On Tuesday a man only a few years older than me lost his life, in the very town in which I live. He was stabbed in the town centre for coming to the aid of a young woman who was being harassed by a man after her phone number. There are many things wrong with this, the first being that someone felt it necessary to carry a weapon on their person. Second, they felt such a huge sense of entitlement to the young woman’s attention that they killed another human being in a bid to preserve that entitlement.

Words fail me.

To whom it might concern,

We are in crisis. Established figures from the footballing world have consistently failed to deliver the results England needed, when they were most needed. Our national side has become a laughing stock. Change – real change – is urgently needed. To that end, I offer my candidacy for the position of England first team manager.

I am not experienced in the footballing world (though I won the 2020 Euros on Football Manager with England), but I suggest this might be a good thing. I bring with me no preconceptions, and none of the entitlement that goes with being part of the ‘establishment’. Instead, I am a clean slate, as it were, and a clean slate is what we need.

We have watched as the Spanish and the Germans have redeveloped their game at grassroots level, and it has yielded them incredible results, yet we refuse to anything similar. Instead of dithering, we need to act – clubs must be prepared to absorb short-term pain for long-term success (and a firm system for developing young English players will ultimately benefit our clubs too). It is incomprehensible to me that we would continue to try the same failed ideas and expect different results – that is the very definition of stupidity.

We must build our platform, accepting there will be problems, especially early on, but not getting disheartened by them. With a nucleus of young and skilful players like Alli, Dier, Kane and Rose (not to mention Sturridge, Lallana, Sterling and Rashford), we may yet go somewhere, but we lack meaningful depth. We rely on the reputation of certain players more than we do form. This needs to change. The work to change the very structure of our game has to start now. Clubs – right across the leagues – need incentives to develop English players and get them playing regularly. Money needs to stop being the key driving force of our clubs.

Clubs may not like it, but the Football Association is the final authority on the sport and needs to wield that authority. As manager, I would back such moves and expect the same support in return.

Player egos need to brought under control. I will not pick anyone on the basis of reputation. I will not tolerate anyone thinking they are bigger than the team. Representing the nation and wearing the Three Lions should be a matter of pride and honour. Giving 100% in every game should be a given. If a player – any player – expects to be given an England shirt because they are somehow entitled to it, they will swiftly find themselves out of the squad. If they fail to perform for their clubs, or behave in a manner unbecoming the shirt (for club or country) they will be dropped.

There will be no club cliques when representing England. If this means enforced seating plans at meetings and meals then so be it. If the players don’t like it, they can go home. As I said before, there is no room for egos.

At major tournaments, players will spend a night at the same hotel as travelling fans. They will learn how much it costs to follow England, and the experience of being a supporter. They will see what it means to the fans, who earn but a fraction of what footballers earn, and yet devote it to following their country. They will experience this up close.

They will not be paid to represent England. This notion is abhorrent. They should be playing for the fans and the shirt. Any fees they might otherwise earn will go to charities of their choice. Goal and clean sheet bonuses will likewise go to charity. They will play knowing if they play well it will benefit not only the fans, but people in genuine need.

These changes in attitude are the first steps. Obviously I don’t actually expect to get the job, but I honestly believe these changes in attitude will teach players a bit of much-needed humility and respect. It will teach them togetherness and pride. We need that, more than ever.

To be honest, I am angry right now, and thus, should probably not be writing up this match right now. The flip side to that is that it will be brutally honest.

We were not good enough. The lack of creativity and composure in the final third of the pitch has been a weakness in every game of the tournament thus far, and our delivery from set pieces has been woeful. England fans were booing their team tonight, and with good reason – mad, overhit crosses were never going to cut it against a side that had already demonstrated they could shut teams out.

The tempo was nothing at all like what was seen against Russia and Wales. The verve and style on show in the first two games was lost, replaced by some (yet more) strange decisions from manager Roy Hodgson. Why did Sterling, who had failed to offer anything in the first two games, start? Why was Lallana, who had played well, dropped? Why was Kane brought back in, when he had played poorly against Russia and Wales?

Yet it wasn’t simply a lack of punch that cost England against Iceland. Despite some early promise that brought a penalty and a goal within the first five minutes (Rooney slotting home), the slightest hint of danger and England were in a panic. Iceland equalised within two minutes, when poor awareness and concentration allowed Sigurdsson to tap in from point-blank range.

Rather than keeping focused, England blanched. Expectations of England have never been lower (no one seriously believed they would win the tournament), but surely Iceland would not prevent progress to the quarter-finals? Surely, the players who earn so much and play so well for their clubs would overcome the plucky team from a nation of just 330,000 people?

Nope. On 18 minutes England’s defence reacted far too slowly, failing to close down a swift set of passes, and Sigthorsson, whose shot was nevertheless fairly tame. Somehow, Hart conspired to let it through, despite getting a hand to it, watching as it crossed the line, almost in slow motion.

