Deuce to his peeps

On Saturday, Fulham will welcome Clint Dempsey back to Craven Cottage for a tribute ceremony. Pretty, pretty cool. "I can’t wait to see Fulham playing back in a league they belong in and taking a little trip down memory lane."It'll be great to see you, @clint_dempsey! 👊#FULWAT 🎟️ still available: — Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) September

‘Fighting my demons alone’: Wilfried Zaha reveals Manchester United ‘hell’

• Crystal Palace forward says he wasn’t given enough support
• Zaha says he has no regrets over choosing Ivory CoastWilfried Zaha has accused Manchester United of failing to give him adequate support following his £10m transfer in 2013, with the Crystal Palace forward admitting that he suffered from depression. Zaha was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing before he stepped down as United manager that summer and the then 19-year-old was handed a five-and-a-half-year contract in a deal that took him to Old Trafford at the end of the season. But having made his debut under new manager David Moyes in the Community Shield, Zaha made just two Premier League appearances as a substitute before being allowed to join Cardiff on loan in January 2014. Continue reading...

Kevin Beattie obituary

Footballer who was central to the success of Ipswich Town’s cup-winning side of the 1970s and 80s When Ipswich Town were a footballing power in the late 1970s and early 80s, Kevin Beattie was at the core of their success. A central defender of unusual poise and class, he was the best player in a team that not only won the FA and Uefa cups but gave the great Liverpool side of that era a run for their money in the league. Beattie, who has died aged 64 of a heart attack, was hailed by Ipswich fans as the club’s greatest ever player. But a greater measure of his standing was the universal respect he generated among his peers, who recognised not just his great technical prowess but the courage, strength and application to go with it. His ability to win the ball and then distribute it with calm precision Continue reading "Kevin Beattie obituary"

England players need club games to keep places says Gareth Southgate

• Manager frustrated over players’ lack of first-team action
• Marcus Rashford could retain place after fine displaysGareth Southgate has expressed frustration about Phil Foden’s lack of first-team involvement for Manchester City and warned England’s senior players they cannot expect to keep their places if they are not involved more regularly for their club sides. Southgate, planning for England’s trip to Croatia and Spain in the Nations League, has been willing in the early weeks of the new Premier League season to abandon his usual policy of not picking players who are being left out by their club managers. Continue reading...

Ruben Loftus-Cheek scents Chelsea chance but Palace return still possible

• England midfielder set for Europa League role at Paok Salonika
• Maurizio Sarri ‘has told me I need to learn tactically’Ruben Loftus-Cheek hopes to make his mark for Chelsea in the Europa League over the next few weeks but has opened the door to a potential return to Crystal Palace on loan in January if opportunities continue to prove limited at Stamford Bridge. The England midfielder made his first start of the season in Tuesday’s friendly victory over Switzerland, having been limited to 33 minutes of club football under Maurizio Sarri. The 22-year-old was understandably ring‑rusty and, while he may not start Saturday’s home match against Cardiff, he is hopeful a more cluttered schedule across three competitions will offer him game time. Continue reading...

England 1-0 Switzerland: talking points from the friendly

Gareth Southgate can enjoy the winning feeling, Jack Butland needs to sharpen up but Danny Rose is in fine fettle A win is a win is a win, especially after three straight defeats. Understrength England were not discouraged by their scruffy first period and improved sufficiently to scrounge a victory and keep a clean sheet against a team that scored six goals in their last outing. And Marcus Rashford produced a crisp finish to plunder his second goal in two starts. Those facts can only improve morale and make for better reading in the history books. Continue reading...

England’s first-half performance was ‘embarrassing’ says Danny Rose

• Players started discussion before Southgate came in
• ‘It’s a good sign there’s some leadership,’ said managerEngland’s players conducted an angry inquest at half-time after what Danny Rose described as an embarrassing first‑half display against Switzerland, before Marcus Rashford’s goal ensured victory for the World Cup semi-finalists. Gareth Southgate had earlier suggested that he expected a slack opening to the friendly in Leicester with three of his lineup having yet to start a game for their club this season and a makeshift feel to the selection. With the match goalless and the Swiss having enjoyed the majority of the play and better opportunities, the players took it upon themselves to demand an improvement before the manager and his staff conducted their own teamtalk. “We were outplayed,” said Rose, who was one of England’s better performers. “It was a bit embarrassing, we could have been two or three down. Continue reading "England’s first-half performance was ‘embarrassing’ says Danny Rose"

Marcus Rashford stakes claim as England shake off sluggish start | Dominic Fifield

The Manchester United forward may have pushed his case ahead of Sterling as a poor Switzerland were beaten 1-0There were times when, at best, this felt like a persuasive argument for all things Nations League. Uefa’s brainchild at least provides a competitive edge at a time of year when international friendlies are prone to drift, while ring-rusty players attempt to summon some rhythm before the glut of second-half replacements disrupts the tempo still further. Gareth Southgate must have surveyed the scene at the interval and, Danny Rose’s energy and the odd flash of incision from Marcus Rashford aside, wondered if this whole exercise had any discernible merit. The realist in him saw it coming, of course. He knew he had picked three players without a start in the Premier League this season. They were bound to lack sharpness. Continue reading...

