Cricket: Youvraj Singh – Disrespect Me!

There are three overs left in the England – India Twenty-20 encounter when Andrew Flintoff and Youvraj Singh start exchanging words. At one point, Youvraj starts advancing towards Flintoff with his bat. The next over, bowled by Stuart Broad, goes for thirty six runs. Six consecutive sixes. Whatever Andrew Flintoff said, he did the perfect job in firing Youvraj Singh up. From wanting to go out a hit quick runs to suddenly being totally committed to doing so. It was as if he crossed a line. All his power and energy were galvanised to the one cause. Suddenly Youvraj had […]

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Football: Chelsea – Life After Jose

So what now for Chelsea after the departure of Jose Mourinho? Two scenarios present themselves. The first is that the club goes from strength to strength. The players, under a new manager, play the brand of stylish Champions League winning football the owner dreams of. The second is that, the players, feeling sorry for themselves, simply fall back into the Premier League pack and the dream fades. So – which will it be? The answer partly depends on how the players respond to Mourinho’s departure. If he has created a culture full of self-leaders, charged with making their own decisions, […]

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Rugby: France – Overaroused?

By what distortion, by what confusion of values, could anyone compare the game of rugby to the Resistance?” asked Nicolas Gurgand in the French magazine L’Express. The question refers to the letter that was read out by the French team in advance of their fragile performance in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup. The letter at the centre of the controversy was written by Guy Muquet, a 17-year-old Resistance hero, just before his execution in 1941. It begins: “My little adored mummy, my adored baby brother, my little daddy, whom I love so much, I am going to […]

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Rugby: Ireland – Overcoached?

It was expected to be a game Ireland would win with points to spare. Dispensing the minnows. Building confidence in preparation for sterner tests to come. In the end, Ireland were hanging on against the robust Georgians. So what has happened to Ireland’s ‘A’ game? Where is the team carrying their nations hope and dreams? It is not that Ireland lack the experience. It is not that they lack the skill. What they may be encumbered by is over-preparation. Over-preparation by manager Eddie O’Sullivan. These are players who look as if they are having too much to think about. Too […]

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The Ring Of Confidence

Having won nothing since 1991, to narrowly miss the play offs was an achievement to be lauded, but it cannot be enough for the club with the largest fan base outside the premier league. This season, pundits were predicting a possible return to the Premier League. But, four games into the Championship season, and Sheffield Wednesday are without a point. Four games; four defeats. Although earlier season form may not be an accurate herald of what could follow, it generates, nevertheless, uncertainty and lack of objectivity. We might want to describe such a state as an equation: high expectancy + […]

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Football: Derby County – The Fear Of Added Time

So Derby County are out of the Carling Cup after conceding goals late into full time and extra time. But why should a Premiership side be prone to the concession of last minute goals against Championship opposition? When a side starts conceding last minute goals its a sure sign of over-anxiety. A team that has forgotten how to win. Which Derby have. Last years Championship play-off final probably seems a lifetime ago now. The intensity of the Premiership quickly establishes new habits and patterns. Including losing. With defeat comes lack of confidence. With the lack of confidence grows doubt. Doubt of course, […]

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GAA: Kerry – The Art Of Deep Play

It’s the closing minutes of the All-Ireland semi-final and Dublin are throwing the kitchen sink at Kerry. With their lead narrowed to a single point the All-Ireland champions are under pressure. Dublin have momentum. They have the desire. But what they don’t have is something more precious. It’s the quality that only champions can summon up. A quality that defines the greats. The quality that winners have. Seen for example, in the movie When We Were Kings. Under the severest pressure from George Foreman, Muhammad Ali was able to coolly and deeply look inside himself and find a solution to […]

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Football: Steve Bruce – Big Club? Little Club?

A home defeat for Birmingham. Craig Bellamy winning a controversial penalty for the Hammers. Steve Bruce is less than impressed. ‘Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree, but the small clubs don’t seem to get those decisions’. It’s interesting language from the Birmingham manager. Bruce is drawing on the classic ‘us against them’ psychology. Little old us fighting against the odds. Against the authorities. Against the big boys. It’s designed to create an enemy. An easy focus for his team. But can you imagine Roy Keane saying this about Sunderland? Calling Sunderland a small club? They may be compared to […]

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GAA: Cork – The Power Of The Underdog

Heading into the All Ireland football semi-final, Meath are lined up as favourites. A strong performance to see off Tyrone in the quarters, allied with Cork’s ‘good-enough’ show against Sligo has influenced the thinking of many observers. For Cork this is perfect. Fuelled by the underdog status they play Meath off the park. For Meath, the burden of being favourites seems too much for them. So how has this come about? Being underdogs offers many advantages to a team. Importantly it creates a simple but powerful focus. You can see an enemy. Them! The ones who are writing you off. […]

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Football: Tottenham Hotspur – Cracking The Code 2

After tonights game against Everton, Tottenham are bottom of the league. Played two – lost two. It’s no cause for alarm – yet. But it’s not what the faithful were expecting. Those expectations. How they weigh on the shoulders of this team. Being bottom is a good place at the moment for Tottenham. The expectations may start to lift. Then these players can start to express themselves. At the moment it’s all too much. Like Stephen Ames partnering Tiger Woods. Too many people scrutinising your game. No place to make mistakes. This isn’t fun anymore. Martin Jol has to find […]

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