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SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England need to put on a show against Italy in their Six Nations showdown

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sir clive woodward england need to put on a show against italy in their six nations showdown

It’s a year since England flopped in the World Cup final against South Africa. After a blow like that, you want to respond with something special but the truth is that fans are still waiting for a performance to banish those painful memories.

Following our disappointments at the 1999 World Cup we responded with a strong Six Nations title and a phenomenal win against the Springboks at Bloemfontein in the summer of 2000. That was the first step to winning the 2003 World Cup.

The pandemic has made this a disjointed season but it’s time for a new surge of energy and optimism and for the comparatively new kids on the block to pressurise those in possession. England need to reboot and go again.

A year has passed since England were losers in the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa

A year has passed since England were losers in the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa

A year has passed since England were losers in the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa

Even before lockdown their Six Nations campaign was patchy to say the least. They were poor for most of the game against France in Paris, although a couple of moments of Jonny May brilliance gave the scoreline a veneer of respectability. In very windy conditions the game in Scotland was no thing of beauty.

Victory over Ireland was workmanlike and definitely hinted at better things but that 33-30 win over Wales flattered to deceive. There were some good moments and decent tries but it was also very untidy at times and far from convincing.

So the priority today in Rome is to produce a high-quality performance. It might bring a Six Nations title but frankly I am not overly bothered with that.

It has been the strangest of years and I am still not sure if England should even be flying to Rome this weekend and Ireland venturing into a locked down Paris. Objectively, the situation involving travelling to games overseas is worse now than it was back in March.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs is one player who needs to be careful in the Six Nations against Italy

Scrum-half Ben Youngs is one player who needs to be careful in the Six Nations against Italy

Scrum-half Ben Youngs is one player who needs to be careful in the Six Nations against Italy

It still has that surreal feel. The Autumn Nations Cup with everybody based in Britain and Ireland in their bubbles feels safer but rugby continues to tread a tightrope — as sport does in general.

What I badly want to see today is England upping the tempo and playing at a pace Italy can’t match. Looking to the future I want them playing at a pace that nobody can match. I frequently wish for this but rarely do I see it with England. Ireland away last year was a big exception and that World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand. Those performances must become the norm.

All of which will place certain individuals in the limelight. The England pack these days is really mobile and capable of playing at great tempo. The promotion of the athletic Jonny Hill at second row won’t slow them down.

Billy Vunipola must buy into that. Vunipola is as strong as an ox and is a good enough player at No 8 to slow the game down to his pace, but does he benefit England going forward?

It will make no difference against Italy. England will beat them comfortably whatever game-plan they adopt, but can Billy adapt to what is required in future games? Vunipola enjoyed a long run for England in 2019 — Eddie played him in every World Cup warm-up — but I rarely felt he was at his best. He wasn’t the overwhelming physical presence of before.

He can get fitter, and to a certain extent faster, but he will never change his basic physical capabilities that much.

What he can do is employ his excellent skills more. For a big man he has great handling and good vision. He needs to bring those assets into play more. His contribution to a faster game would be as a brilliant linkman, keeping the ball moving quickly, with clever offloads and the like.

If not, it is surely time that the European player of the year Sam Simmonds be introduced to the squad to add that pace off the base of the scrum. Ben Earl, who has a sidestep to kill for, could also come in.

Meanwhile, centurion Ben Youngs at scrum-half is another player who must take up the challenge. Youngs has been a great warrior for England over a decade or more and it will be a special moment for him and his family today.

With Dan Robson snapping at his heels for selection I want to see the razor-sharp Youngs who used to make searing breaks and take tap-and-go penalties without a second thought. Let’s see that quick delivery and don’t employ the box-kick which slows everything down and gifts the ball to the opposition.

Youngs needs to again become the type of scrum-half who is a complete nightmare to play against, as Robson is right now. Owen Farrell has played little big-time rugby in the last 12 months — apart from the Six Nations — so it’s an important game for the England skipper as well. He is back at No 10, which is his best position, and he needs to get off to a strong start.

He must, however, be careful in the tackle. The world is watching.

He hasn’t played a game in anger since he was rightly red-carded in the Premiership against Wasps early last month, and the temptation when you come back after a long break is to run around like a headless chicken in the early exchanges.

He needs to stay calm and let his abundant ability do the talking. Don’t invite another controversy. Another bad tackle and red card now would begin to seriously blight his career. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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DAVE BASSETT: Sheffield United sacking Chris Wilder would be suicide

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dave bassett sheffield united sacking chris wilder would be suicide

Chris Wilder knows exactly how to get Sheffield United out of this predicament because we did it before, and he was there. It was 1990-91 and we were much deeper in trouble than the Blades are now.

