Welcome back to Footballsville, folks. While the stadiums of our great nation will obviously be empty tomorrow afternoon because of all those people making a stand and going to watch rowing or long jump instead, those of us who actually pay attention to our chosen sport (or sports) more than once every four years are just getting on with it. The returns of international football this week and Premier League football weekend naturally bring with them an increase in England-related news and opinion. So, you know, here is some of it.
On Tuesday, the wonderful Iain Macintosh took a break from Football Manager and used his Unibet column to argue that England’s friendly against Italy in Switzerland would be worth watching. It would, he wrote, be the first indicator of Roy Hodgson’s intentions in the role of England manager. Of course, it remains to be seen whether England’s future will reflect their performance in Bern, but the headline was proved correct. It was worth watching.
Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton Wanderers player who suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch at White Hart Lane in March, has retired from football on the advice of his doctors. The 24-year-old has played at every youth level England team, including over 30 caps for the Under-21 team. He is understandably “devastated” by the necessity to retire, but he is thankful for his survival and it is far more important that he lives a full life than play football again, regardless of his remarakble recovery.
With Muamba’s ordeal now at a place of surer footing, I’d like to remind TSC readers that he is not alone. Sudden Death Syndrome and Sudden Cardiac Death take the lives of an alarming number of young people, many of them young sportspeople, every single week. Cardiac Risk in the Young is a charity that I have supported either vocally or (modestly) financially since it began and it continues to do remarkable work in raising awareness of the underlying conditions that cause these often avoidable deaths. With that in mind, I have two requests. Firstly, go and donate a couple of pounds. Secondly, get yourself screened.
Back to the football, and the Football Association’s new youth coaching modules are on-line. BBC Sport‘s Alistair Magowan went along to the Manchester FA’s first course in the new modules, and spoke to the participating coaches about what the new focus would mean. The focus, he reports, is on the children being coached and not on the coach. Sounds good to me.
Just as vital as coaching course content is the opening of St George’s Park, which has now officially happened. Mike Wotsisface from BBC Breakfast‘s “weird minority sports” features went along to the facility at Burton-upon-Trent and was given a tour by Trevor Brooking. He didn’t have to play polo or go wakeboarding or anything.
Is Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverely England’s Andres Iniesta? It’s a lofty ambition, but The Football Ramble author Alan Frost examines it nonetheless. The argument hinges on the assertion that Hodgson needs to build his team around a long-term option in midfield, and it’s hard to disagree.