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Steven McBain

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Joined August 2013

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Retired Scots oil trader, Chelsea fan and sometime sports blogger.

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Agree with you 100% BigG

Team of the Cricket World Cup (so far): Aussie trio in contention, de Kock favourite for best player, Kiwis unearth future star

Yep you right Ace, he’s made himself unavailable for the first 3 tests definitely.
Not sure how well those central contracts are working………!?

Looking more like the minnows: All that is left is the Ashes of England's World Cup defence

Those Wood stats are pretty damning I have to say…….

Looking more like the minnows: All that is left is the Ashes of England's World Cup defence

I think the batting is going to come under an avalanche of pressure in India. England have always struggled on the sub continent with spin and that’s no secret. The series they played in India during COVID through up some absurd performances with the bat and very short games. It was like the Indian spinners were throwing down live hand grenades such was England’s reluctance to put bat to ball.
The problem playing India at the moment is they have genuine quality in the pace department also with Jasprit and Shami. I think it could get really ugly if India decide to put the hammer down……..

Looking more like the minnows: All that is left is the Ashes of England's World Cup defence

Tempo, you make some very good points about the bowling. There’s nothing they can do about Jofra Archer’s fitness but it again feeds into the point many people make about the county game and the pitches that are used which reward military medium seam almost exclusively.
Liam Plunkett has been a big loss for them and if you take out Mark Wood – who himself has a pretty woeful injury record – then the department looks very thin indeed.
I give them zero chance for the next Ashes down under and 5-0 again looks likely.
With regard to the ‘chasing down anything’, again you are spot on. They only know how to play one way and that’s to smack everything. The whole ‘bazball’ thing has gotten so out of control. If they had played more sensibly in the first two tests they could have probably won the last Ashes series but ego has just taken over and any sense of tactics or playing the situation have gone out the window.
You can just take a look at the game they lost on the weekend to India and how Rohit played once India were in big trouble. He played sensibly and rebuilt with KL and he said exactly that in his interview afterwards. England just keep swinging…………….

Looking more like the minnows: All that is left is the Ashes of England's World Cup defence

I think you might well be right on that score Big G, probably a solid bet to put on a win double, back to back 5-0 defeats away to India and Australia…..? Just pray for good weather.

Looking more like the minnows: All that is left is the Ashes of England's World Cup defence

Bush, I really find myself agreeing with your last paragraph entirely and that was probably where the article was heading to be honest. Stokes has earned the right to write his own story in many ways given his previous heroics and it’s a very tough call to criticize him but for me, the best thing for ‘the team’ would have been for him to have gone away and gotten that knee fixed and come back 100% (or as close to it as he can be nowadays) as he said he would towards the end of the Ashes.
Thanks for taking the time to read the piece.
Cheers,
Steve

Looking more like the minnows: All that is left is the Ashes of England's World Cup defence

Thanks for reading the piece Tempo.
The preparation as you say was clearly lacking but we have been here before with England, arriving for Ashes series down under with little or no relevant game time and being entirely undercooked.
I guess where I’m coming from is that all sides go through peaks and troughs but generally if you take Australia as an example say, in the past 10-15 years Australia have not been the all conquering cricket machine I grew up watching in the ’90s and ’00s but even when things have been going badly they still find a way to compete.
I just feel a bit short changed possibly watching a World Cup defence this poor. I really feel you have had to have gotten a LOT of things wrong to have gotten to this stage……..
Thanks again for reading the piece.
Cheers,
Steve

Looking more like the minnows: All that is left is the Ashes of England's World Cup defence

Big G, thanks for taking the time to read the piece and a lot if not all of your comments are entirely valid and of course criticizing Stokes is of course stony ground for anyone.
I fully appreciate the selectors are the ones who make the decisions but given Stokes’ reputation and track record, not selecting a Stokes who has made himself available would have been suicide for the selectors, especially if they had still ended up here. The questions around Roy’s fitness are entirely founded but Stokes has to be entirely in the same boat in that respect.
It is of course common place to throw the baby out with the bathwater when these fall offs in performance and results happen but there is clearly something very wrong within the camp. Players’ form comes and goes but for such a collective drop in performance, mistakes have clearly been made.
Your comments on the central comments are well made also and agree that purely from a business sense it’s sound enough. I wonder however given he was pulling away from the short formats for England prior to this is he maybe wondering how long his body can handle test cricket? Without test participation I’m not sure how much either side would covet a central contract?
Personally, I’d have liked Stokes to have skipped the WC, go and get the knee fixed and come back and fit and firing as only he can. Thanks again for reading the piece.
Cheers,
Steve

