Exhausted Romelu Lukaku at the root of Manchester United and Jose Mourinho's problems
A former coach once used a straightforward drill to illustrate the effect of tiredness on a player's concentration and technique.
A former coach once used a straightforward drill to illustrate the effect of tiredness on a player's concentration and technique.
With a few minutes remaining before half-time, Southampton attacked down the left wing and Jordan Henderson looked around wondering why he seemed to be the one Liverpool midfielder in a...
One moment that sums up what it must be like to play against Eden Hazard should be very familiar to followers of Irish football.
Given how much he seems to enjoy recounting tales of Brian Clough, it's surprising that the names of...
One of the excuses offered up after Ireland shipped three goals in half an hour against Denmark last November was that the scoreline didn't really...
IF Pep Guardiola is right and Raheem Sterling really is capable of joining the elite, the next month would be a pretty good time for him to start showing it.
The 10 re-tweet success of last year's Premier League review song 'It's All Been Pretty Dire' (We Didn't Start the Fire) followed up 'Sing Us a Song We Are Sunderland' (Piano Man). Today we move from Billy Joel to Don McLean's 'American Pie' for the 47th anniversary of its recording. The fact that it's 850 words to fill the entire column is simply a bonus.
When the result doesn't go their team's way, managers will often talk about "individuals" as a method of deflecting the blame away from their own work.
This column loves both anniversaries and sporting documentaries and, with last Tuesday being 30 years since Luton Town's 3-2 victory over Arsenal in the Littlewoods Cup final which sparked three decades on a roller-coaster, a print version of ESPN's 30for30 series was required to capture 30 events since 1988 supporting the Hatters.
In the TV show 'The IT Crowd', two men who know nothing about football try to ingratiate themselves with an unhappy Arsenal fan the morning after a match.
"We have recruited another quality addition, an England player with bags of experience at Premier League and Champions League level."
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Premier League, thousands of words were written at the start of the season about its greatest players.
On Friday, it will be 10 years since one of the most significant 'Sliding Doors' moments of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal career.
Friends make pretense of following to the grave; But before one is in it, their minds are turned; And making the best of their way back to life; And living people, and things they understand...
Claude Makelele has a lot to answer for. There were players before him whose main job was to act as a shield to the defence, but nobody in the modern era did it so well to have the role...
Like many modern tactics, the mastery of passing the ball out from a goal-kick comes from Pep Guardiola and Barcelona.
AFTER England were knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia, a rather cruel montage appeared online of Jordan Henderson giving the ball away.
There are several teams who must wish they could base their World Cup credentials around the first 30 minutes of their opening match. Saudi Arabia were 1-0 down but respectable against Russia before being hammered, while Egypt, Morocco, Australia, Peru, Costa Rica and Panama were all level before faltering with varying degrees of heartbreak.
Three minutes into the second half of the game against Croatia, at a point when Argentina's World Cup chances were still in their own hands, Lionel Messi made a run from just behind the Croatian midfield towards a gap in their defence.
Paul Breitner stares into the camera and speaks with the sort of authority that would probably convey his message even without the English subtitles. Gone is the mop of black hair seen when he scored in the 1974 and 1982 World Cup finals, replaced by a tight, neat grey haircut and beard which only adds to his intensity as hand gestures and a gruff accent ram home his point.
In most seasons, there is a team in the Premier League's relegation scrap at this time of the year that supporters of other clubs would like to see stay up.
Journalists always ask the question in the hope of finding a little nugget to build an intro, a story or even a legend when a team overcomes the odds and takes a glorious victory from a seemingly inevitable defeat.
It's one of sport's great truisms that styles make fights which, at the elite level, is why it's so hard to predict what is coming next.
This morning, Ciaran Gallagher will leave for work at about half seven. He'll arrive after an hour's commute and be there until around 12.30 or 1.00. A little while later, he'll meet the Finn Harps team bus where he might catch up with some sleep on the two-and-a-half hour, 180km journey from Ballybofey to Drogheda.
By the time the season finishes, 88 of the 92 league teams in England will have ended up without a title. Even if a different team wins the cup competitions available, it still leaves the overwhelming majority of clubs without a trophy in a sport that is meant to be all about winning.
