Monday, June 11, 2012

C'est La Vie

According to Friday's overnight ratings BBC1's Match of the Day Live coverage of Poland versus Greece had an audience of 4.26m across the entire programme with a match average of 5.07m and a peak audience of 6.54m at 18:45. On ITV, Euro 2012 Live Czech Republic versus Russia pulled in 4.54m, a match average of 5.40m and a peak of 5.89m at 21:15. On Saturday both of the day's matches were broadcast on BBC1, with Netherlands versus Denmark being watched by 5.62m (match average: 6.29m, peak: 7.59m at 18.45). From 19:30, Germany versus Portugal had a superb audience of 7.69m (match average: 8.48m, peak: 9.30m at 21.35). Who says that football isn't popular with the punters? Oh yes, of course, total wankers who know nothing about anything, that's who. Glad we got that sorted out

Filming has continued on the new series of Doctor Who and, be advised, the following piece does contain some - mildish - spoilers. So, if you're concerned about avoiding that sort of thing, you should read no further. You were warned. Yer actual Matt Smith and Jenna-Loiuse Coleman were seen together on location at Margam Country Park last week. A clapperboard confirmed that this episode is being directed by Jamie Payne and that the Director of Photography is Mike Southon. Filming took place over a couple of days, with scenes involving characters dressed in Victorian attire and reportedly in 'spooky' parts of the park. This was the first time Jenna had been seen in costume, and it was also reported that her character is called Clara, confirming the name rumoured back in March. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping remains bitterly disappointed they didn't go with his suggestion, Avocado. Which would've been good for a laugh. Clara was, however, the name of a great aunt of mine so, I'm fine with that, really. Filming then returned to another old haunt for the weekend, with the interiors of Hensol Castle playing host to the cast and crew. Wednesday saw a read-through take place, as reported by casting director Andy Pryor: 'Mega read-through day, Block One of ‪Call The Midwife‬ (fantastic to be back) and a marv [sic] new ‪Doctor Who‬ episode. No spoilers for either!' This was followed at the end of the week by an early morning scene taking place in the Plan Cafe in Cardiff and featured Matt along with series regular Barnaby Edwards - normally encased within a Dalek. The actor commented: 'It's a welcome change not to be in one for this.' The week also saw a surprise couple appear on location - Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. The pair officially completed their filming on the series in May but were back for some interior pick-ups for their last episode. Additional exterior work on episode four continued with scenes with Matt Smith outside the former couple's home. Scenes were directed by Saul Metzstein and Douglas Mackinnon, with director of photography Sarah Bartles-Smith. Filming took place back at Church Road in Penarth (for the Amy/Rory house interiors) and at Bute Esplanade (the house exteriors), with Ood pieces spotted at the former. Scenes were believed to be pick-ups for those that couldn't be completed in May due to weather conditions (not that this has, necessarily, improved much). Some dialogue overheard helped set the possible context of the Ood: 'Hello Pond, me again. I've dropped your Ood back home, he's been missing his Hive Mind. The Helmic Regulator's on the blink again, it got hit by an arrow!' The media covered filming at Margam Country Park, with items appearing in the Sun and Daily Scum Mail; the latter reported that Dougray Scott was also on location - the Scottish film actor has recently appeared with David Tennant in United and starred in the BBC remake of The Day of the Triffids.

EastEnders actress Letitia Dean has begun filming for her return to the soap. Filming began this week for Sharon Watts's return to Walford after she last seen on-screen six years ago. The Mirra newspaper has reported that Sharon returns to enlist the help of former lover Phil Mitchell. The paper reports that her son, Dennis Rickman, has been kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend. Pictures taken this week show both actors involved in a dramatic car chase being filmed on location. 'Sharon is petrified of losing her son. She has nowhere else to turn so as a last resort she goes to Phil. They have a lot of history together and he agrees to help, but it's no easy task.' said an alleged 'source' allegedly speaking to the Mirra. Although no date has been given yet, her first scenes are expected to screen in late August.

Coronation Street stars Ryan Thomas and Alan Halsall have renewed their contracts, meaning the pair will stay with the soap for another year.

