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  1. England

    England appoint Hughes as manager


    Stuart Hughes has been appointed as the New England coach in succession to Gareth Southgate.

    The announcement was made at the English FA's headquarters this morning.

    in a statement to the press, the FA's chief executive commented that Hughes was the unanimous choice of the FA's selection committee and they fully believed he would be capable of guiding the team successfully to the upcoming World Cup.

    Stuart Hughes is reported to be earning £79,000 per week.

    Hughes has no previous managerial experience to call upon but, having taken on the job, he will have to prove himself as quickly as possible.

    The first match of Hughes's England tenure will be the home friendly against Finland on Wednesday 31st August 2016, ahead of a home World Cup Qualifier against Lithuania on Sunday 4th September.

    England fans have taken to Social Media in confusion and bewilderment. Who? they are all asking. Never heard of him.

    After the disastrous appointment of Sam Allardyce, and the subsequent sacking of Gareth Southgate, the FA appear to have finally lost the plot with this latest appointment.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 12:06 AM.

  2. I'll be honest, I still can't believe my good fortune at being appointed the England manager. I'm grinning like the Cheshire Cat and am waiting for the FA to ring and inform me that they've made a mistake.

    I'd only gone to St. George's Park to watch Derby County's U23 team play. I'd needed the toilet and wandered inside the main building trying to find one. Somehow I stumbled into a large office with four old guys in suits sitting around an oversized table. They asked me what I thought had gone wrong for England in the European Championships and I told them - boy, did I tell them.

    They asked me a few more questions and then, before I knew what had happened, they'd offered me the England manager's job.

    I laughed long and hard, believing them to be joking, but they showed me their England FA identification passes.

    "But isn't Gareth Southgate the England manager?" I asked.

    "Not any more," all four of them said in unison.

    So here I am in my new office at St. George's Park, Burton-on-Trent, on a £79,000 per week contract.

    I'm going to wake up soon and realise this is all a dream.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 12:10 AM.

  3. English FA indicate their expectations

    I haven't woken up yet so maybe I really am the England manager.

    In the last half hour I've had three visitors to my office at St. George's Park. They were - hang on a minute while I check my notebook for their details - FA ChIef Executive Martin Glenn, FA Director of Elite Development Dan Ashworth, and FA Vice-Chairman David Gill.

    All three of them visited independently but essentially said the same thing. Each of them welcomed me to my new role as England manager and wished me every success.

    Apparently the FA's minimum expectation is that England qualify from the Group Stage of the World Cup Qualifiers.

    I guess either Martin, Dan, or David is my boss but, to be perfectly honest with you, I'm not entirely sure if that's correct and, if it is, I have no idea which one of them actually is my boss.

    Hang on another minute while I check Google... we're in Group 6 with Lithuania, Malta, Scotland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

    It can't be that difficult to qualify from that group, can it?

  4. England injury update

    Well I eventually worked out how to connect the antiquated laptop the FA have given me and get online. I checked my email and it looks like I have some staff.

    There was an email from Derek Wright, my physio, saying that Stoke City's Jack Butland is the only injury concern. Poor Jack has a broken ankle and will be out for a number of months yet. Other than that, Derek tells me the England squad I've inherited is close to a clean bill of health.

    England staff

    It took a while but I think I'm beginning to get my head around the FA's computer records. It looks like the rest of my staff are as follows:

    * Steve Holland - Assistant Manager
    * Martyn Margetson - Goalkeeping Coach
    * Mark Robson - Coach
    * Chris Neville - Fitness Coach

    And that's it. Derek, the kind physio who emailed me the injury update, is listed as the U21 physio. I don't appear to have a first team physio so maybe I need to promote him or appoint one.

    There's other U21 and U19 staff listed but I'm not too worried about them as I doubt I'll be in the job long enough to worry about promoting U21 or U19 players to the first team. I'm a Derby County season ticket holder so I know all about Will Hughes and I watch plenty of live Premiership games on Sky and the Match of the Day highlights package on BBC.

    Hang on a minute, what's this 'Place Advert' button?

    Oops, it looks like I've placed an advert for an England first team physio and a coach.

  5. Press Conference

    It appears the national press can't venture north of London so the FA's Chief Executive, Martin Glenn, has invited me down to Wembley for my first Press Conference. That's a shame because St. George's Park is only a 40-minute commute from where I live.

    It's beginning to look like Martin is my boss as he rings me quite regularly for a chat. I haven't heard from Dan or David since they welcomed me and wished me luck.

    I've been to Wembley a few times but only to watch England or Derby County play. Inside the stadium, not in the stands, but actually inside the stadium is very, very impressive and the cucumber sandwiches were delicious.

    I'll be honest, I was rather nervous as I followed Martin up to the long table in front of the assembled press. And, would you believe it, Dan and David are joining us too. I wondered when I'd see them again.

    Oliver Scweizer (ESPN): There is a lot of pressure on national managers to hit the ground running and produce results from the off. Are you confident that you will be able to get a good start as the manager of England.

    I hesitated before answering, still shocked the first question had come from an American

    Me: I have confidence that we can hit the ground running.

    Carl Fletcher (Guardian): The pressures of managing at International level are enormous and this is reflected by the huge media interest that surrounds both team and manager. That's a lot of pressure to handle, are you up to it.

    Thinks: For £79,000 a week I think I can give it a shot!

    Me: I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't have complete confidence in my ability to handle the pressures.

    David Hull (BBC Radio 5 Live): While some managers are famous for their hands-on approach, others maintain a more reserved manner with their players. How do you see your management style?

    Me: I want every player to know that they can come to me with anything.

