scandalously were for so many distinguished members of the Windrush generation whose contribution had been celebrated at the opening ceremony. They have been hounded for impossible proof of their existence in the country, lost jobs, been denied Ben Ijalana Jersey health treatment, detained, deported. May did all this because she believed years in which asylum seekers and immigrants were negatively portrayed in the media meant the public wanted a “hostile environment”, and perhaps she was right.
The warm vision for Britain presented by Boyle was a memory four years later when the referendum campaign got going. Then the media was dominated not by positive stories of immigrants’ lives and achievements but relentless caricature and scare headlines, Nigel Farage standing in front of that Leave.EU poster of refugees with its blood-curdling warning: Breaking Point.
 
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13
General SMFShop Discussion / Southgate sanguine as he calls for
« on: July 14, 2018, 04:57:25 pm »
It was coming up for 1am local time when Gareth Southgate walked back out to acknowledge the England supporters inside the Luzhniki Stadium who were refusing to leave until he gave them one more appearance. He waved politely. He dropped his water bottle and applauded back. Briefly he scratched his head and blew out his cheeks a little, as if he could not quite believe they were still there, waiting for him, singing that song again. He waved again. He bowed. But it was unmistakable sadness etched on his face.

Over time, when the pain subsides a little, he will reflect that England have come a long way since Euro 2016 ended with chants informing the players they were not fit to wear the shirt. England’s previous World Cup campaign was wrecked by two defeats in the first week. This one made it to day 28 before the killer blow in extra time of the semi-final. England had scored more goals than the team of 1966 and shattered their reputation as tournament football’s Slapstick XI.
That is progress in anyone’s language when there are so many wearers of that shirt with entirely different experiences. “People may have had a feeling that playing for England was always misery and regret and recrimination,” Southgate said. “Now, I think, they have seen it can be enjoyable.”
At the same time there is a risk here that the tidal wave of goodwill is threatening to submerge a difficult truth: that England were a goal ahead, 25 minutes from a World Cup final, before it all became too much for them. Croatia wore them down with a http://www.officialcelticsproshop.com/Larry_Bird_Jersey superior mix of football knowhow, durability and the rare form of competitive courage that had Juraj Vrdoljak, a columnist for Telesport, likening the comeback to an “adrenaline-charged man lifting a truck to save his child”. But it was still the case that England badly lost their way and, in fairness to the manager, he was willing to accept that fact.
In the dressing room afterwards Southgate told the players everything you would expect about being proud of their achievements, thanking them individually and pointing out the warmth of the England supporters at the final whistle. First, though, he felt compelled to point out what they had to do better in the future. Even in the rawest moments, with many of the players tearful, he wanted them to listen.
“I’m not sure it was perfect by any means because the whole place was desolate,” Southgate reflected, the morning after the night before.
“But what I did say was that they have to learn from the moments that matter. There was a period when it looked like [our approach was] ‘we have the lead and don’t want to give it away’ rather than ‘we keep playing’. Against the top teams they are the moments in which you continue to play and you keep being brave.”
Instead England looked what they were: a team that would give you everything, with some fine players and, indeed, some excellent ones, LaMarcus Aldridge Authentic Jersey but lacking the mentality the elite sides possess when it comes to the biggest occasions. “We just lost a bit of composure,” Southgate said. It was a http://www.authenticstlouiscardinals.com/Mike-Matheny-Jersey “cruel lesson”. He maintained eye contact even in the hardest moments of reflection. But he spoke so quietly at times you Artem Anisimov Jersey had to lean in to hear his voice.
If the immaturity of the team cost England, do not be too critical. Or at least remember it was the inexperience and freshness of this group of players that helped make them so attractive in the first place – unless you want to go back to those days in May when the nation was bickering about the non-selections of Jack Wilshere and Jonjo Shelvey and it became clear why Southgate had not used his Twitter account since April 2015.
At the next World Cup almost all these players will still be available and, in theory, better for the experience. Jordan Pickford will be 28, approaching the age when goalkeepers are supposed to peak. Marcus Rashford will still be young, at 24, but armed with another four years’ experience. Raheem Sterling, at 27, should be a more competent finisher than he is now. Harry Kane will be 28, Dele Alli 26, Jesse Lingard 29, John Stones 28, Harry Maguire 29, Ruben Loftus-Cheek 26 and Trent Alexander-Arnold 23. cheap jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys from china

