Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Martin Peters speaks to Red and White Bill

Even before England's calamitous defeat to Germany on Sunday, R&W Bill was able to question '66 World Cup winner Martin Peters on underperforming European teams, thanks to our friends at Coral Dugout. The fact that teams from South America have outshined their European counterparts is reflected in the fact they make up half of the quarter finalists (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and now Paraguay).

Here is what Martin Peters had to say on the issue. He still had faith in England at this point, but we will have to now wait four years at the very least for a repeat of '66.

You can ask your own questions at the Coral Dugout via Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Terry Butcher England question

"It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish"

So replied Terry Butcher, World Cup semi-finalist at Italia '90, to a question posed to him by Red and White Bill after Saturday night's draw against America. But following tonight's horror show against Algeria, England will have to start with a bang against Slovenia on Wednesday if they aren't to leave South Africa horribly early.

The question session was organised by our friends at Coral Dugout, and other answers from Butcher can be viewed here. But the England players seemed shadows of their club selves, and failed to come out and prove the critics wrong, as my question and Butcher's answer had hoped and expected.

Trust Fabio? Unless England can turn it around on Wednesday, Capello will be remembered as a Postman Pat, rather than a managerial great.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Ultimate England Saints XI

The World Cup is here at last, and what better way to while away the time between matches than by engaging in pointless speculation as to which former Saints players would make the current England XI (more than previously thought given the result on Saturday).

To that end, I have compiled what I consider to be the ultimate England Saints XI. The only condition for selection was that the players won their England caps while playing for Saints – and 27 players qualified under that criterion (hat-tip to Nick Illingsworth’s Saints Preserved for help with research). But there was only room for eleven, and while some players were instant choices, it was hard to fit others into a workable system – particularly up front, where the wealth of exciting attacking players Saints have been blessed with over the years gives the side a hugely offensive flavour.

Having said that, the centre-half pairing of Mark Wright and Dave Watson in front of Peter Shilton means the side has a solid core, with Steve Williams holding in midfield. Heaven knows he will have his work cut out with Le Tiss, Keegan and Paine alongside him.

The Ultimate England Saints XI

GK: Peter Shilton (49 caps won while at Saints)

The most-capped England player only had Tim Flowers for competition in goal. ‘Shilts’ is currently flogging a truly dreadful World Cup single – welcome to your future, David James (Robert Green will struggle to sell anything after Saturday).

RB: CB Fry (1 cap)

Something of a sporting and political legend around the turn of the century, Fry won his only England cap in 1901, although he also represented the country at cricket. Later rose to notoriety for different reasons through his friendship with Adolf Hitler.

CB: Mark Wright (16 caps)

Rock-solid central defender won his caps between 1984 and ‘87, and is one of eight players to have played for Saints and captained England.

CB: Dave Watson (18 caps)

Completing a strong-looking centre-half pairing, Watson also captained England.

LB: Wayne Bridge (12 caps)

An automatic choice at left back, ‘Bridgey’ appeared in the 2002 World Cup match against Argentina while at Saints, before his career was prematurely ended by the actions of his philanderer captain.

RM: Terry Paine (19 caps)

Saints legend Paine played an important role in England’s successful 1966 campaign, though the narrow ‘wingless wonders’ formation used in the final meant Alan Ball and Martin Peters were preferred against Germany. I envisage Paine hugging the touchline, providing service for the front two.

CM: Steve Williams (6 caps)

Lining up alongside three flair players, the onus will be on Williams, a Saints legend during the eighties, to sit and hold in midfield while they go wondering.

LM: Kevin Keegan (9 caps)

Keegan was the hardest player to fit into this side, but his was a necessary inclusion after joining Saints at such a high-level moment in his career. Mostly due to the greater demands on places from other players I have stuck him on the left, albeit in a roaming role ala Steven Gerrard. He would be given free rein to cut in and create, opening up the overlap for Bridgey.

AM: Matt Le Tissier (8 caps)

I am one England manager who will not overlook the brilliance of Le Tiss. As Alan Ball did at Saints in 1995-96, I would build my England side around ‘Le God,’ sticking him in the hole and ordering others to pass it to him.

ST: Mick Channon (45 caps)

Making up the trilogy of all-time Saints heroes in this England side (alongside Paine and Le Tiss), the first user of the iconic ‘Windmill’ celebration would occupy an orthodox target-man role, feeding off Paine’s service.

ST: Alan Shearer (3 caps)

As an England legend, Shearer has to go in (although his skills as a pundit leave a lot to be desired). The ‘best finisher I have ever seen’ according to my flatmate.

As for the manager, who else but Sir Alf Ramsey, who was capped for England while playing for Saints in 1948? And for those of you disheartened by England’s performance on Saturday, just remember this: England drew the first game of their successful campaign under Ramsey in 1966. It's not over just yet...

Friday, 11 June 2010

The 125 year anniversary kit has landed

"A kit from yesterday for the team of tomorrow"

So runs the tagline accompanying the launch of the new Saints shirt, which, after weeks of speculation, was revealed today on the Saints website. As predicted by some, the design of the shirt marks a significant break with the red and white stripes that have adorned Saints players for years - the white design with red diagonal stripe harks back to the kit sported by the St Marys Mens Team 125 years ago.

The R&W Bill verdict? Fan. While a year without our beloved red and white stripes may be too much for some fans to take, the design is a cracker. The lack of sponsor is a nice touch, and adds to the simple appeal of the kit. The big question, of course, is whether this kit can win a league title.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Shoutout to Coral Dugout

With just a week until the world cup, it is time for Red and White Bill's attention to turn to South Africa. I hope to compile an all-time England Saints XI in time for the tournament, but will also be shouting out to a few other websites that are helping fans through their coup de monde.

Online commercial initiatives surrounding the tournament are also two-a-penny, of course, but one service that has caught R&W Bill's eye has been ‘The Dugout,’ a service launched for the 2010 World Cup by bookmakers Coral. The speculators amongst you may be interested to know about the site, which will offer daily tips and offers to members from Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling and notorious referee Graham Poll.

The latter has been marketed as the man who ‘holds all the cards,’ and, though his last world cup will be remembered for the fact he held up one too many, the pair should ensure the site is the go-to place for those willing to risk a bob or two. They will be joined by an ‘insider,’ who will be offering inside information and advice to punters. Who knows, Rio might be a late contender for this job after writing off his tournament this morning.

We will hopefully be teaming up with the guys at Coral Dugout to bring you interviews with leading football figures throughout the tournament - a bit more exciting than the rumour mill that will inevitably be surrounding St Marys this summer. Who knows, it may even be our year: I’ve stuck a fiver on at 7-1, so let’s hope so…

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