    Tony Finch (Sunday People): In the modern era players are put under greater demands by the sheer number of matches they play for their clubs. Will you be looking to develop a positive relationship with other managers in order to find ways to prevent players 'burning out' when on International duty?

    Thinks: Wow! that's a good question.

    Me: Any manager worth their salt these days has to take this into account and I'll be doing everything possible to ensure my players feel fresh and able to play.

    Tony Finch (Sunday People): Gary Cahill is widely regarded to be key to any future success that the English national team may have. With that in mind, do you intend to build your England team around Cahill's talents and are you looking for ways to bring the best out of him?

    Thinks: Cahill? Chelsea? When were Chelsea last live on Sky and did I watch it? Did Cahill have a good game? I hardly see him on the Match of the Day highlights because Chelsea are always attacking.

    Me: Gary is a wonderful talent and of course, any manager lucky enough to work with him would do everything in their power to maximise his effectiveness.

    Tony Finch (Sunday People): Will you be looking to change the captain or allow Wayne Rooney to continue?

    Thinks: How come Tony gets to ask so many questions? And I haven't even thought about this yet. Wayne is getting on a bit now and I might not be able to fit him into the starting-11 but he has been a great servant to England. Oh, I don't know, and even if I do decide to change the skipper Wayne deserves to hear that from me.

    Me: I have total faith in Wayne and look forward to working closely with him.

    Press Conference ends.

    I think that went well. I think I was pretty calm throughout.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 08/01/2017 at 04:47 PM.

  6. Eranio declines England role

    On the journey back to Derbyshire from Wembley, I began to feel some of that pressure I'd played down at the Press Conference. It dawned on me that actually this was a big job and I still couldn't understand why those four old guys in suits had offered it me.

    Then I realised I actually knew an International footballer... well I'd spoken to one any way. I once wished Stefano Eranio good luck outside Pride Park Stadium ahead of a Derby County Premier League match in the Jim Smith era. I wondered if he'd remember me.

    Did you know I've got a personal assistant? His name is Ellis Clarke. I know, two surnames, I thought that...but he's a nice man and a great help. I don't think I would've got the laptop the FA gave me working without his help. So I asked Ellis to get me Stefano's number.

    It turned out Stefano didn't remember me after all. So I cut to the chase and he wasn't interested in joining my England backroom team. He did say that if I was ever manager of Italy to give him another call.

    Grazie, Stefano. Ciaio!

  7. Good response to England Physio advert

    Turns out that 'Place Advert' button worked. My PA, Ellis, informs me no fewer than eight people have applied for the England physio job:

    * Grant Downie - Man City U23s Sports Scientist
    * Mark Sertori - Man City physio
    * Mark Taylor - Sunderland physio
    * Andy Rolls - Arsenal physio
    * Ben Ashworth - Arsenal physio
    * Peter Brand - Sunderland physio
    * Phil Bolland - Liverpool U18s physio
    * Richard Goddard - Arsenal U18s physio

    I'm not in any rush as our first match isn't for another month. I tell Ellis to acknowledge the applications and keep the advert running.

    Ellis then hands me a sheet of paper and tells me, "Here's some numbers you may be interested in."

  8. Hughes finding it tough recruiting backroom staff

    I looked at the list of phone numbers my PA, Ellis, had provided me and smiled. The mistake I'd made with Stefano was thinking a former Italian international would want to work for England. But the names on this list had all played for England. Surely they'd be as patriotic as me and jump at the chance to join the England backroom team.

    Unfortunately the smile quickly disappeared from my face as I worked my way through the list.

    Gareth Southgate declines England role - I felt guilty at taking Gareth's job and thought I'd offer him an olive branch and a pizza. Gareth was very polite and professional and politely told me where to stuff my offer.

    Stuart Pearce declines England role - despite being a Nottingham Forest legend, I loved Psycho as an England player and I'd never seen a more passionate player wearing the three lions. Pearce was capped 78 times for England but, unfortunately, he'd just taken the Port Vale manager's job and had a contract to honour.

    Terry Butcher declines England role - the image of Terry Butcher in an England shirt, his head swathed in a once white bandage stained red with his own blood, was an iconic image. Unlike Pearce, Butcher was unemployed, but he rejected my offer.

    Frank Lampard declines England role
    - Frank Lampard said he was honoured but was currently happy playing for NYCFC.

    Steven Gerrad declines England role - Steven Gerrard, like Frank, was honoured but happy playing for LA Galaxy in the MLS.

    There was only one more name on Ellis's list....
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 08/01/2017 at 05:49 PM.

  9. Beardsley accepts England role

    Peter Beardsley has accepted England manager Stuart Hughes's offer of the role of England coach.

    Newcastle United icon Peter Beardsley was born in Newcastle on 18th January 1961. In a playing career which spanned 20 years from 1979 to 1999, Beardsley made 731 appearances and scored 236 goals. After making his England debut against Egypt in January 1986, he went on to make 59 appearances and score 9 goals for his country.

    Beardley is no stranger to England, having served as assistant manager for The Three Lions between July 1999 and June 2000. Beardsley enjoyed a playing career with Manchester City, Liverpool, Newcastle United and numerous other teams before non-playing spells with Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, and England.

    The appointment demonstrates Hughes's desire to add International experience within the national set-up.

    [Having managed Newcastle United on previous versions of FM I'm thrilled to be able to welcome Peter Beardsley to the England backroom staff].
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 08/01/2017 at 05:51 PM.

  10. Good response to England Coach advert

    Eight people have responded to my advert for a new England Coach - Boro Primorac (Arsenal coach), Brian Eastick (Unemployed coach), Tony Whelan (Man Utd U18s coach), Steve Gattting (Arsenal U23s manager), John Cooke (Man Utd U18s coach), Neil Critchley (Liverpool U18s manager), Pepijn Lijnders (Liverpool coach) and Colin Little (Man Utd U18s coach).