Last month, Billy Gilmour was the subject of a 'day in the life' feature on Chelsea TV which gives an insight into the lives of players in the club's youth team.
In the school playground, everybody knew certain players were scarce when it came to completing a sticker album, which meant that swaps were the only way to do business.
In many industries, even when things are going well, somebody, somewhere is planning for the worst-case scenario and making sure that they have the best people to do the job required. In football, that means the top players or managers leaving and, at all times, there needs to be a back-up plan.
In life it's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when something changes from being new and annoying to acceptable and widely used. But still very annoying.
The question of whether Virgil van Dijk is worth £75million is as relevant as whether the one-bed, ground-floor apartment in Dublin's north inner city was worth over €300,000 in 2006. If somebody is willing to pay it, what it's really worth doesn't matter.
As England's finest teams became largely irrelevant over the last decade when the Champions League reached its climax, those seeking solace could keep themselves warm at night with a couple of theories.
When Liverpool went 3-0 up after 48 minutes against Brighton nine days ago, Jurgen Klopp must have been tempted to take off Philippe Coutinho, with the spectre of a crucial Champions League game and a Merseyside derby up ahead.
In training last week Jose Mourinho would undoubtedly have practised counter-attacking to prepare for the game against Arsenal, but what he might have struggled to replicate is the level of stupidity the Gunners displayed to hand them chances.
Towards the end of the third day's play in the first Ashes Test between England and Australia in Brisbane, Mitchell Starc bowled a ball at 144 kilometres per hour and, 22 yards away, it smashed into the helmet of England captain Joe Root.
It wasn't quite on the scale of newly-appointed Leeds manager Brian Clough telling a bunch of hardened, league-winning club stalwarts to take all of the medals they had won and chuck them in the bin, but David Moyes' press conference on Friday before his opening game as West Ham manager was certainly on that spectrum.
In the aftermath of the 5-1 defeat to Denmark, Martin O'Neill described the two first-half goals which put Ireland on the back foot as "really poor goals to concede".
The last time Wales played a football match in the Cardiff City Stadium, the anthem sparked a white-hot atmosphere which fizzled for an hour until James McClean's goal sent Ireland into the World Cup play-offs.
Last week, Robbie Keane was part of a pre-season training prank which, had it not been caught on camera and posted online, wouldn't even have merited mentioning again around the team's dinner table that evening.
What's your favourite Raheem Sterling story? Maybe it's the one from this time last year when the Sun revealed that his girlfriend was pregnant and she had "shown off her baby bump" by, unsurprisingly enough, wearing a Manchester City jersey to a Manchester City game with 'Sterling 7' on the back of it.
I went to a school where, with one particular teacher, a misbehaving child would be told to stand on a coloured tile which was distinct from the others on the floor.
Twenty minutes into Saturday night's game against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona were attacking down the left side when an attempted through ball was intercepted. The next Barcelona player to touch the ball was Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the goalkeeper, as he picked the ball out of his net.
It can be pointless reading too much into a manager's post-match comments, particularly after such a comfortable victory as the one Ireland enjoyed on Friday night, but the eagerness of Martin O'Neill to bring Robbie Brady and James McClean back into the conversation suggested a man who wanted to get a point across.
It's one of football's most famous one liners but, with every passing year, it becomes a little less funny. When Partick Thistle striker Colin McGlashan clashed heads with an opponent in the early '90s, the physio recommended his removal and told manager John Lambie that McGlashan didn't know who he was.
Even before the weekend's events, Steph Curry and LeBron James were already regarded as more than just great basketball players. Michael Jordan might deny ever having said the words that followed him throughout his career - "Republicans buy sneakers too" - but, unlike Curry or James, he was far too fearful of a backlash on his image to stand up for anything he regarded as an injustice.
At a point in his career when he should have been firmly established in the team, Monty Panesar again found himself on the brink of being dropped from the England cricket starting line-up.
It's a measure of the lack of depth in Irish football that, where once there would be a high-quality player that the public could demand should be playing, we now have to look abroad to discover what we're missing.
If the outfield players of Matt Lowton, Fabio, Chancel Mbemba, Lewis Dunk, Josh Onomah, Matt Phillips, Andrew Surman, Charlie Austin, Jack Cork and Scott Arfield were put together, it's difficult to imagine anyone expecting too much of them, even after they went online to find out who some of them were.