The Heaton Horror Cheryl Cole believes that her new CD, A Million Lights, is her 'best work' yet. What, even better than chinning that lass in a Guildford nightclub and getting found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm? Crikey.
Over-rated Stewart Lee is to showcase some of the best 'offbeat' alleged comedians in a new stand-up show for Comedy Central. So, that'll be about as funny as a kick in the bell-end, then. (Sorry to be so dismissive of the comedians involved, I'm sure some of them might well be quite good but, when it comes to full-of-his-own-importance Lee, it's guilt by association I'm afraid.)

The Stone Roses kicked off their first tour in sixteen years on Friday night, playing to two thousand fans at Barcelona's Razzmatazz. The gig is the first show of a twenty seven-date European tour, that includes a three-night residency at Heaton Park in Manchester, and a headline spot at V Festival in Chelmsford and Staffordshire. It was the first time the band had played the city and only their second show in sixteen years, after a low-key warm-up gig in Warrington last month. '2012 is the year of the comeback,' front man Ian Brown told the crowd. After finishing the gig with 'Love Spreads', the band came back on five minutes later, with Brown saying: 'We are breaking all the rules here. We don't do encores!' They then played an epic version of 'I Am the Resurrection' which lasted over ten minutes, before ending the gig with a group hug at the front of the stage.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton became the seventh different winner in as many races in a slow-burn Canadian Grand Prix that came alive in the final laps. Hamilton fought up from third place past Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in the closing laps. Alonso's one-stop strategy - Hamilton did two - failed. The Spaniard dropped from the lead to fifth as his tyres faded in the closing laps. He was passed by Romain Grosjean's Lotus, Sauber's Sergio Perez and Vettel, who made a late second stop. Alonso just managed to hold on to fifth from the fast closing Mercedes of Nico Rosberg on the last lap. The result moves Hamilton into the championship lead, two points ahead of Alonso, who is one ahead of Vettel. Hamilton said: 'What a great feeling this is [to win here] where I won my first grand prix. I knew this was going to be a tough, tough race but I loved every minute of it. I never had a doubt in my mind that there wasn't a possibility to win. I was thinking these guys are falling quite far behind, I assume they're doing a one-stop. So I decided to keep pushing and build a gap. It's five years since I first won here and it feels just as good. This for me feels like one of the best races I've had for a very long time.' Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button had a terrible race, finished sixteenth, slipping in the process to eighth in the championship, forty three points off the lead. Hamilton ran second in the opening laps, behind Vettel and ahead of Alonso in the order in which they had qualified for the race. Alonso briefly took the lead by running a couple of laps longer than his rivals to his first pit stop but Hamilton was able to pass him straightaway as the Spaniard struggled to get his tyres up to working temperature. Hamilton then led the middle portion of the race, building a four-second lead over Alonso and Vettel. McLaren were always planning on a two-stop strategy and were initially sure that Ferrari and Red Bull would have to do the same. Indeed, at one point Hamilton specifically asked his pit crew: 'Are you sure they're not doing a one-stop?' To which his engineer replied: 'Yes, we're sure.' Hamilton came in for his final stop on lap fifty, with twenty laps to go, and although that demoted him to third, the greater grip from his tyres meant that he caught his rivals quickly. He passed Vettel on lap sixty two and then Alonso on lap sixty four on his way to his first race win since last November's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Vettel, feeling his tyres were finished, stopped for a fresh set on the lap after Hamilton had passed him, but Alonso and Ferrari decided to try and hang on. It was the wrong call - those behind the Spaniard closed rapidly and he was helpless to hold them off. Vettel said: 'Lewis went for the second stop, we tried then to get the place back by going for one stop, same as Ferrari. But it turned out to be the wrong call. We decided in the end to come in again which was a great call at the time, given what you can lose with seven laps to go. It was an interesting race again, another winner - Lewis deserved to win, we have to learn the lesson, take it on board, don't do it again and make a step forward in Valencia.' It was an especially impressive race from Grosjean and Perez - both men were on the same one stop strategy as the Ferrari but did not run into the same tyre problems. Grosjean and Lotus took the same approach as Alonso, stopping one lap later to change from the super-soft tyres to softs and running to the end. Grosjean said: 'We thought about a one-stop and see what was going on later on. The car felt pretty good when I put the prime tyre on. I was fighting with and pushing quite hard but I knew I was going for a one-stop. Then I saw Mark [Webber] come in, then I saw Fernando in front of me. It was a crazy end to the race and I was thinking, "What is going on?"' Perez, who had qualified only fifteenth, started on the hard tyres and ran a long first stint before switching to super-softs towards the end. Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was seventh, ahead of Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Ferrari's Felipe Massa. While McLaren will be celebrating Hamilton's win, there will be some head-scratching about Button, who had his worst weekend for several years - the culmination of an alarming downward slide in form over the last few races.

