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Knox Knox, who’s there….

Amanda Knox is guilty. I watched a BBC documentary on it and she’s totally guilty.

But don’t say that on twitter or else you’ll get a barrage of abuse. I learnt the hard way.

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Woy’s Eurwoes

So England bowed out of Euro 2016 in spectacular, yet inevitable, fashion this summer. But what hope did Roy Hodgson really have, falling victim to an international coach’s worst nightmare following a qualification campaign that bore ten wins from ten, 31 goals scored, 3 conceded, and a system tried and tested:

  1. Injuries / poor form to numerous players integral to qualifying.
  2. Average players playing well in a winning team / system (Leicester).
  3. A group of young players having an impressive season / last 3 months.
  4. An English media that demanded the above to be included.

I hadn’t considered Roy to be a weak manager before this summer but one thing Euro 2016 made abundantly clear is that when it came to making difficult choices and standing by his methods, Roy melted like a Solero. For ten games Roy played with a system he liked, and it worked. People may moan about having favourite players (Wilshire, Henderson, Milner etc.) but with that team, he won them all. If you look at the players that started that qualifying campaign and were stalwarts during (including dynamic sub appearances) yet played a minimal or zero role in Euro 2016 its clear to see that it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing; Jagielka, Clyne, Baines, Shaw, Jones, Delph, Milner, Townsend, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Barkley, Walcott, Welbeck.

Whilst some of these exclusion were due to injury, Roy still had enough choice to continue to play his system with minimal fuss, the likes of Walcott, Townsend, and Stirling flanking Rooney or Kane up front with workhorses Milner and Henderson and Roy’s golden boy Jack Wilshire behind. The defence would be fine with Cahill and Smalling between Clyne and Bertrand with Joe Hart ever-dependable between the sticks. And what a bench and opportunity to change systems we had – Bring on Drinkwater and Vardy, sit a bit deeper and hit stronger teams on the counter. Then we have Delle Alli – a genuine prospect. First season in the premiership, playing without fear, looks a great option to bring on if you need a bit more creativity than Henderson and Milner. And Eric Dier, centre back, right back, defensive shield, a perfect utility player to have on the bench or to utilise if you need to sit back or neutralise a Pirlo or Payet. Things shouldn’t have been so bad.

Unfortunately, the world and his dog had got a hard-on for Jamie Vardy by now, a man who’s game is 80% based a 60 yard ball pinged over the top for him to chase and finish. Yes, he scored lots of goals, but not in the system Roy had spent 2 years perfecting. As media and public pressure built, the outcry to include and start all of these amazing new England players proved to be too much for Roy to fight. And whilst we’re at it, you better start Rose and Walker as they play with Kane and Alli a lot, oh and don’t forget to take Marcus Rashford too – an 18yr old kid who has played about 10 first team games in his entire career. Because if you don’t, we will destroy you.

So what we ended up with was a muddle of a system, warped by stats like a 16 year old’s Sun Dream Team. For the first time in a competitive game Roy played with a defined ball winning midfielder in Dier instead of the defensive playmaker in Wilshire he prefers, meaning he had to find deep midfield creativity elsewhere. Luckily for him the press had already dictated how Alli and Kane have to play off each other up front so Rooney was now free to drop deeper than the Titanic to satisfy his Nike contract clause of never being dropped to the bench in an England shirt.

For width, well Roy still had Stirling – A man dropped by his club for the last 3 months and void of confidence, and for the other side…. oh fuck, he forgot to bring 2 wingers. That’s okay though, Lallana can play there, having never scored a goal for England, and if that doesn’t work we’ll stick Vardy on the left to hug the touch line like he has done for approximately 22 minutes of Leicester’s 38-game championship winning season.

Whilst the loss to Iceland was unpredictable, the underwhelming results before and early exit were not. I forget the last time England had a settled side and a boss willing to manage the team more like a club side. The starting line up for Euro 2016 included 7 different players from the starting line up of the 2014 World Cup. And that included 6 different players from the line up for Euro 2012. How many players do you think Germany or Spain have changed in that time? I can guarantee that England are not producing 6 new world class players every 2 years so what’s happening? Picking a squad / team based on short bursts of form and basing a system around those individuals at the detriment of the team. It has to stop.

International tournaments are equivalent of the last games of a season where you’re chasing silverwear. If, with ten games to go this year, Leicester were given Aguero and Iniesta would they have won the league still? I doubt it. They had a style and a system and to suddenly ask Vardy to partner Aguero, or Drinkwater to play with Iniesta, it just wouldn’t have the same effect. Don’t get me wrong, stick them on the bench, bring them on to change games, but don’t change your entire team to accommodate them – Something the media and Big Sam needs to realise now.