Three seasons ago Arsenal had a player of undoubted talent and superb technical ability, whose deftness of touch was capable of creating chances for their strikers, but who was regularly accused of going missing in big games.
A clue as to just how much of a threat Jose Mourinho sees in Tottenham will probably come at the pre-match press conference in October if somebody puts Mauricio Pochettino's words to the Manchester United manager.
The new definition of insanity is repeating an old saying over and over again with the expectation that somebody out there hasn't heard it before. But then the Premier League returns, Liverpool try to defend set-pieces and it becomes difficult not to revert to the old expression about trying the same thing and expecting different results.
By any reasonable judgment, seven top-20 finishes in 10 Major championships is a good return, particularly when, within that, three of them are inside the top 10 and another three are in the top five. But Rory McIlroy has long since stopped being judged by simply being good.
It's almost certain that Per Mertesacker has heard all of the jokes. 'His speed is deceptive - he's slower than he looks'; 'Is he running on grass or a treadmill?'; 'He turns slower than the QE2'; 'He makes a beeping noise when he runs backwards.'
Despite the riches on offer and the chance for their team to play against some of the world's best players, fans have yet to come up with a chant for the 'prize' of reaching the Champions League.
On the bus back from Donegal, Michael Doyle's name was the only one read out by the local radio station although it wasn't for the reason he would have wanted.
It's a form of sporting bullying that any weakness, real or perceived, will be ruthlessly tested by an opponent until the person under pressure proves they can cope.
One of the most remarkable things about Leicester's title triumph was that it came with a group of players that could have been signed by any other team but, also, they had so little difficulty hanging onto most them once they had won the league.
At the beginning of last year's American Football season, the Los Angeles Rams had that illogical optimism that every club, player and supporter gets when they believe that this year might be different.
In his first few seasons at Manchester United, Antonio Valencia was a hard-running, physical right-winger who loved nothing more than a quick jink near the end line followed by a cross lashed low into the box to nobody in particular.
Anybody who knows children under the age of seven is probably already familiar with the workings of the Paw Patrol. For the lucky ones who aren't, they are a group of pups in a children's TV show who find ways to solve any emergency because "no job is too big, no pup is too small". Led by a young boy named Ryder, the residents of Adventure Bay are told that, whenever they are in trouble,...
Rousing, crunching, no-nonsense, ferocious, brilliant. Throw any of these words into Google alongside 'tackle' and 'James McClean' and the chances are you won't be short of results.
When Liverpool fell short of winning the Premier League three years ago, the natural response was to say they'd blown it. Needing seven points from their last three games to guarantee the title, they only managed four, were pipped by two points by Manchester City and the fact that they had picked up 44 points from the previous 48 available was irrelevant to the conversation.
In the first-half of Friday night's Wales v Ireland game in Cardiff, the Television Match Official interrupted play to point out potential foul play when Jonathan Sexton's head collided with Jonathan Davies's knee.
It wouldn't have taken long for anybody who has spent time in a football dressing room to read the findings against Aston Villa's U-23 coach Kevin MacDonald and recall a time it had happened to them, or they had seen it happen to others.
Last week the Queen Mary University of London released a video of an experiment to determine whether bees could be taught to play football.
On Saturday morning, Barney Ronay tweeted a picture of a letter he had received from an 85-year-old congratulating the Guardian journalist on his work in highlighting the local council's efforts to force Millwall out of The Den.
It's a good opportunity to show that we are a different team to last year, as I believe we are," wrote Arsene Wenger. "That (last year's result) was not the real Arsenal though, and now we have the chance to show we have improved.
Claudio Ranieri has seen this movie before but he will never have received so much support when this particular sequel reaches its unhappy ending and, inevitably, he is sacked.
In an engaging and informative 30-minute appearance on 'Monday Night Football' earlier in the season, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp elaborated on his belief that pressing opponents in possession is the best playmaker that a team can have.
Last week, Pep Guardiola brought his Manchester City team to the cinema to watch La La Land but if there is a movie to be made about what he feels will be the future of English football, Cloud Cuckoo Land would be a far better title.
