What defines a world-class footballer?

With Sir Alex Ferguson stating in his latest book that in his 26-year tenure as Manchester United boss he only had four world-class footballers, this begs the question as to what exactly constitutes as “world-class.” The four players he mentioned were Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo.

How can a team that dominated English football and who were also very successful in Europe, only have had four world-class players over such a long period of time? Were those four players really that special that they carried the team to such success? Or is it simply Ferguson’s way of saying how good of a manager he was?


Marriott brace sees off 10-man Wimbledon

Another clean sheet and a Jack Marriott brace off the bench saw the Hatters claim a second straight win at home against a Wimbledon side who were reduced to ten men midway through the first half.

Wimbledon started well and looked very composed in their garishly green and black striped shirts as they dominated spells of possession as they used the pace and power they have up front to good effect.


Davis Cup win would be Andy Murray’s greatest achievement

Wimbledon 2013. Olympic Gold at London 2012. US Open 2012. That’s the ranking of Andy Murray’s highest achievements to date and with the Davis Cup final in a little over two months time, a win in Belgium could surpass them all.

Having defeated the USA, France and Australia, the three most successful nations in the history of the tournament, Great Britain will go into the final with Belgium as slight favourites. Team GB’s most impressive win was the Quarter-Final win over top seeds and last year’s runners up, France. Despite having three in-form top 20 players, GB won comfortably 3-1, thanks to the efforts of Andy and his brother Jamie.


Premier League at risk of losing Champions League spot – how has this happened?

In the space of eight seasons, between 2004-05 and 2011-12, England had an incredible eight Champions League finalists. This included one all-English final and no fewer than three winners. It was arguably one of the most dominant periods by one nation in the competition’s history, with many other semi-final appearances in amongst those results too.

Prior to this, with the likes of Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Italian teams were seen as one of the mainstays of Europe’s elite competition, alongside Spain and England. Those three giants of European football have 11 winners medals between them and many other strong teams like Roma, Lazio, Napoli and Fiorentina, all steeped in their own history. But after several poor performances in Europe, failing to get out of the group stages or making it further than the Last 16, Serie A lost one of their four Champions League places to the Germans and so the the teams were forced to fight it out for just three spots, much to the detriment of their league and we are now only just seeing a re-emergence of Italian club football. Now England and the Premier League are facing the same situation, something unthinkable just a few years ago.


Late fightback ends in another defeat for Luton

Luton Town’s poor start to the season continued with yet another late goal to add to the misery. Scott Cuthbert saw red after bringing down Notts County’s Izale McLeod just outside the box and Liam Noble curled in a delightful free kick to condemn the Hatters to a fourth defeat from seven matches.

Luton started the brighter and looked dangerous down the left with McQuoid the brightest spark early on. Notts County struggled to get a hold of the ball but it didn’t take them too long to settle and from then on, they dominated the match.


Q&A with Craig Mackail-Smith

I was fortunate enough to have Luton Town’s summer signing Craig Mackail-Smith answer a few questions for me the other week and this ended up in one of the match programmes a couple of weeks back. I’m just adding it to my blog for anyone who didn’t see it in the programme!

The centre forward signed from Brighton and was unveiled ahead of the friendly against Walsall earlier this month. He’s yet to score for the Hatters, but he looks sharp and hungry and it’s surely only a matter of time before the goals start coming.

Q. John Still was obviously a huge influence in your decision to move to Luton Town, was there anything else that swayed your decision?
A. The directors/investors at the club have a great vision of where they want the club to be in the next few years as well as infrastructure changes and it’s great to be a part of a club that is forward thinking. The players that were signed too gave me a good indication of what the club wants to achieve.


Wayne Rooney’s England record should be appreciated, not questioned

50 goals. That’s a remarkable achievement for any player at international level for any country. Lionel Messi hasn’t done it yet (although he did move to 49 last night), Raul never did it for Spain, Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t make it, Diego Maradona got nowhere near it and Thierry Henry only just crept over the line, finishing on 51 goals. Nobody has done it for Holland and bearing in mind some of the truly great strikers they’ve had and the number of goals they score normally, that’s very surprising. Robin van Persie is currently on 49 though and he’s unlikely not to add one more to that tally. More to the point, even Sir Bobby Charlton didn’t reach it.

You can make excuses for most players not reaching that mark, when they will regardless go down as some of the greatest goalscorers ever. Whether it be that they didn’t play enough games for their country for whatever reason or that they just didn’t perform for their country like they did for their clubs. Wayne Rooney has often had that tag placed on his head. “He just hasn’t performed for England.” But he’s always there for us. He has 7 goals (8 games) in this qualifying campaign, albeit with a few penalties, but someone has to take them right? He may not have scored many goals in tournaments since Euro 2004, but his goals have often got us to those tournaments and he has been a mainstay in the squad since 2004.


Superb second half display sees of 10-man Cambridge for first league win

Luton Town gained their first league win of the season over a Cambridge United side who were reduced to 10 men with the score at 1-1. The Hatters scored from the resulting free-kick and scored a superb team goal late on to run out 3-1 winners.

Cambridge started brightly and with their fans in full voice, they looked the much better side and the more likely to open the scoring. Just before the twenty minute mark, they had an excellent chance which was headed inches over, but really should have ended up in the back of the net. Minutes later, the Cambridge goalkeeper was caught off his line and Luke Guttridge, making his return to the league after impressing in midweek, breathtakingly lobbed the keeper with a first time strike from all of 40 yards.


More late drama during mixed week for the Hatters

After the superb performance against Stoke City in the Capital One Cup, Luton hosted the two favourites for the League Two title, Portsmouth and Leyton Orient, in the space of four days. Looking for a first league victory of the season, the Hatters conceded an unfortunate early goal against Pompey after Wilkinson’s clearance hit Cuthbert square in the face and subsequently fell to a Portsmouth player who duly finished into the roof of the net.

Luton hit back immediately after McQuoid burst into the box and won a penalty, which Mackail-Smith dispatched. The Town then dominated for large spells of the match, creating more chances than Portsmouth, despite having a smaller share of possession. McGeehan arguably could have won it but perhaps a 1-1 draw was a fair result. That was until Matt Tubbs struck late on after another defensive error coming from a long ball over the top. It was yet another 90th minute goal and this was the first one they didn’t really deserve I thought.

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