Using the Sky Sports Darts Nickname Generator, my darts nickname is…
Two questions for you.
1. What is your darts nickname?
2. As Matt ‘The Mint’ Oswin, what should my walk on music be?
Leave a comment with your answers.
The draw has been made for the Last 16 of the Champions League.
Juventus V Tottenham Hotspur
An interesting looking tie. Spurs topped their group (arguably surprisingly) and have been rewarded with a tie against a traditional European powerhouse. A tie that could go all the way to penalties, but I think Juventus will be able to find a way to progress.
Basel V Manchester City
Manchester City will have too much firepower for Basel and will qualify for the Quarter Finals. I would expect them to qualify quite comfortably.
Porto V Liverpool
I would expect Liverpool’s front four to overwhelm Porto and secure their passage to the Quarter Finals. However, Liverpool’s defensive issues give Porto a chance and it is unlikely to be as comfortable as Liverpool would hope.
Sevilla V Manchester United
A tricky tie for Manchester United, but I expect Mourinho to mastermind a victory across the two legs. I think they will qualify by the odd goal in the tie.
Real Madrid V Paris Saint Germain
PSG’s reward for topping their group is a Last 16 clash against the defending champions. It’s definitely the tie of the round as strong arguments could be made for either team winning the competition. Both teams have an abundance of attacking talents, but I think Real’s defence is slightly stronger and this will be enough for them to edge past PSG.
Shakhtar Donetsk V Roma
A trip to Ukraine is always tricky, but I expect that Roma will have enough over the two games to qualify for the Quarter Finals.
Chelsea V Barcelona
If Conte is serious about Chelsea being out of the title race, they may focus on the Champions League, making them dangerous opponents. Barcelona are not quite the force they have been in the past, but I think they will be able to get past Chelsea.
Bayern Munich V Besiktas
Turkey can be a difficult place to visit for teams in the Champions League, but I can see Bayern Munich heading there with a comfortable lead that will see them progress.
Air Force Blue examines the role played by the RAF during World War II. The state of the RAF prior to the outbreak of war is looked at and how the RAF was able to develop. Fighter Command and it’s role in preventing invasion along with Bomber Command and it’s role in attacking Germany are looked at. There is also a chapter on Coastal Command, who tend to get overlooked in favour of Fighter and Bomber Command.
The books is an excellent overview of how air power was key to victory in World War II and the role played by the RAF in achieving this. A very good book for anyone with an interest in World War II.
Information about the groups (and my thoughts) can be found here.
After voting, leave a comment with why you voted for the group that you did.
The draw for the 2018 World Cup was made earlier today.
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
I would imagine that Uruguay are happy with their draw and will be favourites to qualify from the group. The other three teams will all believe that they have a chance of qualifying for the second round. I think that Egypt will qualify just ahead of Russia.
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
A group that looks quite straight forward; I would expect the Iberian neighbours to qualify from the group with relative ease.
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
France will be favourites to qualify from the group and I expect them to do so. The other three teams will fancy their chances, but I think Denmark will finish as group runners-up.
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
An interesting looking group. The firepower of Argentina should see them through. The expectation would be for Croatia V Nigeria to be the game that decides who joins Argentina in qualifying from the group, but underestimating Iceland is never a wise idea… Having said that, I think Nigeria will qualify along with Argentina.
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
It’s difficult to see Costa Rica progressing from the group, but the same was said at the last World Cup and they qualified as group winners. Brazil will win the group and I think they will be joined by Switzerland.
Group F: Germany, Sweden, Mexico, South Korea
The Group of Death! Germany will be favourites to progress as group winners, something I am sure they will be keen to achieve as the runners up are likely to face Brazil in the second round. A strong case can be made for the each of the other three teams, but I think Germany will be joined Mexico.
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
A group that looks straight forward on paper, but (as the cliche goes) football is not played on paper. Belgium and England will be strong favourites to progress from the group. However, for all their talented players, Belgium seem to struggle as a team. England find it difficult to break down sides that defend deep and look for either a draw or a goal on the counter. I would expect Tunisia and Panama to play quite defensively against Belgium and England. I think the two European sides will progress, but not necessarily as easy as some are predicting.