Last week, the first Manchester United captain to lift the Premier League trophy turned 60. Since Bryan Robson's reign, United have enjoyed a stellar batch of leaders, with Steve Bruce, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic all guiding the club to the title.
Given how much time he apparently wasted in celebrating his equaliser against Bournemouth, it's surprising that Olivier Giroud didn't repeat his bouncing, flouncing scorpion kick celebration after netting the winner against Preston on Saturday to make sure that he used up as many of the remaining seconds as possible.
Paul Merson tells a story about what it's like to have been a player at an elite club before dropping down the divisions and trying to manage players who will never reach your former standard.
Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas believes the club became "lazy" in the past few seasons in the absence of bitter rivals Rangers.
The tweets coming from the 'Deluded Brendan' Twitter account have dried up a little since Brendan Rodgers was in his Ricky Gervais-esque pomp at Liverpool but, if Celtic maintain their dominance a 'Bored Brendan' account can't be far behind.
I was once on holiday in Buenos Aires when, along with the person who is now my wife, we went into a café having more than likely snarled at each other for the previous half hour because we were over-heated and over-hungry.
Even after Saturday's hat-trick against Manchester City, it's tempting to believe that Arsenal dodged a Francis Jeffers-sized bullet last summer when Jamie Vardy decided to stay with Leicester City.
There was a time when being knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages while suffering just one defeat in 14 Premier League games would still have been cause for celebration at Tottenham but it's indicative of their new-found ambition that they are deemed to be struggling a little.
Two minutes before the end of normal time in Barcelona's 1-1 draw against Real Madrid on Saturday, Marcelo was near the end-line and attempting to find space to cross.
Writing Monday columns can sometimes be tricky because Sunday writers have had their say on the previous week's events, the storylines around upcoming fixtures aren't fully processed or, like this week, it's just too difficult to care about "issues" like why teams can't cope with Chelsea's 3-4-3 system.
When Jurgen Klopp was bemoaning Daniel Sturridge's inability to stay fit last season, it would have been interesting to see his reaction if, with the striker potentially eight days away from making a comeback in an important match for the club, he was pictured looking bleary-eyed at 5am on a night off.
It's always dangerous to form an opinion about a player based on one performance. Maybe they just had a particularly good day, maybe his opponents had a bad one or the team around him made him look better than he was.
Soon after Hamilton's James McCarthy had declared his intention to play for Ireland rather than Scotland, journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bhain went to see him play against St Mirren.
Two years ago, Manchester United travelled to the Emirates with a depleted team and spent most of the first hour being battered by a rampant Arsenal team who just couldn't make their dominance pay.
With the journalism industry constantly looking for ways to save money, today we introduce the concept of the Robo-Column, an automated thought process not written by humans which, with a few pre-ordained tweaks, can spit out a few hundred words on any given subject.
In the phenomenal tally of 263 goals which Wayne Rooney has scored at club level, the anniversary for arguably his most famous takes place this week.
One of the many great things about the Reeling In The Years programme is how brilliantly it illustrates that history repeats itself.
There's about 10 minutes to go and hopeful ball is lobbed in which should be dealt with comfortably by the defence.
Of all the reactions to the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Football for Sale’ series last week, none summed up the pervading attitude from many of those within the game better than Harry Redknapp.
Until a few years ago, having something in common with a manager who had been highly respected by Alex Ferguson, helped a previously unfashionable team to relative success then going on to get one of the most prestigious jobs in the game would've been seen as a good thing.
Perhaps it's to do with the traditional strong bond between sons and their mothers but there aren't many countries with such a strong respect for their elders as Italy.
If a person is looking to become a British citizen they have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about British traditions and customs and must get at least 75pc correct.
In a different context, the story of how Wes Hoolahan once refused to play a match unless he was picked in a particular position could be portrayed as him being a diva rather than a teenager who, even then, knew his best position.
Last Thursday marked the 30-year anniversary of Paul Simon's iconic Graceland album, and with its lyrics about loose affiliations of millionaires and billionaires and boys in the bubble, it could be a perfect soundtrack for the Premier League.
"I used to be with it, but then they changed what 'it' was. Now what I'm with isn't 'it', and what's 'it' seems weird and scary to me. It'll happen to you..."