    Hmmmmn, now I've got Peter on board I was in no rush to make a decision. I told Ellis to keep the advert running and asked him for some more phone numbers.

  11. Rio Ferdinand accepts England role

    Rio Ferdinand has accepted England's offer of the role of coach.

    West Ham United and Manchester United icon Rio Ferdinand was born in London on 7th November 1978. In a playing career which spanned 20 years from 1995 to 2015, Ferdinand made 514 appearances and scored 11 goals. Ferdinand made his England debut against Cameroon in November 1997 and he went on to make 81 appearances and score 3 goals for his country.

    Ferdinand has no previous backroom experience.

    The appointment shows Hughes's continued desire to surround himself with international experience.

    [Rightly or wrongly I think I can rely on the club coaches of the England players to do the bulk of the coaching as my staff and I will have very little time with the players when they're on International duty. For me, it's more important I have people like Peter Beardsley and Rio Ferdinand around the players to pass on the benefit of their International experience with England].

  12. Milner ends international career

    England's James Milner has announced his retirement from international football in order to prolong his Liverpool career..

    The 30-year old Liverpool player, who made his debut for England against Holland in August 2009, revealed that it had been a difficult decision but he felt it was the right one.

    Milner made 61 appearances for England over the course of his international career, scoring one goal.

    I gave James a call and we had a good chat, but I couldn't persuade him to reconsider his decision.

  13. England backroom staff in place

    I've asked my PA, Ellis, to stop the advert for England coach. Three more people have applied - Michael Beale (Liverpool U23s manager), Neil Banfield (Arsenal coach), and Joe Edwards (Chelsea U23 coach) - making ten applicants in total.

    With Peter and Rio now appointed, I don't think we need another coach.

    Good response to England Physio advert

    Another five physios have applied - Paul Squires (Liverpool U23), Danny Murphy (Tottenham), Ian Irving (Everton), Julian Redhead (Chelsea U18s) and Tom Hughes (Man Utd U23) - making ten in total.

    After conducting interviews, I've decided to offer the job to Arsenal physio Andy Rolls...and I'm pleased to report he's accepted.

    England backroom team confirmed

    My backroom team now looks like this:

    * Steve Holland - assistant manager
    * Peter Beardsley - coach
    * Rio Ferdinand - coach
    * Mark Robson - coach
    * Martyn Margetson - goalkeeping coach
    * Chris Neville - fitness coach
    * Andy Rolls - physio

    I'm thrilled with the additions of Peter, Rio and Andy, but have some doubts over some of the staff I inherited. But I believe in giving everybody a chance so we'll see how we get on in our first few matches and I'll reassess things in time should I need to.

  14. Kane injury blow for Tottenham

    Tottenham striker Harry Kane suffered a hip injury during training and is expected to be sidelined for up to three months.

    He played in Tottenham's opening game of the English Premier League season, scoring one goal with a match rating of 7.80.

    I rang Harry to wish him well and he informed me he'd been told he'd be out for around two months.

    At least two months is better than three...

  15. England drop to 13th in the world rankings

    I haven't managed England in a match yet but we've dropped one place to 13th in the World Rankings. Argentina are 1st and Wales are ahead of us in 11th.

    Our upcoming opponents are ranked 65th (Finland) and 124th (Lithuania) but like they say there's no easy games in International football - I've been practicing my cliches ahead of the upcoming press conferences.

    England's approaching fixtures
    * Wednesday 31 August 2016 - H Finland friendly
    * Sunday 4 September 2016. - H Lithuania WCQ Group 6

    England injury update
    * Theo Walcott - virus, out for about one day
    * Harry Kane - hip, out for 2-3 months
    * Danny Wellbeck - damaged knee cartilage, our for 4-5 months
    * Jack Butland - broken ankle, out for 6-8 months

  16. Hughes announces England squad

    Danny Rose is the highest profile player to have been excluded from Stuart Hughes's first England squad

    Southampton youngster Nathan Redmond could be in line to make his first appearance for England after being called up to the England squad.

    There are otherwise no real surprises and the English fans are sure to be excited at the prospect of International football.

    Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton.

    Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker, Leighton Baines, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill.

    Midfielders: Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley.

    Attackers: Raheem Sterling, Nathan Redmond, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy, Theo Walcott, Marcus Rashford.

    Hughes said, "We're only two matches into the Premier League season so it's too early to assess form really. I will look at the form of the players as the season progresses but for now I'm happy to give the players who've played for England most recently an opportunity to show what they can do. Nathan Redmond has impressed my assistant Steve Holland and myself so we thought we'd get him involved and see what he can do at close quarters."
    Yoblackcat likes this.

  17. Henderson named England captain

    At a news conference today, England boss Stuart Hughes announced he had decided to make Jordan Henderson the England captain, replacing Wayne Rooney, whilst Gary Cahill remains vice-captain.

    Hughes's decision to replace Rooney as captain sends out a strong signal that things will be different under the new England management.

    So far the public's reaction has been positive with many believing Henderson to be a good choice.

  18. England tactics

    I'll be honest, removing Wayne Rooney as captain was a tough decision but, I believe, it was the logical decision. In picking my first England squad I started with the formation I want to play and picked two players for each position, then selected a third goalkeeper. During that exercise, it soon became apparent that Rooney was going to struggle to make the starting lineup on a regular basis so the decision to replace him was, in the end, relatively easy.

    My vice-captain Gary Cahill may also struggle to hold down a regular starting place but, at least for the time being, Cahill remains vice-captain to add an element of stability.