Tino Best struck the highest score ever by a Test number eleven as the West Indies all but ended England's chances of completing a series whitewash at Edgbaston. Best smashed ninety five in a thrilling last-wicket partnership of one hundred and forty three with Denesh Ramdin, who scored one hundred and seven not out as the Windies took their first-innings total from an overnight 280-8 to 426. England lost their top three batsmen cheaply before Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell steadied the ship with a fluent partnership of one hundred and thirty seven. Pietersen was caught at slip off Marlon Samuels for seventy eight and Jonny Bairstow was clean bowled by Best for eighteen, but Bell remained unbeaten on seventy six as England reached 221-5 at the close, still two hundred and five runs behind. With only one day's play remaining, and some rain forecast, a draw seems inevitable, but thanks to the heroics of Best an otherwise forgettable Test will live long in the memory. When the Windies lost their ninth wicket in the first over of the day, it appeared England would soon be setting about overhauling a total of less than three hundred. But Best had other ideas, the stocky fast bowler from Barbados launching into a thrilling counter-attack. He threw the bat at anything wide from the seamers and cut successive balls from Graeme Swann for four to go past his previous highest Test score of twenty seven. He became the first number eleven to score a fifty against England since 1906, launching into an exuberant arm-wheeling celebration on reaching the mark. He surpassed India paceman Zaheer Khan's record for a number eleven of seventy five with a four over gully then hammered Tim Bresnan's next ball over the bowler's head for six. Meanwhile Ramdin, dropped by Pietersen in the gully on sixty nine, played watchfully at the other end before accelerating through the nineties to bring up his second Test century - and first for twenty two innings - off one hundred and sixty balls. Another extraordinary celebration followed as Ramdin removed a piece of paper from his pocket carrying the words 'Yeah Viv, Talk Nah' - a riposte to stinging criticism of his batting on Test Match Special from West Indies legend Sir Viv Richards. With the crowd willing Best to reach three figures, the pressure seemed to tell, and after almost falling twice to Jonathan Trott's gentle part-time medium pace, he was deceived by a slower ball from Graham Onions and caught by Andrew Strauss running back from slip. Best was not out of the action for long, and he was soon testing out the England openers with deliveries in excess of ninety mph. The breakthrough came at the other end, however, as Ravi Rampaul thudded one into Alastair Cook's pads to send him on his way. Trott was bowled by Darren Sammy off an inside edge before Best had Strauss caught at first slip, and set off on another wild celebration. At that point, England were in some trouble at 49-3, but Bell soon restored a sense of calm to proceedings with some considered strokeplay, allowing Pietersen to go through his full range of shots. Off-spinner Sunil Narine found the going tough on his Test debut, conceding sixty eight runs from thirteen overs as the pair reached their fifties within a single ball of each other. After two short interruptions for bad light, Pietersen steamed to within twenty two runs of his twenty first England ton before he was caught at slip trying to run Samuels down to third man. Fittingly, Best had the final word as he followed up a bouncer with a fuller delivery to Bairstow and flattened the Yorkshireman's middle stump. Best, playing his first Test since July 2009, was only called into the Windies squad for the third Test because of an injury to fellow paceman Kemar Roach. In his only other tour of England in 2004, Best became something of a figure of fun, after getting stumped aiming a huge heave at Ashley Giles just after being infamously urged to 'mind the windows' by England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff tweeted after Best's innings on Sunday: 'Nnnoooooooooo [sic] Tino! He went for the windows to reach his hundred! Well played sir, great entertainment take a bow.' Best added: 'My uncle Carlisle Best, who scored two hundreds against England, always wanted me to be a Test batsman. To fall five short, I know he's disappointed - but still happy I scored ninety five. As I kid I grew up in the dressing room around the legends because my uncle played in the 1980s and to watch a video of how great, how awesome those guys used to play, I just went out and backed myself. I was thinking about when Malcolm Marshall was playing and then when I got to ninety two I remembered "this is my favourite cricketer's highest score, let me just get past him." I feed off Sir Vivian and Fire in Babylon is a fantastic film and gave me inspiration, I'm really grateful to do well.' 'I feel devastated for him to get out for ninety five,' said former England number eleven Phil Tufnell on Test Match Special. 'It started off as a bit of a laugh and a bit of entertainment, but ended up as a proper partnership.' England skipper Strauss, who had endured an unusually miserable morning session in what has, so far, been a summer of one success after another, nevertheless equalled an England Test record when he caught Best. It moved him level with Sir Ian Botham and the late Sir Colin Cowdrey on the joint highest number of Test catches for England - the three of them are on one hundred and twenty.