Looking more like the minnows: All that is left is the Ashes of England's World Cup defence

Boomshanka, thanks for taking the time to read the piece. I wrote this piece after watching the culmination of Friday afternoon’s play in anticipation of the weekend’s action which we were disappointed by.
My reference to the ‘most pointless of sports’ wasn’t personally what I would have chosen the editor to have used in the title. That comment was largely pertaining to my own challenges as one of the countless hackers out there and not a reference to the elite guys that we watch on TV tearing it up.
What I was really trying to get at with the article was just how different the Ryder Cup is in almost any regard to anything else in golf as illustrated by Rory supposedly chasing caddies around the carpark on the Saturday.
Again thanks for taking the time to read the piece.
Cheers,
Steve

Golf is 'the most pointless of sports'... So what drives our love for the Ryder Cup?

It is definitely ridiculous that such a prestigious (and quite rightly so) award just becomes so tainted by the process.
It’s a bit like VAR, there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to get more accurate decisions but the process to get to the decisions is just a total nonsense. User error in both cases seems to be the issue………..

'Football can do so much better': What is the point of the Ballon d'Or?

I’m sure I recall the option price being a quantum of around 30M or so. I’m guessing the value now is closer to a billion than to that original number.
Messi I think is dialed in with Apple, Spotify etc. My strong hunch is the room for growth in US soccer (especially post WC) is infinitely bigger than Saudi so his deal will probably dwarf even Neymar’s deal. Nice work if you can get it……

'Football can do so much better': What is the point of the Ballon d'Or?

Thanks Brendan. That option that Beckham took all those years back when he joined Galaxy look very cheap now…
I think Messi’s contract whilst not the same also has a lot of goodies in it. May well prove to dwarf those Saudi contracts currently being signed…. Thanks again for reading the piece.

'Football can do so much better': What is the point of the Ballon d'Or?

Chris, thanks for that. I did take a look at the women’s award but I sadly lacked the knowledge to make the comparisons. Thanks for reading the piece and highlighting this also.

'Football can do so much better': What is the point of the Ballon d'Or?

Buddy thank you, you made me enjoy my coffee a little more enjoyable this morning and for pointing out the sheer idiocy. Thanks for taking the time to read the piece mate.

'Football can do so much better': What is the point of the Ballon d'Or?

Brendan, ‘94 was actually one of my favourite world cups. Baggio was sensational all the way through and I am not sure why but that penalty, it just kinda made sense for some reason in the context of his career.
One of the all time greats for me but somehow unfulfilled also.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read the piece.
Cheers,
Steve

'Painting watercolours when the manager wants NFTs': Kai Havertz - The footballer who time forgot

Thanks Tony. So a big part of Havertz’s current malaise is that he was thrown to the wolves and played out of position at Chelsea.
Neither Lukaku nor Werner worked out. So Havertz was asked to play as a makeshift 9 which just isn’t him. Like you say his work rate was there but he’s not a natural penalty box player.
Couple that with Chelsea’s appalling form, different managers, different players, Sterling one week, Joao Felix (another little boy lost actually) another, Ziyech etc, a lot of this wasn’t his fault.
The deeper 8 role should suit him more with the game ahead of him. He has so many qualities, it’s just finding that sweet spot for him.
It will take time but it should be easier at Arsenal for him as they are simply a far better football team than Chelsea right now. The relationships with the other players will build.
There was an obvious need for Rice so it’s logical he has started faster, Havertz was always going to be a more subtle problem for Arteta to solve.
There will also be a need to rotate players once the CL kicks off so he’s going to get plenty of opportunities.
He remains very popular with Chelsea fans which reflects well on him given he’s moved across London.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read the piece. Much appreciated.

'Painting watercolours when the manager wants NFTs': Kai Havertz - The footballer who time forgot

'Painting watercolours when the manager wants NFTs': Kai Havertz - The footballer who time forgot

Thanks so much Xeno. You are spot on in that the piece identifies the issue but not necessarily the ideal solution.
I was chatting to a friend who’s a season ticket holder last night and he was in agreement that a change is needed also.
It is possible that TS could play in a back four with quick players around him.
Possibly a ‘double pivot’ of Lavia and Caicedo could actually offer him more cover in that instance.
Thanks again mate.
Cheers,
Steve

Is three a crowd for Pochettino's fledgling Chelsea?