 

 

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I’m just as able as you, expect where my benefits are concerned…

So, I recently had the pleasure of seeing a disabled comedian do their stand-up routine (its fine to cross that out, if they can mock themselves we all can. Relax everyone.). They were pretty funny and spoke well about their condition, how there’s no such thing as ‘normal’, how they were proud of their differences, and how it has never held them back. They were keen to dispel common myths about disabled people being able to have sex, have relationships, and have jobs – they even went as far as to single an audience member out and ridicule them for something they couldn’t do (in this case, learn a foreign language). “Do your parents struggle too with foreign languages? It must be genetic. Poor you… Oh you have a wife, wow, its nice to know there are people who don’t mind people who can’t learn another language….. so, can you have sex?”

You see my point.

But then they went all political on me. Started having a go at the government for welfare cuts (some of which I do agree are harsh and there are cases where people have been wrongly penalised), especially the recent re-assessment of DLA, where claimants move on to PIP. Now I didn’t get a chance to ask them this in person, and I wasn’t going to try start a debate mid-routine like some arsehole heckler, however I would love to know if they seriously believe in what they were saying as it’s the most hypocritical / contradictory thing I have witnessed.

The crux of the routine/rant was based around the waste of money the government were spending going around asking someone “Is your leg still missing” or “are you still deaf?”. Whilst this made for passable material for a comedian, they totally missed the point of what the government is doing.

The first half of their act basically focussed on “Don’t define me by my condition or what I can’t do, look at what I can do”. The second half then lambasted the government for doing exactly that.

Under old DLA rules, certain conditions triggered certain levels of benefit. So someone with a condition like a missing leg may have automatically got middle rate mobility, regardless of their circumstances. So a 35 year old man would be entitled to the same as a 6 year old boy for arguments sake. What PIP is doing is saying, actually theres a lot of difference between those two people so instead of saying you both have the same condition therefore get the same benefits, we’ll pay you a level of support equal to your needs as an individual. That 6 yr old boy may need money for transport, constant new equipment as he grows and his body changes, therapy and physio to help him understand and adjust to his condition. The 35 year old man may have had a leg missing for 20 years, be able to walk fine on a prosthetic, drives a car, has a job, doesn’t feel any more disabled than me or you therefore why should he expect the same level of benefits as the first child?  PIP does not define you by your condition.

So yes, this means some peoples benefits get reduced. If you want to insist that you be judged on your abilities then you can’t bemoan the fact this might mean you don’t need the extra financial support previously provided to you.

 

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[Insert Winner’s Face Here]

2009 X-Factor winner Joe McElderry. You’d be forgiven for not recognising him with his trade mark boyish good looks blanded out in a crude act of photoshop. A worthy winner many felt, following his consistent smooth performances week after week, winning the hearts and the votes of a nation. Inoffensive to look at, polite and courteous, a regional accent giving him that ‘down to earth’ feeling, and a soft, controlled, voice that would calm even the most irate caller on hold to their energy supplier.

And that’s where you’re most likely to hear him nowadays. For as good as Joe was, he just seemed to lack the extra ingredient to make him a star, that certain je ne sais quoi, you know, The X-Factor.

For a show based on the premise of scouting the country looking for the next big star, Simon Cowell and Co have done remarkably well in crowning the extraordinarily mundane and pedestrian of contestants. With the exception of possibly Leona Lewis (UK’s poor answer to Beyoncé) Little Mix (we’re just 4 normal girls with amazing chemistry, look theres a black one, and ones a bit fat but don’t mention it), and James Arthur (he’s from the streets you know, not ‘The Streets’ the streets, he’s not that cool, actual streets. And he’s ginger and angry), ITV’s crown jewel has managed to get a number one record for 8 of the most forgettable, beige, artists singers people you could ever hope to meet. Name them, I dare you.

And a final thought for poor Joe. Only two years after his X-Factor win, Joe had to appear on another reality singing show just to promote his ‘new’ album, it hitting the shops adorned with stickers claiming ‘from the winner of Pop Star to Opera Star’. His X-Factor win replaced in the publics memory by Matt Cardle’s croaky-throated, broken-voiced, cover of an actual band’s original song, a band who probably had to work their socks off to get credit and recognition. Unlike Matt, who just beat Wagner in a sing off. Never has a show been more inappropriately named.

NOTE: My mum has every CD from every winner of every reality TV singing contest ever. I despair.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog, a place where I intend to express my opinions on pretty much anything and everything. Happy to take questions and engage in a healthy debate however this will most likely result in me sitting here ignoring you, safe in the knowledge that “I know I’m right and thats all that matters”. Don’t think there’s an emoji for that yet.

Enjoy.