    I intend to play a 4-1-2-3 system and see how we get on - it's served me well for club football in other FM saves so we'll see how well it does in International football.

    GK - De

    RB - Su
    CB - De
    CB - De
    LB - Su

    DM - De

    CM - At
    CM - At

    RW - At
    LW - At

    DLF - At


    Attacking - Flexible - Instructions: Close down more, Exploit left flank, Exploit right flank, Retain possession, Hit early crosses.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 12:28 AM.

  19. England announce starting lineup

    Stuart Hughes has picked his starting lineup for the friendly match at home to Finland.

    Joe Hart - Nathaniel Clyne, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Leighton Baines - Eric Dier - Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli - Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling.

    Given the injuries we've got, this looks like my strongest lineup at the moment. I intend to give the players plenty of playing time in this friendly to give them chance to gain some form of understanding. If things go well, this'll probably be the team that starts against Lithuania in our first World Cup Qualifier.

    As I said earlier, I will take form into consideration as the season progresses but, for these two games, these are the 11 players I think can do a job for us.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 01:09 AM.

  20. England (0) 2-0 (0) Finland
    Sturridge (81)
    Alli (89)

    Shots: England 18, Finland 7
    On target: England 11, Finland 2
    Possession: England 49%, Finland 51%
    Fouls: England 20, Finland 6

    Confident performance from England

    An efficient performance by England's players saw them confidently overcome a lacklustre Finland 2-0 at Wembley.

    With the game nearing an end, it was Daniel Sturridge who scored a placed shot from long range to give England the lead on 81 minutes.

    The England fans might have been forgiven for thinking that would have been that but the scoring wasn't over.

    Wonderkid Delle Ali finally rounded off England's victory on 89 minutes with a powerful effort.

    Hart [6.9], Clyne [6.8] (Walker [6.8], 71), Smalling [6.9], Stones [7.4], Baines [6.7] (Shaw [6.8], 71), Dier [6.9] (Vardy [6.8], 71), Henderson [6.8], Alli [7.6], Lallana [6.4] (Rashford [6.7], 57), Sterling [6.7], Sturridge [8.7].

  21. My thoughts v Finland...

    I'm delighted to have won my first match as England manager but it wasn't as comfortable as the report you've just read above made it sound.

    Yes, I think we were the better team throughout the game, and we created far more chances than Finland, but we struggled to break them down and create any clear cut chances.

    Midway through the first half I was a mightily relieved manager when a Finnish header hit our crossbar and bounced over for a goal kick.

    The players struggled to get forward with the 4-1-2-3, although defensively (that one header aside) we looked very solid.

    Dele Alli hit the post from about 10 yards out late in the first half and that was that. 0-0 at halftime.

    During the break I reminded the players that they were the better team but that I and the English fans expected more from them in the second half.

    There was a reaction from the players, which pleased me, but despite taking the game to them more, the Finnish goalkeeper was in inspired form.

    Adam Lallana was having a poor game by his standards, so I replaced him with Marcus Rashford on 57 minutes, switching Raheem Sterling to the right so that Rashford could play on the left. Rashford certainly added something and we forced the Finnish goalkeeper to produce more fine saves.

    On 71 minutes I made three more substitutions - Kyle Walker for Nathaniel Clyne, Luke Shaw for Leighton Baines, and Jamie Vardy for Eric Dier - sacrificing the DM as we changed to a 4-2-4.

    As time started running out I was hollering at the players from the technical error.

    After 80 minutes we went from Attacking to Overload and got our reward a minute later when Daniel Sturridge placed a shot from the 'D' of the penalty area into the bottom corner of the net.

    Immediately we reverted back to attacking (no need to overload now) and continued to take the game to Finland.

    On 89 minutes, Dele Alli burst through midfield, coasted past three players on his way into the box, and blasted a powerful shot hard and high into the roof of the net.

    2-0. My England team had won their first match.

    Friendly over, next up we open our World Cup Qualifying campaign at home to Lithuania in four days time.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 04:33 PM.

  22. Really enjoying this read, I've never used to job advert but as a LLM I don't think I'd get the same pedigree declaring their interests.

  23. Love the fact you're getting England legends as your back room staff as well!

  24. looking good so far, I'm also liking the coaching staff you have in place!

  25. Quote Originally Posted by NathanITFC View Post
    Really enjoying this read, I've never used to job advert but as a LLM I don't think I'd get the same pedigree declaring their interests.
    Thanks, Nathan. Glad you're enjoying, wasn't sure how the story was being received.

    Depending on how I feel, or the type of save I'm doing, I'll use different methods - job advert, staff search, head hunting. I do tend to have a staff shortlist which builds during a save. The advantage of the job advert is you get people apply who will agree contract terms. With the staff search you can usually find better options but you can't always tie them down to an affordable contract and / or the actual role you want. I often have trouble getting someone off the staff search to accept a scout role they often want to be chief scout. I find the job advert most useful for youth staff roles.

  26. Quote Originally Posted by NathanITFC View Post
    Love the fact you're getting England legends as your back room staff as well!
    Me too. Haven't given up on Lamps or Gerrard yet either.

  27. Quote Originally Posted by naterr View Post
    looking good so far, I'm also liking the coaching staff you have in place!
    Thanks for the feedback natter. Glad you're enjoying the story.

  28. Press conference

    Max Anderson (TEAMtalk): Your team are the big favourites against Lithuania - how do see the game going?

    Me: We must not get complacent, but if we do our job properly, I'm confident we can get the desired result.

    Simon Morrow (FourFourTwo): Do you think your players will be put under pressure by being labelled the favourites for this match?

    Me: We expect to be favourites and I am confident we'll live up to expectations with our performance.