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
A group that appears to be quite open. An argument for any combination progressing could be made, but I think Poland and Colombia will be the two sides to make it to the second round.
Leave a comment and let me know who you think will qualify from each group.
The article below was written for, and published on, FMMobile.
Congratulations. You’ve just been appointed manager. You know what the board expects and you’ve agreed to it. Maybe it’s winning a competition. Perhaps it’s just surviving. Whatever it is, a strategy is needed otherwise your club will be looking for your replacement so that they can achieve their goals. Below are the steps I take in establishing success at a club.
Step 1 – Your squad
Ultimately, your squad is going to be key to a winning strategy. After taking charge, check out the squad; I look for which players will be key and which are expendable. I also identify which areas are strong and which need reinforcements (staff reports on squad depth and the team report help with this). Don’t forget to check the reserve squad to see if there is anyone there who can play a regular role for you.
After looking at the squad, it’s time to put eleven players onto the pitch in a formation. The formation is likely to depend on the players at your disposal. When the game was still Championship Manager, I always favoured a 5-3-2 with wing-backs. It brought me little success as I didn’t have the players for it. The basic tactic guide goes contains greater depth about player roles and the instructions that can be given to the team.
Of course, having assessed the squad and decided on your tactics, a little strengthening is likely…
Step 2 – Transfers
If players will play no part at the club moving forwards, I look to offer them to clubs. I offer them at their value or below. As they have no role at the club, I’m not too concerned about making money from them, with the focus being on freeing up wage budget.
Transfer policy may also depend on how long you plan on staying at the club. I tend to pick a club to play as and want to stay there for the game. As a result, my signings tend to be younger players who I can either bring through to the first team or be able to sell. They also need to be able to play a first team role fairly soon.
When bringing in players, the first focus has to be on any requirements for the formation you will be playing. After that, focus for me moves to strengthening weak areas of the squad. I’m currently managing AFC Telford United and when I took them over, I was looking at playing a 4-2-3-1 formation as they had been. They were lacking in attacking midfielders on the left and right, so this is where my transfer focus started. After bringing in wingers, our weakest area was the left-hand side; I signed a left back and found another left winger.
A further tip for managing in the lower leagues is to adjust the budgets; move the transfer budget to the wage budget. There are plenty of excellent players on free transfers that can be signed, so give yourself the maximum amount of wage budget to sign them. The left back I signed on a free transfer is worth £325,000; I could never have afforded to buy him, but was able to offer him a good wage and sign him.
If the players you need can’t be found or signed, check who is available for loan. The benefit of this is bringing in a player of a quality you would otherwise be unable to have at the club for (potentially) nothing (there may not even be a requirement to make a wage contribution). The drawback is they they will not be staying at the club.
With a team (including players you wanted to bring in) and tactics selected, it’s time to take to the field…
Step 3 – Pre-Season
Pre-Season is time to bring players up to fitness. It’s also the time to assess your squad and tactics. I look to start what I think my starting XI will be for matches and make substitutions within 15 minutes of the second half at the latest. Empty the bench. This is the time to see who can do what and whether a formation will work. It’s worth trying different formations so that there is a Plan B (and maybe even a Plan C) if required for competitive games. Better to do it now than when you have the board putting pressure on you for results.
Step 4 – Don’t panic
I’d had a very good pre-season with AFC Telford United; 3 wins and a draw. I was feeling quite confident ahead of the opening game of the season at York. Seven minutes in, we were 2-0 down. What to do. Make a change? Alter the formation? Both? Actually, neither. It was a bad start. We were able to get ourselves in the game and ultimately left with a point. There was temptation to change, but any team can have a bad ten minutes or even game.
Step 5 – Re-assess
I look to keep my starting XI for the first three or four games. After that, I start taking a closer look at how things have been going. If players have not been playing well, it’s time to see who can replace them. I give my preferred starting XI a few games because, as mentioned in step 4, anyone can have a bad game; a few bad games in a row is the time to be making a change. The formation or player roles may also need adjusting.
What changes should be made when re-assessing? Well, that’s why the board identified you as the man for the job!