14
General SMFShop Discussion / How my England odyssey ended up
« on: July 14, 2018, 11:29:03 am »
Sport makes fools of us all – though sometimes in the best of ways. Russia 2018 was supposed to be the first major tournament in Europe I had missed since failing to go to Italia 90, but Gareth Southgate Kyle Van Noy Youth jersey had other ideas.

I was there at Euro 96 when he did not “just belt it, son” against Germany, as his mother put it, so I have seen England go out on penalties in a tournament’s last four. But an odyssey Wesley Walker Youth jersey inspired by one World Cup semi-final will finally lead to another, provided my flights get me to Moscow on time on Wednesday afternoon. There have been some wonderful highs along the way – my biggest regrets are the matches I missed – yet it has undeniably been a torturous wait.
Logically, given 1990 was the first tournament summer of my life not dominated by exams, I should have been at Italia 90. My first England game had been five years earlier, seeing Gary Lineker scoring his first international goal against the Republic of Ireland. Several of those exams I had sat had been in Italian, too. Then a work opportunity arose that made staying in London the “smart” option; though it proved that way professionally, when Bobby Robson’s side went all the way to Turin, as an England fan “smart” left me smarting. I was not going to be caught out again.
Two years later, therefore, I was in Stockholm when David Platt finally scored our first goal of Euro 92, and 1-0 up at half-time we were on the verge of another semi-final. OK, so enduring the 0-0s in Malmö against Denmark and France had been painful, but now Graham Taylor’s team were back on track. Sweden and Tomas Brolin staged a derailment, however, and away from home, at least, it proved to be the start of a trend, not a http://www.authenticmilwaukeebrewersshop.com/Yovani-Gallardo-Jersey blip.
Worse was to follow – I finally went to a World Cup at USA 94 but without a team to support – before my generation’s second summer of hope and wonder, at home in 1996. By then it was not purely about my compatriots. Five non-England games at Euro 92, capped by Denmark’s final upset of Germany, had given me the tournament bug, confirmed by USA 94.
Seeing 12 matches in a home finals, at six of the eight venues, remains a treasured experience and one commemorated at least twice daily via a “Newcastle Euro 96” keyring. Yet the vivid memories of England’s post-hitting, penalty‑missing exit would be the only ones of a semi-final to sustain me for two more decades.
The last memory of Wednesday 26 June 1996 – of the long, silent trudge to Wembley Park tube station and being aggressively threatened for trying to look for a silver lining – is sadly redolent of what followed far too often, given the behaviour of some of the team’s followers. In Marseille in 1998 there was the sting of teargas; Euro 2000 was as pathetic off the pitch as it was on it, such as the moment I overheard one Brummie telling a Belgian barman matter-of-factly: “If wasn’t for the English you’d be a Kraut.” If you follow England because you love football and the team rather than because you hate other countries, you do find yourself doing an awful lot of apologising on behalf of others; on occasion, the desire to show that not all England fans are obsessed with the second world war and Northern Ireland becomes a justification for putting up with it all.
‘It all” includes successive quarter-final penalty shootout defeats to Portugal, at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup; watching Italy lose a quarter-final shootout to Spain at Euro 2008 (because I go even if England don’t) then seeing the Azzurri win one four years later, against Roy Hodgson’s side in Kiev. Then there’s having to skip the group stages in 2010 and the team coming close to elimination even before I arrived in South Africa, just in time for a 4-1 http://www.officialnewjerseydevils.com/Adidas-Scott-Wedgewood-Jersey defeat by Germany, complete with Frank Lampard’s technology-inspiring disallowed goal.
I wasn’t there all the time. In 2001‑02 my employers were imploding and I feared for my job so did not go to South Korea and Japan; I found out that, yes, I was going to be made redundant one hour after we lost in the quarter-final to Brazil. Brazil 2014 was domestically impossible. Two years ago, though, I was in Nice for the easiest last-16 game anyone could have asked for. I still have my unused vouchers to collect my tickets for England’s Euro 2016 quarter-final, semi-final, final …
 