    Oliver Schweizer (ESPN): How important is it to start your group fixtures with a victory?

    Me: It's very important. We want to do well in this competition and starting with a win gives us the opportunity to do that.

    Tony Finch (Sunday People): You stripped Wayne Rooney of the captaincy, how is your relationship with Wayne?

    Me: I wouldn't say I stripped him of the armband. I discussed it with Wayne and we agreed it was best for the team. He's disappointed, obviously, but our relationship is fine. Wayne's been great with the other lads and his experience is vital for us.

  29. Quote Originally Posted by Stuartsays View Post
    England announce starting lineup

    Stuart Hughes has picked his starting lineup for the friendly match at home to Finland.

    Joe Hart - Nathaniel Clyne, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Leighton Baines - Eric Dier - Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli - Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling.
    I've opted to go with an unchanged team for our opening World Cup Qualifier against Lithuania, playing 4-1-2-3 again. I did consider making the odd change but still think that right now this is my strongest starting 11. The players weren't great against Finland, prior to the change to 4-2-4 but I think they will take what they learnt against Finland and step it up against Lithuania.

    The one change I seriously considered was bringing Marcus Rashford in for Adam Lallana, however, Marcus is still quite young so I opted for Adam's greater experience.

  30. England (0) 2-0 (0) Lithuania
    Butkus own goal (56)
    Baines pen (88)

    Shots: England 24, Lithuania 2
    On target: England 8, Lithuania 2
    Possession: England 55%, Lithuania 45%
    Fouls: England 22, Lithuania 18

    Comfortable 2-0 win for England

    England produced a good display this evening to see off the challenge of Lithuania at Wembley.

    Centre-back Lukas Butkus suffered the ignominy of scoring an own goal in the 56th minute.

    Leighton Baines scored from the spot after Bartkus gave away a penalty for pushing his opponent in the area.

    Hart [7,2], Clyne [7.9], Smalling [6.8], Stones [7.3], Baines [8.1], Disr [7.1], Henderson [6.8], Alli [6.8] (Rooney [6.7], 72), Lallana [6.6] (Rashford [6.7], 60), Sterling [6.8] inj (Redmond [6.6], 69), Sturridge [6.8].
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 05:20 PM.

  31. My thoughts v Lithuania...

    I was a lot happier with this performance than I was against Finland. We kept the ball better, passed it more effectively, dominated possession, and created lots of chances.

    The first half was all us, it was just a shame we hadn't got our shooting boots on as we struggled to get our efforts on target and didn't really trouble the goalkeeper.

    At halftime I told the players to keep doing what they were doing, show more composure, and the result would come.

    We restarted brightly but, pushing forward, we left ourselves wide open at the back on 48 minutes for our only scare of the game. A long punt down the middle saw Lukas Spalvis break clear and he was one-on-one with our goalkeeper. Joe Hart dashed out, made himself big, and blocked the shot.

    On Rio Ferdinand's advice we made some defensive adjustments after that and were defensively solid for the rest of the game.

    Going forward I'd told our fullbacks to attack more, rather than support, and we looked much better. Suddenly our attempts were on target as we worked their goalkeeper.

    Our goal on 56 minutes wasn't as fortuitous as some have said. Leighton Baines's cross was precision, Daniel Sturridge's volley was a thunderbolt which ricocheted off first Markus Palonias and then Lukas Butkus, before crossing the line, but if the Lithuania defenders hadn't tried to block it Sturridge's shot would've gone in anyway.

    We got a late goal again and I'm beginning to see what Arsenal's Arsene Wenger means when he says he didn't see things. I didn't see the infringement for the penalty. I was busy berating Marcus Rashford for an over hit cross when Peter Beardsley pointed out to me that the referee had awarded a penalty for a shove on Daniel Sturridge.

    What I did see was the composure with which Leighton Baines cooly dispatched the penalty into the bottom corner of the net.

    A very satisfying victory in our first World Cup Qualifier.

    It was very satisfying to be able to give Nathan Redmond his first cap. The look on his face when we told him to get ready to go on was priceless.

    The only downside was a knock to Dele Alli which forced our hand in substituting him. Fortunately, it looks like only a dead leg and he should only be out a few days.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 05:23 PM.

  32. World Cup European Qualifying Section - Group 6

    England 2-0 Lithuania

    Sotland 7-0 Malta

    Slovakia 2-1 Slovenia

    So Scotland, Slovakia and us kick-off with wins. We are second behind Scotland on goal difference.

    Next fixtures

    England will travel to Malta on Thursday 6th October - other games Lithuania v Slovakia, Slovenia v Scotland.

    Then we welcome Slovenia to Wembley on Sunday 9th October - Lithuania v Malta, Slovakia v Scotland.

  33. Post-match press conference

    Carl Fletcher (Guardian): You must be pleased at getting off to a good start with victory in your opening match?

    Me: There will be much tougher tests to come and we'll have to up our game considerably if we're to make good on our positive start here.

    Simon Morrow (FourFourTwo): Leighton Baines was in fine form today, wasn't he?

    Me: Leighton was simply faultless today.

    Debutant determined to stay in England team

    Nathan Redmond has thanked Stuart Hughes for handing him his England debut and told of his delight at earning his first cap.

    The Southampton right midfielder added that he hoped he could now go back to his club and keep doing well so that Hughes will pick him in his next England squad.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 04:56 PM.

  34. World Rankings Announced

    1 Argentina
    2 Brazil
    3 Belguim
    4 Germany
    5 Chile
    6 Portugal
    7 Colombia
    8 France
    9 Wales
    10 Uruguay
    11 Italy
    12 Spain
    13 England

    33 Republic of Ireland
    34 Northern Ireland

    57 Scotland

    The most improved nation was Latvia who moved from 110th to 79th.

