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Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Archive for May 2010

Balls have players in a spin

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It’s this little beauty which is causing controversy just a few weeks before the World Cup tournament begins.

Although Adidas claim it to be the roundest ball ever, players have already been quick to criticise the ball which will be used through the World Cup finals, with comparisons being drawn to a supermarket football.

Iker Casillas has been highly critical of the movement of the ball, claiming it moves like a beachball, whilst other players such as Julio Baptista and Italy’s Pazzini criticising the movement of the ball.

Maybe the ball is a little bit different to what they’ve been playing with, but surely professional footballers can adapt in the next two weeks to the physics of the ball? If they can’t adapt, then maybe we can expect to view some goals which maybe wouldn’t have happened had the physics of the ball been slightly different.

The higher altitude in South Africa means the ball is going to move slightly quicker anyway, adding to this the apparant swerve of the ball, we could see some interesting results, something which will only add to the unpredictable nature of the tournament.


Written by Nicole Carroll

May 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Has the England set up lost its talismanic figure?

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Another sub-par England performance today has got me wondering: have England lost their talismanic figure.

Every team needs someone with that little bit of experience, someone who has that international recognition. A player is needed in every squad to be the figurehead of sorts, to provide support and influence to those players around him who may lack experience and may be overawed by international competition.

That figure for England, I’d argue is David Beckham. The former England captain, although not the best player in the England set up, is the most influential.

Although Beckham cannot play this summer, due to a career threatening achilles injury, Beckham needs to be a part of the England set up this summer to provide his wealth of experience, as well as being a support to a squad of players who have massive expectation placed upon their shoulders.

14 years ago Beckham first pulled on the England colours, and he’s been in the news for the nation’s side for both good and bad reasons. Remember this moment, when Beckham was England captain under Sven Goran Erikkson’s reign, where this freekick was crucial to send England to the World Cup?

He’s also felt heartbreak whilst playing for England, and his sending off against Argentina in 1998 left him as a bit of a public hate figure.

The fact that Beckham has felt the good and bad times for England are even greater reasons why he needs to be a part of the England set up. In 48 hours time, 7 members of the current squad will receive a phonecall to be axed from the team that are travelling to South Africa this summer. Beckham knows what it feels like to be axed from the England set up, when the then new England manager Steve McLaren axed him from the squad. Beckham can offer a sympathetic ear to those who are left behind, and can act as a real example of someone who has fought their way back into the England system.

For those who travel to South Africa, Beckham’s wealth of experience is something the players are going to need. Any bad results for England, and the squad are going to feel under major pressure, especially from the media. Beckham has literally been there and done that, and his presence should hopefully stir something in the players, which will hopefully then transfer onto the pitch. Recent performances seem lacklustre, maybe the players are saving themselves for the tournament, but they need an injection of passion that reflects the nations hopes and dreams.

David Beckham’s media record isn’t umblemished, and his England career hasn’t been all highs. Anybody who can assist in keeping spirits high in the England camp, as well as being an ambassador for this country, is invaluable to the national team. Beckham may not be having his dream of his fourth World Cup, but his presence with the squad could prove just as impactful as any presence on the pitch.

World Cup trendsetting

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This country has already gone World Cup mad. With flags flying from houses, and the flags flapping from car windows, anything  associated with the World Cup is a huge money spinner.

Many of the men you’ll see watching the matches will be wearing the official England shirts, priced at around £45. What about those who don’t like the new shirt, can’t afford it, or simply want something different to wear between match days? Heres a selection of what is on offer to the fashion concious football fan this summer.

Left to right:

Umbro at – £25, George at Asda – £6, Florence and Fred for Tesco – £8.

Left: Bobby Moore Charity T-Shirt from Burton – £15,  Henleys “Landrake” T-shirt – £20

Red Herring for Debenhams – £12,                                             Umbro at Next – £25

Superdry – £23                               Marks and Spencer – £12           New Look for Men – £10

Written by Nicole Carroll

May 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm

The worst phonecall of the summer

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Following England’s match this Sunday against Japan, Fabio Capello will have to start making decisions as to who to trim from his 30 man squad, narrowing it to 23 men who will travel to the training camp in South Africa, looking towards this summer’s tournament.

Monday’s match against Mexico was a flattering win for England, and was a chance for players to try and prove their worth to the manager, in the hope they will be spending the summer topping up the tan on the football pitch, rather than soaking up the sun on some far flung exotic destination.

One place could be decided according to Gareth Barry’s injury. If he is fit, we’ll see another midfielder go home, whilst if he goes home, he frees up a spot for someone else to take a part in England’s campaign.

Many people will post their opinions on this, but heres the FTPB verdict on who won’t be on that plane:

Bent, Dawson, Warnock, Upson, Carrick, Joe Cole, Wright-Phillips

The only real shocks with my choices are the views to take Parker and Huddlestone infront of Carrick and Cole. Huddlestone could offer more than Carrick does, and Carrick was nothing short of awful on Monday. He doesn’t seem interested, and Huddlestone has the ability to create goals as well as being quicker than the Manchester United midfielder.