Best might have been inspired by the great Sir Viv, but Richards questioned Denesh Ramdin's decision to display a public message to the West Indies legend after scoring his century. The wicketkeeper held up a hastily written note which said 'Yeah Viv, talk nah,' in an apparent response to previous criticism. But Richards said: 'It's like in a football match. If you are losing 5-0 and score in the ninetieth minute you should not be running around jumping for joy. I wouldn't be happy with that. I set my standards a bit higher.' Ramdin was recalled to the West Indies side after a two-year absence for the tour of England. The twenty seven-year-old, who had made only one century in his previous forty four Tests, played in the opening two matches as the tourists were beaten at Lord's and Trent Bridge. After the Windies collapsed on the fourth afternoon of the second Test in Nottingham, Ramdin came in for specific criticism from Richards, who said: 'Ramdin just looks out of sorts. When he first came into the game I felt he was a huge prospect. For some reason he has deteriorated in such a big way. Just the way he is walking back, he looks like a totally lost guy.' In celebrating reaching three figures, Ramdin pulled the handwritten note from his pocket and directed it to the commentary box, where the former West Indies captain is working for Test Match Special. 'I think I remember saying he'd lost his confidence, but I'm on the other side of the fence now and I'm here to do a job - there's no sentiment in it,' continued Richards, who scored eight thousand five hundred and forty runs at an average of fifty in one hundred and twenty one Tests between 1974 and 1991 and was, by common consent of just about everyone who saw him, one of the three or four best batsmen ever to play the game. 'It's been a long time coming. If you are good enough, the chances certainly are you are going to get it done.'