When Riddick Bowe was explaining why he should be considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world despite his refusal to face Lennox Lewis, he stumbled upon a train of thought that required some concentration.
GIVEN the welcome absence of any Irish players being involved in racist behaviour in a casino; similar antics among a few of them during a dalliance with a lady on a pre-season tour or a player convicted of throttling his girlfriend, Ireland are already behind in their preparation when it comes to “doing a Leicester”.
It's easy to be wise after an event and place a huge amount of emphasis on something seemingly insignificant but, if the perception sticks, it will live long in the memory.
During the international break in March, Wayne Rooney revealed that one of his sons asked him for an England kit with Jamie Vardy's name on the back.
If contracts meant anything in football, Liverpool would probably have qualified for the Champions League for the last couple of seasons while planning an assault on next year's title with Luis Suarez still having two years left to run on his four-and-a-half-year deal.
At the beginning of the year, Sky Sports broadcast a fine documentary about England’s World Cup winning team and, during the course of The Boys of 66, Bobby Moore’s majesty in possession was never far away from the discussion.
On numerous occasions in his career, Lionel Messi has produced a moment of magic that has left some of the best players in the world shaking their head in admiration knowing that, even at their very best, they couldn't replicate what the Argentinian genius has done.
As a neutral, there comes a point in every match where the viewer chooses a team to support. And so it came to pass last Tuesday that virtually every defender who had ever played against a team that were better than theirs or who had manned the barricades in defiance of an onslaught threw their weight behind Atletico Madrid as they attempted to stave off the might of Barcelona.
The lack of Ireland internationals in the Champions League is often used as a yardstick to judge the standard of player available to Martin O'Neill. However, as the competition returns this week, it seems odd that his Belgian counterpart, like O'Neill, can enjoy tomorrow and Wednesday safe in the knowledge that the vast majority of his key players will not get hurt. Because they won't be playing.
In the many fine articles written about Johan Cruyff since his untimely death, one of the things that shines through is his belief that the game itself, rather than winning it, is the most important aspect of football.
Bertrand Traore may well turn out to be a fine player but when the sixth richest club in the world needs a goal with half an hour remaining to stay in the sport's most prestigious club competition, he wouldn't be high on the list of names that they would, ideally, choose.
Around the time that Maria Sharapova was revealing her inability to check her own emails last Monday night, the Twitter feed of Curtis Woodhouse made for interesting reading.
This column's favourite 'Wenger Out-Rage' moment came a few seasons ago when an irate caller rang Today's FM's phone-in show, after Arsenal had lost against a team they probably shouldn't have, to demand that Arsene Wenger be sacked.
When Arsenal hosted Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 five years ago, the most prominent characteristic in the atmosphere in the Emirates was fear at what Messi, Xavi, Villa, Alves and Iniesta might do to a back four which included Emmanuel Eboue and Johan Djourou.
Goalkeepers tend not to like it when outfield players criticise or question their ability so when Jamie Carragher disagreed with Liverpool's decision to give Simon Mignolet a new five-year contract, it was no surprise that Peter Schmeichel leapt to his defence.
In the absence of being paid to play or thousands of people willing to buy a ticket to watch them do their job, there are very few moments when an amateur player knows what it feels like to be a professional. Except, that is, when it comes to the point they realise they can't do it any more.
I recently had a conversation with a football fan in his 20s who wasn't quite old enough to remember the sheer brilliance of the original Ronaldo. I explained just how good he was for Barcelona and, even with all the injuries, he was decent for Inter and scored that amazing goal against Lazio in the Cup Winners' Cup final.
When it comes to managers moaning about the decisions of referees or assistants after their team has dropped points, it's a good rule of thumb to swap the word "defending" into the complaint and see if the root cause of the problem can't be found a little closer to home.
Jurgen Klopp smiled as the question he was expecting arrived immediately in the press conference which followed another damaging defeat, this time at Stoke City.
For many teams who are likely to spend the season battling against relegation from the Premier League, their transfer policy brings to mind Billy Connolly's joke about the elderly man chatting to his wife about everything they had been through over the years.
Ed Sheeran, Caitlyn Jenner, Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, pornography, Charlie Hebdo, Charlie Haughey, new iPhone, Operation Transformation, porn, Lamar Odom, Adele and how to use Snapchat.