We had only four points from our first 16 games back in the old Division One. We went seven games without scoring. After 22 games we were still bottom. Absolutely nobody was saying we could stay up but we got out of trouble. We finished 13th.

The players, fans and board stuck together. That was the key. Everyone trusted what we were doing and no one went looking for a scapegoat. We trained hard and kept working. We stayed with our beliefs and our formation. 

Sheffield United shouldn't sack Chris Wilder, he should stay in charge for as long as possible

Sheffield United shouldn't sack Chris Wilder, he should stay in charge for as long as possible

Sheffield United shouldn’t sack Chris Wilder, he should stay in charge for as long as possible

I couldn’t tell them we’d definitely stay up. But we could either give up and call it a day or keep fighting until our luck turned. And it did. We signed Glyn Hodges from Crystal Palace, he scored against Derby and we won seven in a row. 

Chris played in a lot of those games. I’m confident he can do it again. I can see his players are trying. They were bombing on in the 90th minute at West Brom creating chances, trying to get an equaliser. 

They’ve missed their fans more than any other Premier League team. Bramall Lane can be a ferocious atmosphere, one of those grounds opponents don’t enjoy. It was the same in my time and in Neil Warnock’s. 

It’s been a tougher start in terms of fixtures and they’ve not been so lucky with injuries as last season. Jack O’Connell is a big miss. Enda Stevens and John Fleck have been out, and they’re important. The strikers are not firing. 

It has been a very difficult start to the campaign but Wilder's side can turn things around

It has been a very difficult start to the campaign but Wilder's side can turn things around

It has been a very difficult start to the campaign but Wilder’s side can turn things around

They just need a win to ignite something. There will be a game, and it could be Leicester on Sunday, when they’ll get battered and win 1-0.

A couple of wins and they’re back in the pack. I can’t believe anybody thinks firing Wilder is a good idea.

The biggest factor in our escape 30 years ago was the support from Derek Dooley and the rest of the board. Leading into Christmas, we’d still not won and Derek said, “We’re fully behind you”.

He always had the raging hump about being sacked on Christmas Eve by Sheffield Wednesday. He said they’d never dream of doing that.

I never felt any pressure, nor did I expect any after what I’d done. They were going nowhere when I arrived in 1988, going down into the third division with a poor team and deep in debt. 

Wilder is the best man to keep United up - he helped them to avoid relegation as a player

Wilder is the best man to keep United up - he helped them to avoid relegation as a player

Wilder is the best man to keep United up – he helped them to avoid relegation as a player

Two years later, we were back in the top league and we didn’t do it by spending big, like Leeds. We started the season against Liverpool, the champions. They had Ian Rush and John Barnes and we finished with John Pemberton in goal because Simon Tracey broke his cheekbone.

Sheffield United spent six seasons in League One before Chris won promotion. That’s a disgrace for a club of their size. He turned them around and brought them success after some miserable times.

It’s true some clubs might have sacked him by now. Watford and Nottingham Forest might have sacked him but Norwich could have got rid of Daniel Farke when they were struggling last season. They didn’t, nobody undermined him and now they’re top of the Championship, and they look like a sensible club who know what’s required to succeed within their limitations.

Sheffield United have a good manager. He’s the best man to keep them up. Tell me someone with better credentials. I hope they’re trying to look after him and support him. They should be trying to keep him for as long as he wants to stay. That’s what I’d be doing. If they sack Wilder, then cheerio. Suicide. Back to the Championship. 

Dave Bassett was talking to Matt Barlow

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Leeds United’s Jack Harrison scores with stunning girlfriend Fiorella Arbenz

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leeds uniteds jack harrison scores with stunning girlfriend fiorella arbenz scaled

MODEL Fiorella Arbenz has stuck it away in the back of the net so her footballer boyfriend should be taking notes.

The Costa Rican beauty, 24, is dating Leeds United star Jack Harrison, also 24.

Jack Harrison has been on a winning streak since dating stunning Fiorella Arbenz

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Jack Harrison has been on a winning streak since dating stunning Fiorella ArbenzCredit: Chris Ramirez/Triangle News
The Leeds winger landed his model girlfriend and realised his dream of playing in the Premier League

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The Leeds winger landed his model girlfriend and realised his dream of playing in the Premier LeagueCredit: Jack Harrison Instagram

The winger is currently realising his dream of playing in the Premier League, having previously played for Manchester City.

Speaking in October Jack said: “There were a lot of times I was doubting myself and how I could still achieve my dream of playing in the Premier League.

“But I look back on this crazy journey and realise the path I chose prepared me for this moment.”

Meanwhile Fiorella works as a model and was 4th runner-up for Miss Asia Pacific International.

Talk about the glammed united.