The Olympic flame has visited its most northern destination as it travelled around Kirkwall in Orkney and Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. The torch was welcomed in Kirkwall on Sunday morning and in Shetland during the afternoon. Inga Kemp was the first torchbearer of the day, setting off from St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. A total of forty torchbearers covered more than twenty nine miles across the Northern Isles on day twenty of the relay. Inga, twenty two, a keen netball and hockey player who coaches young sports enthusiasts, was cheered on by large crowds as she kicked off the day. A further twenty people then carried the flame around the town. They included Sean McFedries, twenty four, from Stromness, who has Down's Syndrome. He represented Orkney at the Commonwealth Games in India, as part of the Youth Group that took part in the handover ceremony. Kari Taylor, who ran on the Kirkwall leg in place of her grandmother, Wilma, who died of cancer three weeks ago, said she hoped she had made her proud. After its tour on Orkney, the flame was flown to Shetland where it arrived at Sumburgh Airport. There, Zoe Buchanan, sixteen, carried the torch through her hometown of Lerwick. She was nominated for winning a badminton gold medal, plus four other medals, at the British Transplant Games in Belfast last year. The athlete had a kidney transplant, with her mother as donor, seventeen months earlier. Fencer Chris Rocks also carried the flame in Lerwick. The Shetland sportsman who won the Scottish Open Championship in 2010 also represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Fencing Championships in Australia that year. Later, after touring Lerwick, the flame took a helicopter ride back to the airport before its flight to Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis. The torch was then lit at John O'Groats, with two torchbearers, Andrew Sinclair and Louis MacKinnon, both eighteen, standing by the famous John O'Groats sign surrounded by a large, cheering crowd. The long road back to London starts here.
At Euro 2012 Cesc Fàbregas salvaged a point for Spain as the reigning champions began the defence of their European title with a pulsating encounter with the Azzurri in Gdansk. The Barcelona midfielder fired in after a clever pass by David Silva as Spain came from a goal down against Italy to draw the opening match of Group C. Substitute Antonio Di Natale had earlier given Italy a thoroughly deserved lead on the hour mark. Spain might have snatched all three points but Fernando Torres spurned a succession of late chances. Somebody remind me, didn't Torres used to be, you know, good, a few years ago? The result ended Spain's run of fourteen successive victories in competitive matches, dating back to their defeat by Switzerland in the opening match of the 2010 World Cup. While their form was not in question, the weight of history was stacked against La Roja coming into the tournament. No team had ever won three major tournaments in succession, none had ever successfully defended the European Championship title. Fatigue was another source of concern for Spain manager Vicente del Bosque, whose twenty three players had played a total of almost ninety thousand minutes of competitive football in the past season, some seventeen thousand more than their Italian opponents. There was more than a hint of lethargy about Spain in the opening exchanges. They lacked purpose and penetration having opted to play with no less than six midfielders and without an obvious centre forward as Fàbregas was preferred to Torres in the starting eleven. Although, whether Torres actually counts as a recognised centre forward these days is debatable. Having seen a little of his form return in the final weeks of the season at Moscow Chelski, this was another setback for Torres on an afternoon he will ultimately want to forget. Silva threatened twice in the early moments, but it was Italy who looked the more composed in the early stages. Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas was forced to dive low to his right to turn away an Andrea Pirlo free-kick after thirteen minutes as Cesare Prandelli's side, led by the tremendous Daniele De Rossi, tackled, battled and denied their more celebrated opponents space. The Azzurri were equally effective with the ball ensuring Casillas was much the busier goalkeeper as half-time approached. Antonio Cassano dragged a shot beyond the far post when well-placed but it was two nervy moments from Spain goalkeeper that gave his side most cause for concern. First, he lost control of a back-pass only to be fouled by Cassano, before he spilled a fierce low shot from Claudio Marchisio as the ball ran to safety. Marchisio tested Casillas again moments later, thumping a thunderous left-foot volley straight at the goalkeeper. Spain were only threatening sporadically. Xavi and Andrés Iniesta were constantly probing and just before the interval linked up only for the latter to shoot over having collected his team-mate's looping pass. It was Italy who finished the half the stronger, however. A piece of trickery wide on the left touchline by Mario Balotelli set in motion another fluid attack. It ended with Casillas sprawling low to his right to turn away Thiago Motta's close-range header after a pin-point cross by Cassano. The interval did little to disrupt the breakneck pace of play. Fabregas set Iniesta free down the left, only for Gianluigi Buffon to deny him with a fingertip save. But it was Balotelli who could - and perhaps, should - have broken the deadlock moments later. The Italian striker robbed Sergio Ramos of possession wide on the right before bursting towards goal but he then hesitated long enough to allow the Real Madrid defender back in with the goal apparently as his mercy. The Sheikh Yer Man City striker was replaced by Di Natale moments later and he was to have an instant impact. Pirlo skipped beyond Xavi in midfield, before playing a cleverly weighted pass that allowed the Udinese forward to slip between Gerard Piqué and Sergio Ramos and calmly stroke his curling beyond the advancing Casillas. Spain's response was instant as it was devastating. They're not World Champions for nothing, after all. Three minutes later Iniesta and Silva put Fàbregas clear in the penalty area and the Barcelona midfielder struck a low left-foot shot beyond Buffon from ten yards. Substitute Jesús Navas picked out Jordi Alba as Spain began to dictate. Torres was brought on to a huge ovation and might have made an instant impact but he fluffed his chance after cleverly beating the offside trap. Italy were being forced to rely on longer raids now, but they almost stole in again when Di Natale poked narrowly wide after good approach play from Pirlo. Spain were pouring forward time and again now. Torres should have won the game for Spain but squandered two seemingly straightforward chances, first running down a blind alley before looping a shot high over Buffon's goal with the net at his mercy. To make matters worse, he was later booked for a rash challenge. Italy might have snatched victory at the death when Marchisio burst forward, exchanged passes with Di Natale, only to shoot straight at Casillas. The Italians in the first half were exceptional. Tactically they got it absolutely right, defending well but quick in possession and they made Casillas make four good saves. After they scored, Spain pushed on a bit more and upped the tempo of their game. Both teams had chances to win and it was a thoroughly entertaining game. A draw was, in the end, probably a fair result. If the Italians continue to play this well and get through the group they really could be a threat.