I don’t think Joe Cole will get a chance, which is a massive shame because I personally rate the player. He was out of favour this season at Chelsea, and I’m unsure as to how Capello feels about the Chelsea star. A summer out of football would allow Joe to potentially change clubs, and get back to his best playing regular football at a team who could utilise him.

There will, in reality, be very few shocks to the selection of players. Capello is now watching the players daily, and even before the match on Sunday, probably has a near certain idea of who will be lining up against the USA on 12th June. Personally, I wish the whole thing would hurry up now – I’m missing my football!

Written by Nicole Carroll

May 27, 2010 at 10:25 am

Nikola Zigic – Welcome to Birmingham!

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The most exciting news for any Blues fan today was the signing of Zigic from Valencia for what is meant to be around £6 million.

Over the past 24 hours, all news media stories about Birmingham have been about the impending signing of Zigic, and with so much publicity, I was really worried the transfer was going to collapse around us and leave a really sour taste in our mouths. Just after lunch today, all our hopes were confirmed with the announcement of a four year contract, and proof for a second time that our new board can move quickly to get their man.

A player like Zigic is a massive coup for Blues. Naturally, we have to talk about him with some caution. So far, he seems to be a fantastic acquisition and his goal rate for the clubs he has played for, domestically and internationally, is impressive. In Premier League competition he is untested, and he will need to prove himself in this league.

The intentions of the board seem to be fantastic, and McLeish seems to be moving decisively in selecting top class players who can really make a difference to the team. A fantastic keeper in the shape of Foster has already arrived, and Zigic has the potential to really bring something different for Blues upfront.

With signings coming thick and fast, Blues fans can’t decide what may happen next. With three signings already in the bag, Birmingham seem to be working quickly to form a squad who can gel quickly, and who can make a damn good attempt at matching this seasons position, if not bettering it.

In Eck we trust again, if this video is anything to go by:

Written by Nicole Carroll

May 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Nike’s attempt at the World Cup advert

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All the big companies are trying to make their mark whilst the nation is gripped by football fever, and Nike have presented a fantastic advert which encapsulates the flavour of the World Cup.

It’s well filmed and fast paced, but I’m not sure whether it has the personal impact of the Carlsberg advert. What do you think?

Written by Nicole Carroll

May 25, 2010 at 10:15 am

5 things we’ve learnt from England vs. Mexico

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1. Theo Walcott is infuriating

He really can’t decide what to do with his final ball. He makes some brilliant runs, yet finishes with absolutely zilch. In the opening minutes of the match, Walcott made a poor pass into the box, and another run 27 minutes into the first half saw him crossing the ball too late with Rooney in an offside decision., He needs more confidence in his own ability, and needs to judge when to cross to his man or when to go it alone. Is the World Cup the tournament for him? I’m not sure.

2. If Carrick is the answer…

Then the question can only be “Who won’t be on that plane to South Africa this summer”. You can commit to that family holiday now mate. – Credit must go to Oldham from the SHA message boards for this category.

3. We need to wrap King in cotton wool

There is no doubting that Ledley King is a truly fantastic defender, yet he does have problems playing regular games because of his knee problems. He’s such a great player though; solid at the back, and as we saw tonight, he can provide up front when it matters. With the gaps in-between the games during the group stages, King should be ok to play and train. He’s possibly the best defender of the squad when he’s fit; he needs to be looked after, and his form should then reward England ten fold.

A fantastic defensive line up should be England’s first attack during the tournament. He’ll struggle to displace the captain Rio Ferdinand and England’s main stay John Terry, but if we do manage the unthinkable and get fairly far in the competition, some amount of rotation is going to be needed, and King should be able to fulfil that role with relative ease. Ledley in the England squad? Long live the King.

4. Cole MUST stay fit

Although Mr Cole may be one of England’s most hated players for off the field reasons, England fans will still be hoping and praying that he stays fit for the tournament. I’m still not entirely convinced by Leighton Baines, and it would be a massive loss to the England side if we couldn’t field the best left back in this country by far, if not in the world.

A team of second choice players can surely only ever come second best – we need a team which contains Ashley Cole to have a chance of getting reasonably far on the biggest stage of all.

5. England still need to improve

Tonight may have only been a friendly, and the players would not have been playing at full pelt, but it was quite obvious that the squad will need further time to gel. We didn’t play fantastically well in the first half, despite the scoreline. Our football wasn’t as fluid as Mexico, and we just lacked some sort of spark. With 3 weeks until the tournament start, and the further cutting of the squad to come, the streamlined squad should be able to settle into a decent side who could well have a chance at the tournament.

Written by Nicole Carroll

May 24, 2010 at 8:46 pm