Jack previously played for Man City

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Jack previously played for Man CityCredit: Jack Harrison Instagram
Fiorella works as a model and was 4th runner-up for Miss Asia Pacific International

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Fiorella works as a model and was 4th runner-up for Miss Asia Pacific InternationalCredit: Jack Harrison Instagram
How Leeds could line up next season, with Ibrahimovic and Cavani in attack plus Quarta and Bravo in defence

GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL exclusive@the-sun.co.uk

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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AHEAD OF THE GAME: Manchester United keen to re-visit plans to hire a director of football

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ahead of the game manchester united keen to re visit plans to hire a director of football

The BBC are eager to commission a follow-up documentary with Anton Ferdinand after the success of the programme broadcast earlier this week — Football, Racism and Me.

In a compelling piece of television, the former Queens Park Rangers defender spoke in detail for the first time about the notorious incident at Loftus Road in 2011 when he was racially abused by John Terry. It led to the Chelsea defender being banned by the FA and losing the England captaincy after he had been cleared in court.

Ferdinand revealed he had been subjected to death threats after the event and spoke of his guilt at not speaking out about racism earlier. Initial talks have taken place at the corporation about making a second documentary, which would have a broader focus on the issue of racism in football and wider society. 

BBC are keen to produce a follow-up to the success of documentary 'Football, Racism and Me'

BBC are keen to produce a follow-up to the success of documentary 'Football, Racism and Me'

BBC are keen to produce a follow-up to the success of documentary ‘Football, Racism and Me’

Ferdinand spoke in detail about the incident involving John Terry at Loftus Road back in 2011. Terry was later cleared in court after a member of the public raised the issue with the police

Ferdinand spoke in detail about the incident involving John Terry at Loftus Road back in 2011. Terry was later cleared in court after a member of the public raised the issue with the police

Ferdinand spoke in detail about the incident involving John Terry at Loftus Road back in 2011. Terry was later cleared in court after a member of the public raised the issue with the police

Joel Glazer wants director of football at Old Trafford 

Manchester United are revisiting long-standing plans to appoint a director of football on the orders of owner Joel Glazer.

United have run numerous recruitment processes to bring in a transfer guru over the last few years and held several interviews without identifying the right candidate to work with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the club’s main negotiator Matt Judge. 

Glazer, is demanding an overhaul of recruitment, with United having little recent silverware to show for a net transfer spend of £1billion over the last decade, and wants a new structure in place by the end of the season.

Joel Glazer is demanding an overhaul of recruitment due to little success in recent seasons

Joel Glazer is demanding an overhaul of recruitment due to little success in recent seasons

Joel Glazer is demanding an overhaul of recruitment due to little success in recent seasons

Lionesses to get new assistant to help Phil Neville

Phil Neville will be given a new assistant coach on a full-time contract to work with England Lionesses next year, even though he has no matches to prepare for.

The Lionesses have not played since March after recent friendlies against Germany and Norway were cancelled due to positive Covid-19 tests, but the FA are pushing ahead with their recruitment plans despite making major cuts elsewhere at St George’s Park.

The new coach will be in place for just seven months because Neville is being replaced by Holland manager Sarina Wiegman next summer, with the Dutchwoman expected to bring in her own staff.

Derby stay could be quick for Steve McClaren 

Steve McClaren’s fifth spell at Derby County may be short-lived, as the former England manager is working without a permanent contract at Pride Park.

The club’s former manager returned to Derby last week as a consultant to the board of directors, with a decision on whether he is retained in the more formal role of technical director left to new owners Derventio Holdings, whose takeover is expected to go through imminently.

Wayne Rooney’s future as manager is also uncertain, because the interim boss continues to rely heavily on coaching staff Leroy Rosenior, Justin Walker and Shay Given for Derby’s tactical preparation despite taking sole charge last week.

Steve McLaren's consultant role could be the shortest of his five stints spent at Derby County

Steve McLaren's consultant role could be the shortest of his five stints spent at Derby County

Steve McLaren’s consultant role could be the shortest of his five stints spent at Derby County

Shamed FA man to keep perks 

The FA have been forced to grant ‘fellowship rights’ to Brian Jones, the former FA Council member who resigned last year after posting an Islamophobic message on social media. It follows a decision taken by the National Game Board, who represent the grassroots game on the governing body. 

The FA Board and chief executive Mark Bullingham opposed restoring Jones’s privileges after he was found guilty of ‘aggravated improper conduct’ by an independent commission and made to leave the Council, and a bitter row last week led to the sudden resignation of FA Board member Stacey Cartwright, as revealed by Sportsmail.

The National Game Board refused to back down following the dispute, however, and Jones will get his fellowship rights, which amount to two tickets for every England game and occasional invitations to the Royal Box at Wembley.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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