From the moment Iceland took the lead England ran out of ideas. There was huff, and puff, and plenty of running, but the final ball was lacking in any quality. Try as they might, England could not muster up the invention to unlock Iceland’s stubborn defence (though credit must go to Iceland for their spirit and workrate). Once again Kane was taking set pieces (why Roy, why?), and even the arrival of Vardy could not help England find a way through. Rashford’s late arrival brought a bit of extra energy to proceedings but it was too little, too late. Iceland claimed a huge scalp, whilst England limped out of Euro 2016, tails firmly between legs.

 

Timey Wimey Confusey Mess. That would be a more appropriate title for the latest installment of a franchise that should have stopped with T2.

Why do I feel this way? Read on!

Terminator Genisys takes us back to the beginning of the story. Well, in fact, it goes to before the beginning, going right back to the very end of the Future War (wait, isn’t the Future War in the future? Timey Wimey!), showing John Connor and Kyle Reese leading the Resistance to victory over Skynet, and the fateful decision to send Kyle back in time to protect Sarah Connor from the T-800 sent to kill her. Except this time there’s already been some time travel – a T-1000 has been sent back to kill Sarah when she was a little girl, only it fails, because a T-800 was sent back to protect her, and so when Kyle shows up in 1984, Sarah is already familiar with Skynet, Terminators and Judgement Day.

The film leaves a lot of the mechanics of this up in the air. We get no answers as to who sent Sarah’s protector (nicknamed ‘Pops’ by Sarah) back. The film’s conclusion sets up the idea that Skynet is destroyed before it ever begins (though T2 did this as well), so how did Skynet send a Terminator back to before it sent the first original one back, after… my head hurts!

The confusing plot doesn’t help a film that gave away its main plot twist in the trailer – John Connor becomes a new type of Terminator, committed to helping Skynet be born. Yes, you read that right.

This frankly absurd notion wasn’t a beneficial one to the Terminator saga, but it was beyond stupid to reveal it in the trailer.

None of the performances in the film are especially memorable, with the exception of Arnold, who appears to relish the chance to play arguably his most famous role once more. The film does allow for the interesting portrayal of an older, more experienced Terminator, that has had the chance to hone its skills. After all, they are learning machines.

As is to be expected, the FX are pretty good, but they’re not light years ahead of the efforts of T2, which did a lot of the same stuff (especially in respect of the T-1000), more than 20 years earlier.

All in all, Genisys is underwhelming. It is easily the weakest link in the Terminator chain, and more might have been accomplished without trying to overly complicate the plot and instead sticking to the original 1984 setting. Please, let’s not see a sequel to this.

5/10.

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The morning after the day of very mixed reactions to ‘Brexit’, the reality is starting to sink in. Nigel Farage, who campaigned for us to leave the EU, immediately backtracked on one of its key claims – that £350 million a week would be shift to the NHS. The Pound has lost considerable value (reaching a 31 year low) and our economy has slipped, with $12 trillion wiped off global markets to boot. Our Prime Minister is resigning (I suppose there is a silver lining to everything) and we have been plunged into uncertainty.

We were sold a lie, based on nationalist chest-thumping and the scare-mongering of the Reactionary Right, who turned this into a debate on sovereignty and trumped up impressions of Brussels’ power over us. Now we need to pick up the pieces.

Yesterday Britain went to the polls to decide whether we should stay in the EU or leave. After campaigns that lasted what felt like forever, we went to polling stations and made our voices heard. This morning we awoke to the news we’ve voted to leave.

The vote itself was very close. Over 70% of the electorate turned out to vote and the final result was 52% to 48% in favour of going. Fine margins. It’s my view that as a nation we have made a colossal mistake, but time will be our judge.

With a lot of emotional arguments about sovereignty and immigration, there has not been enough focus on how this will affect our economy. We are relying on our leaders (who have not distinguished ourselves) to cut the chords that link us to the EU without doing serious harm. There are many connections we have to the EU and zero guarantee that we will be able to negotiate favourable terms for ourselves now we’re leaving. If you voted leave, remember that you voted for this uncertainty. We would not face it if you’d voted remain.

In short, this is a massive leap into the dark, one I believe that has been fuelled more by nationalism than by thinking of the consequences. I can only hope that it works out.

Whilst the EU Referendum goes on, it is worth noting that there is something we desperately need from Europe, and have always needed, yet never seem to get – decent weather.

BritishWeather(it’s summertime folks… yes, really)

As a Briton rain in summer is something I’m used to, but this year it is pissing me off far more than usual, for two reasons:

  1. It is playing havoc with my hayfever, which has never been so bad.
  2. The erratic ‘hot, no cold, ok humid, nope, wet, ok hot, back to wet’ nature of the weather has given me a cold, or at least what feels like the beginnings of a cold, which is not useful when your hayfever is making you suffer anyway.

The weather needs to pick a course of action and stick to it.