In the Group C's second match, the Republic of Ireland's prospects of progressing beyond the group stages of Euro 2012 suffered a huge blow as they were systematically undone by a clinical and classy Croatia in a pulsating match in Poznan. Mario Mandžukić's header eluded Shay Given to put the Croatians ahead inside three minutes but a spirited response from Giovanni Trapattoni's side saw Sean St Ledger equalise. Nikica Jelavić's delightful dinked finish made it 2-1 before the break. And a second Mandžukić header, which went in off Given, sealed the win.
Snottingtot Hotshots manager Hapless Harry Redknapp had told Match of the Day's Gary Lineker that he would have found it difficult to turn down the offer to succeed Fabio Capello as England manager. Fortunately, the FA didn't give him the opportunity and, instead, gave the job to somebody qualified. Redknapp, hotly tipped by plenty of his mates in the media - if not anybody that actually matters - to take over as national boss before Roy Hodgson's appointment, describes not being approached for the job as 'a relief.' Think how relieved those of us who don't rate Hapless Harry quite as highly as a bunch of brown-tongued scum in Fleet Street feel, matey.

Meanwhile, arch psycho nutter Joey Barton believes that he would have featured in the England squad at Euro 2012 were it not for his behavioural problems on and off the pitch. Which might be true but it's a little bit like Peter Cook's memorable character sketch about the man who believes he could have been a high court judge 'but for the Latin.' Barton will serve a twelve-match ban next season for kicking Sergio Aguero up-a-height and then trying to hoy the heed on Vincent Kompany after he was sent off at Sheikh Yer Man City for elbowing Carlos Teves in the much. Barton, who won a solitary England cap in 2007, has also criticised the selection of six Liverpool players. He wrote on Twitter: 'On ability I walk into the squad, on behaviour I don't.' So, he's a modest chap, obviously, although with a shade of common sense at least. The Queens Park Strangers midfielder, who began his career at Sheikh Yer Man City and then spent four years at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's bleoved (though unsellable) Newcastle (where, to be fair, when he wasn't injured or suspended, he did actually have one and bit terrific seasons), was in the news again last week when he was arrested, and later bailed, following a brawl outside a nightclub in his native Liverpool. On the pitch, Barton was also sent-off against Norwich last season, while he picked up ten bookings. The outspoken player, who won his only cap under Steve McClaren in a 1-0 defeat against Spain, was particularly critical of England coach Roy Hodgson's decision to draft in Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson following the injury to Frank Lampard. Henderson is joined in the England squad by fellow Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haw players Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll and Martin Kelly, despite the Reds suffering a difficult season which saw them finish eighth in the Premier League. They did win the Carling Cup and reached the final of the FA Cup, but that was not enough to prevent manager Kenny Dalglish from losing his job. 'If Henderson got in, any Englishman not currently in the squad has to feel aggrieved. Yes, I wish I was there but I'm not,' Barton said. 'Everyone's thinking it, I'll say it. Liverpool have [had] an horrific season and have six players in our Euro squad. What chance do we have? [The England manager should] Pick on form. How [Grant] Holt, [Micah] Richards, [Michael] Carrick, [Rio] Ferdinand, [Leon] Osman, [Daniel] Sturridge etc never got involved is a travesty.' Barton insists he still wants England to do well at Euro 2012, but he is convinced they are unlikely to win the tournament. 'I really hope England do well and win it, I really do. All am saying is I don't think we will,' he tweeted. 'If everyone stays fit, we've got a decent eleven once Rooney's back. If any of the key players get a knock, we are done for. Three games in eight or nine days takes its toll on the body. If a few are carrying injuries from a long domestic season, it will show. Not being pessimistic, just a realist. I am overqualified to pass judgement on this. Not only have I played in the Premier League for ten years but I've played with and against most of them.'

So, anyway, with England playing France this afternoon, Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is this. And let's hope Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa and Franck Ribéry don't tear us apart in midfield too much. Ou est la masse de manoeuvreD'accord, Jacques.
Allez les blancs.