Marcus Rashford ends England losing streak but few impress against Switzerland

For a long time, it was a reminder of what it used to be like with England, back in the days when the football seldom strayed above six out of 10, when the crowd had to make their own entertainment and the idea that this team could possibly come within one game of a World Cup final felt implausible, to say the least. At least Gareth Southgate’s team had the strength of personality to change the complexion of the evening and, in the process, remove the paradox that, 62 days since that semi-final in Moscow, England might be about to set the unwanted record of having lost four games in a row for the first time in 146 years of competition. After the excitement of the summer, however, there were only sporadic moments, other than Marcus Rashford’s second-half winner, when England looked like a team that is capable of elite Continue reading "Marcus Rashford ends England losing streak but few impress against Switzerland"

As football tickets go digital, we lose more than pieces of paper

Smart cards are replacing ticket stubs, which may be good for the environment but it’s not so satisfying for sentimental fans By Alex Anderson for WSC, part of the Sport Network
It’s 1983. I’m 13, about to attend my first football match outside Scotland, and my dad hands me the most glamorous slip of paper I’ve ever seen. Mythic twin towers in bluey-brown shadow drawings and charcoalish watermarks, monochrome Union Flags billowing around the four-line legend: “WEMBLEY STADIUM Football Association INTERNATIONAL MATCH (British Championship).” It cost a fiver – “London prices” – but has the colour and texture of a tenner, and all the possibilities of a blank cheque. Thirty years later, our tickets for Scotland at Wembley were bigger, £50 dearer, more technologically advanced – all barcodes and holograms – yet somehow more prosaic. And it’s not a comparison I made from memory. Continue reading...

Why forward-thinking Southgate will resist quick fixes for England | Simon Burnton

Resting Harry Kane makes England’s striking ranks look a little impoverished but the manager will stick to his principles of building for the future rather than a short-term goals solution Harry Kane will not start for England against Switzerland on Tuesday evening because, in the words of Gareth Southgate, he is one of “several players where we have to watch how much they play”. Precisely the same could be said of Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck, the other strikers in this England squad, if for entirely different reasons. Already in this Premier League season, only four games old, Kane has played more than 2.5 times as much football as those two put together. Until Rashford completed the match against Spain at Wembley on Saturday night neither he nor Welbeck had played an entire 90 minutes this season. Indeed, in the last 12 months the England captain has played more Continue reading "Why forward-thinking Southgate will resist quick fixes for England | Simon Burnton"

Harry Kane rested by Gareth Southgate as England manager rings changes

• Southgate wants to protect Kane from burnout
• Switzerland could inflict fourth successive defeatHarry Kane will be left out of England’s friendly against Switzerland because Gareth Southgate fears the World Cup Golden Boot winner is in danger of suffering burnout and that, in the modern football world, it is for the national team to provide that rest rather than the player’s club. Kane, who has started 61 games since the start of last season, is being rested as part of a calculated gamble on Southgate’s part at a time when England face the possibility of losing four games in a row for the first time in their history. Continue reading...

England v Switzerland to be screened in black and white

Opening of match will be monochrome to mark anti-racism campaign’s anniversary
An England match will be broadcast in black and white for the first time in half a century when Gareth Southgate’s men take on Switzerland on Tuesday evening. Viewers tuning into Sky Sports live coverage will see the first 25 seconds of the game in black and white, as the broadcast marks the 25th anniversary of football’s anti-racism campaign Kick It Out. Continue reading...

England team are still learning on the job, says Jordan Henderson

Liverpool midfielder insists that three successive defeats have not diluted the confidence within Gareth Southgate’s squad Jordan Henderson was all smiles afterwards. The midfielder had endured a tough time during England’s defeat to Spain on Saturday, and was substituted before the end, but as he spoke in the bowels of Wembley almost every remark finished with a grin. “Overall I thought in the second half we were better” was one such moment. “As the game went on we created more chances and we were disappointed not to get the [equalising] goal that was disallowed. There is a lot to improve on but also a lot of positives to take.” Then out came the full beam. Perhaps there was a private reason for Henderson’s happiness, or maybe he is just an easygoing guy. But it was not difficult to find his attitude reassuring; England had been beaten by Luis Continue reading "England team are still learning on the job, says Jordan Henderson"

Gareth Southgate determined to turn England into world beaters

• Manager admits side are still some distance behind top teams
• But says having a challenging Nations Cup group is important It might not be easy fathoming out how the Nations League works but, one game in, there is already a potential scenario that suddenly feels much more realistic – namely that Gareth Southgate could become the first manager to be relegated in the Premier League and with the England team. A touch harsh? Maybe, when Southgate has done so much to enhance his own reputation during his time in charge of England that one of the topics of discussion before he left Wembley on Saturday was the FA’s promise of a new contract offer and why, specifically, nothing more had come of it. Continue reading...

Jadon Sancho, the street footballer with potential to be England’s Neymar

Teenager who left Manchester City for the Bundesliga has the dribbling skills to match Brazilian star says former England under-16 coach Dan MiccicheJadon Sancho is the street footballer who can become England’s Neymar, according to Dan Micciche, the taanager’s former England youth coach. Sancho left Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund just over a year ago in an effort to gain more game time. The move paid off: Sancho ended last season with 12 Bundesliga appearances and has come on as a substitute in all three matches for Lucien Favre’s side this term. Continue reading...