Cheers Nick, I didn’t see the PSG game last night but I heard Verratti was excellent!?

I think if anyone wants to criticise Fergie for anything then letting Pogba get so hacked off and leave must be the biggest blunder towards the end. He was always so wonderful at giving young players a chance yet he’s let an absolute weapon of a midfielder leave there………..

Could Manchester United's 'blip' become something bigger?

I think with Mourinho, he’s obviously won the CL twice and in fairness to him with pretty unfashionable teams in Porto and Inter when the Italian clubs were already seemingly on the wane.

With Chelsea and Real he has struggled a bit in Europe since and I feel with him that he’s lost a bit of an edge in European terms. His tactics were working wonderfully for him for a while but teams are fathoming it out now and fighting fire with fire.

If ‘Nickoldschool’ reads this I’d love to know what he thought about PSG winning last night, am sure he’s delighted!

I didn’t see it but sounds like they turned it into a scrap and came out on top. Mourinho’s made a career on destroying and stopping teams play but now PSG and Atletico last season have sussed that out.

He needs to adapt if Chelsea are going to challenge in the CL again………

Could Manchester United's 'blip' become something bigger?

Johnno completely agree with you on Fergie and his European record. But for 2 mad minutes against Bayern and a John Terry slip, he’d have never won the CL, completely agree mate.

If you look at the two CLs he won, I don’t think anyone could say United were the best team in the tournament that year, or at least never the dominant one in the same way that a Barca or AC or a Bayern has done it. 100% agree with you.

Domestically I think however he without parallel. That to me was far more about buying the right players and motivating them and giving them the platform and freedom to act.

I think you do have a point in that as his transfer budget reduced he bought his fair share of turkeys later on.

Could Manchester United's 'blip' become something bigger?

Johnno cheers for the read mate.

The point I was trying to make about the transfers was that United have been spending relatively less (until last Summer) versus their revenues – because more money is flowing out of the club.

With FFP, United should still be well placed as the criteria for FFP dictates the status quo. City have been fined and penalised for breaking those rules as an example, as were PSG.

United pre the Glazers regularly broke the British transfer record but even with the Ronaldo money they rarely seriously splashed the cash after buying Rooney. Obviously last Summer was different after the shock of not making the CL.

I don’t think United’s situation is Van Gaal’s fault at all (and don’t think or at least hope I said that!?) but I do think he’s doing a slightly ‘odd’ job with the team tactically.

I think in Ferguson’s latter years he was simply papering over cracks. The Glazers gave him an entirely free reign and in return he made do with what he could.

To me, the purchase of RVP was an entirely selfish one by Ferguson however. He spent 24M to ensure he went out on a high and with City not on top. Yes they won the league but he broke one of his cardinal rules of buying a player with no resale value in the latter stages of his career.

I can’t say I agree with you about Ferguson not necessarily doing well with a lesser club. At Aberdeen he destroyed the Glaswegian duopoly and won a European trophy. United whilst rich were a mess when he took over and I don’t think anyone can say he didn’t do magnificently.

Redknapp I feel is an absolute charlatan. Spurs tripped over their shoelaces so many times when he was there and they finished pretty much where they do every year under whichever manager. Spurs had sold Berbatov a month before Redknapp showed up also.

Again, cheers for the read though, good to have a proper debate!

Could Manchester United's 'blip' become something bigger?

Brick, I’ve been to a couple games at the New Den also. Let’s just say it’s as intimidating for the home team as it is for the away I reckon!!

Thanks for reading the piece mate.

Tim Cahill: A man for the big moments

Sheek, nice article and one of these pieces that always fuels debate. Coupla questions mate…..

When you looked at the respective teams was it on pure contribution or balance to the team? I’ve always been a huge Brett Emerton fan as an example and think he would bring a great balance to your first team.

Secondly, I appreciate you are going 4-3-3 as opposed to a 4-4-2 but no place for Stan Lazaradis or Robbie Slater? Both very respected players in my book. Maybe time to name a few subs at least………..!

Plenty of food for thought and good matter to chew over. Congrats on the upcoming milestone!

Sheek's best Socceroos XI (1967-present)

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