  35. Deeney form deserves England call-up

    Troy Deeney's impressive form for Watford should earn him a call-up to the England squad and a potential first cap, according to Sky Sports News.

    England manager Stuart Hughes will surely not have failed to be impressed by the performances the 28 year-old striker has been turning in for the Hornets.

    Deeney has been an ever present for Watford this season, scoring five goals in six matches at an average rating of 7.08.

    Hmmmmn, not sure what to make of Sky Sports News telling me who to pick in my next squad. Oh well, best ring Peter Beardsley and ask him to take a look at Troy Deeney. Must admit though, based on what I've seen on Match of the Day, Deeney has scored some great goals this season.

  36. England boss faces selection headache

    Stuart Hughes will be faced with a selection headache on 29th September when he comes to select his England squad to face Malta (away) and Slovenia (home).

    Harry Kane, Jack Butland, Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young and Danny Ings will definitely miss out through injury while doubts remain over the fitness of Gary Cahill and Carl Jenkinson.

    Where do they get these names from? Some of these players aren't in my plans at all.

    Injury update
    * Harry Kane - hip, 1-3 weeks
    * Danny Ings - hamstring, 7-8 weeks
    * Danny Welbeck - knee, 3-4 months
    * Ashley Young - knee, 3-4 months
    * Jack Butland - ankle, 5-6 months

  37. Well there's seven days until our next World Cup Qualifier away at Malta and 10 days until the home Qualifier with Slovenia. Time to select my second England squad.

    Over the last few weeks I've had my backroom staff scouting the top dozen English players, in my opinion, for each position, plus a few Derby County players like Scott Carson, Will Hughes, Thomas Ince and Darren Bent - not going to rule them out just because they're playing in the Championship.

    The problem is though that even though I have all their reports in, it's difficult to make direct comparisons as the overall abilities they have Judging Player Anility (Ab) and Judging Player Potential (Pt) are quite varied.

    Let me show you:

    Steve Holland - assistant manager, Ab=14, Pt=14

    Martyn Margetson - GK coach, Ab=9, Pt=10

    Chris Neville - fitness coach, Ab=11, Pt=9

    Peter Beardsley - coach, Ab=15, Pt=17

    Rio Ferdinand - coach, Ab=8, Pt=8

    Mark Robson - coach, Ab=10, Pt=11

    So clearly, the opinions I'm going to trust the most are Peter Beardsley and Steve Holland - I guess I'll be keeping them both busy over the next few weeks.

  38. So let's look at the squad I selected last time out:

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuartsays View Post
    Hughes announces England squad

    Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton.

    Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker, Leighton Baines, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill.

    Midfielders: Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley.

    Attackers: Raheem Sterling, Nathan Redmond, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy, Theo Walcott, Marcus Rashford.
    We are six games into the EPL season. Arsenal are top on 18 points, Spurs 2nd on 15, Man Utd on 13, Man City 11, West Ham, Chelsea and WBA all have 10. Hull are bottom with 1 point, above them Everton, Southampton and Sunderland all have 4.

    - Joe Hart's loan was a good decision as he's played 6 matches for Torino, rating 6.93
    - Fraser Forster 6 games for Southampton, rating 6.10
    - Tom Heaton 6 games for Burnley, rating 7.17

    It's difficult with the goalkeepers because Joe Hart is my #1 so unless there's a friendly, or Joe gets injured, the others aren't going to play. This time we have two qualifiers and no friendlies. But it might be worth bringing in a young goalkeeper to gain experience of an International camp.

    To be fair though, the EPL managers aren't really helping me with goalkeepers. Guess how many of the 20 English Premier League teams don't have an English goalkeeper as their #1 or #2?

    Fifteen, that's right, 15 of the EPL teams don't have an English goalkeeper starting or on the bench. The only teams that do are Burnley, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland and WBA.

    In addition to those goalkeepers named in my last squad, there's:
    - Nick Pope (Burnley) 0 EPL games, understudy to Tom Heaton
    - Alex McCarthy (Southampton) 0 EPL games, understudy to Fraser Forster
    - Lee Grant (Stoke City) 5 games, rating 6.58
    - Jordan Pickford (Sunderland), 6 games, rating 6.72
    - Ben Foster (WBA), 6 games, rating 6.70

    So there you go, 20 EPL teams, 40 #1 or #2 goalkeepers, and only seven of them are English. So add in Joe Hart (currently on loan at Torino) and I only have eight English goalkeepers playing top flight football.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 07:22 PM.

  39. Now let's look st the Defenders in my last squad:

    - Nathaniel Clyne 6 games, rating 7.55
    - Kyle Walker 6 games, 6.83

    - Leighton Baines 5 games, 7.28
    - Luke Shaw 6 games, 7.35

    - Chris Smalling 4 games, 6.80
    - John Stones 6 games, 7.32
    - Phil Jones 1 game, 1 sub, 6.00
    - Gary Cahill 0 starts, 3 subs, 6.70 but he has been out injured

    The full-backs are doing well, although we'll need to keep an eye on Kyle Walker, but only John Stones has been an ever-present in the EPL at centre-back.

    Are there any other defenders doing well in the EPL worth considering?

    - Joel Ward 6 games, 6.77
    - Craig Dawson 6 games, 7.33
    - Andre Wisdom 9 games, 7.33 for Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Premier Division

    - Ryan Bertrand 6 games, 7.30
    - Danny Rose 3 games, 3 subs, 6.90
    - George Friend 6 games, 6.90

    - Ben Mee 6 games, 6.92
    - Brendan Galloway 5 games, 7.18
    - Ryan Shawcross 6 games, 7.03
    - Scott Dann 6 games, 7.37
    - Michael Keane 4 games, 6.70 currently injured with a twisted knee
    - James Tomkins 4 games, 1 sub currently injured with a twisted ankle
    - Calum Chambers 5 games, 7.95
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 07:08 PM.