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15
General SMFShop Discussion / Belgium are stifled
« on: July 13, 2018, 01:42:57 pm »
Belgian TV had a camera on Roberto Martínez during the quarter-final epic against Brazil and it showed a manager at fever pitch. The adrenaline coursed his system as he tried to coach his players through the game, having made radical tactical changes. “Hopefully, I will be calmer against France,” Martínez had said with a smile on Monday.

The Spaniard was calmer but this was not what he had in mind. On the biggest night of his managerial career and in what was only Belgium’s second World Cup semi-final, there was a strange absence of tempo; a lack of the cut and thrust that has marked his team out as the great entertainers of the tournament.
Martínez’s switch to 4-3-3 and a false 9 had thrown Brazil, paving the way for a glorious triumph, but little came off for him here, although it was not for the want of trying. Martínez tried everything, interchanging from one system to another and throwing on attacking substitutes. The attempt to categorise his formations was a prominent subplot. After an encouraging start, his team faded. He could not get the traction. The final action was not there.
This was Belgium’s big opportunity; the moment to make history by reaching a first World Cup final. For many years the squad have been tracked by talk of a golden generation and several members of Martínez’s squad had made it plain that they were here to lift the trophy. Nothing else. But in the David Justice Womens Jersey end, they were stifled and the manager did not have the answers.
The overall impression was of a defeat against more streetwise opposition. Belgium had lost meekly against Argentina at the last World Cup then blew up against Wales at Euro 2016. This exit hurt more because they were older and wiser. For the first time in 25 matches, they had tasted defeat. It will take some time to get over.
It has been easy to portray Martínez as a gambler, a manager who raises the stakes through moves at one end of the field and one end only, and a single detail summed it up. In his 23-man squad he had only one specialist full-back – Thomas Meunier, and the Paris Saint‑Germain player was suspended here. The loss of one player, albeit a key one, was sufficient to prompt a case of square pegs and round holes.
Until kick-off, nobody could say for sure how Belgium would line up, with the Fifa feed saying that Kevin De Bruyne would start at left wing-back. That was never going to happen. What Martínez did do was play Nacer Chadli at right-back and Jan Vertonghen at left-back – in other words, away from their natural positions.
Martínez started http://www.cardinalsofficialonlinestores.com/Jj_Nelson_Jersey with a back four as he had done against Brazil, which was a diversion from type. Before Brazil, he had placed his faith in a three‑man defence. France were settled and consistent whereas Belgium seemed edgy, unpredictable.
Martínez’s approach was incredibly fluid. Who would have seen Marouane Fellaini as the No 10? That was where he started, although he worked to the left of centre and dropped back when France had the ball. When Chadli pushed forward, it looked as though Belgium had a back three. De Willie Stargell Womens Jersey Bruyne, starting off the right – his third different role in three games – had the licence to drift inside; all the way over to the other flank at times. It was total Martínez.
M artínez and Belgium sought to make the game; to press on to the front foot whereas France sat deep, looking to exploit the electric pace and movement of Kylian Mbappé. It was strange to note the sluggishness of the tempo for long spells – and the flatness of the atmosphere. It was not how Martínez wanted it.
De Bruyne whipped in some nice balls and Belgium did advertise an opening goal. Eden Hazard flickered. The tie would have taken on a different complexion had Hugo Lloris not stretched to tip http://www.vegasgoldenknightsofficialonline.com/Adidas-Jon-Merrill-Jersey away Toby Alderweireld’s shot. But against such canny opposition, balance was key. Belgium had to keep the back door shut and it was a bad sign that, despite their first‑half ascendancy, it was France who created Milan Lucic Authentic Jersey the biggest chance before the interval when Thibaut Courtois saved from Benjamin Pavard.
 
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