  40. Now the Midfielders

    - Eric Dier 6 games, 6.78
    - Jordan Henderson 6 games, 7.38
    - Dele Alli 2 games, 3 subs, 6.53
    - Adam Lallana 0 games, 5 subs, 6.47
    - Ross Barkley, 6 games, 6.80

    I'm surprised by Dele Alli and Adam Lallana's lack of starts for Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool respectively. They both started for me against Finland and Lithuania and I had them down as key players. At least they both should be fresh for Malta and Slovenia.

    So who else plays midfield and is doing well in the EPL?

    James Milner is playing CM in a 4-1-2-3 Liverpool formation with an average rating of 7.17 but he's retired from international football now and I couldn't talk him out of it.

    - Gareth Barry 6 games, 7.30 but Gareth's 35 years old now, 36 in February
    - Jack Cork 6 games, 6.78
    - Mark Noble 6 games, 7.62
    - Tom Huddlestone 3 games, 6.67 - a Derby County youth academy graduate
    - Jack Wilshere 5 games, 6.66
    - Danny Drinkwater 0 games but has been injured as I was going to consider him for my last squad
    - Ryan Mason 6 games, 6.98

    I'm starting to wonder if midfield might be England's weakest area???
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 08:02 PM.

  41. Finally Attacking players and Strikers

    - Raheem Sterling 1 game, 3 subs, 6.65, 0 goals
    - Nathan Redmond 5 games, 6.82, 0 goals
    - Theo Walcott 0 games, 1 sub, no rating, 0 goals
    - Daniel Sturridge 0 games, 3 subs, 6.80, 0 goals
    - Wayne Rooney 3 games, 1 sub, 6.20, 0 goals
    - Jamie Vardy 6 games, 6.88, 3 goals
    - Marcus Rashford - 0 games, 5 subs, 6.80, 1 goal

    Not many goals, nor EPL starts amongst the players in my last squad, so who else is there?

    - Harry Kane 1 game, 7.80, 1 goal but currently injured and out for 1-3 weeks so he won't be back for Malta and Slovenia.
    - Troy Deeney 6 games, 7.08, 5 goals
    - Charlie Austin 2 starts, 3 subs, 6.78, 1 goal
    - Callum Wilson 6 games, 6.72, 2 goals
    - Saido Berahino 6 games, 6.65, 0 goals
    - Benik Afobe 6 games, 6.82, 2 goals
    - Andre Gray 6 games, 6.55, 1 goal
    - Andy Carroll 0 games
    - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 6 games, 7.36, 2 goals
    - Jordan Ibe 4 starts, 1 sub, 6.78, 1 goal
    - Nathan Dyer 6 games, 6.58, 1 goal
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 09:00 PM.

  42. Where are all the English players?

    You know, when you start to really delve into it, there aren't that many English players playing top flight football to choose from.

    Particularly when you narrow it down to players playing regularly for their clubs.

    This England manager job is looking harder and harder all the time.
    naterr likes this.

  43. England stars axed

    England manager Stuart Hughes has named his squad for the matches against Malta and Slovenia.

    The biggest surprise is the absence of England regulars Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and Phil Jones, who have been integral members of the England team in recent times.

    Ryan Shawcross comes in for Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces his Arsenal teammate Theo Walcott.

    Uncapped Watford striker Troy Deeney is included in the England party and could be given a debut cap by Hughes. The media campaign for manager Stuart Hughes to include Troy Deeney in his plans has been successful with fans and pundits keen to see what Deeney can add to the England squad.

    England squad in full

    Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton.

    Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker, Leighton Baines, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Gary Cahill, Ryan Shawcross.

    Midfielders: Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli.

    Attackers: Raheem Sterling, Nathan Redmond, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain-Chamberlain.

    Forwards: Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Troy Deeney.

    Does Forster deserve England call?

    The English media are raising a few questions about Stuart Hughes's selection of Fraser Forster for England, with the goalkeeper not currently enjoying the best of form for Southampton.

    Several respected pundits are calling for Hughes to pick the England squad on merit rather than reputation or past successes.

    Forster made his debut for England as long ago as November 2013 but the 28-year old has still only made six appearances for the national side.

    Rooney out of England reckoning

    Wayne Rooney is the highest profile player to have been excluded by England manager Stuart Hughes from his squad to face Malta and Slovenia.

    The Manchester United forward clearly needs to do more to impress Hughes if he is to add to his 116 England caps in the near future.

    Rooney has made 116 appearances for England, scoring 53 goals.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 10:17 PM.

  44. My thoughts on the squad selection...

    Leaving out Phil Jones was probably the easiest decision I had to make this time round. He was arguably 4th in the pecking order and his one start for Manchester United meant he would have to make way if anybody deserved it more. Ryan Shawcross had been an ever-present for Stoke City and had impressed - we thought it was time to take a closer look at him. We also talked about Burnley's Ben Mee as we don't have a left-footer amongst the current centre-backs and his ability to also play left-back almost swung it, but we opted to stick with Gary Cahill​ who had done reasonably well for Chelsea following his return from a short-term injury.

    Theo Walcott is a player I like but his one substitute appearance for Arsenal didn't stack up against the sensational ever present form of his club teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    Wayne Rooney was a much tougher call. Rooney had featured in four of Manchester United's six games, one as substitute, but his form had been pretty poor. I didn't really want to drop him from the squad because his experience is important with our young squad, but I also wanted to take a look at Troy Deeney, not because the media keep telling me to, but because Deeney has been the standout English striker in the opening six games of the season. In the end, the other forwards deserved to stay in the squad more than Rooney based on current form.

    Fraser Forster's form for Southampton has been pretty poor this season and we did consider bringing in Ben Foster or Jordan Pickford but, in the end, we decided it was too soon to drop a player who, on his day, would be the #2 behind Joe Hart, however, we will be looking at Forster's performances for Southampton very closely over the next couple of months.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 10:27 PM.

  45. Players seek assurances on England future

    Wayne Rooney was the first player I spoke to. Wayne was disappointed, understandably, that I'd dropped him from the England squad. I could understand that. Before the four old guys in suits gave me the England manager's job, Wayne was England captain. As of this moment he's not even in the squad.

    I told Wayne that he wasn't in my thoughts currently due to his poor club firm for Manchester United. I advised him to play well for Manchester United and I'd consider him for future squads.

    To be fair to Wayne he took it well, far better than I'd expected, and told me he'd get his head down a do everything he could to get back in my plans.

    Not long after speaking to Wayne, I spoke to Theo Walcott next. Like Wayne he was disappointed at being left out of the squad. Theo's situation was different to Wayne's as he'd only made one substitute appearance for Arsenal all season.

    I told Theo that I needed him to be playing regular first team football for Arsenal before I could consider picking him for another England squad.

    Like Wayne he took it well and promised to work hard at Arsenal and get himself back in my plans.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 09/01/2017 at 11:12 PM.

  46. England starting lineup v Malta

    My main concern going into this game was that Eric Dier and Dele Alli were both on a yellow card and if they picked up a second against Malta then they'd be suspended for the Slovenia match. But I hadn't thought it through because I didn't have enough central midfielders to go round so I decided to rest Deli Alli bringing in Ross Barkley.

    I also chose to replace Adam Lallana with Marcus Rashford who had impressed when coming on for Lallana in the Finland and Lithuania games.

    Team: Joe Hart - Nathaniel Clyne, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Leighton Baines - Eric Dier - Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley - Marcus Rashford, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling.

  47. England (0) 1-1 (0) Malta
    Raheem Sterling (49) Dione Sant (53)

    Shots: Malta 3, England 17
    On target: Malta 1, England 6
    Possession: Malta 46%, England 54%
    Fouls: Malta 18, England 12

    Malta withstand England barrage

    England were left deeply frustrated by a plucky Malta outfit who withstood a ninety minute barrage to come away from Ta' Qali with a 1-1 draw.

    England finally took the lead when winger Raheem Sterling scored a good finish into the top corner from close range on 49 minutes.

    Forward Dione Sant equalised for Malta after 53 minutes with a tidy finish into the bottom left corner from 12 metres.

    Joe Hart [6.9], Nathaniel Clyne [6.9], Chris Smalling [7.0], John Stônes [6.8], Leighton Baines [6.8], Eric Dier [6.9] (Troy Deeney [6.6], 49), Jordan Henderson [6.9], Ross Barkley [6.9], Raheem Sterling [7.3], Daniel Sturridge [6.7] (Jamie Vardy [6.7], 74), Marcus Rashford [6.7] inj, (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain [6.8], 45).
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 10/01/2017 at 12:03 AM.

  48. My thoughts v Malta...

    Well the result was very disappointing. Scotland put seven past Malta at Hampden Park and we could only score one goal and could only draw against the Maltese minnows.

    Once again we dominated possession, created chances, but struggled to seriously threaten the opposition goalkeeper. In three matches now under my reign we have yet to score a goal in the first half.

    We lost Marcus Rashford to a bruised rib just before halftime and sent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on. Marcus will be out for about a week which means he'll miss the Slovenia game.

    At halftime I told the players I was disappointed and expected to see more from them in the second half.

    It worked as well. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit a brilliant cross to the far post and Raheem Sterling smashed a volley into the top corner on 49 minutes.

    I'd been planning on switching to our 4-2-4 system but, after we took the lead, probably should've stuck with the 4-1-2-3, however, Eric Dier had just received a final warning from the referee. I didn't want to risk him getting booked and missing the Slovenia game so I went ahead and substituted Dier. I was torn between sending on Jamie Vardy or Troy Deeney for his England debut. Maybe sentimentality got the better of me because I sent on Deeney for his first cap.

    Four minutes later we were caught out at the back, Dione Sant went clean through, and deftly shot past Hart to equalise. It was the only shot on target our hosts managed all game.

    We had chances to regain the lead. Deeney brought a good save out of the Maltese goalkeeper and put another two chances wide of the target.

    We weren't at our best, but at least we didn't lose.

    We're all very disappointed not to have won the game. The fans were brilliant and we let them down.
    Last edited by Stuartsays; 10/01/2017 at 12:18 AM.

  49. World Cup European Qualifying Section Group 6

    Lithuania 2-2 Slovakia

    Malta 1-1 England

    Slovenia 3-1 Scotland

    Group Table

    1st England 4 pts, GD +2
    2nd Slovakia 4 pts, GD +1
    3rd Scotland 3 pts, GD +5
    4th Slovenia 3 pts, GD +1
    5th Lithuania 1 pt, GD -2
    6th Malta 1 pt, GD -7

    We're top of the group which only increases our disappointment at throwing away two points.

    Next fixtures
    England v Slovenia
    Lithuania v Malta
    Slovakia v Scotland
    naterr likes this.

  50. This is good Stuartsays ​definitely a bit different to see people managing national teams and using fringe players rather than those big names constantly

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